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Magyar Nyelvőr

Volume 126, Number 2

ISSN 1585-4515

April–June 2002



Bańczerowski, Janusz
The notion of natural language in paradigms of linguistics

By the end of the 19th century, the innovation potential of the neogrammarians began to be exhausted. The inductionist paradigm that they represented and that was accompanied by historicism, positivism, evloutionism, and psychologism, was replaced in the first quarter of the 20th century by a new paradigm of linguistics called structuralism or verificationalism, among other names. In terms of structuralist conceptions, language was regarded as an object (system of signs) that possesses far-reaching autonomy in the mental sphere of the language user but that may exist independently of man as well. The acknowledgement of the connection between language and language user was first proposed by Noam Chomsky who directed linguists’ attention away from linguistic corpora and to what he called linguistic competence in the framework of the generative, or falsificationist, paradigm. It is only very recently that researchers’ attention has increasingly turned toward the cognitive role of language, i. e., the role and functions language fulfils in the whole mental apparatus of man. In the cognitive theory of language, the notion of knowledge plays a crucial role. Knowledge is almost exclusively interpreted as being contained in various spoken or written linguistic expressions. This can be simply dismissed as an ontological fallacy. The author demonstrates that knowledge is a property that nobody can directly transmit to anybody else, and that this is why languages have been invented and are being used by people. In their interactions, people can transmit to one another nothing else but signals standing for knowledge, and more or less adequate signals at that. The linguistic sign merely figures in the process of communication as a cue or symbol. Knowledge can only be reconstructed or created on the basis of pieces of information obtained.

Jakusné Harnos, Éva
News in the printed press in a discourse analysis perspective

The production and interpretation of a news item, or of any text, is a way of recognising the world or society for both the text producer and the text receiver. The interpretation of a text is a dynamic process whereby the receiver compares the model of reality conveyed by the text with the schemes, knowledge frames, or scenarios known to him/her. The text producer transmits the model of reality that he/she has interiorised, with his/her own value judgements, opinion, and expectations added. All these components can be detected in the structure and style of the text as well. The stylistic differences of news items coming from the same source but published in diverse newspapers, as well as the differences in their representation of reality, can be demonstrated using the methods of discourse analysis.

Tátrai, Szilárd
The possibilities of storytelling. Narration and focalisation in Iskola a határon and Továbbélők by Géza Ottlik

In a comparative analysis of two novels by Géza Ottlik, Iskola a határon [School on the frontier] and what is regarded as an earlier version of the former, Továbbélők [Survivors], this paper tries to answer the question of how and to what extent first person singular narration and the lack of it determine narrative transaction, the linguistic possibilities of narration and focalisation, in those works of fiction. In the earlier text, Továbbélők, the storyteller does not intend to create a realistic link between the personal and spatio-temporal dimensions of the speech event and the recounted events. As a result, the storyteller can disregard his own definiteness and the limitations of his horizon of cognition. The special feature of this short novel that it is essentially not more than two of the characters who play a focalising role in it can be interpreted as self-restraint on the part of the otherwise omniscient and omnipotent narrator. On the other hand, narration in the later and longer novel, Iskola a határon, is crucially determined by the participation of ‘ego’ in the story, whereby the real involvement of the storyteller in the world of the story becomes manifest. The fictitious storyteller who is aware of his own definiteness and the limitations of his horizon of cognition nevertheless expands his possibilities by having available not only his own version of the events but also the full version of his friend. All that results in the possibility of an internally-oriented representation of two characters in what is otherwise an ego-novel.

This paper takes an interdisciplinary point of view: starting form the linguistic role of first person forms as deictic items, it confronts the results of literary narratology with those of linguistic pragmatics and related textological and stylistic research.

Rácz, János
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.

Gósy, Mária
On the origin of disfluency phenomena in the planning processes of spontaneous Hungarian speech

Spontaneous speech is characterised by various types of disfluency phenomena (silent and filled pauses, hesitations, prolongations of parts of an utterance, false starts, repetitions, slips of the tongue, etc.) that are the outcome of a speaker’s indecision about what to say next and so show his struggle to achieve control over planning, production, articulation. All types of disfluency provide a useful approach to studying the speech production planning process. This paper aims at creating a typology of disfluencies of Hungarian - based on the author’s own empirical data - in order to evaluate the mentally planned (sub)processes for spontaneous utterances.

Szili, Katalin
How to say no in Hungarian

The topic of this paper is the speech act of refusal. With the help of the responses of 100 adults and 120 students to a questionnaire consisting of seven situations, the author investigates the ways members of the Hungarian speech community turn down a request. The results of quantitative and qualitative analyses of the data obtained are summarised in tables and diagrams.

The quantitative analyses have revealed connections between the three dominant strategies of refusal - explanation, denial, and apologising - and the external social factors of the situations (distance of participants, power, and authority) as well as internal environmental factors (the burden that the speaker has to shoulder). The data show that Hungarians usually refrain from giving a flat refusal, especially when faced with someone of the same social status and even more so if the other person is their superior; rather, they start excusing themselves or apologising. If complying with the request would represent too much of a burden for them, they do employ direct refusal, but even then they take great care to tone down their expressions, to save their own or their partner’s face.

In the course of the qualitative analyses, the author explores and systematises the major grammatical devices and forms of courtesy that serve the above purposes.

Lőrinczi, Réka
Preliminaries to the investigation of the history of the description of verbs

The paper briefly deals with three issues, if only at a preliminary level as stated in the title.

1. It discusses professional source publication and source processing, two major directions of modern research on the history of linguistics.

2. It gives a preliminary overview of definitions of ‘verb’ and classifications of verbs in early Hungarian grammars. The range of grammars cited is supplemented by quotations of passages reflecting the ideas, on the notion of verb, of their direct or indirect predecessors, Donatus, Priscian, Melanchton, and Alvarus. Furthermore, a definition by Thomas of Erfurt, a scholar from the mature period of the Modistae, is also cited, a definition that reflects quite different views from those of the above authors.

3. On the basis of information taken from the relevant international literature, the author looks for directions in which predecessors of a recently found and published (see MNytForr. 3: 62–3) Hungarian text fragment entitled Disticum Hungaricum could be spotted. That curious text illustrates one of the central chapters of linguistic description, part-of-speech classification, in a very unusual manner, in terms of a competition of the various parts of speech. The present author thinks that possible, though indirect, predecessors of Disticum include Martianus Capella, D’Andeli, as well as various educational texts written in verse.

With respect to the inferable views of that Hungarian fragment on the notion of verb, she draws the reader’s attention to the fact that they are totally different (just like its genre is) from those represented in early Hungarian grammars that have been taken into account in the history of Hungarian linguistics so far.

Szépe, Judit
The tendency and varieties of the simplification of the linguistic system in aphasia (The level of phonology)

Aphasic replacements of speech sounds originate in the fact that the patient’s access to some phonological information is inhibited. The emerging lack of information is then put an end to by the help of some operation of compensation. Characteristic process types producing segmental paraphasias are harmony processes and enhancements of boundary markers. Their shared strategy to cease the lack of information is informational space reduction. The strategy of choosing elements from a limited set is manifested in harmony processes, whereas that of informational space reduction by redundancy is manifested in boundary marker enhancement.

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