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Magyar Nyelvőr

Volume 125, Number 2

ISSN 1585-4515

April–June 2001



Bencédy, József
On the internal driving forces of changes in language and language use

In passing value judgements on ongoing changes and current alternatives in language and language use, superficial observation is far from being a sufficient analyst’s tool, even if conventional wisdom has it otherwise. Behind observable changes, one can detect internal forces and regularities like spontaneous improvement, integration and differentiation, economy, a certain sociological factor, and others. This paper discusses the role of the above, partly in order to confirm the author’s thesis that linguistic changes are by and large independent of what linguists are doing, and partly to support the methodological dictum that you cannot successfully interfere with linguistic processes unless you do that in terms of their own regularities. Another important conclusion offered is that the investigations, analyses and descriptions that linguistics (including general linguistics, historical linguistics, and descriptive grammar) has to offer are only useful and effective if they also have the aim of cultivating language and language use in a demonstrative manner (which is not the same as prescriptivity, often referred to in a pejorative sense).

Klaudy, Kinga
Hungarian Translation Studies and the Challenge of “Eurolese”

Hungary’s accession to the EU leads to the proliferation of a new text type, called here “Euro-administrative texts” – research projects, applications, reports, minutes etc. written by officials of EU institutions mainly in English but not necessarily by English natives, and often translated into Hungarian by non-professional translators. As such texts seem to be “simple” (of no literary or scientific value) they are often printed or circulated without any control, editing or correction. The author, suggesting a descriptive approach to this text-type, calls for the building of comparable corpora of original Hungarian and translated Hungarian administrative texts. A comparative analysis of original and translated corpora of administrative texts may highlight the main differences between the text building strategies of original and translated texts, and thus promote the Hungarian language awareness of the new generation of professional and non-professional translators.

Bańczerowski, Janusz
On the legal protection of the Polish language

The author presents the text of the “Law on the Polish Language” created by the Parliament of the Polish Republic and ratified on 7 October 1999. The text was originally published in a Bulletin of 8 November 1999 and the law was enacted in 2000.

Horváth, László
A control study of the duality volna : lenne ‘would be’

The present conditional of the Hungarian auxiliary/existential verb van ‘be’ can be represented by forms of both the volna and the lenne type. In a previous paper, the author was seeking an answer to the question of what the proportions of occurrence of those two forms were in contemporary Hungarian dramas. The control study reported on here is based on a corpus of contemporary Hungarian short stories. In addition to providing a general picture, the analysis also presents observations on how the choice between volna and lenne depends on the role of the given verb form in signalizing temporal relations, on part-of-speech factors, as well as on the nuances of function expressed by conditional mood in any given case.

Bodó, Csanád
Linguistic change in the process of language shift and decay

The linguistic consequences of minority-language situations characterized by the process of language shift and decay have often been regarded as the result either of language contact or of structural loss in the decaying language. This paper argues that there are also other mechanisms of linguistic change induced by language shift, i. e. by functional restrictions in the use of minority languages.

These mechanisms are identified as sociolectal and/or stylistic simplification and they can be placed on the proficiency continuum in the minority language at the level of the so-called younger fluent speaker group (speakers with restricted use of the minority language). The linguistic outcome of these mechanisms is observable e. g. in Canadian French, Hungarian (in Slovakia and Austria), Romanian (in Hungary), and in the East Sutherland Gaelic speech communities discussed in the paper.

Gáspári, László
Types of sentence contraction and their function in Gáspár Nagy’s poetic language

This paper is part of a larger research project on stylistic figures. Both the author’s earlier work and the present paper have as one of their striking features that his analysis of the system of figures takes grammatical description as a point of departure, goes through a pragmatic component, and is finally embedded in a text description in the contemporary sense. In the case of literary texts, the author’s claims are fully in accord with current results in hermeneutics, literary theory, and literary history, as well.

