Johanna Laakso: Brave new linguistics

Johanna Laakso is a professor in the Finno-Ugric Department of the Institut für Europäische und Vergleichende Sprach- und Literaturwissenschaft at the University of Vienna. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Helsinki where she also taught until 2000 when she moved to the University of Vienna. Besides her native Finnish, she speaks English, German, Hungarian, Estonian, Swedish, Russian, and French. Professor Laakso is known to the readers of  Hungarian Spectrum under the pseudonym Sentrooppa-Santra; she is one of our frequent contributors on linguistic topics.  I’m very grateful that Professor Laakso agreed to write a post on the new  Magyar Nyelvstratégiai Intézet (Hungarian Language Strategy Institute), the brainchild of Viktor Orbán. It is time to learn something about this attack on yet another academic discipline. Surprisingly little can be read about the issues involved in the Hungarian press. Professor Laakso’s article makes it all clear. The current Hungarian government’s penchant for changing everything has even reached language. Hungary will soon be a paradise of self-proclaimed “experts” whose theories will be the laughing stock of academics all over the world.

* * *

1. Linguistics and the history of the nation

Ever since the Romantic Nationalism at the turn of the 19th century, language has played an enormously important role for many European nation-states and national emancipation projects. Language is a central marker of ethnicity, or even a criterion of patriotism (“you are a good Hungarian/Pole/Frenchman etc. if and only if you speak good Hungarian/Polish/French etc.”). It is easy and attractive to imagine that language is something that you not only learned but inherited from your parents, and that language-based nations are distinct entities, with sharp and uncontestable borders. And for this reason, in many young or nascent European nation-states it became very popular to define nations as imaginary families united by their languages, and to identify the history of each nation with the history of its language.

Because of the legacy of Romantic Nationalism, many Hungarians still tend to see historical linguistics as simply a means of investigating the history of the nation – and making it as glorious as possible. This is probably why thousands of Hungarians are ready to believe in any alternative theory about the Hungarians as descendants of the Sumerians, the Etrusks, the ancient Egyptians or almost any major ancient civilization – or all of them. For these people, Finno-Ugric linguistics is an evil international conspiracy which was first supported by the Habsburgs and then by the Communists, merely in order to suppress the true history of the proud Magyars.

The “alternative” ideas about the history and relatedness of the Hungarian language, although scientifically unfounded, are popular especially with extreme right-wing political groups, and Jobbik has explicitly pleaded for the “reevaluation of the Finno-Ugric narrative”. Fidesz, in contrast, will not openly contest linguistic facts which are generally acknowledged in academic research worldwide. On his visit to Finland last year, Viktor Orbán explicitly took a stand for the Finno-Ugric language relatedness, calling it an “established fact and not just a matter of opinion”. However, as the holders of power are interested in the votes of those right-wing nationalists who would prefer Scythian or Sumerian origins to the “Bolshevist Finno-Ugric propaganda”, it seems that some kind of a more patriotic form of linguistic inquiry into Hungarian, emphasizing the unique character of the language, is in order. Time is ripe for brave new national linguistics, in the same way as history-writing is now being cultivated in a new, “national” form.

2. Telling the nation how to speak

But language and nation-building are not only connected by way of how the nation and its history are defined. European nationalism is also closely linked to language planning and language correctness. Unlike the English-speaking world, where traditionally dictionary-writers and grammarians, schools or influential media have shaped the ideas of what is good or correct language use, many European nation-states have created state organs for language planning, following the example of the famous Académie Française.

National language planning can have noble democratic motivations. Creating an instrument of communication which is equally accessible to everybody (and not just to those who have studied in the best schools) will serve the inclusion of all citizens into decision-making. This idea was part of the national emancipation process in 19th-century Hungary, and it is still the leading thought behind language planning in the Nordic countries, for example. However, language standardization can also be instrumentalized as part of the Romantic mother tongue mythology: defining the one and only True Language of the Nation, a language which is inherently better, more beautiful, more logical etc. than the other language forms. This idea seems to be popular in Hungarian linguistic culture, which in general is very prescriptivistic. Hungarians are raised in the firm conviction that there is a “pure” or “correct” form of the Hungarian language and that incorrect language use is bad for you and even bad for the whole nation.

