Zoltán Kodály and the Hungarian language

This talk introduces the world-famous composer, musicologist, folk music expert and educator Zoltán Kodály as an admirer of his mother tongue (and to some extent its researcher, too), on the occasion of the 125th anniversary of his birth and the 40th anniversary of his death. The speaker lists the factors that turned Kodály’s attention towards studying the Hungarian language, with special emphasis on the role of the Eötvös College and Professor Zoltán Gombocz in that respect. Kodály’s relevant public speeches and writings are then discussed, as well as which outstanding pieces of Hungarian poetry and prose he set to music and in what other ways he contributed to the musical (and in general, national) awareness of Hungarians. He was especially interested, obviously, in spoken language, in live speech. He spoke up against what he thought was the “deterioration” of this language in 1937 (and in 1938 in a radio commentary). In fact, however, he devoted all his life to exploring Hungarian folk music and making his mother tongue a better, more flexible vehicle of communicating one’s thoughts and feelings.

István Szathmári

How can today’s phonology be made more reality-oriented?

The present paper seeks to define the way one should proceed in order to make headway in phonological theory and phonological research. The main direction of potential progress is seen in turning the various approaches of that discipline more “reality-oriented”, primarily by restoring its close connection with phonetics. – Three maxims are presented and their enforcement illustrated. 1. The phonological description of a natural language should possibly encompass all varieties and registers of use of that language and, furthermore, should arrive at generalisations across the partial descriptions thus obtained. – 2. Description should stick to the principle of a unified code and be carried out on a procedural basis, that is, by exploring the mechanisms of operation of the phonological system. It should be formulated such that both its principled point of departure and its practical output be a non-homogeneous but common-ground phonological code of the given language (as is fully the case in Hungarian). – 3. The items of description should be confirmed by independent evidence, that is, by a strictly phonetically-based confirmation of the facts of language use. Sources of data for that confirmation may include not-quite-normative areas of language use, such as child language, slips of the tongue or linguistic deviations as in aphasia. (The present paper discusses some aspects of the last-mentioned area.)

György Szépe – Tamás Szende – Judit Szépe


Reflections on the new edition of Gömöry Codex

Gömöry Codex (GömK.) is a manuscript of 328 pages, mainly containing prayers, of Dominican provenance. Its core material was copied in 1516 in a nunnery located on what is called Margaret Island today. The full transliteration of GömK., with a facsimile version, footnotes, and 130 pages of introduction, was published by Lea Haader and Zsuzsanna Papp in 2001 as volume 26 of the series Old Hungarian Codices. The commentaries in this edition of GömK. are of high professional standards, and the text edition itself is very good, too. Its Introduction is the most detailed study so far within the literature related to the publication of Hungarian-language codices. Following the general method of the series, it describes the codex itself, relates its history, thoroughly investigates, among other things, characteristics of content of some portions of the text, indicating their Latin sources and parallel portions of other Hungarian codices, and covers the interrelationships of Hungarian and Latin textual versions. It is intriguing that the closest textual parallels of some prayers are found in the Dominican nuns’ prayer books of the St. Catherine Cloister of Nuremberg. The Introduction thoroughly presents palaeographic and orthographic features of the copiers’ hands, 11 in all. The present paper partly reviews this edition of GömK., and partly discusses, in relation to this edition, certain historical linguistic and cultural historical aspects of, primarily Hungarian, codices.

Ferenc A. Molnár

On the semantic structure of the verbal particle bele ‘into’

This paper applies semantic and syntactic analytical devices and relies on the concept of metaphor of cognitive linguistics to find out under what circumstances derivatives of verbs with the verbal particle bele ‘into’ and those with be ‘in’ can be mutually substituted for one another, as well as what occurrences can be typically restricted to one or the other particle. Three typical cases of the use of those two particles can be differentiated. 1. Their functions are strictly disjoint. The main factors that may frustrate their interchangeability are as follows: the grammaticalization of be, the evacuation of its directional meaning (its becoming a marker of perfectivity); semantic properties of the arguments (e.g., only derivatives involving be occur with arguments meaning any kind of ‘room’, whereas certain ‘container’ metaphors attract forms involving bele). – 2. The functions of the two particles largely overlap, with just a few exceptions. In such cases, no syntactic consequence can be observed in the phrases involving the verbs (Ř marking), a crucial but not indispensable requirement of interchangeability. – 3. In the most problematic groups of cases, to various extents, the occurrence of one of the two particles can be said to be more appropriate. Bele can take over the role of be mainly where the semantic character of ‘material’ or ‘container’ of the illative argument is foregrounded.

Katalin Szili

Distortion devices used in Hungarian „anti-proverbs”

Proverbs are not fully fossilized chunks of text; rather, they tend to get adjusted to the language use or mentality of the given period as well as to the context in which they occur. In that light, anti-proverbs can be seen as versions of proverbs that constitute a group of texts clearly separated from traditional proverbs. Their common feature is exactly the fact that they modify or distort some traditional text. Individual distorted versions only rarely become commonly known, in most cases, they remain at the level of individual creativity. However, the text type itself occurs in large numbers these days, hence research on proverbs cannot afford to ignore it. Consequently, experts do not only have to collect and publish traditional proverbs but also their distorted derivatives. The present authors take it to be their task to provide a formal, functional and stylistic analysis of the latter type, too. In this paper, a taxonomy of formal possibilities is set up to present the favourite ways of distortion of Hungarian anti-proverbs, each illustrated by a couple of examples. It is also discussed which devices of linguistic humour are often used in distorting traditional proverbs. In many cases, these processes of distortion are combined in a variety of ways, sometimes just a few words are retained from the original proverb. On the other hand, it is to be emphasised that parody is only effective if the original can be recognised behind it. Therefore, the distortion of proverbs presupposes familiarity with those proverbs in the first place, and keeps them alive by constantly referring back to them.

Katalin Vargha – Anna T. Litovkina