Let’s purify the language: Orbán’s new institute

I’m not sure that I will be able to come up with a complete list of new institutes the Orbán government has established in four years, but to the best of my recollection there were at least six. The most notorious is the Veritas Historical Institute headed by Sándor Szakály, whose name became known even abroad in the last few months in connection with his opinions on the Holocaust. But the institution that is supposed to study the change of regime of 1989-1990 is just as outrageous because Viktor Orbán named Zoltán Bíró, a right-winger active on Echo TV, as its head. I can well imagine what kinds of publications Bíró’s crew will come out with. Then there is a new institute studying the national strategy of the country. It is headed by Jenő Szász, the favorite Szekler politician of  János Kövér. After Szász became a burden for Orbán and László Tőkés, he was compensated with a research institute of his own in Budapest. What he and his colleagues are doing besides receiving handsome salaries, no one knows. And we mustn’t forget about the Committee on National Remembrance whose job, as far as I can see, will be to mete out punishments for sins committed during the Kádár period.

There are also institutions set up as parallel organizations to already existing ones but designed to represent the political right and to reward pro-government members of the intellectual elite. New organizations represent right-leaning actors, writers, and artists.

On February 28 the government announced the creation of a Hungarian Language Strategical Institute. The new institute will open its doors on April Fool’s Day, a fact that was not missed by the great majority of linguists who are baffled by the whole idea. I might add that the new institute, just like Veritas, will be supervised by Viktor Orbán’s right-hand man János Lázár. Lázár is the government’s jack of all trades: he supervises historical studies and linguistics, and he is rapidly becoming an expert on the Holocaust.

I have always been interested in language. At one point I was even toying with the idea of becoming a linguist–at least until I encountered some members of ELTE’s Department of the Hungarian Language. In any case, I usually pay attention to what’s going on in the field and know that there is a huge divide between those who consider themselves “real” linguists and those who are called “language cultivators” (nyelvművelők). The former consider language a living organ that changes constantly over time and that needs no conscious cultivation. The cultivators are enemies of foreign words and their adoption; they are convinced that the language is under siege by modern technology; they are certain that the Hungarian vocabulary is shrinking; they want to change speaking habits to conform to the “right rules” even if the majority of the population uses a different set of rules.

Language cultivation was a favorite pastime during the Kádár regime. Lajos Lőrincze was the high priest of the series “Édes anyanyelvünk” (Our sweet mother tongue). In the last twenty-five years, however, the cultivator linguists had to take a back seat to those who are convinced that the best thing is to leave language alone.

Naturally Viktor Orbán sympathizes with the language cultivators and bemoans foreign influences on our sweet mother tongue. In fact, already during his first term as prime minister he declared war on foreign words on store fronts. A decree was enacted that would have required store owners to change certain words in their stores’ names. But Orbán left and with him the idea, and the decree, died a quiet death. Now he is reviving an old idea on an even grander scale.

Language

Reactions to the establishment of the Hungarian Language Strategical Institute are almost uniformly negative, with the notable exception of Géza Balázs, a professor of linguistics at ELTE who seems to be an ardent “language cultivator.” Even the usually servile József Pálinkás, president of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, is no fan of the idea. Margit Fehér, a journalist working for The Wall Street Journal who wrote an article about this latest brain child of Viktor Orbán, asked Pálinkás for his opinion on the institute. To my great surprise he sent the following answer back to Fehér: “To me, the government decree means that the 20-strong institute will operate not as a home for scientific research but as a central bureau of the Prime Minister’s Office which coordinates the preparation of materials to be written at the government’s order for its decision on the language policy and language cultivation.” Pálinkás went even further when he stated that “It’s hard to draw a parallel between an institute that functions as a state office and an institute that conducts scientific research.” It seems as if Pálinkás is getting fed up with Orbán’s government taking over more and more functions that were previously under the jurisdiction of the Academy.

