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Vierailuluento
Prof. Miklós Kontra
"Hungarian Sociolinguistics and its Communication Problem"

Aika: ti 18.10.2011 klo 16.
Paikka: Metsätalo, sali 11 (3. kerros)

Abstrakti

Hungarian Sociolinguistics and its Communication Problems
Miklós Kontra
University of Szeged, Hungary

Around the turn of this century (see, for instance, Journal of Sociolinguistics May 1999 and November 2001) several sociolinguists voiced their concern about how little impact the valuable research results achieved in recent decades have had on language-related thinking and attitudes of the lay public and the decisions made by politicians. It seems clear that sociolinguists have been largely unsuccessful in communicating their expert research results for the benefit of their societies, or in following Labov’s (1982) Principle of Error Correction (“A scientist who becomes aware of a widespread idea or social practice with important consequences that is invalidated by his own data is obligated to bring this error to the attention of the widest possible audience”). The counter-examples or success stories are rather few (e.g. Wolfram 1993, and Hudson & Walmsley 2005).

In this lecture I will look at Hungarian sociolinguistics from this point of view. Research results will be discussed briefly, each one followed by the attempts to communicate them to “normal people” (i.e. people who have no university degree in linguistics – Preston’s definition), politicians included. The topics to be covered include:

  • Hungarian as a pluricentric language,
  • Hungarian standard language ideology,
  • the 2001 law against foreign (mostly English) words without Hungarian translation in public signs,
  • the Csángó dilemma (is Csángó in an Abstand or Ausbau relation to standard Hungarian?),
  • Szilágyi’s Bill of Rights Concerning Ethnic and Linguistic Identity (1994/2003),
  • teaching Rumanian to Hungarians in Rumania, and
  • the law on the use of Hungarian Sign Language (2009).

At the end of the talk I will propose some tentative ways out of the Hungarian sociolinguists’ communication crisis and will invite the audience to share their experience with me.