Moreover, nationalist language planning can be motivated by linguistic relativism, a concept often connected with the names of the American linguists Edward Sapir and Benjamin Lee Whorf – the idea that the structure of each language dictates how its speakers perceive and conceptualize the world. As linguistics in the Western countries in the second half of the 20th century was dominated by the belief in a genetically conditioned universal grammar (“the language instinct”) underlying all human languages, the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis was out of favour for some time, but now modified versions of it are making a comeback into mainstream linguistics. Outside academic linguistics, however, vulgar relativism has been part of educational and political practices all the time. Laymen just love the idea that different languages in some mysterious way reflect different cultures and world views, that Eskimos have hundreds of words for snow (they don’t, in fact) because of the special sense of snow they have, or that it was the structure of the Hungarian language that helped Edward/Ede Teller develop the atomic bomb. Teachers and grammar nazis will tell you that correct language use is the product of logical thinking and makes you think more logically. And nationalist politicians know how to make use of the belief that the national language is organically connected to a specific way of understanding the world. A magyar észjárás, the Hungarian way of thinking, is one of Viktor Orbán’s favourite expressions.

In the same way as historical linguists have refused to contribute to the creation of a glorious national past, both theoretical linguists and sociolinguists in Hungary after WWII have shown little interest in national language planning. Following the models of the English-speaking academic world, they typically look down upon prescriptivism. In their view, language functions and develops according to its own universal laws and rules, and trying to interfere with them is unscientific, useless or even contraproductive. For this reason, especially after the collapse of the Socialist system and its diverse forms of censorship, the field of national language planning in Hungary has been left in the hands of a few activists, often amateurs (teachers, writers and the like) or professional linguists outside the theoretically most ambitious and internationally best networked circles. And even in Hungarian academia or at least on its fringes, a deep divide has come into being between “linguists” and “language cultivators” (nyelvművelők).

The “language cultivators” are the people who maintain the Museum of the Hungarian Language (!) in Széphalom near Sátoraljaújhely, or the Society of the Keepers of the Mother Tongue (Anyanyelvápolók Szövetsége); in the last few years, one of their central forums has been the website e-nyelv.hu. The language cultivators believe that centralized language planning is needed to stop the language from disintegrating and decaying. They think that somebody will have to tell the people which words to use for which concepts. They would like to create authentic Hungarian equivalents for international terms, in the same way as Kazinczy and other language activists did in the early 19th century – their website szomagyarito.hu offers lots of hilarious examples. And – not completely unjustly – they accuse academic linguists of arrogance and indifference towards the linguistic needs of the general public. Under the Orbán government, they have finally found their opportunity.

3. A new institute for linguistics?

For quite a few years already, a group of linguists and language cultivation activists led by Géza Balázs, professor of Hungarian language at the ELTE university, has been demanding a national strategy to support the cultivation of the Hungarian language. In March 2014, suddenly, a government decree was published declaring a Hungarian Language Strategy Institute (Magyar Nyelvstratégiai Intézet, MANYSI) to be founded, starting from the 1st of April. The new institute, analogously to the new history institutes founded by the Orbán government, is completely independent of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. In fact, it is directly subordinate to the Prime Minister himself. The Academy and its Research Institute for Linguistics were not consulted, not even informed.

The founding decree (an English translation has been published on the website of the Research Institute for Linguistics) is vaguely formulated and gives the impression of being written by somebody who is not very well versed in linguistics. In particular, the term nyelvi értékvesztés (linguistic value loss/loss of language [or: linguistic] values?) remains completely obscure. Does it refer to the possible loss of values encoded in language (for instance: losing the richdom of vocabulary) or to “domain loss” or the risk that the Hungarian language will be used less and less in certain contexts such as business life or science? The functions of the new institute are defined very loosely and might, in principle, include not just language policies but almost any area of linguistic inquiry. Among the tasks, conducting “research into the internal structure, characteristics and functioning of the Hungarian language, into its connections to our culture as a whole” is explicitly mentioned.

