Discussion: News from Hungary
johanna.laakso at univie.ac.at
Thu Mar 6 09:05:02 UTC 2014
Dear URA-LIST Community,
as many of you already know, the Hungarian government has just decided to found a new institute for Hungarian language strategy. This is an action analogous to the founding of new "government" institutes for the research into Hungarian history, ignoring the already existing scholarly institutions, the position, traditions and international connections of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and the relevant university institutes.
The new Language Strategy Institute will be directly subject to the Prime Minister, and obviously the director and other employees of the new institute will be politically appointed, without any normal application procedures based on scholarly expertise. However, the tasks of the new institute, according to its founding decree (see below), will include not just consulting and advising policy-makers but also conducting independent research in practically all aspects of Hungarian linguistics and even Finno-Ugric studies. It even seems (this is very vaguely formulated) to include an independent scholarship system for postgraduate training in linguistics.
Practically all these functions – research into diverse aspects of Hungarian linguistics, creation of databases and dictionaries, language planning and Finno-Ugric studies – are already covered by existing academic institutions; even for the "language strategy" there exists, since 2000, a "research group for Hungarian language strategy" at the ELTE university.
To my knowledge, the Hungarian Academy of Sciences or its Research Institute for Linguistics have not yet officially reacted to this new decision. This, in my view, is even more alarming; surely, the normal thing in any democratic country would be to protest against this blatant violation of an institution’s scientific authority.
Dear colleagues, do you think that the linguistic/Uralistic community worldwide should react to these alarming developments?
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
johanna.laakso at univie.ac.at • http://homepage.univie.ac.at/Johanna.Laakso/
(My kitchen sink translation, comments from people better versed in English legalese are welcome. The Hungarian original has been published under http://www.magyarkozlony.hu, No. 33/2014 from March 4, direct download link: http://www.magyarkozlony.hu/hivatalos-lapok/c27c6c81ee656911dc776dd3a647d911d2358807/dokumentumok/920f8fde92e7ad17c395dd62f9b96bf7a8938f17/letoltes .)
Government Decree 55/2014 (III.4) on the founding of the Hungarian Language Strategy Institute [Nyelvstratégiai Intézet, lit. “Language-strategical Institute”]
With the rights as defined in § 15:3 of the Constitution (“Basic Law”), within the task area defined in § 15:1 of the Constitution, the Government decrees the following:
1. The legal position of the Hungarian Language Strategy Institute
To guarantee the development of the Hungarian linguistic legacy, the deeper knowledge of the language and in connection with it the culture, to cultivate and maintain it and to cater for the tasks defined in § 4: 1, the Government will found the Hungarian Language Strategy Institute (henceforth: The Institute).
(1) The Institute is a state organ.
(2) The Institute will be directed by the Prime Minister.
(3) The Prime Minister will direct the Institute by way of the State Secretary in charge of the Prime Minister’s office.
(4) The Institute will reside in Budapest.
(1) The Institute is led by a Director.
(2) The Director of the Institute is appointed for an unrestricted time.
2. The tasks of the Institute
(1) The tasks of the Institute are
1. to direct and professionally monitor the preparation of a medium-term Hungarian language strategy,
2. to conduct research into the internal structure, characteristics and functioning of the Hungarian language, into its connections to our culture as a whole, and to apply the results from this research in public education, as well as to encourage the development of language data bases,
3. to coordinate the conscious development of diverse professional language forms (terminologies), to conduct contrastive research into Hungarian terminology beyond the borders and in the motherland, to compile contrastive terminological dictionaries,
4. in the area of information technology: to participate in the formulation of principles of supporting Hungarian-language databases and in their coordination, [unclear wording: it is not clear whether "coordination" refers to the coordination of the principles of supporting... or to the coordination of the databases themselves]
5. to give expert opinions in questions of language policy for public administration and public media,
6. to investigate new scientific approaches, to employ doctoral students of linguistics in a system of project scholarship applications and commissions,
7. to develop the professional foundations for a new Hungarian language textbook programme, especially to create the professional foundation for child-friendly language course books which develop the mother-tongue skills brought from home, for the primary school, and to synchronize their development with the unitary texture of our culture [I know this sounds crazy, but I just cannot find any other translation equivalent for kultúránk egységes szövete than "the uniform/organic/unitary texture of our culture"].
8. to maintain the richness of language, with special respect to the Hungarian dialects and registers or sociolects (rétegnyelv),
9. to protect linguistic minorities, especially the endangered Hungarian language communities, to investigate the situation of trans-border language varieties,
10. to cultivate language-strategic foreign relations, especially with linguistically related language minorities,
11. to develop guidelines to the Government for fighting the devalorisation of the Hungarian language, using the experiences of successful, modern European language-policy models (as in) Estonia, Poland, Finland and Iceland,
12. to organise conferences connected to the tasks defined under points 1-11 above and individual, special tasks,
13. to organise professional and international roundtable discussions, summer courses and – especially for trans-border Hungarians and Finno-Ugric minorities [in the original, in the singular: “Finno-Ugric minority”] – summer colleges and to co-organise language-cultural events in cooperation, as far as necessary for the given task, with the relevant organs, organisations or higher education institutes of Hungary and the Carpathian Basin,
14. to undertake further tasks to counter the devalorisation of the Hungarian language.
(2) The Institute will undertake its actions in national and international spheres of activity.
(3) The Director of the Institute, within his duties and for a certain goal within the area of his tasks, is entitled to request data, information and analyses from state organs and organisations, to have access to the relevant documents – according to the pertinent legislation – and to request copies of them.
3. Closing Statute
This decree will enter into force on April 1, 2014.
Viktor Orbán, Prime Minister
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