Szláv és Balti Filológiai Intézet


   
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Lithuanian Studies at ELTE

LITHUANIAN LANGUAGE - LITHUANIAN STUDIES AT ELTE

Teaching and researching Baltic languages - Lithuanian and Latvian - commenced at the Faculty of Humanities of Eötvös Loránd Tudományegyetem (ELTE) in the early 1990s. At the initiative of Prof. András Zoltán, the then Head of the Department of Russian Philology, a Lithuanian lectorate and a Latvian lectorate were established in 1991 and in 1993 respectively. Besides the language classes, the range of theoretical courses in Baltic Studies gradually widened, i.e. linguistics, historical linguistics, and cultural history. A few years after the establishment of the lectorates, the first MA theses (Aranka Laczházi, Beatrix Tölgyesi) and doctoral dissertations (Aranka Laczházi) were prepared and published. So far the Lithuanian language lecturers at ELTE have been: Joana Pribušauskaitė (1991-1992) , Mykolas Pocius (1992-1996), Vaida Našlėnaitė (1996-1997), Ramunė Kandzežauskaitė (1997-1998), Vilma Kaladytė (1998-2000). At the moment Ričardas Petkevičius (2000-) serves as the Lithuanian language lecturer at ELTE.

The Institute has organized a number of internationally significant Baltic Studies conferences, the most important of which have been: "The Great Duchy of Lithuania and the Languages of Contemporary Central and Eastern Europe - Analogies and Continuity" (1998) and "Hungaro-Baltoslavica" (2000).

The international and inter-institutional collaboration resulted in a significant publication, compiled and edited by Prof. Endre Bojtár, the Head of the Department of Central & Eastern European Literature of the Literature Institute of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. After he had received the digital database of the one-volume Lithuanian monolingual-explanatory dictionary, to be used as the basis of the planned Lithuanian-Hungarian dictionary, he included Aranka Laczházi, Ričardas Petkevičius, and Beatrix Tölgyesi in the editing of the dictionary. After the collaboration with the Institute of the Lithuanian Language had been established thanks to the efforts of the Embassy of Lithuania in Budapest, Hungary, the publication process of the Lithuanian-Hungarian dictionary could start. Consequently, in 2007 the first Lithuanian-Hungarian dictionary was published, as a result of the collaboration between the Institute of Baltic & Slavic Languages at ELTE, the Department of Central & Eastern European Literature of the Literature Institute of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, and the Institute of the Lithuanian Language. Half a year later, MorphoLogic (Gábor Prószéky CEO) developed the online version of the dictionary.

Prof. Endre Bojtár had laid the foundations for Baltic Studies in Hungary, and he had been its sole representative for decades; his expertise, his work, and his publications about the Baltic states have been instrumental in the establishment of the independent Lithuanian study track at ELTE.
The support Lithuanian Studies Centers abroad receive from the Lithuanian state has been increasing. Lithuanian Studies Centers have been blooming due to their collaboration with the Department of Lithuanian Studies and the Department of Baltic Studies at Vilnius University. For instance, the library of the Baltic Studies center at ELTE in Budapest has been enriched by relevant reference material and by books of literature. Also, teachers as well as students can participate in language courses and seminars organized in Lithuania, and they can attend various conferences organized by Vilnius University, the Lithuanian University of Educational Sciences, the Institute of Lithuanian Literature, or the Institute of the Lithuanian Language.

Thanks to the unrelenting efforts of ELTE, the Lithuanian Ministry of Education and Sciences, Vilnius University, and the Embassy of Lithuania in Budapest, Hungary, the independent Lithuanian study track was launched at ELTE in 2012.

The aim of the Lithuanian disciplinary minor at ELTE is to provide students with a sound knowledge of Lithuanian language and culture (which is little known in Hungary at present) so that they become professionals who can help raise awareness about Lithuanian culture and who can ably utilize their expertise in the fields of education, research, media, economy, or in ministries and public administration managing international relations with the EU member Baltic states.

Our Institute has maintained close and productive relationships with Lithuanian and Latvian educational and research institutes. As part of this collaboration, our teachers and students regularly participate in the development of educational reference material (course books, dictionaries) and in translating Lithuanian literature to Hungarian, both of which pave the way for later research. Two publications play a pivotal role in the everyday teaching activities: i.) a Lithuanian course book for Hungarians, compiled by Aranka Laczházi, in collaboration with the Institute of the Lithuanian Language, published in 2014, ii.) a practical Lithuanian grammar book, edited with the assistance of Joana Pribušauskaitė and Meilutė Ramonienė, professors at the Department of Lithuanian Studies at Vilnius University. Both of these books have been reviewed by Prof. András Zoltán, who himself published research articles about the relationship between Hungarian and the Baltic languages.

The teaching of Baltic languages, their scientific research, and the various conferences all contributed to the development of Baltic Studies at ELTE and in Hungary. Gradually the first research papers, articles, and theses were born. In 2007 the publication of the yearly Lithuanian Booklet was started, which later became the Baltic Studies Booklet. In the spring of 2008 we invited Aistė Vilkaitė, who was a guest of the Festival of European Debut Fiction Writers at the 15th International Book Festival, to a meeting with our students at the institute's library. We presented the young author with the manuscript of the Hungarian translation of her debut novel. In 2009, in the year of the Lithuanian millenium, with the guidance of Ričardas Petkevičius, the students edited a Baltic Studies Booklet, which contained the translation of "We the Balts" by the renowned Lithuanian linguist Algirdas Sabaliauskas. In 2012, this translation was eventually edited into a book by Aranka Laczházi, and then it was published as a book with the support of the Institute of the Lithuanian Language. This book presents the origin and history of the Baltic languages and the literature of the Baltic nations. (It is worth noting that the Hungarian translation inspired the teachers and students of the University of Latvia in Riga to make their own translation of the book into Latvian, and it was published by the Latvian Language Agency in 2014.)

For the past few years Tamás Szabó has also been participating in the translation activities. He teaches Lithuanian literature and Lithuanian cinematic history at ELTE. In 2013, with his guidance the students translated certain works of Vincas Mykolaitis-Putinas (on the 120th anniversary of the author's birthday). In 2015 the students with the guidance of Noémi Kovács prepared a Christmas-themed Lithuanian Booklet, the contents of which they performed at the Christmas event of the Embassy of Lithuania in Budapest, Hungary and the Community of Lithuanians in Hungary.