One doesn’t say “no” to the Hungarian government

Or if he does, he will pay dearly for it. We know that philosophers are an endangered species in Hungary, but now we can add to the growing list of "enemies of the government" linguists and geographers as well. But let me start at the beginning.

A few weeks ago we learned that Ferihegy Airport will most likely be renamed. Two Fidesz politicians, János Fónagy and Pál Völner, came up with the brilliant idea of naming the airport after Franz Liszt (or Ferenc Liszt as he is known in Hungary). I thought at the time that the idea was ridiculous. What does a musician have to do with an airport? I was all set and ready to write something funny about it when I realized that, behold, Warsaw's airport is named after Frédéric Chopin (or Fryderyk Chopin as he is known in Poland). I figured the Hungarians got the idea from the Poles; moreover, the Rome airport is named for Leonardo da Vinci, so why not? At least, it's not a politically charged choice.

Once the Fidesz government decides on something, they don't dilly dally. They act and act fast. The bill was drafted, turned in, voted on, and a few days later they were already redoing all the signs outside and inside the airport. From here on the Budapest Ferihegy International Airport will be known as the Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport.

But the government encountered an unexpected roadblock: the interdepartmental committee on geographic names. It is a body of twenty-one linguists and geographers who pass judgment on proposed names of places and objects. The members of the committee decided 20 to 1 that the new name was cumbersome and that the geographic name Ferihegy was "protected" and therefore must be included. They argued that there are too many proper nouns piled up (Budapest, Ferenc, Liszt) and therefore it will not exactly roll off the tongue. It will not stick.

And then there is the problem of "Ferihegy." The area was named after Ferenc Xavér Mayerffy (1766-1845), perhaps the richest citizen of Pest-Buda at the time and a friend of István Széchenyi. He was an early capitalist who owned a brewery and made a significant contribution to Hungarian wine-making. It was in the neighborhood of today's airport that he established his vineyard. Feri is the nickname for Ferenc and thus the place became known as Feri's Hill.

So, on linguistic and geographic grounds the "insolent" members of the committee suggested replacing Budapest Liszt Ferenc Nemzetközi Repülőtér with Liszt Ferenc Nemzetközi Repülőtér, Budapest-Ferihegy. An unforgivable sin. The chairman and the secretary of the committee were summarily dismissed. Two other members actually lost their livelihood as a result of this "misstep." One of them worked for an institute under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Agriculture (today called Ministry of the Development of the Countryside) and the other had the misfortune of actually being on the staff of the ministry. Considering that the bill was drafted by one of the undersecretaries of the ministry, it is not difficult to figure out who is behind these firings. At the same time the new leaders of the Ministry of Interior suddenly became interested in finding out whom they sent from their own ranks to the committee and naturally how he voted. Considering that almost everybody voted against the government's proposal, there might be another head rolling soon. This time in the Ministry of Interior.

And today's news. All members of the committee have been relieved of their duties and within fifteen days new members will be nominated. The 2007 law regulating the work of the committee has already been changed. From here on the members of the committee cannot decide on official geographic names of "special public interest." Case closed. Democracy in action.

 

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Kirsten
Guest

I would have actually expected OV to suggest renaming the airport Budapest-Vikihegy. But what strikes me as odd is that he seems to find enough people to replace those that he fired.

Member

@Kirsten There is a long line at pork barrel. Don’t worry …
In the name of the democracy the 66ers actually explained the decision:
Quote from the official explanation why they canned them:
“Since the ministry delegated 17 of he 25 members of the committee they were EXPECTED to support the government clearly stated request.”
“We didn’t know we couldn’t vote differently” said one of the ex-members. Bummer.

Johnny Boy
Guest

Those people were leftovers from the Gyurcsány government. You can’t be serious in thinking they were really fired because they didn’t like the name enough.
They just evaded attention. So far.

Member

@Johnny OMG! Who else is a leftover? Am I safe?
Watch the new guys. FIDESZ is paying it’s cronies. This is what you see.

Kirsten
Guest

“They just evaded attention. So far.”
Disgusting.

Member

@Kirsten Vikihegy?? C’mon … VikiPest !

