Hungarian Is No "Idioma Incomparabile": The Hungarian Language Reform in European Comparison

Johanna Laakso


The idea of the uniqueness of the Hungarian language is firmly rooted in Hungarian culture and discourse. Accordingly, the language reform (“nyelvújítás”)—the movement which led to the standardization of Modern Hungarian orthography and grammar and a radical renewal of the lexicon, especially by way of numerous neologisms, in the nineteenth century—is often seen as part of specifically Hungarian cultural history rather than in the framework of European ideologies. This paper briefly presents the most relevant linguistic aspects of the language reform and analyzes its connections to contemporary linguistic culture, the ideologies of late Enlightenment and Romantic Nationalism, and the progress in linguistics.


Hungarian Language, Language Planning, Lexicon, Derivation, Nationalism, Emancipation

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