István Udvari

On the question of Hungarian loanwords
in the literary language of Subcarpathian Rusyns



It is proven fact that Hungarian-Slavic language interaction stretches till remote ages of  1,100 years to the period of the Hungarian conquest of homeland (see Zoltán: 1996). Many of researchers consider that  still before this time, when Ugrians abode far outside of the Carpathian region, they had some language contacts with Slavs. Others, who evolve the theory of double-conquest of homeland, say there exists the evidence the Slavs of the Carpathian basin linguistically interacted with the Ugric tribes known as late Avars (see Makkay: 2004). As a result of such a multilateral Ugro-Slavic interaction a lot of Slavic elements have struck roots in Hungarian dialects, as well as a plenty of Hungarian elements have in Slavic dialects. With regard to the literary languages, the situation is more intricate: Hungarian have a huge portion of Slavic loanwords, while the occurence of Hungarian loanwords in present-day Slavic literary languages is relatively not too large. This question asks for a monographic research. It is obvious, however that Slavic literary languages are based on such dialects which had not been in lively boundary interaction with the Hungarian language or its dialects. Consider, for instance, the Ukrainian literary language based on Kiev-Poltava dialect, or the Slovenian one based on the patois of Ljubljana area. In the course of forming of present-day Slavic literary languages their early versions available (such as Church Slavonic in the case of Serbians and Ukrainians and biblical Czech in the case of Slovaks) made it possible to avoid using of Hungarian elements, and  at certain phases codificators of Slavic literary languages deliberately worked for that.

Even being constrained to my narrow subject, I certainly have to mention that over centuries, before present-day Slavic literary languages had been born, a number of regional literary languages were existing and functioning based on certain Slavic dialects closely interacting with Hungarian, and those were using the Hungarian orthography and also contained a considerable portion of Hungarian loanwords. (On the Eastern Slovak literary language see Király 1953, Udvari 1990; on the production by the Kajkavian Croatian see Hadrovics 1964, Lukács 2000, Király 2003, Udvari 2003, 2003/a; on the Gradišće Croatian literary language see Hadrovics 1974, Nyomárkay 1966.)

Already by our time the Rusyns of Bačka-Srem area (in Serbia and Croatia) took the road of making a distinct literary language, and the author of  these lines had drawn the Hungarian scholars’ attention to Hungarian loanwords in this language (see Udvari 1982, Udvari 1985; Udvari 1997, MNy: 1982 9396; MNy: 1988 227232; MNy: 1995 345348; Ethnographia: 1997 343357). In last decade of the 20th century the Slovak Rusyns as well standardized their own literary language based on Zemplín dialect (see Magocsi 1996). From the standpoint of  scholars researching the history of the Hungarian-Slavic cultural and linguistic ties it is worth mentioning that in this case a spoken dialect of Eastern Slovakia’s Rusyns, who maintained during long centuries tough cultural, linguistic and economic contacts with Hungarians, has upgraded to a literary language, and the production by this language is remarkably good for studying the Hungarian-Slavic linguistic and ethnic interrelations. As for the origin of Hungarian lexical loanwords in the Rusyn literary language in Slovakia, it reveals, in part, the Slovak mediation.  A precise estimate of the intermediary role of Slovak dialects asks, nevertheless, for the complete list of Hungarian elements of the Slovak language. This is why we look forward to the in-depth synthesis on this question, about two thousand pages in size, by Ferenc Gregor to come (see Gregor 1993). One can point to the fact that initiators of the Rusyn literary language in Slovakia, its improvers, normalizers, lexicographers did not subject the Hungarian loanwords to discrimination (see Udvari 1996; 1996/a).

The latest decade of years bears the marks of progress the Subcarpathian Rusyns have made in attempt to create their own literary language. Nevertheless, at present time a monographic study on Hungarian elements in literary production, dictionaries, grammars, and other books having been published in the Subcarpathian area in Rusyn vernacular is sadly lacking.

