The indeterminate objectivity of language

The concept of indeterminate objectivity (= InO), borrowed from György Lukács, is considered an essential feature of the mental reflection of reality: it arises from the conflict between the possibly unlimited definitions of a real phenomenon and the bounds of our mind as well as our specific practical purposes. Language, as the fundamental medium of human consciousness, inevitably comprises various forms of InO manifested at all levels of its structure. This paper presents some typical cases of InO appearing as vague definitions, transitional or intermediate categorization, sprouting or vestigial elements, etc. InO is the corollary of the dialectical nature of language based on the unity of opposites, such as the social and individual sides of language, the objective and subjective aspects of its working, stability and mobility of its structure, discrete and continuous linkage of its elements, etc. The assertion of InO does not intend to expose the “defectiveness” of language; on the contrary, it indicates a major factor of its ability to fulfil its functions in accord with the varying requirements of society. The principle of InO cannot replace the exploration of the stable framework of linguistic structure, but it effectively promotes the handling of phenomena that the followers of formalistic approaches cannot but “sweep under the carpet”.

Keywords: indeterminate objectivity, transitional and intermediate categories across linguistic levels, the symbolism of language, unity of opposites in language.

Péter Mihály


The conceptualisation of forest in Hungarian folk songs

This paper, set in the framework of cognitive linguistics, explores the semantic structure of forest, a conceptual entity characteristic of typical introductory metaphors of Hungarian folk songs. The main purpose of the investigation is to survey incidentally foregrounded semantic features (profiles) and conceptualisation domains, as well as their interaction, with special reference to incidental and conventional attributes. Associative domains related to the notion of ‘forest’ include domicile, lodgings; shelter; scene of lovers’ rendezvous; scene of sexual act; place of death, cemetery; insurmountable obstacle; unexplored area; a piece of nature; a unity of distinct elements; open country as a metaphor of life/the world (by spatial extension). In adjectival attributes of the notion, the marking of spatial formation dominates, in connection with the heterogeneous notion of ‘forest’ in folk conceptualisation. The method sketched here raises the necessity of other types of investigation, including operational ones, and makes it possible for us to come close to a fuller understanding of the special conceptual world of Hungarian folk songs.

Keywords: cognitive linguistics, introductory metaphor (in folk songs), conceptualisation, profiling, conceptual domain.

Baranyiné Kóczy Judit


The authorship and date of the Nikolsburg Alphabet

The Nikolsburg Alphabet, a vellum leaf kept in the Hungarian National Széchényi Library in Budapest, is the earliest known alphabetical listing of the Old Hungarian Script (OHS), thus one of its most valuable monuments. When bought for the collection in 1933, it had to be separated from its context, the incunabulum in which it was used as a back endpaper. The incunabulum was subsequently lost track of. Now, nearly 80 year later, we can prove the authorship and date of this important monument by identifying the incunabulum in question (Bibliothek des Germanischen Nationalmuseums, N.15.) and also a second book (Kunglige Biblioteket, Stockholm, Ink.42.) from the same library from the late 15th, early 16th centuries, shedding light on the cultural-historical aspects of the tradition of OHS fostered by humanists. The alphabet was recorded by Philip de Penczicz between ca. 1490 and 1526. He was a noble Moravian humanist who was in close contact with the innermost circles (Bornemissza, Piso, Filipecz, Fortunatus) of the court of King Matthias Corvinus and the Jagiellonian kings Vladislaus II and Louis II of Hungary and Bohemia.

Keywords: Old Hungarian Script, Nikolsburg Alphabet, incunabulum, Philip de Penczicz, János Bornemissza, János Filipec.

Szelp Szabolcs


About the aspectual category of states

The article presents a detailed study of the aspectual category of stativity: it is concerned with the general features and linguistic tests of prototypical states. The most significant conclusions drawn from the analysis are the following: the main features of stativity are homogeneity, non-alteration, inherent persistence and non-agentivity; there is a hierarchical relation among these, the basic features being those of internal homogeneity and inherent persistence in such a way that the former entails non-alteration while the latter entails non-agentivity; the four features are also important from a prototype theoretical point of view: predicates can be classified according to the number of features that are assigned to them, therefore predicates can be located on a scale which has prototypical states at one end and prototypical processes at the other (as a result, the ambiguity of alternative stativity interpretations/theories can be sorted out); finally: predicates, including Hungarian predicates, can be tested for their aspectual value applying the feature-specific tests presented in the last part of paper.

Keywords: aspect, stativity, inherent homogeneity, non-alteration, inherent persistence, non-agentivity, stativity tests, prototypical classification.

Németh Boglárka