Author Topic: Hungarian and Slovak language border  (Read 659 times)

Offline Okram123xF

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Hungarian and Slovak language border
« on: August 25, 2018, 06:58:32 AM »
I was watching a documentary on the hungarian population in Slovakia. At one point in the documentary,they interviewed a lady from the village of Ipeľské Predmostie. When they asked her a question about the relationship between hungarians and slovaks,she answered by saying that they're absolutely friendly and the hungarians and slovaks living there speak both languages. This got me thinking:is there a sort of pidgin,formed by the mix of the slovak and hungarian languages?How do these different ethnic groups communicate with one another in daily life?And also,if anyone knows about influences of the hungarian language in the slovak speech near the border,a clarification would be highly appreciated. Thanks!
« Last Edit: August 25, 2018, 07:09:11 AM by Okram123xF »

Offline panini

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Re: Hungarian and Slovak language border
« Reply #1 on: August 25, 2018, 09:05:27 AM »
Pidgins don't actually arise that way, instead, they depend on repeated but intermittent short-term contact between two groups. For instance, Chinook Jargon arose from casual trade contact between various tribes of the Northwest, where there wasn't enough long-term contact for one side to learn the other's language.

It is expected that there could be substantial influence between Hungarian and Slovak, so that a Hungarianized dialect of Slovak could develop. Countering this, though, are normative pressures to conform to the standard language. In fact, the situation there is so complex that I question the possibility of getting an accurate answer. There are legal and social pressures for Hungarians in Slovakia to Slovakify, and countervailing social pressures to Hungarify. (And vice versa in Hungary, though to a lesser extent as I understand, since there are many fewer Slovaks in Hungary and they are more dispersed). The only reliable research method would be to surreptitiously record conversations between known individuals, and observe the behavior of pure Hungarian-on-Hungarian interactions, compared to Hungarian-on-Slovak interactions. (Fluent bilingual people switch languages quickly when a monolingual or marginally bilingual person joins – may to include the person, maybe to exclude them).

The hypothesis that one would want to test is that Hungarians in Slovakia all speak "regular Hungarian", but may increase Slovak features when a Slovak speaker is added to the conversation. There are very many outcomes possible from this grand experiment. The problem is that there is a lot of personal knowledge stuff that has to be controlled for, such as whether Sally hates Hungarians or not, whether Sally is hated by the Hungarians, how fluent Sally is in Hungarian, etc.

If one were a linguist growing up in the Hungaro-Slovak region, one might specific properties of the local Hungarian that can be attributed to Slovak influence (or the other way), and then perhaps devise a very subtle method for measuring that feature. The other problem is, though, that there is no such thing as "regular Hungarian", so one would need to compare a suspected feature with what is found in relevant dialects in Hungary. Northern dialects of Hungarian seem to be quite understudied.

It would be really interesting to know all of this, I just don't see any way that the experiment could actually be conducted.


Offline Okram123xF

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Re: Hungarian and Slovak language border
« Reply #2 on: August 25, 2018, 09:42:51 AM »
I have to thank you for the detailed answer. I had a feeling that this question was particularly difficult,mainly because of the lack of sources and studies on this subject. Even though my knowledge on the subject is non-existent and the question arose purely out of curiosity,I gained a better perspective on it. As you said,the social pressures and the relationships between the speakers themselves must be the key to all of this. I wish there was a study on this. But again,thank you for taking the time to answer this curiosity of mine!

Offline Daniel

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Re: Hungarian and Slovak language border
« Reply #3 on: August 25, 2018, 10:48:21 AM »
I have little to add to panini's excellent discussion above, except to also point out that bilingualism can be stable and maintained in certain situations. This sounds like one of them. There actually are bilingual or even trilingual(+) villages in the world where it's simply the norm that people shift between languages for daily communication. In the right circumstances, the result may be stability rather than eventually shifting to just one language for the whole village, or creating some sort of mixed variety. I know I've seen examples like this from reading about different communities in passing, but I can't list them at the moment (I think there are some cases like this in India and Australia?). If you're interested in the topic, then that might be one way to indirectly research the topic.
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