Linguistics and biology

Ádám Nádasdy, on whose article I relied extensively for the discussion of József Budenz and the Finno-Ugric linguistic relationship, notes that just because people speak similar languages doesn’t necessarily mean they are biological relatives. Historians like to say, continues Nádasdy, that if two groups of people live nearby it is likely that are also related in the physical sense. The linguist, continues Nádasdy, can’t really agree or disagree; he will only say, “maybe” or “possibly.” Nowadays with the help of genetic studies we can come up with some tentative answers.

I found two fascinating blogs by a man who is interested mainly in Polish genetic studies, but by virtue of the intermingling of people on the Continent he also has a blog on general European genetics and anthropology. I’m unfamiliar with the field of genetics and anthropology but these blogs seem reliable to me. If not, I’m sure I will hear from my readers to the contrary. In the Polish genetic blog our author wrote an article entitled “Are Hungarians really Ugric?” And the answer is, not very much. By way of illustration he attached a diagram showing the cluster of Finns (Suomi) and other ethnic groups in Europe. On the guide “Ruotsi” means Swedes, “Viro” means Estonia, “Venäjä” means Russians, and “Tanska” Danish. Down there just a little East of the Brits there are the “Unkari,” the Hungarians.


However, it is likely that more than a thousand years ago a Uralic marker known as Tat-C allele was frequent in the Hungarian invaders. A group of Hungarian researchers at the University of Szeged where most of the DNA genealogical research is being conducted came up with an interesting study, the abstract of which can be found in PubMed. According to the abstract the Tat- C allele is a marker in the Finno-Ugric context, distributed in all the Finno-Ugric speaking populations except for the Hungarians. However, when they studied four Hungarian bone samples from the tenth century, out of the four two carried the Tat-C allele while out of 100 modern Hungarians from Hungary proper and 97 Transylvanian Hungarians only one carried this marker. So the invading Hungarians originally came from Siberia where this marker is prevalent, but since then this Asiatic marker has mostly disappeared due to intermarriages with people living in Central Europe and the Balkans. If anyone wants to learn more about the Tat-C debate this is a good site.

Modern Hungarians carry a lot of R1a1 and R1b, which are associated with South Asia, Southern Siberia, Central Europe and Scandinavia but it seems these lineages are largely of Germanic and West Slavic, i.e. Indo-European origin. Our Polish genealogist comes to the conclusion that today one “may find some traces of [Magyar horsemen] on the Hungarian Plain away from the large urban centers but it is very rare.”

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John T
Guest

Eva – very interesting and not particularly surprising as our ancestors were pretty mobile. I suspect some of my direct Hungarian ancestors were originally settlers from Northern Europe – one possible clue is that some of my relatives suffered from the bent over fingers referred to as “Vikings disease”, which seemed to appear when they reached their 50’s. This is associated with descendents of Northern Europeans. But who knows. I actually want to start looking into my Hungarian family history, as I’ve done little on my Hungarian side.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

John T.: “I actually want to start looking into my Hungarian family history, as I’ve done little on my Hungarian side.”
Genealogy is fascinating. I didn’t do much but it seems that on my mother’s side I’m German. The only exception maybe a great grandmother who had a Croatian sounding name. On my father’s side, although he very proudly announced that he was most likely 100% Hungarian, it is not likely. The ancestors lived in a village close to the Croatian-Hungarian border and I did find at least one family name that sounded Slavic to me: Bonyár.

ANCIENT HUNGARIAN DNA (from bones)
Guest
ANCIENT HUNGARIAN DNA (from bones)
http://dienekes.blogspot.com/2007/07/ancient-hungarian-mtdna.html Ancient Hungarian mtDNA See also mtDNA of Hungarians. Am J Phys Anthropol. 2007 Jul 13; [Epub ahead of print] Comparison of maternal lineage and biogeographic analyses of ancient and modern Hungarian populations. Tömöry G et al. The Hungarian language belongs to the Finno-Ugric branch of the Uralic family, but Hungarian speakers have been living in Central Europe for more than 1000 years, surrounded by speakers of unrelated Indo-European languages. In order to study the continuity in maternal lineage between ancient and modern Hungarian populations, polymorphisms in the HVSI and protein coding regions of mitochondrial DNA sequences of 27 ancient samples (10th-11th centuries), 101 modern Hungarian, and 76 modern Hungarian-speaking Sekler samples from Transylvania were analyzed. The data were compared with sequences derived from 57 European and Asian populations, including Finno-Ugric populations, and statistical analyses were performed to investigate their genetic relationships. Only 2 of 27 ancient Hungarian samples are unambiguously Asian: the rest belong to one of the western Eurasian haplogroups, but some Asian affinities, and the genetic effect of populations who came into contact with ancient Hungarians during their migrations are seen. Strong differences appear when the ancient Hungarian samples are analyzed according to apparent social status, as… Read more »
ANCIENT HUNGARIAN DNA (from bones)
Guest
ANCIENT HUNGARIAN DNA (from bones)

http://www.sulinet.hu/eletestudomany/archiv/2001/0138/08.html
Other important data about recent Hungarian population