The worst scenario which some Hungarian linguists feared was that the new institute might get more and more power in the distribution of research resources, in the same way as the government has systematically strengthened the position of the Hungarian Academy of Arts (MMA). So far, this has not happened. The new institute has started with a very low profile. It doesn’t have a public website yet, and of the possibly up to 30 employees, only the name of the director has been made public. Contrary to what was expected, the director is not Géza Balázs but Lóránt Bencze, a 75-year-old (!) former Catholic friar and college professor, teacher at the Zsigmond Király Főiskola. Bencze is fairly unknown in Hungarian linguistics; he has a few publications on the areas of semiotics, communication and cultural studies but hardly anything about language policy or language planning, and his homepage does not tell where, when and on which topic he earned his PhD and Dr.hab. degrees.

A week ago, Bencze gave a detailed interview to the news portal 444.hu, defining the language strategy and its goals on the basis of linguistic relativism, which seems to be his personal hobby-horse. According to Bencze, the Hungarian language dictates how Hungarians see the world, and the “devalorization” mentioned in the founding decree means the loss of mutual understanding between Hungarians. If people do not understand each other properly, their communication will fail and the whole Hungarian language will disintegrate and die out. Proper understanding, in Bencze’s terms, requires common concepts. To put it bluntly, somebody will have to tell the Hungarians which words they should use and what these words should mean. And of course the “appropriate” concepts and categories already exist somewhere. As Bencze puts it (my translation):

“We haven’t been able to work out the rapid political changes of the 20th century, and this shows in our thinking. Our concepts are not clear, we cannot name properly what exists and why, we don’t know who directs the world and how, and this makes us anxious. Anxiety, in turn, breeds violence. This can only be avoided if we think in as clear categories as possible.”

4. National linguistics, just for ourselves?

Bencze’s ideas seem to be very far away from concrete language policies – he doesn’t bother to explain how and by whom the “clear categories” will be defined and taught to the general public. One gets the impression that his main goal is to produce patriotic rhetorics, arousing positive feelings and, above all, the belief that the Hungarian language is something unique and special. This becomes even more obvious if we take a look at his relativist ideas in the publication of the Second Czuczor-Fogarasi Conference. Actually, the whole publication helps us understand what is happening on these borderline areas between Hungarian linguistics and nationalism. And this brings us back to the history of Hungarian linguistics.

The Czuczor-Fogarasi dictionary, published between the years 1862 and 1874, was the first attempt of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences to produce an extensive standard lexicon of the national language. However, already at the time of its publication it was considered theoretically outdated. (Among the harshest critics were Hunfalvy and Budenz, the pioneers of modern comparative linguistics in Hungary – and the chief “bad guys” of today’s anti-Finno-Ugric conspiracy theories.) The authors of the dictionary, friar, teacher and poet Gergely Czuczor and lawyer and polyhistor János Fogarasi, were committed Hungarian patriots and diligent philologists but no linguists in the emerging modern sense of the word. They had received a traditional philological education in classical and modern European languages, and their view on the history and relatedness of languages was pre-scientific: they compared words and bundled them together on the basis of superficial similarities. These similarities were described in terms of abstract “roots”: monosyllabic elements which could be subject to vowel or consonant alternations. So, for instance, abr in abrosz ‘tablecloth’ is related to bor in borít ‘to cover’, and kor in korong ‘disk’ is related to kör ‘circle’, ker in kerít ‘to encircle’ and further to gör in görbe ‘curved’ etc.

As modern linguists could immediately point out, the root method had nothing to do with real historical processes and etymological connections. For instance, there is no reason to postulate a root abr, as the whole word abrosz is a loanword from Slavic. In mainstream linguistics, the Czuczor–Fogarasi dictionary was soon forgotten, despite its true merits in presenting authentic language material. “Alternative” amateur linguists, however, have begun to actively celebrate the dictionary and use it as a point of departure for their, to put it mildly, non-mainstream views about the Hungarian root system and Hungarian as the ancestral language of the whole mankind.

