The Identification of Pannonian Slavic Loanwords in the Hungarian Lexicon

Ronald Owen Richards, University of California, Los Angeles

The proposed paper will be based on research done to date on my dissertation topic, which involves the identification, reconstruction, and typologization of Pannonian Slavic lexemes in the Hungarian lexicon. The focus of the AATSEEL paper will be primarily, if not solely, on the first section of the dissertation, wherein I detail the methodologies employed in identifying which of the many Slavic loanwords found today in Hungarian actually belong to this earliest stratum of Slavic loanwords. Also included will be my own strategies for identifying those Slavic loanwords which, based on phonological evidence, could not have entered the Hungarian lexicon during this earliest period of Slavic-Hungarian interaction. Doing so will reduce the corpus of relevant Slavic loanwords and thereby allow us to concentrate our investigative efforts solely on those loanwords which could, in theory, belong to this earliest layer. (In other words, on loanwords whose phonological structure neither mandates nor precludes their membership in this class of early Slavic loans.)

I will begin by presenting a brief overview of the criteria used heretofore to identify these earliest Slavic loanwords, followed by a critique of their strengths and weaknesses. Included among those criteria are the following:

a. The reflection of Common Slavic nasal vowels as Old Hungarian nasal diphthongs, e.g., Common Slavic /r#d&/ ["#" = front nasal vowel, "&" = back jer] --> Hungarian /rend/. Since nasal vowels were lost relatively early in this area of Slavdom, and since Old Hungarian had no nasal vowels, the presence in Hungarian of such nasal diphthongs in tautosyllabic position suggests the early entrance of such lexemes into the Hungarian lexicon.

b. Sound substitution for Common Slavic dental affricates and voiced palatal fricatives as seen in Old Hungarian, whose phonological inventory included neither dental affricates nor voiced palatal fricatives, e.g. Common Slavic /cer&/ --> Hungarian /Cer/ ["C" = palatal affricate, "&" = back jer]; Common Slavic /kn#Za/ --> Hungarian /keneSe/ ["#" = front nasal vowel, "Z" = voiced palatal fricative, "S" = unvoiced palatal fricative].

c. The association of certain Slavic lexemes with clearly dated historic events.

The paper will then go on to suggest possibilities for finding examples of Pannonian Slavic lexemes outside the standard Hungarian lexicon. Fertile ground for such a search might be found in Hungarian dialects and possibly in Old High German dialects associated geographically with what is today's Eastern Austria. Also included will be an attempt to use semantic analysis to identify those Slavic loanwords which, on the basis of phonological evidence alone, can be neither included nor excluded from membership in the Pannonian Slavic class of loanwords, but whose membership in this category might be ascertained by virtue of their semantic association with other loanwords whose membership in this earliest stratum of loanwords is clearly established, e.g. the inclusion of Hungarian /serda/ "Wednesday" (which provides no phonological evidence as to its date of entry into Hungarian) as an early Slavic loanward based on its semantic association with Hungarian /pe:ntek/ "Friday" and /sombat/ "Saturday", which show, via their nasal diphthongs, clear phonological evidence as to their early entry into the Hungarian lexicon from Slavic.

While time limitations would seem to dictate that this paper be restricted to a discussion of the initial stage of the dissertation (i.e. to the identification of Pannonian Slavic lexemes), I would not be averse to placing this section in a greater context via a very brief description of the reconstruction and typologization phases to follow.