On a new Hungarian textbook of historical linguistics

The time that has elapsed since the publication of the new textbook reviewed here gave university students and lecturers an opportunity to have registered its advantages and possible shortcomings. The author reviews the contents of the textbook from exactly that point of view. The book discusses the theoretical foundations of historical linguistics, and presents an extensive history of Hungarian: the history of spelling, phonology, word stock and parts of speech, morphology, phrasal and clausal syntax, and – as a novelty – the historical text linguistics of Hungarian are discussed period by period, followed by a chapter on the history of word semantics that concludes the book. The book is up-to-date both in its approach and presentation and with respect to the body of scholarly knowledge it carries. It is a significant achievement not only as a textbook but also as a concise synthesis of the history of Hungarian: it is especially with respect to the more recent periods that
a large amount of recent research is first reported on in a coherent manner. The periodization of the history of Hungarian is also revised: Present-Day Hungarian is distinguished from Modern Hungarian, with 1920 as the dividing line between them. As a didactic feature, we have to mention the sets of exercises attached to individual sections of the chapters, serving creative application of the knowledge just acquired by the students.

Piroska B. Gergely


Albert Szenczi Molnár’s hymns and Standard Literary Hungarian

This paper first summarizes Szenczi Molnár’s activities in linguistics and philology (his dictionary, his grammar, his hymn book, his emendation of Gáspár Károli’s translation of the Bible, and his own translation of Calvin’s Institutio). Then, a definition of ‘literary language’ is provided, with reference to the tenets of the Linguistics Circle of Prague concerning the plurifunctionalism of linguistic devices and their intellectualization as two prerequisites of the emergence of a literary language. After that, it is explored to what extent Szenczi Molnár’s hymns served the emergence of Standard Literary Hungarian. How these hymns were written (translated) and to what extent they went into general use is discussed next. The reason for their popularity is found in their richness of content, variety and high quality of style, as well as in their well-constructed rhythm. Finally, the paper discusses the manner in which the phonological, morphological, and syntactic features of the hymns, the differentiation of the linguistic devices involved and the creation of tools of high-standard reasoning contributed to the emergence of Standard Literary Hungarian.

István Szathmári


On names of settlements based on patrocinia

It has been known since the publication of Mezo (1996) that this seemingly peripheral type of names (cases where a settlement is named after the patron saint of its church) was rather widespread in a particular period of the history of Hungary. The present paper intends to find out what types of factors might underlie its popularity in that period. Considering the circumstances of the emergence of names of settlements based on patrocinia, all the factors discussed suggest that this type of names was not created by natural linguistic development but rather enforced „from above”, by church authorities. Since, however, such names were not at all unfamiliar, in a typological sense, within the system of Hungarian names, there was no systematic obstacle for the spread of that naming habit. Eventually it escaped from its church-directed origins and, using the existing names as models, new names of the same type started emerging „spontaneously”. It is from that point onwards that patrocinium-based names can be considered an established type in Hungary, too. The Hungarian system of geographical names eventually adopted this procedure of naming, with so much success that these names did not only serve as bases of analogy in the creation of new names of the type Szentpéter ‘St Peter’, Szentmárton ‘St Martin’, Szentgyörgy ‘St George’, not initiated by the church any more, but even in the transformation of existing names, as well.

Valéria Tóth


Contrast and equivalence of meaning

This paper presents an analysis of the concepts of ‘death’ vs. ‘life’, and the corresponding Hungarian adjectives holt ‘dead’ : élo ‘living’, halott ‘dead’ : eleven ‘alive’. For lack of space, only the basic meanings of these adjectives are discussed, using contexts and attributive constructions taken from historical sources. It is concluded that the participle élo has three basic meanings, two of them

active and one passive: 1. ‘one that lives’ (intransitive), 2. ‘one that makes sy live’ (transitive), and 3. ‘one that is lived’ (passive). A fourth meaning, ‘one that subsists/feeds on sg’, can be seen as
a subtype of the first meaning, since no direct object is involved, but it can also be considered
a separate meaning. Eleven and halott/holt are a lot more homogeneous semantically. These pairs of opposites prove that, in many cases, antonyms are linked to one another by more intricate relationships than could be interpreted in black-and-white terms. Since life is, quite literally, a matter of life and death for human beings, various non-semantic (moral, theological, etc.) aspects necessarily ooze into these meanings. The contrast between the living and the dead, the confrontation of life and death, is neatly reflected by linguistic data, as the examples cited in this paper demonstrate. Investigations taking different points of departure and having different aims might reveal an even more intricate system of oppositions.

József Attila Balázsi


A semantic analysis of the inessive and the superessive in Hungarian

Synchronic studies in the framework of holistic cognitive linguistics have recently yielded convincing results, and the idea of utilizing that framework for purposes of historical linguistics has also emerged. At the moment, no complete studies of that sort are available, though Fazakas (2003) presented a brief account of the theoretical possibilities that arise. The present paper discusses a possible area of using cognitive semantics for historical purposes: the study of the semantic system of certain Hungarian case endings. In particular, I attempted to describe the behavior of inessive -ban/-ben and superessive -n ~ -on/-en/-ön in a cognitive semantic perspective, making use of diachronic aspects, too. In addition to the avails that such a discussion might bring for historical linguistics, a diachronically supported cognitive semantic analysis of case endings may prove significant primarily for the study of argument structure: with the exploration of the exact meanings of these suffixes, it might turn out to be easier to tell why a given verb has the argument structure it has, and how differences across languages with respect to argument structure may be understood, in cognitive semantic terms, as due to variance in conceptualization.

Gabriella Kothencz