- Introducing a new Book on the Ural-Altaic Language Classification (Towards Eurasian Linguistic Isoglosses: the Case of Turkic and Hungarian)
- Altaistics and Turkology
- Volume | Issue number
- 2014 | 3-4
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Humanities (FGw)
- Amsterdam School of Historical Studies (ASH)
In this article, László Marácz introduces his own book on a new approach to the Ural-Altaic language classification. The book entitled ‘Towards Eurasian Linguistic Isoglosses: the Case of Hungarian and Turkic’ (henceforth ‘Towards Eurasian Linguistic Isoglosses…’ abbreviated as TELI) develops a theory of linguistic relations across language families based on the idea of linguistic isoglosses. Marácz argues against the traditional classification of Hungarian as an Uralic/Finno-Ugric language.
According to him, there are no convincing arguments to justify a classification in terms of a tree diagram and to embed the presupposed Uralic/Finno-Ugric languages in this structure. The tree diagram theory misinterprets important core linguistic features of the Hungarian language and also makes strong claims about the relations between languages in this language family that are not supported by empirical data. Further, this theory degenerates "deep" linguistic contacts between Hungarian and Turkic to secondary unidirectional borrowings from Turkic into Hungarian. Again, this is not confirmed by the empirical data. There is a number of lexical, morphological and syntactic parallels between Hungarian and Turkic which are of a more fundamental nature. As a consequence, Marácz also rejects the classification of Turkic into "West" and "East" Turkic considering the Chuvash-Hungarian correspondences and Hungarian borrowings into Chuvash. In earlier work, Hungarian scholars, i.e. the Central Asianists have been studying the history, archeology and languages of Central Asia and have opposed the one-sided Nordic explanation, i.e. the Uralic/Finno-Ugric cradle of the ancient Hungarian language. TELI revises and reinterprets earlier discoveries made by
famous Turkologists, like Ármin Vámbéry and coins the Central Asian proto-variant of Hungarian ‘Ugor-Magyar Proto-language’. TELI demonstrates convincingly that the paleolinguistic methodology is insufficient and that it is safer to set up an integrative interdisciplinary research framework in which linguistic, historical and archeological data simultaneously provide evidence for the same conclusions.
- With summaries in Kazakh, Russian and Turkish.