Now in the last few years, some academic linguists as well have begun to cautiously rehabilitate the Czuczor-Fogarasi dictionary, promoting something that could be called a “respectable” version of the root theory. The above-mentioned conference, notably not hosted by the Academy of Sciences but by the Academy of Arts (!), an institution enjoying the Orbán government’s special protection, managed to gather a group of professional linguists and established scholars, some of them representing the “language cultivators”. The conference publication refrains from overt flim-flam and attempts to give a serious impression. It does not contain any statements about the Sumerian descent of the Hungarians nor rabid hate tirades against the Finno-Ugric relatedness – in fact, one contribution is authored by Péter Pomozi, docent of Finno-Ugric languages at ELTE. Géza Balázs himself, the leading figure of the language cultivation movement, writes about the root models as a precedent of the fashionable network theory, while Lóránt Bencze harps on about his relativist argument, with lots of references to linguistic and philosophical literature.

It seems that by dropping names of authoritative sources or fashionable theories and gradually stretching the definitions of concepts and categories, the authors try to smuggle outdated and pre-scientific ideas back into academic linguistics. “Relativizing” or “questioning” received wisdoms can be done by referring to “interdisciplinary” approaches (in historical linguistics, typically an excuse for ignoring everything we know about how languages change), or by moving the whole discussion on to a higher meta-level and quoting Thomas Kuhn’s theory of paradigm changes in science. The message which an uninformed reader will get is roughly as follows: Czuczor and Fogarasi were right after all and ahead of their time, but the arrogant academic establishment has slavishly followed foreign models and forgotten how special the Hungarian language is. Fortunately, our government now supports these good guys who will purify our language and restore its glory and prestige. (And even those who would like to go even farther and believe that Hungarian was the first language of all mankind will enjoy hearing that the Finno-Ugric bad guys were at least not completely right – in the same way as those who believe that there never was any Holocaust enjoy hearing that the deportation of thousands of Jews to certain death in Kamenets-Podolski in 1941 was a “simple police procedure”.)

To sum up: What we see now on the fringes of Hungarian linguistics resembles what is happening on the fringes of Hungarian history-writing. Alongside the established and internationally connected institutions of science and learning, a parallel national research is being built up. So far, these parallel institutions have been playing their own games and haven’t even tried to compete with serious academic research on its own field. Instead of aspiring to real academic merits, the people active in these parallel scholarly enterprises contribute a pseudo-academic glaze to the government’s nationalist rhetorics. In return, they receive pseudo-academic merits and nice-looking additions to their CVs, and some of them can even get a nice pseudo-academic position at a new “research” institute. Win-win.

Advertisements

29 comments

  1. As professor Laakso pointed out, this linguistic adventure is a parallel enterprise to the Veritas institute. It’s nationalistic approach also explains why such a generously funded institution as the Collegium Budapest was doomed (more information for German readers: http://www.welt.de/print/die_welt/kultur/article12041349/Ich-denke-oft-an-Budapest.html ).

    But there may be a wider pattern and a more sinister intention behind it all.

    We have been informed that there is already a well-staffed duplicate government with a ministerial structure in place in Orbán’s anteroom, under the direction of minion-in-chief, Janos Lazar. We have also heard of plans to scatter major ministries across the country, far from the centre of power. We have heard of state-appointed “chancellors” (polit commissairs) to supervise the universities which will only be able to vote for their own rector if he has been nominated by the government – and the nomination approved by president Adér. A singular and unheard of arrangement!

    The trend points to “work in progress” which would also explain why MTA/HAS and the universities have to make do with state funding already reduced by 30% – with further cuts in sight. Now once everything will exist in duplicate and the original academic, scientific and cultural institutions are withering, why keep the duplicity? It only costs money the government doesn’t even have now.

    I, for one, wouldn’t be surprised if all this hocus-pocus is intended to replace the existing Hungarian academic world for good. Rumor has it that students of “non-essential” subjects will have to pay for their tuition themselves soon.

    Orbán’s brave new Disneyworld is in the making – where it’s not already here.

  2. What a great article. Thank you Ms. Laakso. I will need to read it again in order to take it all in.

    I agree with Minusio, I too think that Orban is doubling many academic and government institutions, and he will take down the original ones shortly.