I managed to find an old article by Géza Balázs from 2011 entitled “A sketch of a possible language strategy” which may be the rationale for this institute. He talks at length about “the erosion of the language,” especially in the field of science where access to all material is a fundamental human right. I’m pretty sure that the use of English terms, especially in computer science, irritates Balázs and his fellow language cultivators. In the past, he argues, it was all right to let the language develop organically, but in our fast-moving world with all these rapid changes we cannot be lackadaisical about the state of our language.

Although Margit Fehér quotes only Ádám Nádasdy’s opinions in her English-language article, she notes that “most linguists received news of the government decree with raised eyebrows and disapproval.” Even the official Institute of Linguistics of the Hungarian Academy immediately launched a website where they collected opinions on the new institute and newspaper articles dealing with the subject. They all seem to be negative. Of course, this latest Orbán move reminds everybody of Stalin and his dabbling in linguistics in the 1950s. As Nádasdy said, “the government may decide what it is willing to dish money out for, but that doesn’t make it linguistics. We are not the Soviet Union of the 1930s, where Stalin decided what makes science and what not.”

Finally, let me do a little advertisement for Ádám Nádasdy. A few years ago he delivered a lecture on how language changes at the Mindentudás Egyeteme (university of all knowledge). It is a pleasure to listen to him because he is an excellent lecturer. After his lecture you will understand his strong opinions on “language cultivation.”

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47 comments

  1. In English the nomenclature is referred to as the difference between prescriptive (“language cultivators” as you translate ‘nyelvművelők’ though should be translated as “language purists”) and descriptive attitudes to language.

    A descrtiptive linguist would wince at you labelling them “real” linguists.

  2. Stalin on linguistics and on poor Marr:

    http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/stalin/works/1950/jun/20.htm

    In my younger years, I actually read the whole debate. Several people were arguing for and against Marr’s theory, which stated (if I recall correctly), that every single language goes back to one root-language. Marr’s supporters started to overwhelm his opponents.

    THen Stalin barged in against Marr. Next, poor Marr had to recant and apologize for his errors.

  3. Sorry Tappanch. Marr died in 1934, and the heyday of the instrumentalization of his “new theory of language” was actually after his death, so he wasn’t there any more to recant.

  4. Correction:
    At the end, Marr’s followers had to apologize, one after the other.
    Marr did not have the honor to do so: he died in 1934.

  5. “to mete out punishments for sins committed during the Kádár period”

    Will be very much due.

  6. Actually, speaking of Marr’s theory (which wasn’t about “root language”, although it contained shady ideas of “root elements” appearing everywhere – the main idea was that languages do not descend from proto-languages as historical linguists see it but come into being by way of admixture and combination, and this process is connected to the developmental stages of society, which of course made this theory attractive for vulgar Marxists):

    Géza Balázs, who is often mentioned as the prospective director of the new institute (although he himself has claimed not to have known anything of the plan in beforehand), belongs to those very few “serious” linguists who have frequented the “root conferences” organized by the Academy of Arts (MMA) (!). One of the central ideas of these conferences is to rehabilitate the dictionary of Czuczor and Fogarasi from 1862-1874, and, more generally, the theory of “roots”, i.e. monosyllabic word elements related to each other in various ways but not necessarily by way of the processes traditionally described in historical linguistics. In Finno-Ugric studies, the root theory was a dead end and it was abandoned well before the end of the 19th century, but in recent decades, some activists, mostly non-linguists, have started to propagate it again – also as an alternative to the Bolshevist, anti-Hungarian “Finno-Ugrism”… (For those who read Hungarian: http://www.nyest.hu/hirek/gyokok-es-gyokerek !)

    What this all looks like: the Orbán government does not want to make a complete fool of itself by openly supporting the aggressively anti-Finno-Ugric Hun-Scythian-Sumerian-Siriusian line of Jobbik and other weirdos. Instead, they are constructing their own “slightly silly” version of linguistics, with the help of those few linguists who are ready to sacrifice their scholarly standards and to cooperate with the romantic nationalism of MMA.

