Hungarian: szia

Discussion in 'Etymology, History of languages and Linguistics (EHL)' started by Zsanna, Sep 20, 2008.

  1. Zsanna

    Zsanna ModErrata

    Hungary
    Hungarian - Hungary
    Hello all,

    Does anybody have any sure information about the origins of the Hungarian greeting (and farewell) term szia?

    I have read some (recent) references about it being connected to the English "see you (later)" but I have some doubts about it for the following reasons:

    1) the orginal term was probably szervusz (latin origin) - however, how it became szia - is not obvious

    2) szia is used for both greeting and saying farewell in Hungarian as opposed to see you, which is only a term of farewell
    (OK, there is "hello" taken from the English, used in Hungarian both when meeting and parting but it is definitely a fairly recent acquistion, szia is older than that)

    3) it is very fashionable nowadays to find connection between Hungarian and English words justified or not (and often not)

    Thank you in advance.
     
  2. n-ray Junior Member

    near Budapest
    Hungarian
    According to Zaicz Gábor (Etimológiai szótár) this word is of the same origin as szervusz, and was first attested in 1952, but no special indication concerning the evolution of the word.
    Üdvözlettel:
     
  3. Zsanna

    Zsanna ModErrata

    Hungary
    Hungarian - Hungary
    Hello n-ray,
    Thanks, already the date is an interesting idication! :) (However, this Zaicz-dictionary hasn't convinced me of scientific merits yet... See the "szinhaz"-topic somewhere here on the forum.)
    It seems logical that it should be connected to szervusz but if it were sure, nobody could come up (very easily) saying that szia is really = see you.
    (On the other hand it is true that the simple truth cannot stop gossipers, liars to try...:))
     
  4. sokol

    sokol Senior Member

    Vienna, Austria; raised in Upper Austria
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    I cannot come up with any certain information about the development of Hungarian 'szia' nor can I disprove the English (folk)-etymology; but I'd like nevertheless to give some remarks.
    (I already wanted to in september when you put the question but decided against doing so, then. :))

    Firstly, concerning the meaning: I don't know if Hungarian szervusz is used exactly like Austrian Servus - for your information, at least in Austria Servus both is a greeting and used for saying farewell (Wiki suggests that this were the case everywhere where it is used).
    This really would indicate rather a connection of szia with szervusz than with English 'see you'.

    Secondly,
    concerning the evolution of this term: it wouldn't be impossible to reconstruct a development of szervusz to szia.
    There exist several varieties of the greeting in Austrian dialects which have eliminated 'rv' (also mentioned at the Wiki page linked to above: 'seas') which are very common here. It is possible that either the same happened in Hungarian or that 'seas' or similar was loaned to Hungarian as 'szia'.

    All still very vague, of course, and pure speculation.
     
  5. n-ray Junior Member

    near Budapest
    Hungarian
    Still remaining on the field of pure speculation: seas is not far from our szevasz, sharing the same meaning, in a colloquial register. Or sziasztok: tok being the ending for the 2nd person plural. Hungarian has borrowed a lot from (Austrian) German, yet this is not evidence.
     
  6. Zsanna

    Zsanna ModErrata

    Hungary
    Hungarian - Hungary
    Thank you both, for your interesting contributions! It is getting very interesting.

    (If you had any doubts: I do not believe that the Hungarian szia has anything to do with the English see you/ya but I think it is not relevant from the point of view of linguistics.)

    This "rv" dropping out seems to be an attractive idea indeed and it may even explain the vowel change ( eu -> ia).
    (Unfortunately, it still stays pure speculation, though.)

    An influence from "next door" (i.e. Austrian German) would be much more likely than a "borrow" from America (where the term "see you later" comes from originally apparently)...

    However, the phenomenon seems to be rather unique/isolated - maybe this is why it has not attracted much attention from Hungarian linguists.

    Can you think of any other examples for this "rv disappearance" for Latin originating words in German? (I certainly can't in Hungarian...)
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2008
  7. sokol

    sokol Senior Member

    Vienna, Austria; raised in Upper Austria
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    Well, Zsanna, in this case "r" is in a weak position already (in Austrian German): it is vocalised to an a-shwa and thus easily dropped, so /servus/ > Austrian pronunciation /seavas/ > (with dropping of 'v') /sea'as/ > (contraction) /seas/. So the phonetic development in Austrian German isn't a mystery really.

    More difficult however would be the change of /e/ to /i/ if /seas/ would be the origin for Hungarian /szia/ as Hungarian most likely would substitute this (rather open but half-long) /e/ rather with Hungarian (open, short) /e/ or at least (close, long) /é/ and not /i/. (While I don't think that dropping of /s/ poses much of a problem - this occurs frequently in words with accent on the first syllable.)

    Thus my reluctancy to even post my suspicion that this (an Austrian loan) might be the case. :) It's still possible but, as said already, all pure speculation so far.
     
  8. Zsanna

    Zsanna ModErrata

    Hungary
    Hungarian - Hungary
    Thank you. You have certainly indicated an interesting direction to look at.
     
  9. pepperheart New Member

    Hungarian

    Hi -- My parents grew up in Hungary and left in the mid 50s. I was born there and when we moved to Canada I spoke both English and Hungarian. We never said 'szia' as a part of the Hungarian language, but we did say, 'see you' as part of the English language. When we visited Hungary in 1974, no one in Hungary said 'szia' as a greeting or a farewell, but they all said 'szerebus'. While we were there, we said 'see ya' to our young cousins and their friends. They thought this was very amusing and imitated us and every time they saw us they would 'see ya'. Many Canadians said 'see ya' when they went home to visit the old country.

    I was shocked when I realized, very recently, that in Hungary, 'szia' as part of their daily Hungarian lexicon. 'Szia' is not a Hungarian word, nor is it German or Austrian. It is derived from the Western Canadian slang term, 'see ya' of the 1970s, brought to Hungary by tourists and visitors.

    Just ask my 85 Hungarian speaking mother, she did not grow up saying 'szia'. She'll tell you that it is a word from English, so will I. We were part of the group that started the trend. Thanks, and see you.
     

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