Anna Wynn | Nov 3, 2018 | 3
Is the Hungarian language going to disappear completely?
Within the next few decades the Hungarian language will become much less present in the Carpathian Basin and most of the trans-border Hungarian communities will disappear, unless the language consciously gets developed, reports magyaridok.hu. The adaption of an effective language strategy could be beneficial for the regional status of the Hungarian language, which would mean further advantages, both on an economic and international scale.
Hungary had been affected by the idea of “a nation is living in its language” since the 16th century grammars and translations of the Bible. The neoliberal dogma saying that “no forms of intervention should be carried out regarding the life of a language” had also been supported by a linguistic industry. The “poisoned words” of those supporters further wrong the already – since Trianon – wounded community awareness, for aside the geographical losses, a “spiritual” loss did hurt the feelings. The disappearance of the Hungarian language community awareness is a huge issue, as without positive individual and parental decisions no positive language community can exist.
If those were present, the deterioration and exchange of languages would be less a threat, which also shows how important positive language decisions are. Especially in our day and age where, after being born, the children get into the world of telecommunication devices which play a significant role in their lives and are highly present while growing up. Thus, children become familiar with the rather terrible language used through digital applications. Instead of listening to a bedtime story or sing a song with their parents their entertainment comes from TV cartoons and animations full of aggressive language items, which cannot be balanced by the kindergarten teachers. Or, at school, they eventually get bored by the formal analyses of grammar classes.
Then, after finishing secondary, people usually go to university and finish a course probably – partly – in English because of the lack of terminology. After that chances are high that they go abroad and there comes the question whether they would care about preserving and passing on their mother tongue to their children if they lived far from their home country.
For minority Hungarians this problem is significant, as the successor states’ language policies are on the verge of making their states’ languages completely “Hungarianless”. For example, based on the last 20 years’ population movements there will be zero Hungarian-speaking people by 2056 in Upper Hungary (Felvidék), by 2057 in Transylvania (Erdély) and by 2062 in Vojvodina (Vajdaság). Therefore, Magyar idők writes that except for Szekler Land (Székelyföld) and the Great Rye Island (Csallóköz), the minorities will stop speaking Hungarian within 50 years. Though, it can happen more quickly, as after reaching the stagnation point the process of language losing will speed up. Such points may be the shutting down of a village school or similar happenings, which boost the process.
However, there would be a way to prevent the losing of the Hungarian language, which seems to be working in the cases of other European language strategy models. These models are usually built up of a basic legal background, a smart, definite and feasible language law and a language strategy which can be fulfilled in practice. This trinity is present in Finland and Estonia, for instance, among the governmental and the professional bodies’ cooperation. A good language strategy presupposes the professional language planning affecting the whole of the community and the coordination of its legal language policy practice. Narrowed down, the strategy means a country’s language-linguistic-legal action plan and its policies. Such plan exists in Finland. Ideally, just like in Estonia, these plans divide the goals and tasks into cycles with the financial assets. The success of the Estonians can give hope: there is a way out from the toughest situations, too.
A successful dissimilation language strategy can slow down, or even prevent the assimilation of the trans-border Hungarians. In case of assimilation, giving up the Hungarian language means that there will be more non-Hungarians in number without any new born. Thus, assimilation is the cultural loss of a certain region, where instead of two or more languages only one becomes spoken. Importantly though, the dissimilation strategy does not go against anyone, is not discriminatory, for dissimilation is a cultural gain: the minority languages are present while the number of the people speaking the major language will not decrease either. The trans-border Hungarians are mainly multilingual, therefore, this strategy could help the areas in question.
Moreover, it is a major task to understand that in our region multilingualism is a more natural state than monolingualism. The success of the dissimilation strategy also includes “Hungarian-Hungarian economic synergies”, therefore, it is a great economic potential of the Carpathian Basin. These elements are highlighted, complex elements divisible to cycles. But bear in mind that the info technological, terminological, preserving and the diversification-protecting areas are also inevitably necessary. Hence, the writer of the article, alongside Géza Balázs and János Pusztay have made a programme which was accepted by the government 2 years ago. However, the Hungarian Language Strategy Institute which was established based on the government regulation could not succeed in carrying out the goals.
Therefore, as the article reports, people should realize that Hungary is losing the language war of the Carpathian Basin: in 10 or 50 years the number of Hungarians will depend on those who find it important to preserve and pass it on to their descendants. Much depends on the existence or lack, the fulfillment or fail of a successful national language strategy. The question is whether 8 or 12 million Hungarians will live in the complete area of the Carpathian Basin by 2060.
Copy editor: bm