Lessons Learnt and Dilemmas in the Study of the Language of the Hungarian Capital

Kontra Miklós és Borbély Anna (szerk.) (2021): Tanulmányok a budapesti beszédről: a Budapesti Szociolingvisztikai Interjú alapján. Budapest: Gondolat.

How do people talk in Budapest? This was the question that preoccupied a few researchers at the Institute of Linguistics in the mid-1980s, and their joint endeavor created the Budapest Sociolinguistic Interview, a research project that lasted for two and a half decades. This project has been reflected in the volume published in 2021 edited by Miklós Kontra and Anna Borbély. In this book review, I will show to whom this volume is addressed and what its significance is. The Budapest Sociolinguistic Interview was an interdisciplinary project which, like its predecessors in sociolinguistics inspired by urban dialectology, aimed to describe the spoken language of a city, Budapest, according to sociological factors. The reviewed work records the uses made so far of the spoken language corpus from this large-scale research at different levels of the language, including phonological, grammatical, syntactic, lexical, stylistic and discourse analysis studies. The content, however, goes well beyond these linguistic analyses, addressing both methodological and research ethical issues. The book’s DVD attachment provides an insight into the audio materials and their transcriptions. In my review, I argue that the reader will find a work that can be of interest to linguists as well as to the representatives of other fields of humanities and social sciences. However, it does have its shortcomings, and one of these is the lack of reflection on how the political, social and scientific contexts have changed over the past three and a half decades that may (or may not) allow the research to be reproduced.

Released: Replika 126, 111–118.
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