In memoriam Loránd Benkő
Loránd Benkő passed away on 17 January 2011, in the ninetieth year of his life. He had been Professor of Eötvös Loránd University Budapest, Member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Honorary President of the Society of Hungarian Linguistics, and managing editor of the present journal. On 28 November 2011, a memorial meeting was held by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in Budapest. The meeting was to give an overall picture of that great scholar’s life and work, albeit with no pretension of completeness. The present issue of this journal publishes edited versions of the papers read there in the order they were delivered. The overall question we were seeking an answer to was in what ways and to what extent it was that Loránd Benkő contributed to the advancement of linguistics in Hungary. A detailed analysis of his oeuvre was obviously far beyond the scope of our memorial meeting. This will be the task of historiographic papers to be written later, including a full monograph of his life and oeuvre. In order to help future historiographers, we include here a list of Loránd Benkő’s publications, one that is more complete than any similar lists published heretofore. Furthermore, this issue of our journal includes the transcript of a video interview with Loránd Benkő, made by Jenő Kiss at the request of the Rector of Eötvös Loránd University on 7 July 2009.
Keywords: Loránd Benkő memorial meeting, Loránd Benkő bibliography, an interview with Loránd Benkő.
Transylvania: nest of origin and source of inspiration
Loránd Benkő’s researcher’s disposition and attitude was determined by his origins, his childhood recollections, his university studies in Kolozsvár (Cluj). Raised in his mother’s father’s house, he acquired the regional standard of Dés as his first language; this brought him close to his first master, Attila Szabó T., from whom he learned the basic stratagems of linguistic research. Their teacher–student relationship ripened into a friendship over the years and their contacts remained close until Szabó’s death. On the other hand, on his father’s side, Benkő was also attached to his relatives in Lukafalva on the river Nyárád. His first serious research task, the collection of geographical names from the Nyárád region, was also assigned to him by Szabó while he was still a student. But it was not only his early studies whose topic was linked to Transylvania. Later on, an important part of his work as a mature researcher concerned Transylvania and its dialects, constituting a major source of inspiration throughout his life. Based on the research methods of historical onomatology, studying and systematising the etymology and typology of place names and family names, and taking facts of historical dialectology into consideration, he explored the moments of the settlement of the Székely in Transylvania and the history of the Moldavian Csángó, too.
Keywords: birthplace, Attila Szabó T., place names, research on place names, historical onomatology, history of settlements and populations.
Tamásné Szabó Csilla
Loránd Benkő the onomatologist
This paper presents an overview of Loránd Benkő’s activities in the field of onomatology. His work in linguistics started in the mid-1940s with this area of scholarship in the framework of the Transylvanian school of the historical study of place names: along with a number of etymologies and discussions of theoretical problems, he processed the stock of place names of his region of origin, the Nyárád region. In the four decades that followed, the issue of names occurred sporadically in his extremely rich linguistic repertoire, but since the early 1990s, onomatology took the forefront of his publications once more. Two monographs and two collections of papers summarised the most important results of his work in this period. In his writings, the analysis of the names of the Árpádian age also constituted a major topic, especially the study of Anonymus’ Gesta Hungarorum. Due to their concrete results and methodological innovations, these works by Benkő are among the most outstanding pieces of Hungarian historical linguistics.
Keywords: onomatology, history of place names and personal names, etymology, the language of the Árpádian age, research on Anonymus.
Loránd Benkő’s work in linguistic geography and historical dialectology
In Loránd Benkő’s work, research on the spatial and temporal dimensions of language constitute an organic unity. As a university professor and as a member of the academic team working on the Atlas of Hungarian Dialects he had the occasion to familiarise himself with dialects of the Carpathian Basin and Moldavia in vivo, during years of fieldwork, and he made good use of his enormous knowledge thus obtained not only in synchronic linguistics but also in his work on historical linguistics and settlement history. He wrote a university textbook on historical dialectology, a book that is unique in its kind to this very day. In one of his inaugural lectures at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences he summarised the historical lessons of linguistic geography. He outlined the 18thcentury stage of the history of Standard Literary Hungarian on the basis of regional language use in his first major monograph. He also discussed, on the basis of dialectological and onomatological data, the history of two ethnic groups, the Székely and the Csángó with their archaic language and culture. In the last two decades of his life, he was primarily interested in issues of the earliest phases of Hungarian history; but his work continued to be characterised by wide intellectual horizons, and an inter- and multidisciplinary approach.
Keywords: historical dialectology, linguistic geography, history of settlements, history of Standard Literary Hungarian, the Székely, the Csángó.
Loránd Benkő’s studies of Standard Literary Hungarian
During his scholarly career, Loránd Benkő discussed the variety of Hungarian known today as the written standard many times, and in a variety of contexts. Of his favourite areas of research, historical dialectology and the theoretical study of orthography may have been the bases of that activity. In Hungarian linguistics, a novel area of study, that of the history of (what was then called) the literary language began to take shape in the 1950s, primarily in the wake of Dezső Pais’ pioneering efforts. It was Loránd Benkő who set up the terminology of that area of study, and wrote a famous monograph (1960) on the Hungarian literacy and literary language of the age of enlightenment. In his later work, he raised issues associated with the notion of literary Hungarian with respect to the earliest written documents of this language. In the 1980s, he played an initiating role in the reformation of that area of study both in attitude and in terminology.