  3. Thanks for the first comments! Eva, please let me correct a detail: I do read and understand Russian but I wouldn’t say I speak it (I’m out of practice, or rather, never had one), and my knowledge of French is on the level of “they wouldn’t be able to sell me in a sack” – I get the basics but don’t really speak the language.

    As for the parallel structures in academia: the whole thing is interestingly connected with a process which has attracted very little attention outside opposition fora (see, for instance, Ágnes Huszár’s article on Galamus: http://www.galamuscsoport.hu/tartalom/cikk/357774_megbukott_a_mab ). The new law on higher education (in effect since the beginning of 2012) affected the independent decision-making and funding of the Hungarian national accreditation committee (MAB) so badly that ENQA, the European umbrella organization for quality assurance in higher education, suspended MAB’s membership. (For instance, according to the new law, the board of MAB will include not only academic scientists and scholars but also representatives of churches as well as the “chambers” of industry and commerce. Half of the new members, including the president, were directly nominated by the minister.)

    MAB is now a “full member under review”, meaning that unless its independence and funding are guaranteed according to ENQA’s conditions, ENQA might even dismiss MAB. (A new external evaluation must take place, and before that, MAB awaits an amendment to the law: http://www.mab.hu/web/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=467:hac-enqa-membership&catid=95:angol-friss-hirek&Itemid=667&lang=hu .) The most dramatic consequence of a negative evaluation and dismissal, in principle, could be that diplomas and degrees from Hungarian higher education would not be acknowledged outside Hungary.

    If the Orbán government is ready to risk losing the international validity and prestige of Hungarian higher education, what would stop them from pulling down all academic institutions and replacing them with brave new ones?

  4. London Calling!

    Orban’s Thuggocracy takes another isolating step in the siege mentality of Thuggesz.

    “Look they’re attacking our language now – Hussars (doddery and ‘Kover- moustachioed’) to the rescue! ”

    The most ludicrous example of this finger in the dyke is in IT.

    Hungary insists on using obscure IT terms in their computing – to the complete bewilderment of most other IT professionals. Even more difficult to understand given the unique ‘internationalism’ of computing in a global village.

    Even within the Hungarian IT Community this ‘dualism’ causes confusion – so I am told.

    Orban’s nationalistic academy will be an anachronistic disappearing expensive relic – just as the
    Académie Française is – where French mischievousness insists on using ‘le weekend’ and ‘un beefsteak’ to spite them.

    Yes this isolation will further ensure Orban’s powerbase. Sans doubt.

    I believe moves like this will further isolate the language too. The only way a language will survive is if it is allowed to ‘evolve’ in common use – by the people. Even if this means borrowing heavily from other languages.

    Viva la különbség!!

    (With thanks – or otherwise- to Google Translate!)

    (Fascinating article Sentrooppa-Santra – I always respected the authority of your posts!)

    Regards

    Charlie

  5. The MAB response to the ENAQ addresses dismissal but does not address the current make up of the board nor how members are appointed to the board. This should be fun!

  6. CharlieH, linguistic purism (avoiding “foreign” words) need not be a problem. Puristic language planning has worked and works in Iceland and Estonia, for instance. But it doesn’t work without the cooperation of an interested, active, educated and literate general public – language is what its users make out of it. The problem with Hungarian “magyarító” activists is not that they want to introduce Hungarian equivalents for foreign terminology, but that they do it in an uninformed and dictatorial manner, departing not from the real needs of the language users (such as democracy, inclusion of citizens and understandability) but from their flim-flam ideas of “true Hungarian language” based on “true Hungarian thinking”.

    Moreover, I don’t think that linguistic relativism is wrong in itself. In a certain sense, Sapir and Whorf were right, and there certainly are connections between language, thought, culture and world view. It’s only that these connections are subtle and not necessarily to be found in the most obvious places. Besides, they can always be overridden by language users – otherwise, if the most naïve and vulgar versions of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis were true, translating would be genuinely impossible always and everywhere, and a bilingual person who is speaking his “mother tongue” would not understand what he himself has said a little earlier in his “father tongue”.

