Summary: Re: Linguist 15.2366, Hungarian Apologies
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A few weeks ago I posted a query about apologizing in Hungarian. The query was:
I have a question for native speakers of Hungarian, about the speech act of
apologizing. Most studies recognize three apology types, expressions of
regret, offers of apology and requests for forgiveness. Suszczynska (1999 -
Journal of Pragmatics 31
p. 1053-1065) suggests a fourth, forstalling anger. I'd like to know a bit
more about this.
If someone were to offend you by for example
a. saying something at a meeting that you interpret as a personal insult
b. forgetting an important meeting with you
c. running into your car and denting the door slightly
d. bumping into you in a department store
(situations taken from Cohen & Olshtain 1981)
and they said 'Please don't be angry' would you feel that they had
apologized to you?
If not, what more would they have to say in order for you to feel that you
had been apologized to?
I received replies from Hungarians Anna Fenyvesi, Katalin Balogne Berces,
Kornel Bangha, Tamas Biro, Szilvia Papp, and Katalin Mady, and all of whom
agreed that forstalling anger was an appropriate and common strategy in
apologizing, particularly for minor offences, although not all of them
thought it would be appropriate for more serious ones, such as damaging
s car. Most importanly, when ever an additional expression was suggested,
it was not another apology type, but rather a completely different
strategy, such as an explanation or offer of repair.
Additionally, Kim Schulte pointed out that the same strategy is also used
in Roumanian, and Michael Johnstone, who had spent a year in Hungary, noted
that the expression was used similar
ly to British English excuse me, before making requests, especially to
I am very grateful to everyone who responded to my query.
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