In defense

Do you remember when a year ago we presented an open letter written by the vice-president of the co-governing right wing nationalistic party of Slovakia, Anna Belousovová, in defense of the Slovak language which she felt to be in a serious danger? Then you also remember that the short letter of the former elementary school math and geography teacher, according to the analysis of Slovak linguists published in the daily, contained over twenty errors of orthography.

Unbelievable as it might sound, this achievement was recently outshone by the vice-president of the governing right wing party of Hungary and since August 2010 president of the country Pál Schmitt, who has also demanded in his first declarations the defense of the Hungarian language he felt to be in a serious danger. In Hungary, where the effective executive power is in the hand of the prime minister, the president plays only a symbolic role and is elected by the parliament. Already in August it was obvious that the former professional champion of fencing was not so much elected for his impressive intellectual abilities but rather for his unshakeable loyalty to the ruling party and personally to its leader. Accordingly, he was not expected to write anything but his name under the laws passed by the parliament which he has dutifully done over a hundred times by now. Nevertheless, on New Year’s Eve he felt called upon to turn to his people with an official speech written by himself. The speech produced a general surprise not with its content which was just as banal and awkward as it was to be expected, but rather with its orthography. The short text, as it was published on the president’s personal site, contained no less than seventeen grave errors, including two striking ones in the very first line of the Hungarian national anthem quoted at the end of the speech.

The public hilarity following the appearance of the text forced the president’s office not only to immediately shut down the page, but also to publish a statement confirming their commitment to the case of the Hungarian language and promising to correct every error in the future texts issued by them. Unfortunately, this short text of about 120 words also contained nine grave misspellings, including the very name of the president.

Click for the image of the complete article with all the errors

If you think that this New Year’s Eve firework in defense of the Hungarian language cannot be further increased then you are just unimaginative. The dot on the i was put by the advertisement published on one of the main ads sites on behalf of the president’s office some days after the appearance of the above two documents of purism, in which they were urgently looking for a corrector of orthography for the president’s official texts. The not more than eighty words long advertisement contained seventeen misspellings, just as much as Pál Schmitt’s original speech.

True, this advertisement immediately proved to be a hoax, as already suggested by its ironic wording. Nevertheless, in the light of the two former official documents it appeared so convincing that a number of unemployed teachers of Hungarian language confessed on various web forums to have taken it seriously and presented their application for the job.

The story has several lessons, but now we want to unfold only one. Whenever you hear from high officials that their language is in a serious danger, believe them. They just know the reason why.

3 comentarios:

Araz dijo...

What a story! It reminded me a Molla Nasreddin anecdote about "uzr better az qerez".

Studiolum dijo...

What is the anecdote?

Araz dijo...

The anecdote is not very related, but it is about the notion of "üzr bəttər əz qərəz" (?) i.e. an apologize worse than a mistake, which is quite related:

Molla Nasreddin was adviser to the king (Amir Teymur in many anecdotes) for some time. One day after a lunch the king coming across this expression in some text asked him about its meaning. Molla a bit sleepy replied that "it is when your apology is worse than your mistake". The king infamous for his bad temper got angry saying "I know, but how can it be, why I keep you here if you can't explain anything". Then Molla pinched the king in the back. "What?" exclaimed the king. "Sorry, my king, I was so sleepy, one moment I thought I am in my house and you are my wife". King gave a shout "Call the butcher! Decapitate the old fool". But Nasreddin exclaimed gently "Eeh, that was üzr bəttər əz qərəz, so you know".