Hungary: The Language Strategy Institute and the statement by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences

Johanna Laakso johanna.laakso at
Wed Apr 2 13:56:31 UTC 2014

Dear All,

as some of you probably know already, the new Language Strategy Institute recently (and surprisingly) founded by the Hungarian government is officially operational since yesterday. The director of the institute is Lóránt Bencze ( ), a retired professor from the Zsigmond Király Főiskola; his research interests include stylistics, rhetorics, religious language and semiotics, and as far as I can see, his publication list does not include anything about language planning or language policy.

Meanwhile, the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (or its Department I. for Language and Literature Studies) has finally made a public statement. The Hungarian original can be found at or . An English translation was recently published on the Austrian VERBAL (the Austrian Association for Applied Linguistics) e-mail list; I will paste it to the end of this message and join my Austrian colleagues in requesting everybody to spread this information in all contexts you consider appropriate.


Univ.-Prof. Dr. Johanna Laakso

Universität Wien, Institut für Europäische und Vergleichende Sprach- und Literaturwissenschaft (EVSL), Abteilung Finno-Ugristik
Campus AAKH Spitalgasse 2-4 Hof 7
A-1090 Wien
johanna.laakso at



Department I of Languages and Literatures of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (HAS) hereby makes the following statement concerning the „Hungarian Language Strategy Institute” established with Government Decree No 55/2014 (III. 4.)

Department I of the HAS wishes to point out in connection with the establishing of the „Hungarian Language Strategy Institute” that any decision, strategic or political, which is related to language, or any scientific or cultural or artistic activity, must be based on scientific investigation. Scientific investigation can be conducted in research institutions monitored by international quality control criteria. (This general truth is, furthermore, worded in Article X (2) of  Hungary’s Fundamental Law.)

Department I of the HAS thinks it essential that decisions on language policy be made with careful preparation. The Department notes with deep concern that, on establishing the “Hungarian Language Strategy Institute”, the establisher
– did not consult the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, which is the depository of the scholarly cultivation of the Hungarian language, being “the nation’s counsellor”, or generally with the scientific and research institutions at large;
– did not declare the necessity of maintaining contact with, and utilizing the scientific results of, other centres of research; nor did it mention cooperation with scientific institution in minority Hungarian areas in the neighbouring countries, but practically isolates the new Institute from these;
– failed to ensure quality control according to internationally recognized standards in the newly established Institute.

Department I of the HAS wishes to emphasize that the research institutes of the HAS as well as the relevant departments and research groups of universities have achieved outstanding results in the different areas of Hungarian scholarship, and that they will be able to do so in the future, and are ready to contribute to a sound scientific preparation of decisions related to the Hungarian language. This wide-ranging and open activity is able, at all times, to provide the scientific foundation of political decisions to be made in various areas of cultural life.

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