Kazinczy and Hungarian linguistics

This paper is based on a comprehensive historiographic talk pointing out that although Ferenc Kazinczy (1759–1831) was not a scholar of linguistics in the strict sense, he had quite a lot to say about linguistic/stylistic issues, serving the larger aim of the language reform; hence, it is not unfounded to regard him as a representative of the linguistics of his time. The speaker first summarised the reasons that had turned Kazinczy’s attention towards linguistics. Then he presented Kazinczy’s linguistic ideals, with special emphasis on the point that, in Kazinczy’s view, literary language – and language use in general – should be directed by taste and a sense of beauty. Next, the speaker listed what Kazinczy had done for the language reform, for the unity of Standard Hungarian, what characterised his views on stylistics, and how he had promoted the individual subdisciplines like grammar and lexicon, phonology and euphony, orthography and orthoepy, dialectology and historical linguistics. The speaker then went on to highlight, under the umbrella term of creativity, the rich array of tools that the language reform had put to use. As far as stylistics is concerned, Kazinczy had laid emphasis on the importance of polyphony (Vieltönigkeit) and adequacy. In general, he can be seen as a forerunner of functional stylistics to be founded later by Charles Bally. Kazinczy also clearly saw the codifying function of orthography, and highly appreciated historical linguistics and historical studies in general.

Keywords: linguistic ideals, linguistic polyphony, linguistic adequacy, standard, language reform, functional stylistics, Kazinczy’s view of language, Kazinczy’s views in linguistics.

István Szathmári


Variability and change in Present-day Hungarian

The interaction of language varieties and linguistic registers, as well as language change itself, have definitely become more dynamic in the past two decades. The most important ingredient of those developments is the fact that communication in Hungarian had ceased to have to surmount obstacles in covering the whole of the Hungarian linguistic community of the Carpathian Basin, amounting to 12 million speakers. Contact varieties, that is, the varieties of Hungarian used by the two and a half million native Hungarian speakers living outside the borders of Hungary, are a natural consequence of being used in a bilingual environment. These bilingual peripheral regions, covering both sides of the borders concerned, are zones of linguistic and cultural contact, but also zones of conflict: zones of linguistic regression on the one hand, and zones of linguistic expansion on the other. In such a situation, linguistic research finds divergence at the level of variables, and functional attrition at the level of language varieties. Divergence is not as pronounced as to cast doubts on the relative unity of Hungarian; but the attrition of important registers of language use reduces the pragmatic/communicative value of the given language in the given community to a significant extent.

Keywords: universal variables, contact variables, contact varieties, natural variability, linguistic regression, divergence, language attrition, pragmatic value, symbolic value, value added.

János Péntek

Review article on Ferenc Kiefer (ed.),
Strukturális magyar nyelvtan 4. A szótár szerkezete

[A structural grammar of Hungarian. Vol. 4. The structure of the lexicon]

Volume 4 of the book series published on the structural grammar of the Hungarian language provides an in-depth analysis of the structure of its lexicon component. In the twelve case studies distinguished scholars researching a given subcomponent of the lexicon describe and provide a comprehensive analysis of their domain of study, outlining with adequate precision – satisfying the requirements of descriptive as well as explanatory adequacy – its nature and scope as well as its possible interfacing with other components of grammar. In the appendix, another two studies give a thorough account of relevant psychological and psycholinguistic research on the mental lexicon and related research in language technology. This review article, presented with critical remarks expressed where necessary, provides a detailed analysis of the approaches described in each chapter.

Keywords: argument structure, event structure, interface, compositionality, constructional, lexicon, mental lexicon, polysemy.

József Andor

From the history of Hungarian chess terms

This paper is an extended version of a talk given by the author on 10 June 2008 in the Research Institute for Linguistics of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Given that the linguistic literature on Hungarian chess terms is by no means copious, one of the author’s aims is to alleviate that scarcity. His other aim is to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the publication of the first Hungarian chess book. After an introduction sketching the history of the game, the paper has two major sections. The first is a presentation of the chess book, a quarter of a millennium old, including the story of its discovery, its shape, contents, and language; the linguistic description proceeds level by level from orthography to syntax, also including issues of genre and dialect affiliation. The second section, on the other hand, discusses the history of certain important items of the Hungarian chess terminology. By way of a conclusion, the author lists a system of criteria that he thinks should be enforced in a more detailed and thorough examination of the Hungarian terminology of chess.

Keywords: the history of chess terms, Hungarian chess terminology, first Hungarian chess book (1758), first Hungarian chess journal (1889), the terminology of chess-pieces.

László Horváth