    So, again, the problem in my view is not that something is stated about the connection between the Hungarian language and a possible Hungarian way of thinking or seeing the world. The problem is that Bencze & Co. do not present any solid empirical data whatsoever to support these statements.

  7. @Sentrooppa-Santra “linguistic purism (avoiding “foreign” words) need not be a problem.”

    Why bother? Especially given Pakinka is based on a borrowed word if not a completely borrowed word on it’s own.

  8. Many of you are marveling at Orban’s nonsense. Why is it hard to accept? Orban is making a fool of all Hungarians. It’s as simple as that…

  9. As I have indicated in prior posts during the era of Communism two full generations of Hungarian-Americans were provided Hungarian language education through programs run through both Catholic and Lutheran churches. The idea that Hungarian was derived from a powerful war like elite that eventually brought culture, Christianity, and primitive forms of free enterprise to the nation was inherent in the curriculum.

    Unfortunately, one of the most powerful forces for this perspective were former Arrow Cross members or sympathizers and even worse former 25th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS Hunyadi (1st Hungarian) troopers. Because those SS who survived were captured by the US Third Army in WWII some were recruited directly by what eventually became the CIA as anti-Communist agents and brought to the USA where they played a prominent role in the Hungarian-American community in the 1950s-1970s. They also forged strong ties to other anti-communists including Ukrainians, Croatians, Poles, and even Cubans.

    Amazingly a good number emigrated back in Hungary at the fall of communism. One thing that was repeatedly discussed during those days in 1989-1990 was the need for good Hungarians to preserve our language and culture. Money was actually raised to try to counter work that George Soros was doing because he was openly characterized as a social-democratic traitor that wanted to turn Hungary into a vassal state of his own corporate interests in Germany and other EU states.

    Today when I read Jobbik rantings I see very little that was not presented to Hungarian-American children whose families culturally did not want them to fully assimilate to the American hodgepodge of ethic cultures. The roots of what we are seeing in this Hungarian language movement to a degree come directly out of the remnants of Hungarian Fascism and anti-Russian nationalism that survived the years of communism.

  10. Thank you, Johanna, for this thorough and fair analysis!
    I usually (try to) read your Finnish blog, as well. It’s always rewarding to see the ideas of a foreigner who has such profound interest and knowledge of Hungary.

    About MANYSI: I’m quite worried that Minusio is right. These parallel institutions might well be fused with the older existing ones, and the management of the new ones will at some point take over the old ones. Or there comes a new law that there is no money to fund them both and they close down the old ones.

    Have you, Minusio and Johanna, seen the book “Hungarian Polyp: The Post-Communist Maffia State” by Balint Magyar? I haven’t got or read it but every time he talks about his description of the current system, it makes a lot of sense to me, and this MANYSI fits in perfectly.
    Eva might have written about Magyar’s book before (?).

    Istvan, your comment is also very useful – I sometimes wondered where on earth these archaic, aggressive and overconfident “Hungarians are so special” faces had turned up from after 1990. It’s certainly not the kind of identity we built up growing up in the 80s under Kadar! A kind of homesickness and protest against assimilation must have also played a role (as you say). It’s easy to turn to “isn’t Hungary the best place on earth” to comfort yourself as you fight for your new life in emigration, and some people will take it further and turn their romantically patriotic feelings into an ideology.

  11. Hungarian science needs scholars like Johanna Laakso and Eva Balogh.

    Hungary must categorically reject all fascist Hungarians as described by Istvan of Chicago.

    Jobbik and Fidesz, the homes of fascist Hungarians, are speaking lots about love, while in reality, destroying all hopes for a democracy.

  12. Well, Vanga, the Bulgarian clairvoyant predicted that space aliens will contact the Hungarians next year:

    (turn English captions on)

    We have to clean the language until then. This guy isn’t too far from these so called academics. No wonder the Orban government wanted to decorate him.

    I believe this idiocy will bounce back from the Hungarians similarly to the runic writing.

