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2004 | 100 | 439-453

Article title

Additional remarks on the explanation of Sermo super sepulchrum


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This paper is a sequel to an earlier one published in the same journal (1997: 207 -16), containing linguistic and cultural-historical commentaries on certain expressions in the earliest extant Hungarian-language document known as Sermo super sepulchrum (Halotti Beszéd és Könyörgés, abbreviated as HB., respectively HBK.) that has survived as copied into Pray Codex, a Latin codex from around 1195. First, it deals with the expression pur eN chomuv (uogmuc) '(we are) dust and ashes', occurring early on in HB. and referring to the transience of human life, man's insignificance as compared to God. The expression is a set phrase of Biblical origin (cf. Gen. 18. 27); it has a number of versions and can be set in parallel with other Biblical or religious expressions, too. The paper then discusses a particular three-part figura etymologica known in Hungarian mainly from HB. The Lord says to Adam (Gen. 2.17): 'for in the day that thou eatest thereof (of the tree of knowledge of good and evil) thou shalt surely die'. (The sentence is also found in HB., with the phrase corresponding to that italicised above being halalnec halaláál holA (lit. you will die a death of death)). This formula must also have become a set phrase by the time of HB., and it can also be quoted from later texts such as various points of the first Hungarian translations of the Bible, as well as from other early ecclesiastical or even secular texts. Finally, the author discusses the expression mend w NAentii el unuttei (cuAicun) '(among) all his saints and chosen ones' from HBK., corresponding in Pray Codex to inter sanctos et electos suos. The author claims that the word unuttei, otherwise unknown in Hungarian, is probably a copying error for ununei (read ününei) 'his own ones'. This is supported by theological reasoning, by citing similar Biblical or ecclesiastical expressions, and a few cases attested in early Hungarian codices where n and tt were mixed up during copying. The discussion of the three expressions shows that, by the time of HB., Hungarian ecclesiastical usage had acquired a set of phrases based on Latin texts but used (partly) independently of them, too.






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  • F. A-Molnar, no address given, contact the journal editor


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