Viktor Martinović (University of Vienna):

Gothic-Hungarian lexical contacts

Abstract: This work seeks to find out whether there are Gothic loanwords in Hungarian or not. Other questions strongly linked to the topic are: Has there ever been contact between Goths and Hungarians? And how can computers help us to detect loanwords? Hungarian has been etymologically thoroughly researched and so has been the possibility of Gothic loanwords in other languages, such as e.g. Slavic, Baltic, Balto-Finnic, and Romance languages. Nevertheless, the possibility of Gothic loanwords in Hungarian has never been the subject of research. Likewise, computational approaches for loanword recognition are still in their infancy. Therefore, this work also seeks to provide steps towards a framework for computer-aided loanword detection.  One possible outcome of this work is linguistic proof of Gothic loanwords in the Hungarian language, another one is that there is no such proof. While the first case would clearly allow the conclusion that historical contacts with Goths must have happened, the second case also leads to insights into early mediaeval Hungarian history. The findings are expected to meet wider societal interest, since questions regarding the early history of Hungarians are subject of vivid debates. Two scientific impacts are firstly a contribution to Hungarian etymological research, and secondly to automated loanword detection. Algorithms and data frames created in the course of this project will be publicly made available online so that other researchers can benefit from this dissertation.

I will structure this work into three parts: Historical Background, Methods for Loanword Detection, and Etymological Analyses. It is important to base the work on historical evidence first, in order to avoid circular reasoning. Therefore, I will review the literature about the history of Goths and Hungarians in the first part to conclude which contact scenario is the likeliest. The goal of the methodological chapter will be to identify a list of up to 50 Gothic loanwords in Hungarian. To achieve this, I will employ firstly state-of-the-art traditional methods for finding loanwords, and secondly make steps towards the development of an algorithm for loanword detection. The last chapter will provide an in-detail critical analysis for each word retrieved in the previous chapter.   

I wish to hand in the final version of my dissertation in July 2023. Until then I will research the Historical Background (Oct. 2019–May 2020), develop and hopefully also apply computational methods (Jun. 2020–May 2021), apply classical methods (Jun. 2021– Jan. 2022), employ etymological analyses (Feb. 2022–Jan 2023) and finally implement feedback and scientific updates (Jan. 2023–Jul. 2023).