    If you want a good laugh watch this “video”, dubbed with Andras Laar voice. Hungarian language at it’s best.

    http://orulunkvincent.blog.hu/2014/07/07/erpatak_non_coronat

    The fellow by the way is the mayor of Erpatak. Perfect specimen of the new Hungarian “intelligentia”.

  13. Istvan
    July 8, 2014 at 7:01 am
    …..
    Unfortunately, one of the most powerful forces for this perspective were former Arrow Cross members or sympathizers and even worse former 25th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS Hunyadi (1st Hungarian) troopers. Because those SS who survived were captured by the US Third Army in WWII some were recruited directly by what eventually became the CIA as anti-Communist agents and brought to the USA where they played a prominent role in the Hungarian-American community in the 1950s-1970s. They also forged strong ties to other anti-communists including Ukrainians, Croatians, Poles, and even Cubans.

    Amazingly a good number emigrated back in Hungary at the fall of communism. One thing that was repeatedly discussed during those days in 1989-1990 was the need for good Hungarians to preserve our language and culture. Money was actually raised to try to counter work that George Soros was doing because he was openly characterized as a social-democratic traitor that wanted to turn Hungary into a vassal state of his own corporate interests in Germany and other EU states.

    Can you provide some sources for these?

  14. Some 1: Yes I have posted links on this blog to the FOIAed files that were finally released to Holocaust survivors that discussed in redacted form the OSS program in Europe after the war that brought ex Arrow Cross and SS who had been rehabilitated to the US. These documents were released because of the Nazi War Crimes Disclosure Act [P.L. 105-246]. Here is a link to one of these highly redacted documents:

    http://www.foia.cia.gov/sites/default/files/document_conversions/1705143/NADAS,%20LAJOS_0001.pdf

    There are more such documents that discuss the links between Arrow Cross in Austria and the USA written by the OSS and CIA. But they are redacted to protect various agents.

    Laszlo Pasztor, is a good example he built the US Republican Party’s
    ethnic outreach committees network. Pasztor, who served as
    adviser to Republican Paul Weyrich, belonged to the Hungarian Arrow
    Cross. Pasztor was founding chairman of the Republican Heritage
    Groups Council. Pasztor was the basis for a central character in Costa-Gavras movie, Music Box. A small newspaper, the Washington Jewish Week finally exposed Pasztor.

    One of the front groups used by former Arrow Cross members in the US was the World Anti-Communist League (WACL). The Book “Inside The League: The Shocking Expose Of How Terrorists, Nazis, And Latin American Death Squads Have Infiltrated The World Anti-Communist League.” Scott Anderson and Jon Lee Anderson. Dodd Mead, New York, 1986. ISBN 0-396-08517-2 discusses this. The WACL has disbanded.

    In 1950, the US Congress passed the Lodge Act, which gave the U.S. military the authority to recruit immigrants into the U.S. Army to help fight the Cold War. It wasn’t just the military, but the FBI, the State Department, and the CIA which helped itself to not only Nazis, but Eastern European Nazi collaborators such as members of Croatia’s Ustasha, Hungary’s Arrow Cross, and the Romanian Iron Guard.

    Lastly on the assault on Soros here is an example of the kind of comments that were being circulated about Soros during the early stages of transition and were in fact passed around in the Hungarian community in the USA: “George Soros is not only one of the world’s leading megaspeculators; throughout his entire life up to this day, he has served as an errand boy for the Anglo-American monetarist establishment, running looting operations against the nations of Eastern Europe, as well as attacks against the sovereignty of nations.” Here is yet another example of the attack against Soros from that time: “When it comes to simple logic, how come Soros was allowed to set up his Open Society Institutions in the communist Hungary in 1984, in 1986 in communist China and in the Soviet Union in 1987 – and at the same he was financing the “anti-communist” opposition movements and the communists had let it go without arresting Soros, confiscating his money and sentencing him for 20 years to Siberian Gulag ?
    Such probability of getting away with it were only possible for communists or communist agents and NOT for an American businessman like Soros.”