Keywords: written standard, Standard Literary Hungarian, Colloquial Hungarian, linguistic uniformity, linguistic norm.
Loránd Benkő’s work in etymology and dictionary making
A major part of Loránd Benkő’s rich scholarly oeuvre is made up by a set of varied publications discussing issues in the history of the Hungarian word stock. His first writings concerned etymological problems of geographical common nouns. Later, he devoted several articles to word historical and etymological problems of onomatopoetic words. Another important area of his work in etymology was the study of Hungarian words borrowed from Italian. On the basis of his results and organising activities in the area of etymological and word historical research, Loránd Benkő assumed an important role in the organisation and supervision of the compilation of two major etymological dictionaries: Historical-Etymological Dictionary of Hungarian (in Hungarian, 1–3, 1967–1976) and Etymologisches Wörterbuch des Ungarischen (1–2, 1993–1996).
Keywords: etymology, etymological dictionary, onomatopoetic vocabulary, cultural history, Italian loanwords.
Loránd Benkő’s work in historical semantics
This paper introduces the semantic aspects of Loránd Benkő’s oeuvre. In his works, a virtual historical semantics can be seen to be hidden and partially elaborated in various places. The present cognitive semantic overview outlines three components of Benkő’s historical semantics: 1. the rise and changes of certain parts of a network, on the example of the Historical-Etymological Dictionary of Hungarian; 2. the role of communicative setting and functioning in change, on the example of various papers and monographs; and 3. general, regular changes of the system of motivation, on the example of his Fundamentals of Historical Linguistics. Benkő’s elaborations of semantics can be seen as forerunners of functional cognitive historical semantics. His rich and variegated work in historical semantics awaits processing and continuation.
Keywords: network, semantic change, context, motivation, system, semantics, synthesis.
Tolcsvai Nagy Gábor
Loránd Benkő, editor-in-chief of A Historical Grammar of Hungarian
As the editor-in chief of the three-volume Historical Grammar of Hungarian, Loránd Benkő devoted several papers to current issues in writing historical grammars. This paper considers those issues one by one: his views on the temporal and thematic range of historical grammar; attitudinalmethodological centres of gravity, especially the introduction of synchrony into historical linguistics and the foregrounding of a systemic approach; methodological difficulties, the limitations of historical grammar and methodological blunders to avoid. His views have not lost any of their relevance in the past few decades.
Keywords: historical grammar, synchrony in historical linguistics, systemic perspective, attestedness, multilinearity of linguistic development.
The role of syntheses in Loránd Benkő’s oeuvre
If we want to characterise Loránd Benkő’s work in a single word, it will have to be the word ‘synthesis’. This is not only apparent looking back at the whole oeuvre but was visible very early on in his career, both in his general approach and in his individual writings. Of his historiographic merits, an ambition to compile syntheses emerges because it was not merely his personal program but also, due to his many initiatives and effective organisational work, a truthful mirror and inspiring achievement of present-day Hungarian linguistics. This is evidenced and documented by the fact that, out of the twelve plans for syntheses he drew up in 1969, nine have been implemented since or are underway today.
Keywords: synthesis, organisation of scientific life, current Hungarian linguistics, history of science, lexicography.
Loránd Benkő, President of the Society of Hungarian Linguistics
This paper introduces Loránd Benkő as former President of the Society of Hungarian Linguistics. But first the author tells us about how he came to know Benkő from the 1950s onwards. Then he characterises Loránd Benkő as an enthusiastic linguist and a scholar of extreme working capacity. He also emphasises that Loránd Benkő as President tailored the workings of the Society to the requirements of the time. At Benkő’s initiative, the Society organised a conference series on the improvement of mother tongue education in this country; in his opening addresses at those conferences, Benkő discussed and threw light on all theoretical issues of mother tongue education. In sum, Professor Benkő was an eminent President of the Society of Hungarian Linguistics, just like a number of his predecessors had been.
Keywords: Loránd Benkő, scholar and researcher, the story of the Society of Hungarian Linguistics since 1975, mother tongue education.
Loránd Benkő the teacher
Loránd Benkő was a professor, as well as – for various lengths of time – Head of Department, Deputy Dean, and Deputy Rector of Eötvös Loránd University Budapest. His work was characterised by tolerance, understanding, and esteem for others’ work and views. He was tolerant with his colleagues, students, and indeed anybody seeking his help in matters of work or private life – but he required accurate, effective, and valuable work from everybody. His sociability was best shown in sports, in his love of folk songs, and in extracurricular activities in general. He was respected, held in high esteem and indeed loved by colleagues and students alike.
Keywords: Loránd Benkő as a professor, as a Head of Department, as a Deputy Dean, as a Deputy Rector.
Loránd Benkő the scholar and the man
Loránd Benkő’s career and oeuvre are discussed briefly as two sides of the same coin. The author covers Benkő’s family ties and origins in Transylvania, his university studies, his orientation towards linguistics, his scholarly models, the major stages of his career, his work in linguistics and in the organisation of scholarly community life, his activities as a university professor and administrative leader, as well as his views on language and linguistics.
Keywords: career, oeuvre, research, university, scholarly community life, linguist’s ars poetica.