The founder of modern synchronic Hungarian lexicography and professor of English in Debrecen’s Kossuth Lajos University, László Országh (1907–1984) was duly remembered on a László Országh Memorial Day on the centenary of his birth, 25 October 2007, held at the Institute of English and American Studies of the University of Debrecen.

Three memorial lectures were given to a sizable audience in the University’s assembly hall: the first on Országh’s role as professor at Debrecen , by Zoltán Abádi Nagy; the second by Miklós Kontra on Országh as editor-in-chief of the seven-volume Explanatory Dictionary of Hungarian; and the third on maintaining Országh’s legacy, by Zsolt Virágos.

Former students and colleagues of Országh’s as well as some Országh Prize Awardees shared their memories of their professor with the audience. Three books were launched to mark the centenary: In memoriam Országh László, edited by Lehel Vadon , Országh László válogatott írásai (= Selected Works of L. O.), edited by Zsolt Virágos , and a facsimile edition of A Concise Dictionary of the English and Hungarian Languages , first published by Franklin Publishing Company, Budapest in 1948, now republished by Országh’s major publisher, Akadémiai Kiadó in Budapest. This was the first of Országh’s six dictionaries, English-Hungarian and Hungarian-English, in three sizes that later were to sell well over one million copies.

The Memorial Day culminated in the President of the University of Debrecen , László Fésüs , inaugurating the Országh Memorial Lane , a beautiful wooded path between the main building of the Debrecen campus and its Botanical Gardens.

“A Hungarian gentleman – in the Kádár era”, as a former student called him in a memorial article published in 1994, Országh received little recognition in communist Hungary . He was compensated, however, by receiving the gold medal of the Institute of Linguists, London, in 1970; the title Commander of the Order of the British Empire (C.B.E.) in 1979; by being nominated as the first Honorary Member of EURALEX by its Executive Board in 1984; and by being the only non-American scholar in the world to have a Fulbright professorship named after him.

Two days later, a memorial plaque was unveiled on the outside wall of the house where Országh lived (12 Balaton u., Budapest). Over 100 disciples, colleagues and friends of Országh’s were present to celebrate the unveiling of the plaque. Finally, on 8 November, another memorial plaque was unveiled on the wall of the house where Országh was born, in Szombathely , western Hungary , followed by a memorial conference in the County Hall.

Click for the photos taken at the unveiling of the memorial plaque in Budapest.

Miklós Kontra