  7. LANGUAGE CHANGE VS. REGIME CHANGE

    Nadasdy’s talk was a good one. Dispelled the fallacy that language change is for better or worse, simplifies or complexifies, enriches or impoverishes: It just happens, as long as the language is alive and used by people to communicate. There are generational differences, and perhaps new pronunciations or grammatical changes will sound like errors to the older generation (as they would have been, in their day), but they have no moral or pragmatic inferiority or superiority — except to those who let conservatism for its own sake (“my way or no way”) get the better of them.

    It would be nice if Joseph Palinkas, the former Fidesz minister and now President of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences were beginning to come to his senses and conscience over the mounting abominations he has been aiding and abetting from his feudal overlords at Fidesz. It would take a huge and public break with his former handlers to compensate for all the damage his appeasement and collaboration has done to scholarly and scientific integrity in Hungary in the Fidesz era. His spineless apologetics in the “philosopher affair” were what first drew me into Hungarian politics, with the “open letter” that 60 other external members of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and myself sent to Palinkas way back in February 2011, asking him to stand up publicly for the falsely accused members and for the independence and integrity of the Academy. The whole blueprint for what has come (and metastasized) since was already in there in full relief in that shameless government smear campaign, with groundless press innuendos, phoney criminal charges, pressed and publicized long enough to damage careers and blacken characters, and then eventually dropped without ceremony or apology for lack of any bases in fact, once the damage was done and the objectives of Fidesz (to punish philosophers that had presumed to criticize the party and its leader) had been achieved.

    Exactly as is going on now with the elections, and all the FUD being fed to the press to keep people believing in some scurrilous wrong-doing on the part of the opposition party — just long enough to win the election (and keep all minds off the real wrong-doing, which Fidesz has been perpetrating at breath-taking scale, with complete impunity and mounting impudence throughout Orban’s term in office).

    Unlike language change, which is neither for better or for worse, there is no doubt about what’s in store for Hungary for generations to come if it re-elects Orban and his henchmen.

  8. Hungarian ‘pride’ is something: people believe that they achieve better than all Europe; that they are more deserving than anyone in the EU….yet, pride aside, it’s blatantly obvious that
    the country is stuck, mentally, in a feudal time-warp. I suppose we could link the rococo structure of the language as a factor in Hungarians delusional mindset..

  9. The 3-21 gross debt number is out. It is 23,736.7 billion HUF, a new record, all right.

    But why isn’t the 3 billion dollars in new debt from March 18 added to the gross number?
    (The weekly change was “just” 167.4 billion HUF)

  10. Election.

    The final numbers from the registration drive are out.

    The Gypsy list added an extra 9.4% [!] in the last 2 or 3 days, approaching the 20 thousand voters that yields an extra seat to Fidesz.

    Ethnic lists:

    03-20 [final]

    Gypsy 18150 [19857]
    German 13749 [15389]
    Croat 1535 [1630]
    Slovak 1214 [1319]

    Final numbers for the mail-in votes from mainly Transylvania and Serbia:

    registrations: 231,864, accepted: 194,968 as of 03-24

    42.97% from Romania,
    37.15% from e-Landia,
    12.57% from Serbia,
    7.31% from all other countries.

  11. Not totally OT:

    Not only Stalin and Kadar, but the Nazis also wanted to keep (our German) language pure – they even tried to find words for motor/engine etc … Those were really funny!

    And in the 60s for some time a half hearted attempt was made to use German words in computing, but people gave up quickly, some words they found/tried were just too hilarious …

  12. Linguistic purism has two sides. There are success stories of “highly planned” standard languages as in the Nordic countries (Icelandic is famous for finding native Icelandic counterparts for all possible internationalisms, and Icelanders are proud of that) and Estonia. In these countries, the population is relatively highly educated, reads a lot and gladly accepts the idea that language, like many other aspects of life, should be centrally and nationally regulated. (No wonder that the decree on the founding of the new institute explicitly refers to the example of Iceland, Finland and Estonia.) This serves democracy: the standard language is equally accessible to everybody, anyone can read and understand a newspaper and form an opinion, and language regulation is not left to implicit social hierarchies and networks of prestige (“you have to go to the right kind of school to get the right kind of accent”).

