The status of minority languages in the perspective of international law


The paper argues that the international legal status of minority languages is poorer at present than what would follow from the international law of human rights, and hence it is poorer than it should be. It is shown that the international law of human rights is riddled by paradigmatic anomalies that could be eliminated without paradigm shift if the international law of human rights acknowledged everybody’s right to the use of their own language; this would improve the international legal status of all minority languages and make it more equitable. It is also shown that the dominant interpretation of linguistic non-discrimination is incomplete and that its amendment would also contribute to an increase of equity: it would consolidate the international legal status of historical minority languages.

Keywords: minority languages, official languages, human rights, international law, linguistic non-discrimination, Finnish language law, Slovak state language law.



Lexicalized evidential and epistemic-inferential expressions concerning visual perception


This paper explores the following Hungarian evidential and epistemic-inferential (“epistential”) expressions concerning visual perception: láthatóan, láthatólag; szemmel láthatóan, szemmelláthatólag; szemlátomást; látszólag (all roughly meaning ‘visibly/seemingly/apparently’). Using corpus data, it is shown that these expressions do not primarily refer to a visual source of information. In the case of szemmel láthatóan and szemlátomást, their central function is to express that the speaker represents the target structure (for which s/he serves as a reference point) as a situation that s/he encountered, observed, and mentally processed. The signalization of experience-based inferences and views (epistential modality) is the prototypical function of láthatóan, láthatólag, szemmel láthatólag.

By using látszólag, the speaker typically represents the event referred to in the clause as misleading experience or false inference. The use of each of these expressions can be interpreted in terms of a grammaticalization process of subjectivization and illustrates the fact that lexicalized evidential expressionsof Hungarian are further grammaticalized into epistential expressions.

Keywords: epistemic modality, epistential, evidentiality, grammaticalization, inferentiality, lexicalization, subjectification, subjectivization.



The role of the polarizing tendency in making irony obvious:
Hyperbole and litotes as clues to ironical interpretation


In most cases, irony is accompanied by the figures of overstatement (hyperbole and litotes), which might help to clarify the speaker’s point of view, therefore irony accompanied by hyperbole and litotes is easier to recognize. In my view, any ironical utterance is the presentation of difference. Although due to the hyperbole or litotes involved, the intended meaning of irony is often considered to be the opposite of what has been said, the intended meanings of “pure” irony (i.e., one without overstatement or understatement) and “accompanied” irony should not be confused. What has actually been said and at least one suggested meaning are often polar or logical contraries (cf. Horn 1989), due to the attached hyperbole or litotes. Analyses of irony and its cues support the prototypical explanation of irony and detach irony from its cues.

Keywords: irony, shift of perspective, metapragmatic awareness, hyperbole, litotes, polarizing tendency.



Historical linguistics and linguistic complexity
Pidginization processes in language change


This paper centres on the assumption that the complexity of languages or language varieties may be different and historically changeable. The empirical analyses conducted try to answer the question of what correlation, if any, can be found between the morphosyntactic complexity of a language and the intensity of its contacts with other languages. In order to find an answer to that question, the authors studied various high-contact L2, high-contact L1, and low-contact L1 varieties of German in terms of an array of complexity parameters, using statistical methods. The results show significant negative correlation between the degree of linguistic complexity and the intensity of language contacts. In addition, they demonstrate that, across language varieties, a lower degree of syntheticity is not compensated for by higher degree of analyticity, and vice versa. Furthermore, the theorem that morphosyntactically more complex language varieties exhibit a larger amount of irregularity is also confirmed.

Keywords: language change, language variation, linguistic complexity, pidginization, L2 acquisition.



The effect of digilect on dialogue letters


In this paper, the author introduces a new concept, that of digilect (meaning language use in the electronic-digital media), and shows how digilect affects other language varieties, in particular, in the present context, that of (spontaneous) written texts. It is a commonplace in infocommunications that internet communication will have an effect on other forms of communication: oral-personal conversation and non-digital written communication alike. However, no concrete descriptions or empirical investigations have been forthcoming so far in this respect. The aim of this paper is to document the effect of digilect on non-electronic written communication, via the investigation of a particular text type, students’ hand-written notes exchanged during classes, that is, what can be called dialogue letters.

Such hand-written personal letters exhibit the characteristics of online chatting rather more extensively than those of traditional letters. The author explores digilect-based properties of hand-written personal notes in four aspects: formal, lexical, grammatical, and textological/pragmatic.

Keywords: digilect, infocommunications, language variety, dialogue letter, chatting, letter.