Multilingualism in Hungary: Practices and Perspectives

Publication Type: 
Working Paper
This case study begins with a brief social- historic context of multiethnicity and multilingualism (19th to 21st century) in Hungary, and continues by presenting 3 case studies based on extensive fieldwork conducted at three MNCs based in the country (2 in Budapest and 1 in the countryside). The aim of the three case studies is to analyze and compare various linguistic practices and attached social relations, meanings on a micro-level of a large business organization. The three case studies analyze the use of company language (looking at the presence of a vehicular language), the role and status of other languages at the company, and in general, the various company-level interpretations of linguistic diversity and diversity management. Significant differences have been identified at the studied companies- while some use English as a vehicular language but work with other languages as well (language based services), therefore encourage the use of those, others only tolerate the presence of other languages but not encourage their use. However, the role of the local language (Hungarian) was significant in all the three cases, due to the strong presence of the national language outside of the company and the existing linguistic nationalism in the region. Furthermore, the research concluded that diversity management was not a common, reflected practice in any of the studied companies.