    The reverse side is what descriptivist linguists, especially in English-speaking countries, sneer at: naïve purists believe that a native word is automatically “better” and more understandable than a loanword, and very often this is not the case. (This is what makes many puristic neologisms “hilarious”, as Wolfi pointed out.) Even neologisms must be learnt and taught. Thus, linguistic purism is implicitly authoritarian and elitistic: some people somewhere dictate what is “authentic” and what is not. This becomes obvious if purism is openly connected to aggressive nationalism, as it was in Nazi Germany and as it seems to be in Hungary today.

    This, really, is the point: centralized national language planning works in countries with a strong tradition of democracy, where people share the faith in the national project and believe that they can have a say in how it is developed, also in matters of language. And in countries with a strong education system and high literacy. (The great language reform in Hungary in the early 19th century was a different thing: in those times, literary language use only belonged to the elite anyway, and innovations were supposed to trickle down to the people.) In other words: purism works if there is a societal consensus and a general confidence in democratic institutions. In Hungary, this is not the case.

  13. wolfi :

    Not totally OT:

    Not only Stalin and Kadar, but the Nazis also wanted to keep (our German) language pure – they even tried to find words for motor/engine etc … Those were really funny!

    And in the 60s for some time a half hearted attempt was made to use German words in computing, but people gave up quickly, some words they found/tried were just too hilarious …

    444 suggested a few funnies:

    • account → kontó
    • Apple → Alma
    • Iphone → Éntelefon
    • Mercedes → Erzsébet
    • Torrent → Zuhatag
    • pudding → pracliduruzsolás
    • click → kettyenés
    • monitor → felügyelő

    I love “kettyenés.” 😀

  14. Actually, “parody is impossible, they’re doing it themselves”. It’s enough to go to Balázs’s e-nyelv.hu website and take a look at “Szómagyarító”. Today’s question: instead of “biomágnes” (!), would you prefer “életdelej” or “kuruzsdelejérc”? Or “elemmag” for “atom”?

  15. Sentrooppa-Santra :

    Actually, “parody is impossible, they’re doing it themselves”. It’s enough to go to Balázs’s e-nyelv.hu website and take a look at “Szómagyarító”. Today’s question: instead of “biomágnes” (!), would you prefer “életdelej” or “kuruzsdelejérc”? Or “elemmag” for “atom”?

    And apparently this guy will be the director of the new institute.

  16. Google-Translate already translates ‘click’ as ‘kettyenés’. My dictionaries don’t offer that, but give either ‘kattanás’ or ‘klikkel’.

  17. Eva S. Balogh :
    444 suggested a few funnies

    Although these are funny enough, I have to point out that for account and click we do use native Hungarian words; fiók and kattintás, respectively. (By contrast, kontó is not a native Hungarian word as wolfi can tell you.)

    Sentrooppa-Santra :
    It’s enough to go to Balázs’s e-nyelv.hu website and take a look at “Szómagyarító”. Today’s question: instead of “biomágnes” (!), would you prefer “életdelej” or “kuruzsdelejérc”? Or “elemmag” for “atom”?

    My secondary-school geography teacher told us in class that one of his professors had called palaeomagnetism hajdandelejesség and referred to an eraser as a törlőrugany (which is actually called Radiergummi, just as in German, although spelled differently).

  18. You would all save yourselves some time if you just bought a copy of the ‘Hungarianising Dictionary’ (“Magyarító szótár”) from Tinta Könyvkiadó.

    With such Jobbik would no longer be referred to as ‘radikális’, but rather ‘gyökeres’ – as the party is full of “gyökér.” (The joke only works in Hungarian).

    Interestingly enough, Morvai (of Jobbik), Fidesz and KDNP politicians seem to spend most of their time writing speeches using the companion dictionary ‘The first Hungarian snob dictionary’ (“Első magyar sznobszótár” from the same press). The vast majority of which is English and Latin words ending in “-ikus.”