It is a truly absorbing philological problem to investigate Hungarian loanwords functioning in literary languages. Opponents of making Rusyn literary languages of regional diffusion are strongly arguing against not infrequent using of Hungarian elements by those who write in Rusyn literary language. From the standpoint of the science of language, this sort of reasoning is quite unacceptable. The whole of the Hungarian lexical loanwords known to me from editions in Rusyn, without a single exception, proves to be  a basic vocabulary of Rusyn dialects having been shaped in the course of history (on the Hungarian elements in Rusyn dialects see Rieger 2004 6162). And what is more, one can assert that further destiny of the Hungarian loanwords depends on the destiny of the Rusyn dialects themselves. If the Rusyn dialects upgrade to a literary level, it is quite natural, the  Hungarian loanwords continue their  being. But if normalizers begin to eliminate Hungarian loanwords from the Rusyn literary language in the making, its dialectic basis, of course, will come loose. Thus, one can say that the destiny of Rusyn dialects and the destiny of their Hungarian loanwords are obviously interrelated. As one can see in case of the Rusyn literary language in Bačka-Srem area and also in Slovakia, the widespread Hungarian loanwords have continued their functioning as elements of literary language since Rusyn dialects developed to the literary level (see MNy 1993 7781; Udvari 1997/a; 1997/b; 2000). On the grounds of the editions by the Subcarpathian Rusyns known to me at present day — dictionaries, belles-lettres, publicism — I can assert that the normalizers of the literary Rusyn, writers, poets, grammatists, lexicographers do not conceal the linguistic evidence of our common historical past.

Manuscript dictionaries and vocabularies of Subcarpathian Rusyn vernacular are known from the second half of the 19th century. The present article had already been written when a comprehensive work on Rusyn language from Opole (Poland) fell into my hands bringing nearly complet data on Rusyn dictionaries (see Magocsi 2004 430449). A Rusyn-Hungarian dictionary rested upon the oldest and widespread u‑dialects of foothills had been compiled by László Csopey and appeared in print in 1883. Antal Hodinka assumed the very same dialects as a basis for his famous Hlaholnytsia (a full set of  Rusyn verbs) compiled in 1922 (see Hodinka 1991). The lexicographical approach of Csopey and Hodinka was followed by Stefan Popovich (1999). Some lexicographers, as Jurij Chori, Mykhajlo Almashij, Dymytrij Pop, head for phonetics and vocabulary of ü‑dialects, not that they want to disable an opportunity for those who articulate o in new closed syllable as u. (On the Rusyn dialects see Kercha 2004 144146, 466468.)

I would like to use one dictionary published in Uzhgorod in 2001 (see Almashij–Pop 2001)  as an example to illustrate the aforesaid assertions. The dictionary in question had been reviewed by Igor Kercha (2002) in comparison with other ones. In his critical essay he calls to notice: “The present short comparison suggests a definite idea to us:  it is impossible to get Rusyn culture off the ground and develop it to the higher level, if we tear it away from the roots, from the achievements reached by our ancestors and from the cultures of the neighbouring peoples we interacted with in the course of  many centuries.” It seems to me that these words are of importance as regards to developing Rusyn language as well.

The trilingual dictionary, published by the Dukhnovich Society and the Cyril and Methodius Society, counts about 7,000 entries. As it says in the authors’ preface, all of the words brought out are widespread both in spoken and in literary Rusyn language of the Subcarpathian area. The dictionary is meant for researchers, translators, university students, as well as Rusyn and Ukrainian intellectuals. The declared reason of its compilation was to distinguish the literary Rusyn language from Ukrainian and to prove its linguistic independence. The authors consider literary Rusyn to be undoubtedly able to convey in every detail a present-day person’s feelings and ideas. They define Rusyn dialects as a main source of enrichment of the Rusyn literary language and reject taking over from other Slavic languages. The stuff of the dictionary rests on the dialects of the river basins of Borzhava, Uh and Latorica as well as the former county of Maramorosh. It has been gathered also from the pieces of prose or poetry by Rusyn writers, moreover Dzendzelivskyj’s linguistic atlas and the data of the major Rusyn dictionaries has been used. The dictionary in question was made up as a differential one, and so those words only were brought out which are lacking in Ukrainian and Russian and still widespread in Subcarpathian Rusyn.

