Budapest Languages: A Project in Urban Linguistics and Solidarity

Budapest is one of the places with the highest level of linguistic density in Central Europe. Above seven percent of the city’s population is from outside of Hungary. Almost half of the foreigners living in Hungary reside in Budapest, and the city has a traditional Roma and Jewish community. By now the immigrant populations speaking Asian languages have outnumbered most of the traditional national minorities. The statistical categories of ‘Chinese’ or ‘Russian’ actually hide the presence of dozens of small languages. 

Given these conditions, the city provides an excellent site for research on the cohabitation of various languages and traditions. The Budapest Languages project records the ways how these languages are spoken or written (accents and varieties of Hungarian, etc.), reconstructs their grammars and maps the difficulties of their speakers with regard to Hungarian. The project is organized in collaboration with specialized language labs at various local universities (primarily Károli, ELTE, and the Academy of Sciences). Within the framework of the planned activities, students can participate as interns, obtaining project-based learning experience outside of the classroom. The resources of the project will not only stimulate advance in urban linguistics but will also help the communication between locals and newcomers.v