How Old is Hungarian?

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How Old is Hungarian?

Postby Levike » 2013-05-03, 19:15

Very simple question with a hard answer: How old is Hungarian ?

I read the first written Hungarian text from 1190 ( Halotti beszéd és könyörgés )
and I think that it's almost like today's language with some notable differences.

So it's older than 1000 years.

But when did the language came to be the Hungarian that we could mostly understand today?
Can someone give me an estimated century/period.

If you don't know then you're wellcome to give your opinion.
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Re: How Old is Hungarian ? ? ?

Postby gothwolf » 2013-05-03, 21:03

Levente.Maier wrote:Very simple question with a hard answer: How old is Hungarian ?

I read the first written Hungarian text from 1190 ( Halotti beszéd és könyörgés )
and I think that it's almost like today's language with some notable differences.


I can confirm this because we're studying now Historical grammar of the Hungarian language and once we tried to read some Hungarian texts from 13-14. century and it was pretty understandable. Only the orthography was a bit shitty :D

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Re: How Old is Hungarian ? ? ?

Postby joancarles » 2013-10-03, 21:54

Any book recommendation on magyar nyelv története?

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Re: How Old is Hungarian ? ? ?

Postby JackFrost » 2013-10-03, 23:48

So it's older than 1000 years.

Pretty much like all languages spoken today because Hungarian has to come from a language and that language has to come from another language. And that chain goes all the way back to the time when humans developed languages.
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Re: How Old is Hungarian ? ? ?

Postby mōdgethanc » 2013-10-04, 13:53

JackFrost wrote:Pretty much like all languages spoken today because Hungarian has to come from a language and that language has to come from another language. And that chain goes all the way back to the time when humans developed languages.
I think he's asking "how old is Hungarian as we know it?" in which case the answer seems to be at least the 13th century whereas with English if you go that far back you end up with shit like this:

Forrþrihht anan se time comm
þatt ure Drihhtin wollde
ben borenn i þiss middellærd
forr all mannkinne nede
he chæs himm sone kinnessmenn
all swillke summ he wollde
and whær he wollde borenn ben
he chæs all att hiss wille.


which translated word-for-word would be:

Forthright anon [the] time come that our [Lord] willed been born [in] this middle-yard for all mankind['s] need he chose him some kinsmen all such some he willed and where he willed born been he chose all at his will.

which to Joe Blow means "what the fuck is this shit?".

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Re: How Old is Hungarian ? ? ?

Postby Levo » 2013-10-09, 18:43

Scientists say, that the last separation from the closest Ugric-relatives happened either around 500 B.C. or around 1000 B.C.

In case they are right, it means that the history of Hungarian as an independent language started 2500-3000 years ago.

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Re: How Old is Hungarian ? ? ?

Postby Levike » 2013-10-09, 19:12

Ok, but I was interested in how old is the Hungarian that we could actually understand.

I guess 1000 years old.
Before that we don't really have texts so I have no clue.

When scientists give estimates like "You know somewhere between 5000 and 1000"
I'm not really interested, 'cause it's obviously just a guess.
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Re: How Old is Hungarian ? ? ?

Postby linguoboy » 2013-10-09, 19:19

Levente wrote:Ok, but I was interested in how old is the Hungarian that we could actually understand.

Who is "we", Kemosabe? If you mean "fluent Hungarian speakers", it's going to depend a lot on their education background and what they've been exposed to. If you speak a modern dialect of English that's closer to Chaucers than some others, or if you've spent more time reading Shakespeare, you're obviously going to have an easier time with Middle English than someone without those advantages.
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Re: How Old is Hungarian ? ? ?

Postby Levike » 2013-10-09, 19:27

A normal fluent Hungarian speaker.

I would also like to point out that the Hungarian standard language is the same as the spoken one.

And there are no such things as dialects, maybe a very, very, very slight accent.
I personally can't tell any difference between the Hungarian spoken here in Transylvania
and the one spoken is the other edge of Hungary.

In literature class we were learning about a poem written somewhere in the 16 century
and it was perfectly understandable to me.
Without seeing the date below the title
I wouldn't have guessed that it was written 4 centuries ago.

And I hate literature, my education when it comes to it is minimum.
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Re: How Old is Hungarian ? ? ?

Postby JackFrost » 2013-10-09, 23:21

mōdgethanc wrote:I think he's asking "how old is Hungarian as we know it?" in which case the answer seems to be at least the 13th century

And I thought he was asking for both.

whereas with English if you go that far back you end up with shit like this:

Forrþrihht anan se time comm
þatt ure Drihhtin wollde
ben borenn i þiss middellærd
forr all mannkinne nede
he chæs himm sone kinnessmenn
all swillke summ he wollde
and whær he wollde borenn ben
he chæs all att hiss wille.


which translated word-for-word would be:

Forthright anon [the] time come that our [Lord] willed been born [in] this middle-yard for all mankind['s] need he chose him some kinsmen all such some he willed and where he willed born been he chose all at his will.

which to Joe Blow means "what the fuck is this shit?".

Ah, a rare surviving text of early Middle English. Thank you Orm for providing high-quality linguistic porn.
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Re: How Old is Hungarian ? ? ?