  19. “Orban’s immediate friends received a paltry 0.26 billion HUF.”

    I’d bet against that.
    Would anyone be surprised if the great O received 25% of # 1,2,3…?

  20. Election.

    There are 10387 precincts. By Fidesz’s election law, a party needs two vote counters in a precinct to be allowed to count, i.e. 20,774 people altogether.

    Therefore

    Fidesz party delegates will be present at the counting in
    68.30% of the precincts [14190 delegates],

    United Opposition
    47.68% of the precincts [9906]

    Jobbik
    25.48% of the precincts [5295]

    http://www.sztarklikk.hu/egyeb/sztarklikk-kozelet/70518/

  21. tappanch :
    EU agricultural support in 2013:
    Ten per cent of the companies received 74% of the money.
    Biggest beneficiaries:
    1. Nyerges+Simicska : 6.79 billion HUF
    2. Csanyi: 6.43 billion
    3. Leisztinger: 4.78 billion
    Orban’s immediate friends received a paltry 0.26 billion HUF.
    http://k.blog.hu/2014/03/24/simicskaek_csanyi_es_leisztinger_ujra_a_dobogon

    It seems the 20-80 rule holds in this sector too.

    Well, the 10-74 is a bit worse, but it just shows that any sector gets pretty concentrated soon. You only have to ensure that you participate in the winning 20 percent. Orban did.

    (For the avoidance of doubt the formerly MSZP-supporting Leisztinger has been supporting Fidesz for years, that was the price, along with some of his assets he had to part with, for not getting prosecuted after 2010. It is actually pretty useful to own the prosecution, it seems.)

  22. petofi :
    “Orban’s immediate friends received a paltry 0.26 billion HUF.”
    I’d bet against that.
    Would anyone be surprised if the great O received 25% of # 1,2,3…?

    My guess is that the bulk of the money at #1 is considered Fidesz party money, courtesy of the European Union.

  23. tappanch :
    Election.
    There are 10387 precincts. By Fidesz’s election law, a party needs two vote counters in a precinct to be allowed to count, i.e. 20,774 people altogether.
    Therefore
    Fidesz party delegates will be present at the counting in
    68.30% of the precincts [14190 delegates],
    United Opposition
    47.68% of the precincts [9906]
    Jobbik
    25.48% of the precincts [5295]
    http://www.sztarklikk.hu/egyeb/sztarklikk-kozelet/70518/

    Updated at noon on March 25, 2014

    Fidesz 15367 [74%]
    United Opposition 11500 [55%]
    Jobbik 5990 [29%]
    Gypsy party 1043 [5%]

    http://www.nvi.hu/hu/ogyv2014/854/854_0.html

    (The percentage of the coverage might be smaller, because some of delegates might cover the precincts abroad at the embassies and consulates)

    http://www.nvi.hu/hu/ogyv2014/770/770_0_index.html

    List and addresses of the precincts:

    http://www.nvi.hu/dyn/pv14/kepek/szavk_letolt.xls

    This list also marks the precincts where the ballots of the cross voters are mixed with the regular votes!

  24. THere are 10386 precincts in Hungary and 97 abroad.
    (The link in the previous note above lists 10387 precincts in Hungary instead of 10386)

    # of people eligible to vote inside Hungary: 8 028 310.

    40,994 voters can cast their ballots for their district from another district in Hungary.

    22,804 voters can vote abroad in person (out of an estimated 500-600,000 workers abroad)

    194,968-231,864 ethnic Hungarians with no address in Hungary can vote by mail
    82,000+ new citizens with Hungarian addresses can vote.
    That delivers 300,000 votes [presumably for Fidesz] out of 600,000 new citizens.

    http://www.nvi.hu/hu/ogyv2014/770/770_0_index.html

  25. tappanch, who are the 82 000 citizens with a Hungarian address? Are these people who have authentically settled, or just ethnic Hungarians with some sort of accommodation address? I’m not challenging the statistic, just don’t understand it.

