Three asymmetrical Hungarian consonants

In this paper, the phonological status and behaviour of three ‘ asymmetrical’ Hungarian consonants are explored. It turns out that /j/ is a nonnasal sonorant (i.e., a palatal liquid) that is strengthened into a fricative in postconsonantal word final position; /h/ is a velar fricative that is weakened (when short) into a glottal glide in nonbranching onsets; whereas /v/ is an underlyingly neutral segment in terms of sonorancy, strengthened into a fricative in codas but weakened into an approximant (a labiodental liquid) in prevocalic positions (i.e., in nonbranching onsets and as a second member of branching onsets).

Péter Siptár

Some problems of the development of Proto-Hungarian consonants

The reconstructed consonant inventory of Proto-Uralic/Proto-Finno-Ugric includes two spirants (d , d ’) that were solely posited on account of a single consonant attested in a Lapponian dialect spoken in Norway. The only point on which researchers agree in this respect is that Proto-Uralic/Proto-Finno-Ugric d , d ’ were lost in Proto-Permian. Some (Lakó, Kálmán, Hajdú) claim that they were likewise missing from the Ugric heritage, whereas others (Honti, cf. also Sammal-lahti) think that they only disappeared during the separate lives of the particular Ugric languages. The validity of those claims cannot be directly tested; therefore the present author borrows Bolyai’s method (deductio ad absurdum) used in his comparison of Euclidean and absolute geometry. It turns out that the existence of d , d ’ in Proto-Ugric cannot be proved from the Ugric languages by an ascendent method. They are not to be interpreted as straightforward Proto-Uralic/Proto-Finno-Ugric sounds but rather as cover symbols for correspondence sets, prompting a reassessment of the consonant inventories of those proto-languages.

Edit Vértes

On the syntax and semantics of contrastive topic

See abstract on p. 293, this year.

Zsuzsanna Gécseg

Lexical intensification in Hungarian

The Dictionary of Russian and English Lexical Intensifiers by I. I. Oubine was published in 1995. It contains lexical intensifiers of the Russian and English languages, and also phrases which include lexical intensifiers. The author of this paper has been working on a Hungarian–German dictionary of the same type since 1996. After having collected approximately a thousand lexical intensifiers and 700 to 800 intensifiable key words, in this paper he examines lexical intensifiers characteristic of the Hungarian language. The author looks into the semantic background of lexical intensifiers and that of the key words, as well as their morphological/syntactic and structural characteristics. He pays special attention to synonyms of the general lexical intensifier (Hungarian nagyon/igen, English very/much) and to certain questions of synonymy in general. The data presented in this paper also make it possible to compare, in this respect, the regularities of Hungarian with those of other languages.

Gábor Székely

Semantic fields and loan words in Hungarian–Romanian linguistic contacts

The paper deals with the semantic integration of Romanian borrowings into Hungarian dialects. The phenomenon of narrowing or widening of meaning is discussed in connection with basic categories (a term taken from the psychology of categorisation). In comparison to basic level categories, most loan words become integrated at a subordinate conceptual level. This makes it possible to pinpoint the level to which loan word meaning is restricted the most often. Certain aspects of loan word integration are also connected with the issue of how non-prototypical items are signified. Taking the microstructure of word meaning into consideration, the author reveals certain tendencies of semantic change in the borrowings. It is also his intention to present an explanatory model for the phenomena discussed.

Attila Benő

On the reliability of readings of personal names from the Árpádian age

Personal names occurring in documents coming from the age of the Árpáds, valuable data as they might otherwise be for historical linguistics, are made rather difficult to recognize and interpret correctly by the fact that Hungarian spelling was rather immature at the time, especially with respect to personal names of foreign (German, French, or Slavic) origin and their various diminutive forms for which the scribes employed a variety of ad hoc spellings. Furthermore, in documents that were copied over and over again in the course of centuries, names may have become distorted. Finally, the proper names of the same source are often presented in diverse readings in the various modern printed editions. In the two available readings of the Dömös register of 1138/1329 that the author surveys by way of an example of the foregoing, over a hundred proper nouns are spelt differently.

Katalin Fehértói

On the technical terms of Pál Pereszlényi’s grammar

The authors of the earliest Hungarian grammars all had to face the problem of how to refer to linguistic phenomena not found in Latin. A new terminology had to be created (albeit still in Latin) specifically for the description of Hungarian. The point of departure was obviously Latin grammar, but some Hebrew categories also had an important role to play. For a long time, what characterised the authors’ use of terms were inconsistency and immaturity, resulting from the lack of clear-cut systems of criteria or categories. Authors writing in Latin had the following options in finding names for phenomena that Latin did not exhibit: 1. reinterpretation of existing Latin terms; 2. adding a qualifying adjective to existing terms; 3. creating new terms out of common words or even using novel coinages for that purpose. The choice they actually made was determined by the degree of independence from Latin grammar that they had achieved and was also influenced by the linguistic sources, both Latin and Hungarian, that they relied on. — Pál Pereszlényi’s grammar (Grammatica Lingvae Ungaricae. Tyrnaviae, 1682) is undeservedly rarely mentioned in the literature. However, his use of technical terms shows that the author was far ahead of his age in linguistic reflection. Underneath his strictly followed Latin models, beginnings of an autonomous description clearly emerge. In order to demonstrate this, the present author elaborates on three areas of Pereszlényi’s terminology. The first one is the pair of terms futurum optativus vs. coniunctivus that he used in the area of conjugation, an instance of the reinterpretation of Latin terms. The second is the term affixum that was lacking in classical Latin grammar; it was borrowed from Hebrew grammar and subsequently had an independent line of development within Hungarian grammatical tradition. The third issue is that of the multifarious terms used in the description of nominal affixation. — Pereszlényi’s grammar would deserve being translated into Hungarian and being made available for a wider readership.

Zsuzsa C. Vladár