ANCIENT HUNGARIAN DNA (from bones)
Guest
ANCIENT HUNGARIAN DNA (from bones)

Global DNA researches, university of Szeged.
Ancestors of present-day Hungarians arrived 40,000 years ago
http://www.sci.u-szeged.hu/fokozatok/PDF/Kovacsne_Csanyi_Bernadett/tezisfuzet_angol_CsanyiB.pdf

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Ancient Hungarian DNA: “Ancestors of present-day Hungarians arrived 40,000 years ago”
It all depends which ancestors you are talking about. Since most present Hungarians’ DNA resembles of Slavs and Germans then what you’re saying is correct but those people 40,000 years ago were not Hungarians. Hungarian-speaking tribes together with others arrived in Europe only in the late 9th century. Let’s not mix up the two.

ANCIENT HUNGARIAN DNA (from bones)
Guest
ANCIENT HUNGARIAN DNA (from bones)

Slavic language and germanic language did not exist 40,000 years ago. After all, what are you talking about? The most genetically diverse group is the slavic. Slavic is not a race or real ancestry, it is just a language group. Slavic is just a language family which spread quickly in the area.

ANCIENT HUNGARIAN DNA (from bones)
Guest
ANCIENT HUNGARIAN DNA (from bones)

It might conqueror “Magyar tribes” couldn’t speak the ancestor of present-day Hungarian language. They spoke a very different Turkic and Khazar language.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Ancient Hungarian DNA: “Magyar tribes” couldn’t speak the ancestor of present-day Hungarian language. They spoke a very different Turkic and Khazar language.”
Don’t be ridiculous. How can you explain then the presence of the Hungarian language in the Carpathian Basin?

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Ancient Hungarian DNA: “Slavic language and germanic language did not exist 40,000 years ago.”
All right. Let’s start again but the last time. If you insist that the ancestors of modern Hungarians have been in Europe for 40,000 years then what you’re saying is that modern Hungarians have mighty little to do with the conquering Magyars of the ninth century. And that’s OK because biologically Hungarians are not substantially different from other European peoples.
But in that case one must not mix up two things: the arrival of the Magyar tribes from Asia and the present-day DNA composition of Hungarians. If there were no Germans and Slavs in Europe 40,000 years ago then there were no Hungarians either.

John T
Guest

Eva – again, I think (but I’m not sure) the suggestion is that when the Magyars arrived, they mixed with peoples that were already there. But no doubt there was plenty of movement back & forth in the Carpathian basin.

John T
Guest

Eva – I’ve only managed to get back to 1848 on one branch of my Hungarian family, whereas I’ve gone back to 1650 on an English branch (as 5 generations stayed put in the same small village!).
My surname is Takács, so the occupation hides the origin. But for my other great grandparents, I have Dragovits (Croat), Pálko and Pámon (not sure of the origin, as seems unusual). Apparently though,Pámon was previously Baumann in the parish register, so either the name was Magyarized, or just recorded in German. The Takács ancestors had the “Viking fingers”, so I think they arrived from outside Hungary. As you say, fascinating stuff.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

John T.: “Eva – again, I think (but I’m not sure) the suggestion is that when the Magyars arrived, they mixed with peoples that were already there.”
But the problem is that we know who lived there. Mostly pro-Slavic speaking people. Perhaps some Avars.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

John T.: Pálko might be Slovak.

John T
Guest

“John T.: Pálko might be Slovak”
That makes for a very diverse set of ancestors then!

Erik the Reader
Guest

Check out A Y-chromosomal comparison of the Madjars (Kazakhstan) and the Magyars (Hungary)
American Journal of Physical Anthropology, Vol. 9999, No. 9999. (2009), NA.
http://www.citeulike.org/user/Archaeogenetics/article/4096556

John T
Guest

“But the problem is that we know who lived there. Mostly pro-Slavic speaking people. Perhaps some Avars.”
It would be interesting to see their migratory patterns.
I think I read somewhere that the Avars were related to the Magyars, but had migrated sometime earlier. Can remember where I saw this.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

“John T.: Pálko might be Slovak”
That makes for a very diverse set of ancestors then!
It Just occurred to me that we have several Slovak friends on this blog who will be much better at deciding whether Pálkó is a Slovak name or not.

ANCIENT HUNGARIAN DNA (from bones)
Guest
ANCIENT HUNGARIAN DNA (from bones)

Slovak is a new nation. Their language contains souther slavic and western slavic elements. They are mixature of 4 ethnic groups. Their identity didn’t appear until the 18th century. Éva’s idea about slovaks is similar to the Orthodox (or communist) era in Hungary (1945-1989) when Soviets and slavic people were the supermen :)))

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

John T.: “I think I read somewhere that the Avars were related to the Magyars, but had migrated sometime earlier. Can remember where I saw this.”
Yes, this is one theory but I don’t think that the majority of historians, anthropologists, archeologists accept it.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Ancient Hungarian DNA: “Éva’s idea about slovaks is similar to the Orthodox (or communist) era in Hungary (1945-1989) when Soviets and slavic people were the supermen :)))”
Oh, come off it! The Slovaks just appeared out of the blue in the 19th century? Wake up.

