bofh1459 (bofh1459) wrote in linguaphiles,

  • Music:
One of the most commonly contested theories in linguistics is the genetic classification of Hungarian, which claims to Uralic, where it is currently placed (based off most "common" words), whereas other theories place it in an Altaic/Turkic family and there have even been comparisons of it to Sumerian, Etruscan and Eteocretian. However, I believe that these claims are all false, as I have found a language that is virtually identical to Hungarian in sentence structure, grammar, phonology and complexity.

You will have frequently encountered this language when connecting to BBSen and in the early days of the internet, where it manifests itsself as modem line noise. An example sentence in modem line noise is:
NTUz MzsmIzY1NTMz cmI zY1NTMz wmIzY1NTMz OyYjNjU1MzMJi
Note the apparent randomness of sentence order and almost impossible to pronounce words containing several consonant clusters.

My first attempt at comparison will be with a common phrase. In English, it is "Bless you!". In German, "Gesundheit". In Hungarian, it is:
Legkedvesebb megegészségesedésedre!
Note the very long words, high morpheme to word ratio and repeating "es" sounds. The equivalent phrase in Modem Line Noise is:
Whereas this is only one word, where Hungarian has 2, Legkedvesebb is merely emphasis, it roughly means "kindest". The other word merely lengthened in Modem Line Noise due to a phonological shift, but similarities can be detected, like both words beginning with "m" and ending in "e"

Another phrase occasionally used in Hungarian would be given out by a Judge in a sentencing. It is:
Te tetted e tettetett tettet? Tettetett tettek tettese, te!
This phrase can be loosely translated as "You accomplished this false deed? You false dealer!". It shows that even when keeping phonology to an absolute minimum (apart from 1 s and d, you either have t or e present), you can form coherent sentences in Hungarian. This is as in Modem Line Noise, where even a sentence made of alternating "a" and "k" makes perfect grammatical and lexical sense.

Now let's look at Hungarian's grammar. Let's take an English sentence, such as "Yesterday we went to the movies" and translate it into Hungarian:
Yesterday is "tegnap", "we went" is elmentünk and to the movies is "moziba". Now, how can we assemble this sentence?
"tegnap elmentünk moziba" is valid, using English's order
"moziba tegnap elmentünk" is also valid
"tegnap moziba elmentünk" is also valid
"elmentünk moziba tegnap" is also valid
"elmentünk tegnap moziba" is also valid
and "moziba elmentünk tegnap" is, you guessed it, also valid. Yes, that's right, you can arrage a simple sentence in Hungarian in all 3! ways!
In case you wanted the emphasis to not be on the verb, you could detach the particle "el-" from it, and then the sentence "tegnap mentünk el moziba" becomes valid, and you have effectively 4! ways to arrange the sentence! [Realistically, the particle must always follow the verb. However, this limitation is not found in Modem Line Noise]

You can also condense large amounts of information into single words. For example, látlak means "I see you" and Szeretlek "I love you". A good example of Hungarian's capability of data compression is the following word:
Loosely translated into English, this means:
"you could constantly mention the lack of a thing that makes it impossible to make someone uninstall a defragmenter"
This is a compression ratio of 15:23. Similarly, because I don't have a modem handy, I will simulate line noise by getting data from /dev/urandom on a unix system, uuencoding it and compressing it:

# uuencode /dev/urandom /dev/null > ./vonalizaj
# ls -alSh ./vonalizaj
-rw-r--r-- 1 root wheel 256K Apr 1 22:03 ./vonalizaj
# bzip2 -9 ./vonalizaj
# ls -alSh ./vonalizaj.bz2
-rw-r--r-- 1 root wheel 192K Apr 1 22:03 ./vonalizaj.bz2

Here we have a compression ratio of 3:4. Multiplied by 5, this gives us a ratio of 15:20, very close to the 15:23 value for Hungarian.

Another similarity between Hungarian and Modem Line Noise is that sbutle changes in something as vowel length can completely change the meaning of a word. Take, for example, the following triplet: őrölt—"ground up", őrült—"crazy", and örült—"he was happy", where the length of a vowel is one of the main differences.

Finally, line noise is generally unintelligible to those who cannot truly understand it. The same can be said for Hungarian. Take for example, the following line (The final line from öt rész of Egri Csillagok):
A király azután Bornemissza Gergelyt nevezte ki Dobó helyére Eger vár főkapitányának.
This can be translated into English as:
Following the king Bornemissza named Gergely on Dobó's Mountain the head captain of the fortress of Eger
However, the literal translation is:
The king after Bornemissza Gergely named out Dobó mountain-on Eger fortress headcaptain-for

I hope you have enjoyed reading my paper and are now convinced that Hungarian is not related to Finnish or Turkish, but a much more common language - modem line noise

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