On the issue of periodisation in the history of Hungarian

Periodisation in historical linguistics takes place with regard to both linguistic and socio-cultural factors. The most important problems have to do with the determination of the time when a particular language comes into being, especially for languages that do not have early extant documents. No clear chronological dividing lines can be drawn between protolanguages and daughter languages. Hungarian is, on the one hand, the oldest Finno-Ugric language but, on the other hand, it has had contacts with the highest number of foreign languages within the Finno-Ugric world. This is the main reason why it is Hungarian that has diverged from Proto-Uralic/Proto-Finno-Ugric to the largest extent, why Hungarian is totally unintelligible for speakers of other Finno-Ugric languages, and why Hungarians do not understand anything of the speech of other Finno-Ugric speakers, either. Recent studies suggest that the beginnings of Hungarian can be assumed to go back to around 2000 BC. The periodisation of the history of Hungarian can be given as follows: Proto-Hungarian (also called Ancient Hungarian, 2000 BC to 895 AD), Old Hungarian (895 to 1526), Middle Hungarian (1526–1772), Modern Hungarian (1772 to present: Early Modern Hungarian: 1772 to 1920, Late Modern Hungarian: from 1920 on).

Keywords: principles of periodisation in historical linguistics, theory of linguistic change as point of departure, determination of the initial phase of the history of a language, relationship between protolanguages and daughter languages, periods in the history of various languages, periods in the history of Hungarian.

Kiss Jenő
Eötvös Loránd Tudományegyetem



An outline of tendencies and possibilities in genre research
Towards a cognitive genology

The paper summarizes the most important interpretations of the notion of genre in literary studies and in linguistics. The main aim of the summary is to highlight the theoretical problems of investigating the category of genre, and to give a solid basis for cognitive genre theoretical research. The outline has two essential claims: one of them is the need of a proactive view in genre theory, which considers genre to be a factor of construing shared meanings in a discourse world. The other finding is that genre itself is neither the category of literariness, nor of language use alone, but a complex factor of cognition. Thus contemporary genre theory must become an interdisciplinary field of research integrating the results of literary studies, linguistics, and other disciplines. The study proposes a schema-based or frame-based model of genre as the vantage point of a cognitive genology.

Keywords: genre, interdisciplinarity, proactive view, schema, frame.

Simon Gábor
Magyar Tudományos Akadémia
Eötvös Loránd Tudományegyetem



Functional properties of geographical common nouns

Due to their special function in creating toponyms, geographical common nouns (like ocean, hill, or plains) can be seen as a class of lexical formatives of place names. Geographical common nouns can serve this role also in microtoponyms and in names of settlements, but other functions (not name-forming ones) can also be attached to them. Geographical common nouns may occur in various positions in place names; the roles of bare common nouns used as geographical names (in most cases) and those of such nouns occurring as posterior constituents of two-part names typically differ from the roles of geographical common nouns occurring as (parts of) anterior constituents. On the other hand, the inventory of formatives of place names cannot be taken to constitute a homogeneous system, as some of them always had this function whereas others took on this role secondarily: thus we can distinguish primary vs. secondary formatives of place names. This paper presents considerations that link geographical common nouns with other items of the lexicon, with some especially important groups of words treated separately, as well as the relationships between geographical common nouns and formatives of place names in general. Together with an exploration of the major elements of that complex interplay of factors, the most important types of changes that characterise this subsystem of Hungarian are also pointed out.

Keywords: names of trees, geographical common nouns, lexical formatives of place names, formatives of names of settlements, name model.

Bába Barbara
Debreceni Egyetem



Sándor Weöres’ inventive language use from odda to jaman

The Hungarian poet Sándor Weöres had written poetry consisting of highly musical but meaningless words well before neo avant-garde had invented letterism. In these poems, and in later ones, we find his own inventions along with Sanskrit (omvá), Ancient Greek (mantikaténi), Finno-Ugric (Ukkon), and Circassian (jaman) words, as well as words or phrases resembling Hebrew, Gipsy or other languages. The probable intended meanings of words invented by the poet himself and reoccurring in various poems do not necessarily coincide across poems though they are constant within the same text. In some poems, even traces of a grammatical system can be seen, as can be concluded from the poet’s own Hungarian translations of the texts written in imagined languages. This corroborates the claim that Weöres did not have a unitary imagined language.

Keywords: letterism, invented language, poetic language, Sándor Weöres.

Büky László
Szegedi Tudományegyetem



Names of destructive devices in Hungarian

The paper discusses the etymology of some names of incendiary and explosive devices used in warfare. In the creation of those devices, gunpowder played a key role. The linguistic analysis is prefaced by a brief history of gunpowder. Similar names were often introduced in cultures that are otherwise quite far from one another; those names remained unchanged in many cases while the devices were perfected and their shapes underwent radical changes. The motivation of the most important terms could be sound symbolism (bomba ‘bomb’), the incendiary character of the device (tüzes szerszám ‘fiery device’), the shape of some similar object (gránát ‘grenade’, labda ‘ball’, rakéta ‘rocket’), or the explosive fluid (Molotov-koktél ‘Molotov cocktail’). Similarly to other vocabulary items, these words often undergo metaphorisation, thus bombahír may mean ‘bombshell [piece of news]’, and vitaminbomba may mean ‘food containing high concentration of vitamins’. Given that the basic mechanisms of metaphorisation are the same everywhere, figurative expressions based on identical or similar conceptualisations can be found across languages.

Keywords: etymology, cultural history, history of technology, gunpowder, metaphor.

Balázsi József Attila



A trace of Old Hungarian szerencs ‘robber, highwayman’ in Old Ruthenian

The hapax serenč occurs in the Niagovo Postilla, a 16th-century Old Ruthenian document, probably in the meaning ‘robber, highwayman’. The etymology of the word is controversial. The author proposes that the Old Ruthenian word was borrowed from Old Hungarian szerencs ‘idem’, a word of Slavic origin.

Keywords: etymology, Hungarian-Ruthenian language contact, Old Ruthenian (Carpathian area) serenč ‘robber, highwayman’, Old Hungarian szerencs ‘idem’.

Zoltán András
Eötvös Loránd Tudományegyetem


Place names of the estate of Kajár in the Bakonybél Regestrum

The 1086 regestrum of the Benedictine monastery of Bakonybél is an early and important document containing scattered data of Hungarian: it contains 87 Hungarian place names and 136 names of persons. Nine of the Abbey estates have detailed descriptions of fields, too. The paper introduces the eleven place names occurring in the description of the estate of Kajár, in the southern part of Győr County. The structure of the presentation is as follows: localization of the exact places, varieties of the names in later sources, the origins of the names, their structure, their functional-semantic content, their common noun vs. proper noun character.

Keywords: Bakonybél Regestrum, historical place names, early document, description of fields.

Pelczéder Katalin
Pannon Egyetem