Linguistic environment and orthography
The two parts of the title are meant to refer to an internal tension, with consequent educationalmethodological and sociolinguistic problems, that obtains between the natural intrinsic variability of language (with even more variability in the environment of language use) and the regularised and uniform character of orthography. The uniform spelling that is obligatory in literary uses of Standard Hungarian is still a major symbolic embodiment of the relative unity of this language. Unfortunately, in Hungarian-speaking communities outside the borders of Hungary, the general standard of spelling is rather poor. It is even more discouraging that items of public writing, texts appearing in print, are usually just as poorly spelt. Mother tongue education depends on the dialect (or language) environment. Pupils’ errors in speech or writing, and their school record in general, are determined to a large extent by their dialect environment or, more generally, the language variety of their environment. Bilingualism (the knowledge of both the mother tongue and the dominant state language) may engender problems as well. In the context of language shift and language loss, it is a non-negligible side effect of the process of forgetting one’s language, of having it supplanted and degraded, or linguistic erosion for short, that mother tongue illiteracy is widespread (and probably spreading). It is quite impossible to change the linguistic environment to any significant extent. What can be changed, however, is the teaching of orthography in schools.
As far as further regularisation of spelling is concerned, it is the increase, rather than decrease, of possibilities that ought to be aimed at; for instance, the range of accepted versions should be made larger. On the other hand, it would be expedient to extend consistent codification to Hungarian geographical names in the Carpathian Basin, outside Hungary. It would also be worth considering whether the general practice of European spelling systems should be followed, for instance, in writing the names of holidays with a capital letter.
Dialects and mother-tongue education
In a talk delivered to an audience of teachers of Hungarian language and literature, the author discusses the problems caused in schools by pupils’ dialectal background and non-standard language use. He emphasises the fact that the most important place where social inequality can be diminished is the school and that it is a moral and professional duty of teachers to help their pupils become increasingly competitive in both the active and passive use of their mother tongue. To that end, recognising the pupils’ dialect background is just as necessary as reinforcing (or indeed creating) a positive attitude in them towards their own dialect. Furthermore, the teacher has to make her mother-tongue classes variegated both in a linguistic sense and in terms of local, cultural, and literary history, taking advantage of the multifarious possibilities offered by dialect words, names, and phrases.
Mother tongue awareness at the present turn of century
Clear mother tongue awareness is not merely a mental tool of historians or experts on international law; it is a general human need and human right, with more or less current significance in particular instances. Making people increasingly aware of their mother tongue in order to enable them to make the most of it during their whole lives is an activity that goes on systematically from nursery school to university level, not only during classes specifically devoted to the mother tongue but indeed during all classes of public and higher education; however, it is also expedient to go on updating and increasing one’s knowledge in this area, albeit less systematically, after school leaving as well. The need to ‘learn’ one’s mother tongue is not a Hungarian-specific phenomenon; it is desirable for its native speakers to be disposed to any language in these terms. One’s mother tongue has an essential role within the context of overall human communication, too, given that each language, including the culture stored in it and built by it, is an organic part of human civilisation that is continually enriched by it and that continually enriches it in return. A high-level and up-to-date mother tongue awareness leads directly on to a general language awareness telling us that any foreign language must be seen as a value-preserving mother tongue of some human community in which and by which that community builds its own culture; hence it is an honour for us to be able to talk to members of that community in that particular language. If someone travels abroad, he should possibly make sure that he speaks the language concerned at an appropriate level; whereas in one’s own country it is the mother tongue of one’s own linguistic community that guarantees one’s intellectual freedom – and the more unified and polished that language is the better guarantee it gives. Obviously, this can only be totally true if the present political borders do not inhibit the development, at the same time, in the same direction, and at the same speed, of the mother tongue abilities of parts of nations that they divide. In other words, we can only understand each other and make ourselves understood properly when, at last, all institutional, linguistic, and contact-related prerequisites for the whole nation to undergo the same development of their mother tongue have become available.
For the renewal of technical languages
The paper is based on a talk delivered on 18 March 2002, at the opening ceremony of this year’s Weak of the Hungarian Language, an annually organised series of lectures. Its main message, as the title reveals, is that the development and updating of technical varieties of Hungarian is a pressing and very timely task. The author thinks that the general standard language is to be developed and cultivated as well, but technical languages are even more so, given that the increase of the vocabularies of the latter is several times faster than that of the general vocabulary. He furthermore challenges the view that the Hungarianisation and updating of the vocabulary of a given special field is the business of practicioners of that field and argues that representatives of any trade or science, if they wish to groom the word stock of their field in a satisfactory manner, need to cooperate regularly with linguists, with experts who are professionally well-equipped to create new words. Having clarified that, the author goes on to demonstrate that the nineteenth-century Language Reform was already carried out largely in the framework of such cooperation, given that physicians, natural scientists, military scientists and other experts participated in that movement along with linguists, writers, and poets. In the last part of his paper, the author points out that the large-scale modernisation and streamlining of technical vocabularies that he deems necessary is especially urgent right now as Hungary is on the verge of becoming part of the European Union. This also explains why several private initiatives and movements launched by representatives of individual special fields have recently come into being whose objectives include the renewal of their particular technical vocabulary or of technical languages in general. With his own work, the author also tries to enhance and harmonise initiatives of this type.