    I hope I have given you some evidence for what I wrote, this is not news, its an old story. But let me add one funny note to this sad chapter of US history, many of the Hungarian-Americans on the far right were very suspicious of Orban because they suspected him of being a Soros plant. They have been pleasantly surprised at how well things have turned out. In fact about six months ago I linked to Eva’s blog photos taken at events for Orban in Chicago when he was here for a NATO conference when he spoke to the community and visited Hungarian churches here. One older gentleman seen happily greeting him was once a member of the WACL and very well may have been an Arrow Cross member or sympathizer, but I have never heard him admit to that.

  15. Hungary has to solve its social and cultural problems, and the domestic resources will not be enough for this task.

    A mini-Union with Austria, or Slovakia, or Poland would be very beneficial.

    It would render corruption and fascism of the leaders impossible.

  16. We are descendent of turkic turanid race of Huns scythians and sumerians we had strong relation with etruscans! Why do you envy and deny our past?

  17. I was expecting something like this, why did it take so long 😉 ?

    Seriously: It’s no use discussing these issues with people who still believe that “envy” is the main motivation for historical-comparative linguistics worldwide, or that historical linguistics is about which nation has the most glorious past.

    As for “Turkic race”, it is probable that there was at least some exchange of genes (i.e. intermarrying) between the linguistic ancestors of the Hungarians and the Turkic-speaking steppe peoples (not to speak of assimilated Turkic-speaking peoples such as the Cumans). But speaking of “Turanid race” or “races” in general is something serious scientists now tend to avoid. Huns and Scythians belong here in the sense that they, too, represented the same world of steppe cultures from which the Hungarians also came, and the tradition of regarding Huns and Scythians as ancestors of the Hungarians, even if it doesn’t exactly hold true in the historical sense, has itself become part of the Hungarian cultural history.

    But how Etruscans and Sumerians fit into this picture has always escaped my imagination.

  18. London Calling!

    Of course us English are really jealous of the turkic turanid race of Huns scythians and sumerians with strong relation with etruscans.

    It must explain the “true Hungarian thinking” that lost you Miskolc; lost you your ’empire’ in WW1; lost your freedom with Horthy in WW2; and explains why you voted for Orban.

    We really are jealous of this deep and true Hungarian thinking as practised by Matolcsy – some people think he’s mad and a simpleton but he’s related to the Japanese with a red spot on his bum.

    Turan’s? Hey I think there’s evidence that Michael Jackson was a Turan yea spooky and we’re SO SO jealous.

    We’re so jealous of all that statue moving and rewriting of history and dreaming up kitsch statues to deny the dreadful part played by Hungarians in WW2.

    Yea really really envious!

    In England our government is SO boring just getting on and making life better for the whole population.

    We’d much rather persecute a few minorities, rewrite our glorious history, work in the black economy and generally live in penury and social inequality.

    And that Echo TV! Well hell, we only have the BBC – we’re really fed up with all that propaganda. Give us some of those ‘off the wall’ documentaries.

    Yea right.

    We so envy you Hungarians.

    Regards

    Charlie

  19. @Istvan, THank you. I had no idea. Honestly. I am not even ignorant about the subject and had no clue. It certainly explains why certain Fidesz movements (rehabilitation of Horthy, etc.) gain any support from Hungarian immigrants in the USA and Canada.
    Thanks again.

  20. The interview on nyest.hu seems to confirm my suspicions. What Bencze understands by “new linguistic approaches” means “anthropological and cognitive linguistics” – which for him obviously mean flimsy “cultural” connections (“folk dance also belongs here”, says he) and, obviously, vulgar relativism galore. There will be an interdisciplinary expert council and networking with related institutions… Otherwise: hot air, vague ideas and, repeatedly, “these concepts will have to be filled with content”. At first sight, Bencze gives the impression of a friendly and nice, wise and learned man – and when you start analysing what he is really saying, there is a chaotic cloud of words, half-digested quotations and references, covering a giant black hole.

    And yes, the initiative for the founding of the institute came from the Prime Minister himself, a man led by a deep love and respect towards his mother tongue, but – in this connection – Bencze never met him, in practice it is János Lázár who is in charge. (As a colleague already asked: Is there anything in Hungary any more that is NOT led by János Lázár?)

Comments are closed.