The present article, devoted to Prof. Ferenc Pusztai, does not let me have the space to present the whole of Hungarian lexical borrowings of the trilingual dictionary. Still I think the introduction of the Rusyn words beginning with the letters а, б, ґ, ф  will be sufficient to illustrate my assertion that of all literary languages of neighbouring peoples just Rusyn is the one based on the dialects strongly tied with the Hungarian language and its dialects, and this fact is reflected in lexicography. The dictionary in question is also the evidence of Hungarian impact upon phonetics and word-formation. Originally infrequent as phonemes ґ and ф are in native Rusyn, they reveal themselves in the growth of frequency due to their occurrence in the Hungarian borrowings. One can conceive, along with other things, of being a consequence of linguistic contact the fact that ‑ш, ‑ош formant of Hungarian loanwords gradually gained an abstract meaning under the influence of Hungarian and became an element of the Rusyn word-formation system indicating mainly a profession or a person of a certain occupation (see Káprály 2002). And now it is time to go on to our illustrations!

In the following list, as a rule, I give a catchword at the beginning of an entry for the words of Hungarian origin. If the Hungarian borrowing under review appears in the entry as a synonym and so is not located alphabetically, I put the catchword into brackets. E.g., (башта) торонь < Hung. torony ‘tower’. If the derivative originates from the Rusyn basis, I do not consider it to be a Hungarian borrowing, only if I can not find the basic word, I enter the derivative in my list. The following Hungarian loanwords has been brought into dictionaries, literary pieces from vernacular dialects. And the vocabulary of the Rusyn dialects can be compared to corresponding forms of Hungarian dialects (see Lizanec 1976).

