Pál Pereszlényi’s grammar from 1682

Sources and parallels

This paper discusses “Grammatica Lingvae Ungaricae” (1682) by Pál Pereszlényi, member of the Society of Jesus. It seeks answers to two questions: what sources Pereszlényi must have consulted, and whether his work exhibits parallels with other grammars. It is pointed out that Pereszlényi’s grammar was an adaptation to Hungarian of the Jesuit Latin grammar by Emmanuel Alvarez, used throughout the world at the time, and was written primarily with practical language-teaching considerations in mind. Accordingly, it is assumed that Pereszlényi tried to stick to the Latin model as much as possible, and described Hungarian peculiarities within the system of categories worked out for Latin, suitably modified, rather than by introducing novel categories. A detailed comparison of the two grammars supports that hypothesis. In describing typological dissimilarities between Latin and Hungarian, Pereszlényi relied on Albert Szenczi Molnár’s 1610 grammar of Hungarian and on Latinized Hebrew grammatical tradition. Another issue to be investigated was whether the categorization of dissimilarities exhibited any parallels with Latin-based early grammars of other agglutinating (Finno-Ugric) languages. An analysis of the latter works shows that the respective authors, faced with similar descriptive challenges, arrived at similar solutions based on similar points of departure but independently of one another.

Zsuzsa C. Vladár


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


A study of elative, delative and ablative suffixes
in the first half century of Hungarian typography

This paper deals with the variation of elative, delative and ablative suffixes appearing in early Hungarian books. The corpus-based study is based on data from the period between 1527 and 1576,

and analyses the variables using the methods of corpus linguistics and sociolinguistics. The corpus is composed of 103 texts representing the independent variables selected: the authors’ place of birth, the place and date of the edition, the genre, and other characteristics of the texts such as translation vs. original, etc. The variants of each suffix being originally distributed on a regional dialectal basis also show another kind of distribution: the hypothetical spoken and the analysed written forms diverge substantially more from each other than they did earlier (as, e.g., in the previous period, the age of the codices). Analogical levelling produced a clear borderline between the written (especially printed) and the spoken forms. The written forms of the elative, delative and ablative suffixes display mid vowels, whereas their spoken forms involved high vowels at the time. These forms appear in early Hungarian books as a function not of the independent variables chosen, but of the new linguistic medium itself and of its norms being formed.

Gyula Kalcsó


Runic inscriptions on the Szertő Crest Stone

On 1 September, 2006, we received an important e-mail message from the Calvinist minister of Felsősófalva (Ocna de Sus), Hargita County, Transylvania. He informed us that a stone with runic inscriptions had been found in a nearby forest. Within the same month, we managed to study the stone on the spot, taking photographs and impressions of it. As it turned out, the Szertő Crest inscription, with its 45 or 46 runic symbols, can be taken to rank with the more significant Eastern European runic relics. If we just take the groups of symbols of unambiguous carving into consideration, the number of graphemes is 25 to 27. Most Eastern European runic relics that we know of, numerous though they are, contain much fewer symbols each. Members of that group of relics, not directly related either to Székely runic script or to the well-known Central Asian Turkic runic script and geographically distributed over a vast area from the Caucasus to the River Volga, from today’s Bulgaria and Eastern Romania to the former territories of historical Hungary, are collectively known as ‘Eastern European runic relics’.

Relics that make up the corpus of Eastern European runic script, hitherto undeciphered, do not constitute a linguistically, chronologically, or technically homogeneous group. Some of them may be associated to the Khazars whose empire the future Hungarians had left before the Hungarian Conquest. Some may even be associated to the conquering Hungarians themselves. However, we have not yet got beyond the point of raising that as a possibility. The main aim of the present paper is an accurate description of the symbols, taking stock of them. We have also run a statistical analysis to see which symbols are the most frequently occurring ones in the inscriptions of the Szertő Crest Stone and what position they occupy within the groups of symbols. Drawing more far-reaching conclusions, however, remains a task for future research.

Árpád Berta – László Károly

The use of passive forms in Bánk bán and other pieces
of nineteenth-century Hungarian literature

The author presents empirical evidence proving that the text of József Katona’s play entitled Bánk bán contains passive verb forms and their derivatives in far higher numbers than other writings of the same author or those of other contemporary writers do. Several centuries earlier, such forms had been fairly frequent in Literary Hungarian, yet by the end of the nineteenth century they had almost completely been supplanted, thereby becoming an appropriate tool for giving an archaic flavour to the text they occurred in. It is especially noteworthy that Katona’s lyrical poetry contains almost no passive forms at all, hence we are entitled to claim that, in his best-known play, he used those old forms on purpose as a device of archaicisation, thereby creating a unique style for that play, the plot of which takes place in the early thirteenth century. The characteristically archaic linguistic atmosphere of the play was considered unusual at the time, but later analysts all refer to it with appreciation. With respect to the proper use of passive word forms, the writer relied partly on historical sources and on writings of earlier authors, and partly on the legal parlance of his own time.

In Katona’s time, the first half of the nineteenth century, hardly any examples are known of authors using grammatical devices in order to characterise earlier periods: hence Katona was a pioneer of the use of that stylistic device. These passive constructions were neither found fault with nor changed, either by the playwright himself when he revised the text of the play, or by directors of its many performances, or indeed by Gyula Illyés, a twentieth-century poet who prepared a modernised version of the text, indicating that those constructions were always taken to be part and parcel of the diction of the play, in conformity with its archaising strain.

József Beke


An analysis of “On the freedom of the press” by Lajos Kossuth

Lajos Kossuth (1802–1894) was a statesman, a politician, a lawyer, a journalist and editor, a writer, and an orator, all in one. Writing and speaking in public were inseparable activities in his life. He wrote a lot, but only part of his writings were converted into speeches, and his speeches have not always been recorded or subsisted in writing. However, given that most of his public speeches had been written beforehand (in full or in their main outlines), they continue to be available for us. The present paper analyses his 1832 speech on the freedom of the press in terms of its communicative, rhetorical and stylistic aspects. Kossuth was familiar with, and keen on using, figurativity and stylistic devices, the means of making an impression, musicality, etc. As a stylist, he respected old devices, but he also created new ones. Although he often drew upon writings by his predecessors or contemporaries, his suggestive personality always transpired and made itself obvious in his writings.

Kornélia R. Toma