Page:A history of Hungarian literature.djvu/19

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9
THE HUNGARIAN LANGUAGE

between words but also between grammatical rules. We know now the names of several more related tribes living in northern and central Russia. There are the Ostyák, the Mordvinian, Cheremisz, Votyák, and Zürjén. There must have been a time when all those tribes lived in one land in common with the Hungarians, and spoke one common language. One of the proofs given by Sajnovics is that the similarity occurs in the most familiar words used in primitive life, such as numerals, names of parts of the body, pronouns, water, fire, sun, moon, wood, names of animals. Another proof is furnished by likeness in grammatical structure. Hungarian is a language of affixes. Many varieties of meaning which other nations express by means of prepositions with the article, or by various separate words, are expressed in Hungarian by a letter or syllable, either simply added on at the end of a word or fused with it. The Hungarian equivalent of the three words "I see thee," is "Látlak." "For my father," is "atyámért," the last syllable of which is composed of the affixes m—my, and ért—for.

According to the evidence of the oldest written fragment, a funeral speech (1200 a.d.), those affixes were originally separate substantives, which were merely placed beside the principal word, as though, for instance, instead of saying "within the house," we were to say "house, interior."

Another feature which distinguishes Hungarian from all the Indo-Germanic languages, but which we find in the language of the Ugrian tribes, is the assimilating of the vowel in the affix to that in the stem of a word. Just as in music the notes in a chord have to be in harmony with one another, so in a Hungarian word. If the stem contains the vowel, o, u, or a (the latter being pronounced like