    While I’m not convinced that there are quite as many as 500 000 workers abroad, it is shocking if only 22804 are going to vote. And why aren’t people angry that 200 000 people with no stake in Hungarian society (i.e. they don’t pay tax and are not governed by its rules) are being allowed the vote? Crazy

  26. tappanch :
    THere are 10386 precincts in Hungary and 97 abroad.
    (The link in the previous note above lists 10387 precincts in Hungary instead of 10386)
    # of people eligible to vote inside Hungary: 8 028 310.
    40,994 voters can cast their ballots for their district from another district in Hungary.
    22,804 voters can vote abroad in person (out of an estimated 500-600,000 workers abroad)
    194,968-231,864 ethnic Hungarians with no address in Hungary can vote by mail
    82,000+ new citizens with Hungarian addresses can vote.
    That delivers 300,000 votes [presumably for Fidesz] out of 600,000 new citizens.
    http://www.nvi.hu/hu/ogyv2014/770/770_0_index.html

    I sent in twice my request to vote from outside Hungary, as I do have a registered home address in Hungary. I filed online twice, once with correct Hungarian spelling, once in general, I never received an answer.

  27. HiBoM :
    tappanch, who are the 82 000 citizens with a Hungarian address? Are these people who have authentically settled, or just ethnic Hungarians with some sort of accommodation address? I’m not challenging the statistic, just don’t understand it.
    While I’m not convinced that there are quite as many as 500 000 workers abroad, it is shocking if only 22804 are going to vote. And why aren’t people angry that 200 000 people with no stake in Hungarian society (i.e. they don’t pay tax and are not governed by its rules) are being allowed the vote? Crazy

    Many traditional Hungarian unemployed can vote. Many Hungarian pensioner can vote. They don’t pay tax, Do you want to refuse the voting right of 50% of the population of Hungary?

  28. We also know several people who work abroad, either permanently (or at least for several years) or seasonal – and those will come back only after the skiing season in Austria ie after Easter, so no chance for them to vote from abroad?

    Presumably they all kept their Hungarian address – though I don’t know if that makes a difference. Tappanch, could you maybe explain (again …) the un-logic of all this?

    I find all this really strange – I’ve participated in several elections where at election day I was outside Germany and never had a problem getting the necessary papers and “voting by letter” (Briefwahl in German) whether it was for parliament or for mayor or EU parliament …
    I just went to the mayor’s office after I got my voting papers or sent a letter …

    But we know of course that Fidesz wants to make voting easy for those who presumably will vote for them – and difficult for everybody else …

  29. @Pensioner, wo had no job:

    Are really so thick or consciously misinterpreting Hibom’s remark re “no stake in Hungarian society”?
    If not, think about it for a moment and try to discover what he meant by “no stake in Hungarian society” – if yes, just f*ck off!

  30. @ Pensioner

    If you live in Hungary and don’t pay tax, you still vote.
    If you live outside of Hungary–ie. Romania–you don’t get to vote unless you have a residency in Hungary.

    Not to hard to understand: those should be the standard, democratic principles of voting.
    But they are not.
    Orban has a better idea–better than the founding fathers of Philadelphia; or the fathers of confederation in Canada etc. etc. No need for 200 years of jurisprudence. (Precedents are a pain.)

    The great O cuts up a poor yelping creature, reads the entrails…and knows all.

    Hajra Magyarok!!!

  31. Orban and his clique must be the only eligible voters.
    All of them took in at least 30,000-50,000 forints every day in the past 20 years.
    Under this income, all should lose the right to vote.

  32. Eva S. Balogh :

    wolfi :
    Not totally OT:
    Not only Stalin and Kadar, but the Nazis also wanted to keep (our German) language pure – they even tried to find words for motor/engine etc … Those were really funny!
    And in the 60s for some time a half hearted attempt was made to use German words in computing, but people gave up quickly, some words they found/tried were just too hilarious …

    444 suggested a few funnies:
    •account → kontó
    •Apple → Alma
    •Iphone → Éntelefon
    •Mercedes → Erzsébet
    •Torrent → Zuhatag
    •pudding → pracliduruzsolás
    •click → kettyenés
    •monitor → felügyelő
    I love “kettyenés.” 😀

    Not ever in my lifetime would I be able to figure out what “pracliduruzsolás” means – in any language, by the way..!

