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Research Group for Hungarian Historical Linguistics




Enikő Bácsi, junior research fellow

Adrienne Dömötör, senior research fellow

Katalin Gugán, senior research fellow

Lea Haader, senior research fellow (retired)

Mónika Varga, junior research fellow


The Research Group for Hungarian Historical Linguistics was established in 2008 by members of the former Historical Linguistics Department. In earlier decades, the Historical Linguistics Department hosted comprehensive projects, indispensable for historical linguistics as a whole, like A magyar nyelv történeti-etimológiai szótára [A Historical Etymological Dictionary of Hungarian, TESz.] and its revised German version, Etymologisches Wörterbuch des Ungarischen [EWUng.]. The same team wrote chapters of A magyar nyelv történeti nyelvtana [A Historical Grammar of Hungarian, TNyt.] on Early Old Hungarian and Late Old Hungarian syntax and textology (parts of Volume I/1 and the whole of Volume II/2).

For several decades now, they have been publishing critical editions of Old Hungarian codices, containing transliterations with philological notes. This work is useful for philology, cultural history, and literary scholarship, too; furthermore, it yields indispensable sources for historical linguistic data bases of the period concerned.

The first comprehensive project of the present Research Team was Morfológiailag elemzett nyelvtörténeti korpusz az ó- és középmagyar kori magánéleti nyelvhasználat köréből [Historical Linguistic Corpus of Old and Middle Hungarian Private Language Use with Morphological Annotations, 2010–2014, OTKA K 81189]. During the four years while the project was running, a publicly available (free-access) electronic database was produced from texts of private letters and court records written prior to 1772, entitled Történeti magánéleti korpusz [A Historical Corpus of Private Documents, TMK] ( The database is being post-edited and expanded even today. Consisting of approx. 6.5 million characters at the moment, the database provides material primarily for studies in historical morphology and sociolinguistics, but it can also be used for studies in historical syntax, pragmatics, and lexicology. Internal and external contributors of the project published a number of papers and gave talks about issues in database construction, as well as on research achievements based on the database.

The second major project of the team started in the autumn of 2015 and will be finished in August 2020. Its title is Versengő szerkezetek a középmagyar élőnyelvben: változók elemzésén alapuló megközelítés [Rival Constructions in Middle Hungarian Spoken Language: An Approach Based on an Analysis of Variables, NKIFH – OTKA K 116217]. The aim of the project is twofold. First, grammatical investigations are conducted in a near-spoken-language register of the Middle Hungarian period, focusing on varieties in language and language use, as well as the ongoing language changes. In analyzing the spreading of particular changes, we pay special attention to the relevant sociolinguistic factors. Studying missiles (i.e. personal letters actually sent) and testimonies made in court procedures, we explore a level of language use in which language changes most probably reside. As an immediate source, we use the electronic database built in our previous project and being extended ever since. The second aim of the present project is a further development of the same database, not only in terms of the involvement of further material and checking the data for accuracy but also for extending the available search possibilities.

About the corpus:

Attila Novák – Katalin Gugán – Mónika Varga – Adrienne Dömötör: Creation of an annotated corpus of Old and Middle Hungarian court records and private correspondence. Language Resources and Evaluation, 2018. 1–28.

Follow this link to access the corpus:  

Members of the team do further research on the following topics:

·         grammaticalization processes, issues in historical syntax (esp. Old and Middle Hungarian);

·         the emergence of discourse markers;

·         research on verbal aspect against a historical background;

·         synchronic and diachronic studies on Middle Hungarian (grammar, sociolinguistics);

·         sociopragmatic studies on Middle Hungarian;

·         issues in Hungarian syntax and their Ob-Ugric parallels;

·         study and publication of early documents (from the Old Hungarian and Middle Hungarian periods);

·         a typology of errors in Old Hungarian manuscripts in a historical sociopragmatic perspective.


For extended list of publications see the personal profiles.




Last modified: 27.06.2019