Sackhoes Contributor
Guest

First, let me quicly say that we in the USA also have an airport named for a musician: Louis Armtrong New Orleans International.
Second, I found out that we too have a Board of Georgaphical names within the Interior Department. Their most famous controversy was the renaming of Cape Canavereal to Cape Kennedy in 1963 at the behest of President Johnson (who was reacting to Jaqueline Kennedy’s suggestion that the Sopace Center, not the whole cape, be named after the slain President). The name change never had traction with the locals and in 1973 the Florida State Legislature changed the name back, leaving only the Space Center named after Kennedy.
We, in NY, also have the JFK Airport.
It’s nice to klnow that bureaucrats the world over find ways to create long term security jobs for themselves.
The story also reminds me of a controversy in Hungary in the 1990’s, when the Hungarian Acadamy of Sciences department in charge of “words” and spelling was all upset about some newly invented expressions on the Internet. The tried to assert their claim that only they can introduce new words.
I wonder what are they doing about the President (alamfo) of the State (alam)…

Kirsten
Guest

@Sackhoes: The people that got fired did not vote against renaming the airport to Ferenc Liszt airport but for another order of the names in the official title. I am rather unsure what kind of “delict” this could be. The title proposed by Fidesz also contains the word “Ferenc” if that is the problem.

Jano
Guest

I don’t have anything against Liszt Ferenc Intl Airport, I always found Ferihegy kind of awkward, so I think I like the IDEA of the goverment.
Having said that the government ACTION to fire the committee just because it didn’t agree with them (some of them also from their non related civil jobs not just from the committee) is utterly disgusting…

Member

I really do not care what it is called for, aside that it seems Hungary is running out of worthy people to name a few things after, as we have a conservatory in Budapest named after Liszt, also a a Square. I guess Sándor Kőrösi Csoma is to cumbersome. In any case it was a linguistic, historical and a geographical issue. If they did not want a vote, they should not asked for a vote. It seems every single item in Hungarian politics now is like a show trial. They ask for an opinion but they do not care. They ask qualified people for feedback but they override the opinion if they do not like it. Democracy for Fidesz only works if they can assure the outcome. They think the people in various positions are also hired as the extras for March 15, they must clap on cue.

Jano
Guest

Someone: I think Liszt is a good choice because he’s well known abroad but still short. I’m clearly biased, but I would have been happier with a J. von Neumann airport:)

Őcsi
Guest

There’s nothing wrong with renaming places once in a while but I think something else is going on in Hungary.
In Budapest the mayor wants to rename Roosevelt tér to Széchenyi tér (thanks to Jobbik members of council), Moszkva tér to Széll Kálmán tér, Lágymányosi bridge to Szent László Bridge, and perhaps more.
The Orbánistas are determined to leave their mark on Hungary. They may ruin the economy, damage Hungary’s foreign relations and increase tensions with neighbouring countries with their barely controlled jingoism – all of which will damage the nation – but their “revolution” will not go unnoticed. They’ll be able to rename public squares and bridges and make Hungary more Hungarian. I suppose there’s nothing more urgent in Hungary.

Odin's lost eye
Guest

Renaming things is an old trick. It is supposed to make people that what you renamed is actually ‘new’.
His Mightiness (O.V.) has missed a trick or two. He should have a company which owns the copyright of all the new ‘names’ and charge royalties for their use. So the ‘new’ airport would be called “Liszt Ferenc Nemzetközi Repülőtér ©”. Every time it is used (printed on your ticket etc.) you would have to pay the royalty.

Sackhoes Contributor
Guest

Odin: If you fly to New York from Europe, you are flying to John Fitzgerald Kennedy International Airpport. Guess what’s printed on your ticket: JFK
I see no problem with Liszt. He is well known abroad. So when I fly to budapest in the future, I’ll take off from Kennedy, change planes at Charles DeGaulle and land at Ferenc Liszt. No problem… except for the faceless bureaucrats.

johng
Guest

As far as I remember up to 1956,when we left, Széll Kálmán tér was the section of Moszkva ter closes to Margit korut. Moszkva ter was that part closes to Szilagy Erzsebet fasor, where the streetcars turned. And we never called it Moszkva, just Szell Kalman ter, for the whole area.
So when was Széll Kálmán tér name eliminated, and what’s the problem re naming the square to one it carried before.

Ron
Guest

Odin’s lost eye: So the ‘new’ airport would be called “Liszt Ferenc Nemzetközi Repülőtér ©”. Every time it is used (printed on your ticket etc.) you would have to pay the royalty.
Perhaps this is the reason for the change and they already filed the name for protection.
Btw if you google FL airport, your getting Fort Lauderdale Airport, and for LF Airport, LF Wade Airport Bermuda. It takes about 2 months before the name kicks in Google. So we need to try it again in 2 months time.