авадь < Hung. avagy; ‘or’; син. вадь < Hung. vagy ‘or’; адьув < Hung. ágyú ‘cannon’; акац < Hung. akác(fa) ‘acacia’; алдомаш < Hung. áldomás ‘alms’; андьол < Hung. angyal ‘angel’; анталак < Hung. antalag ‘small barrel’; аршув < Hung. ásó ‘spade’; баґнийт < Hung. bajnét ‘bayonet’; баґов < Hung. bagó ‘chewing tobacco, tobacco dregs in pipe’; бадоґ ~ бадоґа < Hung. bádog ‘tin’; бадоґаш < Hung. bádogos ‘tinman’; бай < Hung. báj ‘witchery, sorcery’; балта < Hung. balta ‘axe’; банда < Hung. (cigány)banda ‘(Gipsy music) band’; бановати < Hung. bán ‘be sorry’; баня < Hung. bánya ‘quarry, open-cast mine’; баняс < Hung. bányász ‘stonemason, miner’; барнастый < Hung. barna ‘swarthy’; баршун < Hung. bársony ‘velvet’; батром < Hung. bátran ‘without taking risks’; бачі < Hung. bácsi ‘uncle’; (башта) торонь < Hung. toronytower’; бендюх < Hung. bendő ‘paunch’; бестетовати < Hung. biztat ‘persuade, induce’; бетáнґа < Hung. bitang(ember) ‘scrapper, trouble-maker’; бетежный < Hung. beteg ‘ill’; бетлегемы < Hung. betlehem ‘mummers’; бетюг < Hung. betegség ‘illness’; бетярь < Hung. betyár ‘dare-devil’; бивный < Hung. bő ‘loose-fitting’; бизовáти < Hung. (meg)bíz ‘trust’; бизувный < Hung. bizony(os) ‘(self-)assured’; бирув < Hung. bíró ‘village headman’; бировати < Hung. bír ‘be able’; бичаловати < Hung. becsül ‘estimate; to assess the damage’; (біґлязь) вошолув < Hung. vasaló ‘smoothing-iron’; (біґлязь) тиґлязь < Hung. téglázó ‘smoothing-iron’; біжалма < Hung. birsalma ‘quince’; бізонь < Hung. bizony ‘of course’; біка < Hung. bika ‘bull’; (більовча) жебаловка < Hung. zsebbevaló ‘handkerchief’; більчув < Hung. bölcső ‘cradle’; бімбов < Hung. bimbó ‘booby, young lout’; бімбовка < Hung. bimbó ‘bud’; бловдер < Hung. blóder ‘oven’; бовташ < Hung. boltos ‘salesman’; бовт < Hung. bolt ‘shop’; боґар < Hung. bogár ‘(flying) beetle’; боґач < Hung. pogácsa ‘flat cake’; боговц < Hung. bohóc ‘buffoon, naughty boy’; боґрийда < Hung. bokréta ‘bunch of flowers (mainly as bridegroom’s decoration)’; бойта < Hung. bojt ‘tassel, fringe’; боканча < Hung. bakkancs ‘boot’; бокор < Hung. bokor ‘raft’; син. дараб  < Hung. darab ‘raft’; бокс < Hung. boksz  ‘shoe polish’; болондгаз < Hung. bolondház ‘mental hospital’; бомбушка < Hung. gombostű ‘safety pin’; бороцква < Hung.  barack ‘apricot’ син. тенґерка < tengeri barack ‘small apricot’; босорканя < Hung.  boszorkány ‘witch’; бочкора < Hung.   bocskor ‘bast shoe’; бочкур < Hung.  bocskor  ‘bast shoe’; (бричка) кочіга, кочія < Hung. kocsi ‘carriage’; (брифташка) буділарош < Hung. bugyelláris ‘purse’; (брифташка) тапловка < Hung. tapló(gomba) ‘purse’; (брындак) чалебоґар < cserebogár ‘cockchafer’; (брытванка) тепша < tepsi ‘baking tray’; будюґовы < Hung. bugyogó ‘knickers’; буйдош < bujdosó ‘vagabond’; (буля) крумпля < Hung. krumli ‘potato’; бунков  < Hung. bunkó ‘sledge-hammer’; бунфенс  < Hung. bukfenc ‘somersault’; бурбіль  < Hung. borbély ‘barber’; буркут  < Hung.  borkút ‘mineral spring’; бутор  < Hung. bútor ‘furniture’; ґазда < Hung. gazda ‘master; owner’; ґалиба < Hung. galiba ‘misfortune’; ґанч < Hung. gáncs ‘defect’; ґаллірь < Hung. gallér ‘collar’; ґарадіча < Hung. garádics ‘footstep’; ґарічка < Hung. karika ‘circle, ring’; (ґатер) фіріс < Hung. fűrész  ‘power-saw bench’; ґаті < Hung. gatya ‘pants’ син. надраґи< Hung. nadrág trousers’; син. пачмаґи < Hung. pacsmag ‘trousers’; (ґвер) пушка < Hung. puska  ‘rifle’; ґеренда < Hung. gerenda ‘beam’; ґершлі < Hung. gersli ‘pearl-barley’; ґестиня < Hung. gesztenye ‘chestnut’; ґимбиць  < Hung. gömböc ‘paunch’; ґоврош  < Hung. kórus ‘gallery (in church)’; ґомбатися  < Hung. gomboz ‘play buttons’ син. нірьоватися < Hung. nyer ‘win, benefit’; ґомбін  < Hung. kombiné ‘combinations’; ґомбіця  < Hung. gomb ‘button’; ґорджоля  < Hung. korcsolya ‘skate’ син. корчоля < Hung. korcsolya ‘skate’; ґріз  < Hung. griz ‘semolina’; ґуля  < Hung. gulya ‘herd of cattle’; ґынґлявый  < Hung.  gyenge ‘weak, flabby’; файта  < Hung. fajta ‘kind, sort’; фалаток  < Hung. falat ‘part, piece’; фалка  < Hung. falka ‘flock (of birds)’; (фандел) лабошка < Hung. lábos ‘frying pan’, ланґошка < Hung. lángos(sütő) ‘frying pan’; палачінтовка < Hung. palacsintasütő ‘frying pan’, палачінтош < Hung. palacsintasütő ‘frying pan’; фарадный  < Hung. fáradt ‘all-in, tired’; фарадшаґ  < Hung. fáradtság ‘tiredness’; фаттьув  < Hung. fattyú ‘guy, bloke’, син. леґінь < Hung.  legény ‘lad’; феделка  < Hung. fedél ‘cooking pot lid’; федивка  < Hung. fedő ‘cooking pot lid’; феєша метати  < Hung. fejest ugrik ‘dive headfirst’; фелелльовати  < Hung. felel ‘be responsible, guarantee’; фершлоґ  < Hung. ferslóg ‘big chest’; фийдер  < Hung. féder  ‘spring’; фийк  < Hung. fék ‘brake’; фийса  < Hung. fejsze ‘axe’; фійовка  < Hung. fiók ‘drawer’; фінанц  < Hung. finánc ‘revenue inspector’; фінджа  < Hung. findzsa ‘cup’; фіріс  < Hung. fűrész ‘power-saw bench’; фіріспор  < Hung. fűrészpor ‘sawdust’; фоґаш  < Hung. fogas ‘rack, hall-tree’; фодра  < Hung. fodor ‘frill, flounce; форґіча  < Hung. forgató ‘door-handle’; форґіта  < Hung. forgató ‘door-handle’; форґітув  < Hung. forgató ‘door-handle’; фоталка  < Hung. fatál ‘wooden dish’; (фурма) мінта  < Hung. minta ‘pattern, sample’.

