The language issue in the European Union

Issues of language and culture in the EU exhibit a rather complex pattern and their proper management cannot be conceived of without taking the results of interlinguistic and intercultural research into consideration. EU citizens have to be made ready to confront cultural and civilizational diversity and also to understand that diversity rather than taking it to threaten their national identity. Are educated Hungarians ready to come to grips with linguistic, cultural and civilizational diversity? Are they able to adequately treat and accept such diversity? What are they prepared to do in order to maintain and cultivate their own language, culture, and identity, as well as to hand them down to the next generation? These are the challenges that a nation and a sovereign state necessarily have to face. Hungary, torn out of its former isolation, has suddenly found itself exposed to globalization processes. Linguistics, applied linguistics, language planning and language policy have to deal more and more intensively with the above issues.

Janusz Bañczerowski

Reflections on comparative historical stylistics

The aim of this paper is to discuss the status of comparative historical stylistics, the comparative branch of the historical study of literary style. Its objectives, methodology, and interdisciplinary connections are presented and a number of related issues such as its possibilities, areas of competence, and justification are demonstrated. The author’s intention is to lay the foundations of that discipline, and to make recognised it on a wider scale. – The relevant issues are presented in the following five sections: 1. The comparative domain of the history of literary style and comparative stylistics; 2. Theoretical elucidation of the notion of comparison; 3. Topics of the discipline (a preview); 4. Comparative explorations in interliterary relationships and those between literature and other branches of art; 5. Comparisons within a single literature. – On the basis of the results obtained in each of the topics, the following conclusion can be drawn: comparative historical stylistics, this heretofore unrecognised branch of the historical study of style, is possible, justified, and necessary. The results that have been obtained and are to be obtained in this area will have to be submitted to further study. The main task for the immediate future is to attempt to reveal stylistic universals, as well as invariant features in the mass of stylistic variants. It is in that way that the emerging comparative discipline can progress, rising above single literatures, towards general stylistics, an overall theory of style, in line with exigent principles of the general theory of science.

Zoltán Szabó

From the first to the very last
On the semantics and pragmatics of logions

Phrases from the gospels known as Jesus’ sayings have constituted part of the cultural heritage of mankind for almost one and a half thousand years now. This paper analyses such sayings, referring to them as logions, using a Greek term. Logions, in spoken or written form, are normally cited as self-contained maxims, without their original contexts. As a first step, I consider such independent versions of sayings. Then, the citations are analysed one by one, in the appropriate contexts. Four of the five versions of logions under discussion here are explicit instances of chiasme, a rhetorical-stylistic figure involving an inverse repetition of stems and/or suffixes. The main result of the discussion is that symbolic interpretations can be arrived at by a rhetorical and logical approach organically related to arguments drawn from textual analysis. The chiastic constructions analysed here are both of a logical and, depending on the genre of the text, of a rhetorical character, and their meanings are metaphorical. In investigations of this kind, contemporary text linguistics increasingly relies on arguments and actual results coming from neighbouring disciplines.

János Nagy L.

Messages hidden in language
On the relationship between language and culture,
in general and with respect to Hungarian

The guiding principle of this paper, in trying to disclose the complex system of relations between language and culture, is Claire Kramsch’s conception that can be summarised as follows: 1. language expresses cultural reality; 2. language is the embodiment of culture; and 3. language is a symbol of culture. The discussion of the first two aspects is embedded in a historical description of that relationship and in a survey of the changing views concerning the functions of language. Thus, without claiming exhaustivity, the author discusses the idea of linguistic relativity as well as usage-centred trends of the eighties of the last century. In the second, practical part of the paper, she explores some formal manifestations of social organisation in Hungarian (such as the use of familiar vs. nonfamiliar forms of address and the role of subjectivity in communication); she also points out the way these manifestations define cultural values characteristic of the community of speakers.

Katalin Szili

The double nature of conjunction heads in coordinate noun phrases

This paper discusses, using Hungarian data, the way universal syntactic principles pertaining to nominal coordinate constructions assert themselves in actual language use. The head (dominant constituent) of coordinative constructions is taken to be the coordinative conjunction. We argue that coordinative conjunctions perform a double structure building function: they have a “quantifier” face triggering plurality effects, and a “pronominal” face having to do with agreement in person, number, definiteness, case, and other types of features. First, two major classes of coordinative conjunctions are distinguished: those of n-ary and binary conjunctions. (The former, but not he latter, may coordinate an arbitrary – i.e., grammatically not restricted – number of constituents and can be applied to any grammatical category that can be coordinated at all.) Next, the double function of n-ary conjunctions in nominal coordinate constructions is presented. After that, special cases of nominal coordination involving quantified or numerically determined constituents are analyzed in which the quantified or numerically determined construction itself reflects the double nature of the coordinative conjunction head. On the basis of empirical analyses, we try to confirm our hypotheses concerning these conjunctions.

Zoltán Bánréti

Theme and variations

The text analysed in this paper is a poem by Sándor Weöres, entitled “Theme and variations”. The eleven text sentence versions realize potential and fictitious semantic and syntactic language use in order to fulfil their pragmatic aim. That aim is to produce variations on the initial text sentence that may be taken to be an instance of standard language use, variations that are not primarily intended to perform linguistic communication as such. In them, it is not only natural emotive functions that direct the formulation of linguistic messages. Rather, they are code-oriented: driven by a syntactic-technical exploitation of the potentials of using linguistic signs with the highest possible degree of freedom. The fact that that procedure results in semantic and grammatical anomalies in part of the cases and that some sentences thus produced have no denotata whatsoever, hardly affects the evaluation of the whole text as a styleme, given that the whole of the text does not contain a message in the communicative sense. (Of course, the communicative contents of the first version is counted among the “contents” of the text sentence versions.) All that is possible because the poem is an instance of the realization of the poetic function, one that can be presented in a quite simple manner.

László Büky