    Otherwise if you use “click” as verb, the effect even funnier if we accept the semi-Hungarian equivalent from above 🙂

    Regarding the subject, I think it was a high time that our beloved leaders will straighten up their usage of our common “mother-tongue”, particularly the one called Orbán.

    For some unfathomable reason this poor fellow just couldn’t handle publicity, speaking in public still, after about 25 years of experience – well, rather exercise – apparently gives him some kind of stage-panic, resulting nightmarish metaphors and confused/confusing imagery, – and imagine this – he has to read it in order to get it even that much right!

    You can read one of his latest achievement in Hungarian here:
    http://www.miniszterelnok.hu/beszed/mi_vagyunk_a_legegysegesebb_orszag_europaban_3
    – a restyled English version here:
    http://www.miniszterelnok.hu/in_english_article/we_are_the_most_unified_country_in_europe
    – and I have to tell you, even the Hungarian is different from the live-version, probably it was just too shamefully inadequate, even more than the obviously edited one.

    And some people still wondering, why he wouldn’t stand up for a public debate..!

    Yes, there is a desperate need to teach proper Hungarian to wannabe statesman and politicians, to self-appointed journalists and “media personalities” – just to name a few, the list practically endless, so finally they may even be able to distinguish the case when to use “in” and “into”, (well, supposed to be -ba -be, -ban -ben in Hungarian) since this the apparently secret knowledge seemingly elude the most…

  33. To those who reads Hungarian and live outside of Orbanistan: Krisztina Ferenci’s “Narancsbőr” – as in Orange-skin (not to be mistaken with Orange-peel, let alone Cellulite!)
    available as e-book, here:

    http://www.multimediaplaza.com/ekonyvek/adatlap/3856

    If you are there, take a look around, quite a few interesting books to read.

    (Eva, I hope that it isn’t against your policy, it isn’t advertisement, only sharing hard to get information. Or so I hope.)

  34. petofi :
    @ Pensioner
    If you live in Hungary and don’t pay tax, you still vote.
    If you live outside of Hungary–ie. Romania–you don’t get to vote unless you have a residency in Hungary.
    Not to hard to understand: those should be the standard, democratic principles of voting.
    But they are not.
    Orban has a better idea–better than the founding fathers of Philadelphia; or the fathers of confederation in Canada etc. etc. No need for 200 years of jurisprudence. (Precedents are a pain.)
    The great O cuts up a poor yelping creature, reads the entrails…and knows all.
    Hajra Magyarok!!!

    I guess, the question isn’t really whether or not someone pays taxes, rather if the consequences of their decision effects on their everyday’s life or not – in my opinion.

    (- And here I rather don’t want to hear that if “the communists” will take over, then there isn’t any more hundreds of millions HUF to come to support soccer in Transylvania by the Hungarian government, because in my opinion it shouldn’t ever have happened anyway, even if it “effect” on those kind voters life in some way.)

    Just to make it clear, in Hungary even the homeless and the pensioner pay tax, quite a hefty amount of that, nearly every day, the highest VAT in the whole Europe!

    As opposed to uncle Áron from Csíkszereda – or whoever from wherever in this respect.

    Let alone that even the homeless wasn’t born like homeless – well, if older than four years anyway – having had a job once, been living someplace before, – and during this time certainly paid a lots of different ways to the state, and those who are in pension today, have been working since ages and paid in every day of their working days – as opposed to the very same uncle Áron from over there.

    So, please, don’t try to sell this crap anymore – they are simply not comparable, period.

    They indeed should have a right to be represented in the Hungarian Parliament – by a same number of MP-s as their number indicates it – if the people of Hungary would find that it is desired -I wouldn’t have any objection, not like today.