“The Soviet Ukraine rejoicing its great socialist achievements and steadily going to the bright alps of communism” was eager that everyone had mastered the Ukrainian literary language, improved his standard of speech and got rid of vernacular words. It was in particular pertinent to the Transcarpathian Oblast with its diversity of dialects “teared away from the rest of Ukrainian lands over the ages”. In terms of the Ukrainian literary language and its application in practice, it was required to eliminate the peculiarities of Subcarpathian Rusyn vernacular. With that end in view, the Ukrainian philologist from Uzhgorod Josyp Dzendzelivskyj published a small  manual for the teachers of the Transcarpathian Oblast aimed at overcoming the use of the local semantic vernacularisms (1958). Its title in word-for-word translation is “Practical Vocabulary of the Transcarpathian Semantic Dialectisms. Study Aids for the Teachers of the Transcarpathia”. According to the vocabulary, it is not advisable to use a number of Rusyn words, and among them Hungarian loanwords are also to be found. For example, instead of акац it is correct to say акація; in place of байбайка; one ought to avoid using the word банда in the sense of ‘band,  a group of musicians who play popular music’; one may use the word баня in the sense of ‘cupola’, but keep off the meaning ‘quarry, mine’; one should not use the word баяння in the sense of ‘sorcery, witchcraft’; one must avoid using the word бовт for a ‘shop’, the word грушка for an ‘electric light bulb’ (see Dzendzelivskyj 1958). In the opinion of  those who stand upon linguistic independence of the Subcarpathian Rusyn language, the above-mentioned Hungarian loanwords and similar to them words of another origin, qualified by some of the Ukrainian philologists as dialectisms, are the organic part of Rusyn vocabulary, and so can be used without any discrimination. The further evidence of such an opinion is that these words turn up in the dictionary analyzed which has been a source of my illustrative list of borrowings. It likewise corroborates once more the well-known thesis that language processes can hardly be controlled by forcible means.


Reference index

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