Rácz, János
The animal name farkas ‘wolf’ in compound plant names in Hungarian

In botanics, compound terms whose attributive first constituent is farkas ‘wolf’ are all of a strongly pejorative character; they express the uselessness, wildness, toxic nature of the plants that carry the name of that noxious, feared and despised animal. Popular names like farkasgégevirág (lit. ‘wolf’s throat flower’), farkasgomba (lit. ‘wolf’s mushroom’), farkashézaggyökér (lit. ‘wolf’s gap root’), farkasölőfű ‘wolf’s-bane’, farkascseresznye ‘deadly nightshade’ (lit. ‘wolf’s cherry’), etc., all point to the harmfulness of the plant concerned. In contrast to plants denoted by the posterior constituent alone, terms prefixed by farkas refer to wild-growing, inferior species (e. g. bab ‘beans’ ~ farkasbab ‘lupine’, szőlő ‘grapes’ ~ farkasszőlő ‘herb Paris’). In both ancient pieces of literature and medieval herbals, plants with names based on Latin lupus or Greek lykos (both: ‘wolf’) frequently occur: Lupinaster, Lupinus albus, Lupinus angustifolius, Lupinus luteus, Lycopodium, Lycopus, Lycoperdon, Faucaria lupina; later in the Romance languages we find names based on the former: Romanian ochiul lupului, lupoaie, gura-lupului, turta lupului, laptele lupului, marul lupului, French tue-loup, raisin de loup, also in other languages: English wolf’s-bane, German Wolfstrapp, Wolfsmilch, Wolfsauge, Wolfslee, Serbo-Croatian vučja stopa, Slovak vlkovec obyčajný, etc. – This paper contains word historical notes on Hungarian plant names with farkas as their anterior constituent.

Dezső, László
Linguistic and metric types in the versification and melody of old Hungarian folk songs

The aim of this paper is to contribute to a typological characterization of Hungarian folk songs at three semiotic levels: (1) at that of language as it appears in speech, (2) at that of poetry as it takes shape in metrics, and (3) at that of music inasmuch as it is connected to the former two. The objective of this paper delimits the analysis of each level in terms of the possibilities of a semiotic approach. The main role is played by the linguistic system throughout; nevertheless, language is not the hero of the story as it is dominated by metrics and music.

The paper is a taxonomic foundation for further research, giving a detailed account of morphological and phonological typology, the syllable-counting metrical type as it appears in Hungarian folk songs, types of word order and phrase intonation, as well as the intonation of Hungarian and the melody of folk music.

The author states that a relatively well-developed (primarily synchronic) word order typology is at our disposal; a typologically oriented theory of intonation is also available; however, the link between the two is lacking: the author refers to that missing link as ‘sentence accentuation’. The diachronic aspect is elaborated only in word order typology, but even there just in broad outlines, concerning the widely known language families. The reconstruction of sentence accentuation and intonation with respect to Ancient Hungarian and Ancient Slavic is made possible, to a certain extent, by our familiarity with present-day Hungarian and present-day Russian, respectively. For instance, word initial and phrase initial stress must have existed already in Ancient Hungarian and is probably further traceable back to Proto-Finno-Ugric.

In view of typological generalizations, this may allow for reconstruction hypotheses with respect to Hungarian intonation. The melodies analyzed in this paper of the oldest layer of Hungarian folk songs may help us in that endeavor; the more so since their counterparts can be found in the folk music of other Finno-Ugric peoples.

Nyomárkay, István
On Hungarian and German models of Croatian technical language

The paper, broadening the perspectives of the author’s earlier studies, presents the German and Hungarian models of part of Croatian railway terminology. The research is based on contemporary texts (instructions).

Kugler, Nóra
Tests and criteria for the delimitation of modifiers

This paper suggests criteria for the delimitation of modifiers from other parts of speech. It introduces eleven different tests (the question test, focusing, negation, addition, coordination, the parenthesis test, etc.) that help us in identifying the words belonging to this part of speech. The paper characterizes modifiers from a syntactic and a semantic point of view, and explores the possibilities of an internal classification of the members of this word class.

H. Varga, Márta
The development of Creoles and the problem of first language acquisition: the birth of language

The author gives a brief survey of the results of the study of Creole languages that may be relevant for our understanding of first language acquisition and of what is called the intermingling of languages. Primarily on the basis of papers by Derek Bickerton, she summarizes the – conspicuously identical – syntactic features that Creole languages exhibit and introduces, in nutshell, the major claims that have been made with respect to the emergence of those languages. The conclusions that can be drawn from the characteristics of pidgin and Creole languages would probably be able to enrich certain types of linguistic research in Hungary, too.

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