The notion of 'language' in actual language use
The aim of this paper is to present human language . not as a kind of abstract system but as something designed to establish the conditions of human existence. Language cannot exist outside its concrete speakers. Hence, the concept of language as a tool is totally unacceptable. Man is a creature that is naturally determined by language. Language is not some kind of appendage to humans but their constitutive feature, a relevant ingredient to their cognitive apparatus or program. Human language should not be equated with, or sought within, complete utterances that our linguistic mechanism creates.
In the author's opinion, the smallest components of language use are fragments of communication. Fragments of communication are indivisible units that can be directly detected in the process of language use and are primary holistic segments of linguistic reality irrespective of their internal structure or schema of production. The internal syntactic, semantic, or morphological structures that can be attributed to them by logico-syntactic or etymological analysis, or indeed the origin of the words making them up, are irrelevant or marginal for everyday language use, even though researchers may take a certain metalinguistic, historical, or intellectual interest in such structures. In reality, when we have to do with a sufficiently familiar language, we do not form words out of morphemes or the latter from even smaller constituents, and do not analyse their morphological makeup in order to understand their content; all we bear in mind is how the given word is connected to other words. Fragments of communication are not units like words or morphemes: their essence is how speakers "live in" their language and how they "live by" them in the circumstances of linguistic existence. Human mind is able to "amalgamate" recurring slices of human experience into indivisible units, into individualised mental objects having a unique intellectual and aesthetic load, a wide network of associations, thematic potential, emotional tonality, etc., a fact that is one of the most important prerequisites of everyday language use.
From 'our beloved motherland' to 'Hungary'
Using cultural and socio-cultural criteria, this paper tries to capture the lesson that can be drawn from the use of the word haza 'country, motherland' and to trace the changes that it has undergone within the Hungarian language community. This is done by primarily linguistic methods, that is, the properties of that notion, its communal character, the existence of individual linkage or adherence to it, are determined on the basis of linguistic facts. Historically, the paper deals with three particular periods: first, the period that precedes the point at which the modern concept of 'nation' took shape, a period in which the individual's relationship to his country was first established (15th to 18th centuries); second, the consummation of the idea of 'motherland', a period that is still seen by many as the paragon of how to relate to one's country (first half of the 19th century); and third, the present day as a period of change. The processes going on at present with respect to the traditional communal notion of 'one's own country' are discussed on the basis of materials taken from geography schoolbooks and newspapers.
Nyelv és stílus
Style and versification features in an "ugly" masterpiece
A not-yet-famous Hungarian poet, Lajos Lýrinczki, has published a huge composition of "sonetti a corona" entitled "My Concept of the World", 14 sonnets in each cycle, such that the fourteenth line of each of the 211 sonnets is repeated as the first line of the next. Each cycle of 14 sonnets covers a different topic. The prefixed list of topics is also a kind of sonnet; the titles are as follows: Liberty, Homeland, Fate, Faith, Sense, Work, Art, Soul, Love, Family, Community, Life, War, Future. The terse sentences convey grave thoughts and worries about whether humans are free or predestined; or whether God exists. Similarly to Marxist dialectics, the poet forces the issue of the immanently contradictory nature of the world; he respects art but takes it to be mere superstructure. In his style, we find a mixture of levels ranging from obscenity to ode-like solemnity. Ugly realistic portions refer to events of the second world war and of the year 1956. The poet, disappointed in his former grand ideas, having served the Soviet system as a former engineer, and having had wide-ranging literary education in several languages, offers background reflexions on the topics of his poems in hidden lines.
