On why a new Hungarian linguistic atlas is necessary

Data collection for The Atlas of Hungarian Dialects took place between 1949 and 1960 (with follow-up collection completed by 1964) in the Hungarian language area of the Carpathian Basin. In the half-century or so that has elapsed since, large-scale social, cultural and linguistic changes, ones involving both language use and language awareness, have occurred within the Hungarian linguistic community. All those changes, as well as discipline-internal reasons, motivate the necessity of designing a new, up-to-date atlas. In particular, the facts that traditional peasant economy has come to an end and that local dialects have lost ground, the requirement that regional spoken language be descriptively studied at a macro-level, the scientific importance of studying completed and ongoing changes within the Hungarian language area now encompassing parts of as many as eight different countries, the ensuing possibility of a comparative study of dialectal speech, and the need for ‘rescue excavations’ in some cases are all factors contributing to that motivation. The author analyses some possibilities of carrying that idea into effect, and argues for a cooperation of Hungarian dialectologists, for thorough preparations to be undertaken, and for the necessity of support coming from the research management authorities of the country.

Jenő Kiss

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

Systematization of morphemes in Hungarian

Morphemics is a branch of morphology dealing with the morphemic analysis of words (root ® affixes), with form-building (stem ® inflectional affixes), with word-building (base form ® formants) and with composition (two or more words ® compound word). The root of a word is the smallest shared morpheme within a family of words which carries the main lexical meaning of related words: asztal – asztal- i, asztal- os. According to their use, roots are usually free morphemes (can stand alone as complete words). Bound roots can never stand alone to make a word: hent-es, fesz-ül, patt-an, gyógy-ít. In some compound words two roots can be used as transfixes (usually in different meanings): vagyonrész – részvagyon, munkabér – bérmunka. The roots of old compound verbs are used in Hungarian as ambifixes: Létrehozták a megállapodást. – Nem hozták létre a megállapodást. Affixes are morphemes that can be added to a root. They are generally classified into various types, depending on their (1) position with respect to the root, (2) use, (3) function, (4) meaning, (5) frequency, (6) productivity and (7) origin. – According to their position with respect to the root, affixes fall into classes as follows: an affix added before the root of a word is a prefix: a-morális, ki-járat; affixes after the root are postfixes: ki-jár-at-i. An affix between two roots is an interfix: bar-o-gráf, ocean-o-gráfia. A unifix is an affix between a root (or stem) and a postfix: ad-o-tt. A superfix (also called suprafix) is a suprasegmental (stress or tone) distinction: dél felé mentünk – délfelé ebédelünk. There is no infix and no internal flexion in Hungarian. According to their use, affixes are almost always bound morphemes. The Hungarian verbal prefixes are used as ambifixes. The confix (also called circumfix) is an affix that is realised as a combination of a prefix and a suffix, such as be-dutyi-z. According to their function, affixes may be derivational, inflectional, or syncretic. The Hungarian postfixes are divided into derivational suffixes, inflectional suffixes (called jel in Hungarian, like past-tense -t in írt) and flexional endings of cases, persons or possessive endings.

István Pete

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

The word forms geisha and gésa
against the backdrop of the history of Japanese

The word geisha is represented in Japanese by two Chinese characters or by four kana symbols: ge + i + shi + ya. That word, adopted in a number of European languages as a Japanese loanword, is in general rendered as geisha (as in the modified Hepburn system, or Hyojunshiki) or something similar in most languages, as opposed to Hungarian where it is represented by only four letters as gésa. – In Japanese, the spoken form of what is represented by a kana symbol involving -e followed by the kana symbol for i when a Chinese character is transcribed into kana symbols (jion kanazukai) turned into a syllable whose nucleus is a long -e several centuries ago. In the Meiji period, the idea occurred to some spelling reformers that kana symbols involving -e should not be followed by the kana symbol i (e + i, ge + i, me + i, etc.) but rather by a straight line (e-, ge-, me-, etc.). Likewise, some people working on the Romanization of Japanese words suggested that -ei should be replaced by -e. However, the spelling reform was soon discomfited and until 1946 everything remained roughly as it had been; even after that date, the kana representation -e + i and ei-type transcription both survived as exceptions, to the present day. – In the mid-nineteenth century when (mainly English-speaking) Europeans and Americans came to know geishas, the word referring to them was committed to paper as geisha, reflecting the kana spelling pronunciation. In Hungarian, where the word may have been transmitted by German and English, after a short period of vacillation among geisa, gejsa and gésa, the last-mentioned form came to be generally used since the end of the nineteenth century, due to a Hungarian-internal phonological development. By mere coincidence, this traditional Hungarian form reflects the current Japanese pronunciation more faithfully than geisa, a potentially regular but non-accepted Hungarian transcription would.

Toru Senga

Questions of language use in multilingual Switzerland

This paper surveys the linguistic situation in Switzerland, a country where a number of diverse languages are spoken, concentrating on two main problem areas and thereby following two main trends in Swiss language policy. On the one hand, the linguistic situation of German-speaking Switzerland is discussed with the problem of diglossia in focus. The relationship between the Standard German of Switzerland and Swiss German (a cover term for the German dialects spoken in Switzerland) is a much-debated one. ‘Functional diglossia’ as a term describing that relationship is not adequate for a number of cases. It would be more felicitous to speak of ‘medial diglossia’, even though that term does not perfectly describe the current situation, either. The paper therefore also introduces two alternative models, that of productive/receptive diglossia, and that of transition to bilingualism. – The other problem area discussed involves the possible ways of describing the communication between the various language groups. The myth of peaceful linguistic coexistence in Switzerland is challenged by Switzerland being a multilingual rather than quadrilingual country today, as well as by the fact that it is characterized by territorial monolingualism. The paper presents two types of communication between inhabitants of the parts of the country with distinct mother tongues. One, the partner language model is soon discarded, and the other, the lingua franca model is concluded to be a more realistic description of the situation. The problem with the latter model is, however, that neither one of the national languages nor English seems to be fit at the moment for introduction as an official lingua franca, even though English plays an increasingly dominant role on the linguistic palette of Switzerland, multicoloured as it is to begin with. – Finally, Switzerland can be seen as a kind of small-scale model of Europe in which the problems, possibilities and challenges that multicultural and multilingual Europe will have to face can be conveniently studied.

Zsuzsa Hoffmann