Nyelv és stílus
On conceptual figures (repetition)
The present paper deals with the issue of conceptual figures and, in particular, that of their functional decomposability. Among other things, it makes an attempt at answering the question – whether conceptual figures have independent clausal forms which represent their category in themselves. Or, if not, how their decomposed forms can contribute to indicating the category of conceptual figures within the bounds of their general pragmatic characteristics and other describable restrictions. All these, together with the possible combinations of associated arguments, are illustrated by the types of the conceptual figure of repetition since these types can be connected to each other in various ways, according to the degree to which they exhibit fixed positions. Especially open positions can offer the possibility of combination while the more or less restricted range of connections yields a typology of the structure of figures.
Nép és nyelv
Compounds involving names of birds in the terminology of botanics
This paper discusses Hungarian botanical terms involving the noun madár ‘bird’ and individual names of birds, going from domestic to wild fowls. The author emphasises word historical and word geographical aspects (the first attested occurrence of the plant name in written documents and regional variation respectively, but without mentioning dialectal variants) as well as the psychological background of naming habits.
The anterior constituent madár often expresses smallness, lightness, deviant amount. For plants that yield fruit, madár or madárkás ‘birdy’ means ‘consisting of small pieces’ (grapes, berries). But it may also allude to the habitat of wild fowl, meaning ‘(growing in a) field, meadow, forest’ or else to the fact that the fruit of the given plant serves as food for birds.
A nyelvtudomány műhelyéből
Profiling as a linguistic notion
Cognitive grammar is a theory whose formal apparatus assigns a special role to the notions of profile and profiling. The value of the notion of profile can only be established in relation to the cognitive base. This means that the interdependence of profile and base is one of the key components of linguistic description as suggested in the framework of cognitive grammar. This “classical” (Langackerian) interpretation of profiling differs from definitions that can be found in works belonging to various schools of cognitivism. For instance, in the Fillmorean version of cognitive grammar, the issue of profiling includes such notions as frame, scene, and presupposition as well. In ethnolinguists’ papers, on the other hand, profiling is a subjective conceptual–linguistic operation that is based on the creation of the image of an object, in a way that the object is described in particular aspects (subcategories). In the present paper it is argued that profiling and other related notions are attributed widely different interpretations in various conceptions of language.
On the roles of mondhatni ‘so to speak’
This paper explores and systematises the various occurrences, uses, and syntactic roles of a single word of Hungarian. The basic assumption is that the expression at hand, due to the diverse syntactic environments it is used in, loses some of its initial concreteness, its meaning gets modified, and this makes it eligible for conversion (category shift) and a wider range of uses. In connection with a detailed descriptiom of the lexeme mondhatni ‘so to speak’, the author touches on a number of issues that are currently debated in Hungarian linguistics, including the difficulties of classifying the suffix -hat/-het ‘may’ as well as of defining its modal content, the issue of infinitival predicates, the criteria of being an auxiliary verb, and borderline cases between simple and complex sentences. In addition to a part-of-speech classification of examples that the author collected from the web, another aim of this paper is to present a detailed analysis of some transitional phenomena like those involving particles. In systematising the collected material, some problems related to certain part-of-speech categores (modifier, particle, conjunction), the quasi-clausal nature of mondhatni, and its use as a substitute for quotation marks (based on the modal meaning of the suffix -hat/-het) are also discussed. That latter function is not unrelated to the attitude-conveying character of the various ‘smile’ symbols characteristic of ‘Internetese’.
Structural and structuralist linguistics
The terms structural, structuralist, structuralistic (German: strukturale, strukturelle, strukturalistische [Sprachwissenschaft]) are all derived from structuralism and are, for the most part, used synonymously nowadays. Structuralism views the grammar of a language as a system of syntagmatic, paradigmatic, derivational, hierarchical, communicative, semantic and connotative (stylistic, emotive, expressive), interpersonal (affective, attitudinal), and ideological relations. The term structuralism is associated in Europe with the work of Ferdinand de Saussure, and in America with that of Leonard Bloomfield and his followers. The American structuralists (or ‘post-Bloomfieldians’) held an extremely narrow view of the system of relations in languages. They emphasised formal features of languages and excluded meaning from the analysis (cf. Roman Jakobson’s dictum Linguistics without meaning is meaningless). There are unilateral, bilateral, trilateral, tetralateral and pentalateral descriptions of languages. The unilateral approach to a system of relations is a structuralist view; the multilateral approach, however, is a structural view.
Szó- és szólásmagyarázatok
A Nyelvőr hírei