Szabad Ember
Guest
This was a very interesting post for me, since I’m fascinated by genetic studies and movements of groups of people, as well as by modern events in Hungary. Gabor Vona says that he is no Finn-Ugric, apparently because he feels that they originate in a less-desirable neighborhood of the world, so he is an example of how people use ancestral origin myths as justification for their plans for the future. However, according to the information I’ve been reading through the links you provided in your post, he’s at least partially right in a genetic sense. Therefore, the argument should be focusing on the culture, not the genetics, which, arguably, are much more important to how people think and act than anything else. There is obviously a great deal of difference between Germany and Hungary, culturally and politically, yet history and genetic studies have documented the massive immigration of Germans into Hungary. The argument in this comments section over Slovakia is kind of pointless, since it’s possible that Slovaks didn’t exist as a distinct group until 200 or so years ago, since Americans (residents of the U.S.) were not a group until about 300 years ago. I don’t know the facts,… Read more »
Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Szabad Ember: “it’s possible that Slovaks didn’t exist as a distinct group until 200 or so years ago, since Americans (residents of the U.S.) were not a group until about 300 years ago.”
That’s not quite right. Both written Slovak and Hungarian were late to develop because of the predominance of Latin but Slovaks and Hungarian began to write in Slovak and in Hungarian centuries ago. Modern Slovak and modern Hungarian are the result of “language renewal” efforts, both in the nineteenth-century. Slovakia might be a young state but Slovaks are just as an ancient lot as other Slavic-speaking people.

John T
Guest

Szabad Ember – A very interesting comment.

ANCIENT HUNGARIAN DNA (from bones)
Guest
ANCIENT HUNGARIAN DNA (from bones)

No, there aren’t historians in Hungary who think that Slovak and slovak identity appeared before the early modern age. Slovaks (as identity and ethnicity) were created from 4 other ethnic groups in the early modern age.

Szabad Ember
Guest

ANCIENT HUNGARIAN DNA: “Slovaks (as identity and ethnicity) were created from 4 other ethnic groups in the early modern age”.
You really hurt your cause when you a. claim that your assertion is uncontested by any historian in all of Hungary, and b. don’t give any information to back up your assertion, just state it as if it is a law of physics, axiomatic and absolute.
Whenever I hear somebody talk like this, I automatically assume that he or she has a shaky position and is lying with force to cover up the huge holes in his or her argument.

Martin
Guest

Historically, there are many proofs that Slovak as an ethnicity did exist before 18th Century. I am quite surprised to read again and again some 19th Century supremacy “facts” from certain people in 21st Century.
Modern Slovaks are definitely descendants form 8th-9th Century inhabitants of Nitra (Nyitra) region and Morava region. The archeological proof is contiuous setlement in many areas – from Pressburg region, Nyitra region, till Esztergom region, etc. It seems that Slovaks are native tribe in the Carpatian Basin. When several Ugric and Turkic tribes arrived in late 9th C. to the Carpatian Basin, some noble indigenous families helped to St. Stephen of Arpad Clan to raise and build Hungary Kingdom. Please, we should be very thankful to Slovaks, because they were very important building stone of Hungarian Kingdom. The same goes to the wars again R´Turks, when only Western and Northern Hungary (Slovakia today) and its people helped to avoid complete disaster and raise to a new Hungary.

Shirley Miller
Guest

I’ve just found this site and I’m glad to read these comments that attempt to make sense of Magyar DNA, history, language, etc. My Grandparents came to America from Bokony,Hungary in 1912 and 1913. My MtDNA shows that I’m haplogroup H from 20,000 years ago, with Basque and/or Sardinian, Etruscan, and some J-Middle East-lineage from 10,000 years ago. The problem with who was where when comes from the wrong Magyar migration patterns we’ve been mislead to follow. Go to http://www.magyarmegmaradas.hu and scroll down the left hand side of the page and click “in English” for the translation. Then read the four sections:OUR HISTORY, OUR LANGUAGE, and OUR LEGENDS. This is an outstanding recent work of 29 Hungarian scholars who explain the confusion with their astounding scholarship.

Ann
Guest

Hello my name is Ann and I’ve never had my DNA tested, but family says that I am Hungarian. An interesting event has occurred in my life that may help with regards to Hungarian ancestry, through a back door of sorts, and it is my disease….Celiacs Disease….and from what I understand it is very genetically specific to Nepal, Hungary, and Northern Europe. It seems to me that there has to be some sort of trail of genetic history based on the people with this disease and their ancestors. 🙂

Reka
Guest

I wish I knew who the bloody hell is Eva S. Balogh, pretending that she know everything and even better????
Luckily I found some interesting links here from others, just what I was looking for!
Thank you, guys!

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