By Zhanna Shayakhmetova in EURASIA & WORLD
Professor László Marácz
ASTANA – Well-known European linguist László Marácz presented his new book, “Towards Eurasian Linguistic Isoglosses: The Сase of Turkic and Hungarian,” for the first time at the Great Steppe Human Sciences Forum May 24 in Astana. The event was organised by the International Turkic Academy with the participation of the Library of the First President of Kazakhstan – Leader of the Nation and the Ataturk High Council of Culture, Language and History.
A professor of European studies and one of the initiators of the “Mobility and Inclusion in Multilingual Europe” consortium, Marácz shared insights from his book with a crowd of scholars involved with Turkology and the ancient history of this area.
“The book deals with the Turkic languages and the relation between the Turkic and the Hungarian languages,” said Marácz in an exclusive interview with The Astana Times. “It is about the Turkic and Hungarian people and also about the ancient history of Central Asia.”
“I try to make a connection between the Hungarian and Turkic languages. There are a number of similarities in the lexicon and grammar of both languages. We [are dealing] here with very old relations. And it shows that the forefathers of the Hungarians once dwelt here in this area. I suppose they could be the Scythians. We have to search for the connection, and it must lie somewhere in Central Asia,” he said.
According to the author, those languages have been treated separately: the Turkic language as part of the Altaic family and Hungarian as part of the Finno-Ugric family.
“I think both classifications are not correct. You have groups of languages that show some cohesion, like Turkic, and you understand Azeri, Uzbek, Kyrgyz and so on. So that’s clearly a group. But Hungarian is also a group, but a group in itself. It has some relations with Ugric and with Finnish but more with Turkic,” he said.
The book is planned to be presented at Izmir University in Turkey, and in the Netherlands and Hungary. In November, there will be a conference at the University of Padua in Italy where this topic is on the agenda.
As a scientist, Marácz considers that there will be a lot of work to do in the coming years.
“A new theory in a scientific community leads to criticism. And this is normal, because anytime you come with a new theory, you will get critics. People will sometimes write friendly critiques and sometimes they will be unfriendly. That’s the individual fate of the author. The most important thing is that as a scholar, you should sometimes be convinced that all the theories are possible. You should go beyond existing theories and try to innovate. … That’s what researchers should do,” he explained.
As an honorary professor at Gumilyov Eurasian National University, Marácz also delivers lectures and conducts consultations with young researchers.
“I am pleased that there are many talented students with ambitions to get into the top levels of scientific research. Kazakh students doing PhDs are required to publish an article in a high-ranking journal. So the will is there, ambition is there and talent is there. If you require students in Kazakhstan to do this, you must do a lot of good coaching. You must train people. You must give them the opportunity to write a paper. That’s very important,” he said. Marácz recommends his PhD students not focus only on innovation, otherwise they will get too much criticism and never be able to finish their articles.
The professor also noted that the scientific community is getting more and more worried about the unstable global economy.
“Today’s world is not moving in a peaceful direction. If this atmosphere reaches the network of interacting scientists, it will be much more difficult to keep contact with experts all over the world. Science should be objective. It should help the world develop in a peaceful and prosperous manor. I hope Kazakhstan’s policy will continue in the same direction. Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev has been one of the fighters for a peaceful world, free of conflict and nuclear [weapons]. I think from this point of view, Kazakhstan should be one of the countries that should stand firm and also be a guarantee of objectivity in science,” he said.