ELTE BTK Magyar Nyelvtudományi és Finnugor Intézet

Pawlas, Szymon

nyomtatható változat

Pawlas, Szymon (Warsaw)

The image of God in Hungarian proverbs (pdf)

In my presentation I analyze Hungarian proverbs containing the word isten 'God', in accordance with the methodology of describing the linguistic image of the world, developed by Jerzy Bartmiński.

Material of my analisis comes from six paremiological dictionaries of Hungarian language, published from 1897 to 2009, including a dictionary of Hungarian dialectal expressions.

I've tried to describe different meanings of the word 'God', its connotations and to reconstruct the linguistic image of God, consisting of different profiles: a supernatural creator, a ruling king, a benevolent giver (jó az isten, jót ad 'God is good and gives good things'), a just judge and a lord of destiny and predestination (mindnyájan (az) isten kezében vagyunk 'we are all in God's hands') etc. Interestingly, this image is not unambiguously one of a benevolent deity, since there are many examples of curses, where the God's name is invoked (hogy az én istenem nyila üssön belé! 'let the arrow of my god hit him'). The word isten may be also used in reference to mighty people or human will towards good actions (nincs annyi istene 'hasn't got enough god'), as well as for purely emphatic reasons (hol az istenben jársz? 'where in god have you been walking?'). The relation between God and satan, God and man is also part of the image. Most of the proverbs portray God in an anthropomorphical manner, which shows the deity as someone near to every man.

Since the presentation concerns Hungarian culture shown through Hungarian language, I've paid special attention to a common phrase a magyarok istene 'god of the Hungarians' and tried to find what does it mean and what ideas and emotions are associated with it.

The analysis is based both on a) the meanings in which particular proverbs are normally used and b) on the very text of a proverb, asserting that every sentence is true in one of the possible realities (in one of the possible ways of perceiving the world), be it of Christian religion, of folk beliefs etc.