Postby ''' » 2013-11-10, 11:11

I would argue that a language becomes a language when it breaks off from its sister languages, i.e. after it and its siblings are seen as one big happy language. This doesn't work for convergent languages but the uralic languages are pretty divergent so yeah. In our case I read once that the estimate is that we separated from finnish 5000 yrs ago and from the ob-ugrics 3000 years ago, but the theory has changed since then to suggest that maybe hungarian, finnic, permic, ob-ugric etc are all equally isolated and so maybe the 5000 yr mark might be our best number. Before then it was all proto-Uralic
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Re: How Old is Hungarian ? ? ?

Postby mōdgethanc » 2013-11-10, 17:57

I would argue that a language becomes a language when it breaks off from its sister languages, i.e. after it and its siblings are seen as one big happy language.
So Cantonese isn't a language, but Moldovan is?

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Re: How Old is Hungarian ? ? ?

Postby Levike » 2013-11-10, 18:14

mōdgethanc wrote:
I would argue that a language becomes a language when it breaks off from its sister languages, i.e. after it and its siblings are seen as one big happy language.
So Cantonese isn't a language, but Moldovan is?
Moldovan is NOT a language. :argue:
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Re: How Old is Hungarian ? ? ?

Postby Sol Invictus » 2013-11-10, 18:20

Levente, if you have read the very first text known to be in Hungarian how do you expect anything older not to be a hypothesis for which there is no written proof?
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Re: How Old is Hungarian ? ? ?

Postby Levike » 2013-11-10, 18:26

Sol Invictus wrote:Levente, if you have read the very first text known to be in Hungarian how do you expect anything older not to be a hypothesis for which there is no written proof?

I know they are all hypothesis.
But still, when someone starts talking about 2000, 3000, 5000 years my keyboard starts to boil.
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Re: How Old is Hungarian ? ? ?

Postby ''' » 2013-11-11, 15:25

mōdgethanc wrote:
I would argue that a language becomes a language when it breaks off from its sister languages, i.e. after it and its siblings are seen as one big happy language.
So Cantonese isn't a language, but Moldovan is?


How did you come to that conclusion? I don't care about sociolinguistics or the opinions of language speakers when discussing linguistics. when I say a language is "seen" as as a separate language, I mean determined by linguists to be one, not viewed to be one by the laity and/or ministry of agit/prop.

Linguistically moldovan is not separate from the rest of romanian. As for cantonese, while doubtless mutually unintelligible with mandarin, I was told that their written forms are identical, that the same characters make up the same words which are connected with the same particles but each of these has a fundamentally different pronunciation. Essencially the statement was made that canto and mandarin are both direct offspring of middle chinese with no (substantial) change in grammar or lexicon.

Now if I'm wrong (and somehow I suspect I am here) then the vast differences between mandarin and cantonese would certainly quality them to be considered separate, but you would be hard pressed to argue that moldovan should be viewed as a separate language.
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Re: How Old is Hungarian ? ? ?

Postby linguoboy » 2013-11-11, 16:01

''' wrote:How did you come to that conclusion? I don't care about sociolinguistics or the opinions of language speakers when discussing linguistics. when I say a language is "seen" as as a separate language, I mean determined by linguists to be one, not viewed to be one by the laity and/or ministry of agit/prop.

How do you determine that "linguists" have determined a variety to be a "separate language", given that there is no universally accepted objective definition of "language" in linguistics? (Besides, are sociolinguists somehow not linguists?)
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Re: How Old is Hungarian ? ? ?

Postby Levike » 2013-11-11, 17:37

linguoboy wrote:How do you determine that "linguists" have determined a variety to be a "separate language", given that there is no universally accepted objective definition of "language" in linguistics?

Even if there's no universally accepted definition
we can determine if a language is a separate one just by common sense.

Does a Moldovan understand a Romanian even if let's suppose he never went to school.
Yes, of course, so they are the same language.

If a Cantonese speaker has no idea what a Mandarin Speaker is saying,
without having learnt a bit of Mandarin, then they are separate and that's it.

Yes there are situations where it's questionable, but in these situations it quite clear.
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Re: How Old is Hungarian ? ? ?

Postby linguoboy » 2013-11-11, 17:50

Levente wrote:Does a Moldovan understand a Romanian even if let's suppose he never went to school.

Define "understand" in this context. What degree of comprehension under what conditions?

Levente wrote:Yes there are situations where it's questionable, but in these situations it quite clear.

For every "quite clear" situation you can come up with, I can find ten that aren't. On the topic of mutual intelligibility, a wit once said, "Danes claim they can understand Norwegians, and Norwegians claim they can understand Danes. But they both go away from a meeting with different ideas of what's been agreed to." I would add that you can say the same of Englishmen and Americans.
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Re: How Old is Hungarian ? ? ?

Postby Levike » 2013-11-11, 18:23

linguoboy wrote:
Levente wrote:Does a Moldovan understand a Romanian even if let's suppose he never went to school.
Define "understand" in this context. What degree of comprehension under what conditions?
For example I once watched Moldavian television and besides a slight accent,
which many people even here in Romania have, I couldn't tell any difference at all.
So in this case it's not a question.

understand = to know what the other one is saying

And about American and English English:
I'm a foreigner and I can understand what you people say, so I wouldn't call them different either.

About Norwegen, Swedish, etc I can't give a solid opinion
but based on what I heard here on Unilang I would categorise them as different.
Last edited by Levike on 2013-11-11, 18:31, edited 2 times in total.
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