Sackhoes Contributor
Guest

Bet you dollars to donuts that even if they change the name to Ferenc Liszt, the airport code will remain BUD. Look at one of the busiest airports in the US: Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, whiuch carries the airport code of ORD. Why? because before it was renamed for WW@ the hero, it was called Orchard Field. So BUD will stay BUD, even if they later change the name from Ferenc Liszt to Viktor Orban Intl Airport.
(the above example does not hold true for New York’s JFK. Originally it was called Ildewild Airport, named for the Ildewild Golf Course it replaced. In 1943 it became Major General Alexander E. Anderson Airport, then in 1949 New York International Airport, Anderson Field. All this time its call letters were ILD, until 1963, when it was name John F. Kennedy International Airport)

Odin's lost eye
Guest

I will agree call the place what you will if you really wanted the ‘blue bird of paradise’ to fly up peoples nostrils especially those who live in Anglesey you could name it “Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwyllllantysiliogogoch” it means ‘The church of Mary in the hollow of the white hazel near the fierce whirlpool and the church of Tysilo by the red cave’. I do not think anyone ‘protected’ this name, but it sold a lot of ‘platform tickets’ at the train station.
Oh yes it is Welsh and the Welsh have 2 more vowels than the English. The ‘W’ and the ‘Y’, so you get words like ‘cwm’ and ‘Twm’ (a name). There is posh for you!

Johnny Boy
Guest

Kristen: why do you expect the new government to leave in place Gyurcsány’s political appointees?

Johnny Boy
Guest

Őcsi. Renaming Roosevelt square to Széchenyi is completely justified because:
1. Széchenyi’s Chain bridge starts there;
2. The Academy stands there which was founded by Széchenyi.
Only your obvious malignancy can detest this logical step.
Moszkva tér is also a communist naming, changing it BACK to Széll Kálmán (because it was Széll Kálmán before) is only detested by your obvious malignancy.
And your pain that your beloved communist marks are getting removed from this poor country.

Johnny Boy
Guest

Latest news say that mayor Tarlós wants to send the Soviet monument at Szabadság square back to Moscow and rename the square to Roosevelt sq. The American embassy is located there.
This is certainly the most logic action.
I bet you’ll be outraged at how he dares touch the Soviet monument.

Ron
Guest

Johnny Boy: Latest news say that mayor Tarlós wants to send the Soviet monument at Szabadság square back to Moscow.
What Tarlos wants cannot be done, as the 1991 treaty with the Russians prohibits this.
http://www.mfa.gov.hu/kum/en/bal/foreign_policy/bilateral/europe/russian/

Member

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”
WHo cares until it is not offensive, what is disturbing that people lost their jobs, because although they wanted to use the name suggested by the Fidesz, they did want to make it linguistically correct. I guess they want to align the country by the norms of Pal Schmitt’s Hungarian.
I think everyone who achieved anything under Gyurcsany willbe questioned, fired or nailed to the cross. But this will only go to those who ever supported anything else but Orban. Look who high you can go even if you were working as III/III if you are licking up to Orban now. Either that or you must get paid by Orban to agree with him.

kormos
Guest

@johng
The small square closing Margit krt. is/was called Szena ter, and Moszkva ter was Szell Kalman ter.

kormos
Guest

Quote from the net for Odin, re:Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwyllllantysiliogogoch
On a beautiful summer’s day, two English tourists were driving through Wales.
At Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwyllllantysiliogogoch they stopped for a snack lunch, and one of the tourists asked the blonde waitress,
‘Before we order, I wonder if you could settle an argument for us.
Can you pronounce where we are, Very, Very, Very Slowly?’
The blonde leaned over and said …
” Maaaack …….. Donnnnnnn …… alllllllddssss” !

Leo
Guest

Maybe we will see the day when Kodály körönd gets back its old name: Hitler square (from 1938 to 1945). It seems it was once a landfill, so there is ´logic´ for some of us.
At least, the new Fidesz committee on geographical names will not protest. That reminds me of the old joke about the stops of the M1 underground line: Mussolini square, Hitler square, Heroes square, Állatkert/Nagycirkusz…

Johnny Boy
Guest

Ron: that’s why Tarlós wants to negotiate with Russia.
Your take: “cannot be done” (= I don’t want this to be changed, I love the Russian monument)
Tarlós’ take: bad treaties should be changed.

Johnny Boy
Guest

johng: “So when was Széll Kálmán tér name eliminated, and what’s the problem re naming the square to one it carried before.”
The problems with naming it back to Széll Kálmán are:
1. Tarlós wants to do this, but Tarlós should die instead, preferably today because this blog labelled him a Nazi, just like every non-communist;
2. The name “Moszkva” should stay forever because this blog loves communists and everything they forced on Hungary, including their names;
3. Since the current government consists of Nazis and dictators, even their breathing is outrageous, they should do nothing but leave power immediately and give it back to where it “belongs”, to the post-communists.

Guest

@Johnny Boy: re “this blog loves communists”
First the bad news: You’re an idiot …
Now the good news: Everybody who reads this blog realises that instantly …

Johnny Boy
Guest

wolfi: “You’re an idiot”
And everybody who reads your comment instantly realizes your skill at discussions.
Yet you are safe, you won’t get threatened of being kicked out by the host because name calling is only forbidden here when it’s me doing it.