    Today the people, the over the border Hungarians being ruthlessly used by a megalomaniac to ensure that his power will be prolonged in order to oppress the people of his own country goes on unhindered.
    That’s what the new Hungarians needed for, that’s what they willing to do.

    It’s a shame, people!

  35. Re Orbán’s debating skills. I can only suggest to take a look at the Orbán-Gyurcsány debate of 2006. He was demolished. I think it was at this time that he decided: never again.

  36. Just to give an idea of how brainwashed the Fideszi are (or, more fairly, perhaps, how differently they see the world) – if my wife and her immediate family are anything to go by, they consider Orbán to be a “great speaker”, and are all enthused by listening to his speeches. Needless to say, they also all consider Gyurcsány to be a very poor speaker “especially with all his swearing”. I have several times heard chunks of Gy’s speeches being read out or quoted at family gatherings – always greeted with hilarious laughter.

    It’s not how the world is, it’s how you see it.

  37. A little OT – personally, I am very conflicted by language change. I now find myself of the generation who consider that they were taught how to speak/write properly and who now find themselves surrounded (especially online) by people who can’t spell and who misuse grammar and punctuation. And yet I also know only too well that this is how language develops and there’s nothing you can do to stop it. The ‘correct’ way I write and speak now would have seemed very wrong just 100 years ago.

    An example that leapt out at me from this very thread is Steven Harnad’s comment – “will sound like errors to the older generation (as they would have been, in their day)”. By an increasing number of Brits, this would now be said (and even written) as “will sound like errors to the older generation (as they would OF been, in their day)”.

    This has been brought about by the misunderstanding of the abbreviation “would’ve”, where the “ve” sound is taken as ‘of’ rather than an abbreviated ‘have’. It began, only a few years ago, as a mistake made by uneducated people, but rapidly spread, so that you now even see it used in broadsheet newspapers, and the OED now accepts ‘would of’, ‘could of’, etc as acceptable alternatives. To my horror, just the other day, I heard a BBC Radio 4 newsreader actually say “could of”.

    I hate it, but I know there is nothing I can do to stop it. My grandchildren will grow up thinking this is a (even the) proper construction.

    So, getting back on-topic, it doesn’t really matter if the authorities try to regulate the language. As the French have found out, the language changes anyway, whatever you do.

  38. dvhr, Nadasdy is behind the times. Over the last fifteen years in the UK, people within the hospitality industry have started using “enjoy” and “enjoy your meal” as if it was the equivalent of bon appetit or jó étvágyat. This is not the influence of Poles and Hungarians, it is something that has evolved in England and is now used quite naturally (although it really grates on my ear) from cafés to gastropubs to even high end restaurants.

    It is odd that England never evolved its own “bon appetit” formulation but food and gastronomy has improved so much in the last two decades that perhaps its absence has became too hard to ignore. Nádasdy doesn’t know what he is talking about, which when you look at his Shakespeare translations, is no real surprise.

  39. The French have been writing their latest official version of their language since 1992: “France’s Académie française battles to protect language from English” http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/8820304/Frances-Academie-francaise-battles-to-protect-language-from-English.html

    We should have stuck with anglo-saxon: “English purism: What might have been” http://www.economist.com/blogs/prospero/2014/01/english-purism

    One has to distinguish between Globish and English: “Why proper English rules OK” http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/2/3ac0810e-d0f0-11df-a426-00144feabdc0.html

    Most of us have to suffer Globish in its many forms, from the ‘handy’ in German to sending an ‘SMS’ in Hungary. None of which I find very “sympathetic”: “German business and English No Denglisch: Willkommen to linguistic purity” http://www.economist.com/news/business/21580180-willkommen-linguistic-purity-no-denglisch

  40. To show that he is not preaching water and drinking wine, Orbán should ban all words of non-hungarian etymology from the hungarian lexicon.

  41. Klaus :

    To show that he is not preaching water and drinking wine, Orbán should ban all words of non-hungarian etymology from the hungarian lexicon.

    That would be an interesting experiment.

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