Verseghy's views on language and style in his last work, 'A Treatise on a Hungarian Translation of the Holy Scripture'
The speaker started by expressing his appreciation for former chief librarian Ern. Szurmay's achievements in the area of research on Verseghy. Then he went on to point out that he had chosen Verseghy's Treatise as the topic of his present talk because this was Verseghy's last and summative piece of work. He spoke of the preparations for a new edition of Kaldi's 1626 translation of the Bible and of the circumstances of Verseghy's book being written. He emphasised the following characteristics of Verseghy's Treatise: (a) he was a genuine philologist in this work, too; (b) he thought that the most important requirements for a translation were accuracy, lucidity, and delightfulness; (c) he laid special emphasis on some unique features of Hungarian; and (d) he claimed that the Bible was a piece of poetry and that it had to be translated as such. In conclusion, the speaker discussed the extent to which Verseghy's corrections served a more complete emergence of Standard Literary Hungarian.
Nyelv és iskola
Spoken language effects on secondary school students' compositions
A number of studies have recently claimed that some characteristics of written language are becoming increasingly similar to those of spoken language. The aim of the present study is to classify the various characteristics of school compositions, on the one hand, and to analyse how effects of spoken language can be traced in these pieces of work, on the other. The assumption is that, in addition to such effects, there are individual and even gender-specific errors as well. Thirty-six secondary school students' compositions were analysed on two occasions. Their scope, the grammatical structure of the sentences, and the stylistic properties of the texts were analysed. Furthermore, grammatical and word selection accuracy, stylistic and spelling mistakes were taken into consideration. Possible changes in individual students' writing skills were checked by pairwise comparisons of their compositions. The findings highlighted what fields are in need of more solicitous development.
A nyelvtudomány műhelyéből
On how language use changes over time
Most characteristics of language use are continually changing as time goes by. Studies describing linguistic change have so far largely ignored the area of speech planning processes and their observable consequences in spontaneous speech. In the present paper, disfluency phenomena were analysed in two corpora recorded half a century apart. The Heged.s Archive, a body of spontaneous speech recordings from the forties and fifties of the last century was compared with a similar material recorded with present-day speakers, carefully matched in gender, age, and speaking time. Our analyses have demonstrated that the two materials exhibit specific differences in terms of the processes of spontaneous speech planning and implementation.
Present-day speakers' spontaneous speech is significantly more interspersed with disfluency phenomena (a total of 1754 occurrences in our data) than that recorded fifty years ago (568). Statistical analyses have revealed that hesitations, repetitions and error-type phenomena occur significantly more frequently with present-day speakers. In the earlier speakers' speech planning processes, the operation of lexical processes ran into more difficulty, whereas present-day speakers had more problems with finding the appropriate grammatical and phonological structure as well as with the monitoring of their transformations of thought into linguistic material. Underlying the differences observed in the occurrence of the various disfluency phenomena, an increasing amount of information that speakers now have to handle and their altered communicative needs can also be detected.
Forms of thinking, figures of thought, and basic text types: Anthropological approaches to text typology
This paper discusses the relationship between thought and text from a textual anthropological point of view. For modern text typology, it critically introduces certain anthropological/folkloristic approaches to the typology of folk genres. On the other hand, it tries to help text typological discourse by discussing interrelationships of memory, thinking, forms of cognition, and figures of thought.
Resumptive structures: a spoken-language feature in chatroom texts
This paper describes resumptive structures involving (demonstrative) pronouns. Its novelty is that it summarises the highly divergent literature on resumptive pronouns (in terms of historical linguistics, traditional grammar, functional grammar, generative grammar and structuralist approaches). However, the paper is not merely theoretical or recapitulatory: it also includes a corpus-based study involving chatroom texts, a genre occupying the border area between spoken and written language use. This is the first time resumptive pronouns are investigated in a corpus-based manner. Such pronouns make up 0.34% of our text material consisting of more than 21,000 words. The paper is concluded by a discussion of the various functions of resumptive pronouns as occurring in this corpus. Both the previous literature reviewed here and our own analyses have confirmed the assumption that the use of resumptive pronouns is primarily a feature of spoken language.
A Magyar Nyelvőrnek ez a száma az MTA Könyv- és Folyóirat-kiadó Bizottsága, valamint a Nemzeti Kulturális Alap (Oktatási és Kulturális Minisztérium)támogatásával jelent meg.