The Life of Pável Ágoston (linguist and ethnographer)


On August 1886, Pável Ágoston was born in Cankova (Slovenia), third child of Pável Iván, the master tailor, and Obal Elisabeth. He went to elementary school in his place of birth.

1897 - 1901

In spite of his Windish (Slovene) mother tongue, Pável Ágoston graduated excellently from Hungarian-speaking high school in Szentgotthárd being one of 28 students. Already in the early days, an amicable relationship developed between Pável Ágoston and his class teacher Győző Schmidt, who taught him Hungarian and Latin and who was the director of the high school library and the editor of the local newspaper.

1901 - 1905

Pável Ágoston continued his school career at Premont College in Szombathely, where he also performed exquisitely. At this college he participated in the Society for Volunteer Further Education. In the in-house gazette called "Bimbófüzér" already some of his epigrams, ballads and historically thematized elegies appeared.

1905 - 1909

Pável Ágoston studied Hungarian and Latin at the Philosophical Faculty of Péter Pázmány University in Budapest. Beside his specialist area he attended Serbian, Croatian, Russian classes and the subject called The Comparative Research of the Slavic Languages. At that time, the friendship with professor Oszkár Asbóth, whose lectures Ágoston attended and together with whom he worked as research associate, was contracted. Pável Ágoston was holder of a scholarship, was exempted from tuition fees and in addition to his studies he also taught.
One of his students was Albert Szent-Györgyi, Nobel Prize winner for Physiology.

1906 - 1909

The first verses of Pável Ágoston were published in Hungarian in the newspaper called "Murska Sobota and Neighborhood" and, in Windish, in the gazettes "Novine", "Martijin List" and "Kolendar".

May 15, 1909

On this day, his first printed essay on two disquisitions on Slavic-Hungarian speech forms, in which Oszkár Asbóth scrutinized on the one hand Slavic stem words and the mutations of the sounds "j" and "gy" in Slovene language in Hungary and on the other hand the academic speech based in western Hungary, which was mainly researched by Pável Ágoston.

November 13, 1909

Pável Ágoston read some Slovene vers translations and some of his own verses at the Hungarian folklore symposium.


Pável Ágoston's essay on the phonology of the Slovene language in the language district of Cankova, which was part of his dissertation, appeared in the edition of the Hungarian Academy of Science. This work won an award at the University and was highly recognized. Professor Oszkár Asbóth said: "I am a little angry indeed, however not at Pletersnik (Slov. linguist and literary historian), but at such Hungarian linguists who use their vocabulary with simplicity. I explicitely recommend them Pável's rich essays, because they can learn a lot from them!"


Pável Ágoston served in the 7th Graz and then in the 82nd Székhelyudvarhely (Transylvania) infantry. Due to an administrative mistake, the infantry number 83 was mistakingly written as number 82, he was detailed to military service in Erdély (Transylvania). The People's News of 1986 wrote in memory of Pável Ágoston that he spent his little spare time in the army on collecting popular verse, songs, customs and clothing.


Pável Ágoston spent his practical year as a teacher at the academic main high school in the second district in Budapest.

1911-1913 Pável Ágoston worked as a substitional teacher at the national main high school of Torda. His fellow teachers and friends were: Károly Visky and Gábor Kemény.

April 14, 1914

Pável Ágoston married Irene Benko in Szentgotthárd.

June 1914

He was drafted into military service.

June 10, 1914

On that day, Pável Ágoston became a teacher.

September 6, 1914

He was badly injured in the battles of Lemberg, which caused 5 years of sickness. In 1986 the People's News wrote: "Pável Ágoston despised the war a lot. What bigger joy could have befallen him than being injured right in the first battle, since he could get away from this senseless war. During the years of sickness he kept writing and translating."


Pável Ágoston's work "The Newest Windish Literary Language" was awarded at the academy. "With his work the author shows the ambitions that can be noticed in the field of literary language with great poetic linguist expertise and with the basic knowledge of the national Slovene language, which approximates the Slovene language that can be found in Austria and differs from it in its popularity". Academic information sheet, May 1917.

May 1919

Pável Ágoston was elected member of the Department of Public Eduction of Dombóvár and furthermore, he was appointed to the editorial committee of the local weekly paper.

May 1920-August 1933

He worked as a teacher at the national girls' high school of Szombathely.

November 16, 1920

Pável Ágoston was appointed to the Philosophical Faculty of the University of Ljubljana.


In this year, he was in charge of the library of the cultural organisation of Vas County and of the city of Szombathely.


Pável Ágoston compiled and published a composition of the directory service of the cultural organisation library of Vas County and the city of Szombathely.

January 1, 1926

After indexing and restructuring the museum library he inaugurated it. "The year 1926 marks a watershed in the history of the cultural organisation library, because due to the cooperation of Pável Ágoston a new vitality ran through the veins of the library, and thus the former strict rules of restrictions were lifted."

February 1928

The beginning of a friendship with Ferenc Móra and Vilko Novak.

September 1928

Pável Ágoston took charge of the museum of Vas County and of the folklore magazine.

November 1928

Pável Ágoston founded the Association of Amity of the Vas County museum.


He donated a home for the students of Sándor Weörös High School. Sándor Weörös remembers (Szombathely 1986): "The few months that I spent with my elder friend Guszti were the most precious of my life... In fact, Guszti triggered the "avalanche" of my life. Until that day I used to be a precocious and sick child and thanks to him I started a new life, which was not infantile, "decadent" on the outside anymore but intact in reality. Our relationship was very special. Pável, the eternal child and me, already a precocious man. Somewhere in the depth of life we met. Maybe it is not overstated to claim that it was not only me who learned from him but that he learned from me too."

April 27, 1932

Pável Ágoston became a member of the caucus of the Folklore Society, and on June 12, 1939 a member of the correspondency department.

December 1932

The date of publication of his first compendium of verse called "Praying in The Bosom of The Blind Valley". Ferenc Móra 's comment on March 5, 1933: "...unbelievably quickly you can name him being one of the modern contemporary Hungarian lyricists who "sing" just for themselves in today's turbulent times, however, they will also be heard by future people!"

March 1933

Pável Ágoston was in charge of the scientific journal "Vas Review", of which he was the editor until his death in 1946. Pável formulated the program of the journal as follows: "Our objective...dedication to the cultural problems in the history of Vas County and west Hungary and being appreciative of it."

August 1, 1933

He was shifted to Faludi High School.


Pável Ágoston became a honorary secretary member of the Hungarian National Culture Association. In the same year he gained membership of the "Erdély Szépmíves Céh" publishing company.

March 26, 1936

Ordinary member of the "Tömörkény-Society" in Szeged.

Spring 1936

Together with Dr. Sándor Gonyei Pável Ágoston went on a journey through the national park "Örség", which resulted in his work "Pictures from Örség".


In this year, his second compendium of verse entitled "Forest On Fire" was published. Béla Dezsényi's comment in the journal "Élet" in 1936: "Those who finish reading this small compendium get the feeling that the conscience of the world is tolling like a disfunctioning bell."


In the "Nyugat" Pável Ágoston's translation of the most significant literary works of Cankar Ivan, "Jernej, The Servant and His Truths", "Scapegrace Marko" and the novels entitled "King Matthew" were published.


Due to the fusion of Vas and Zala County Pável Ágoston expanded the Vas review to a review for west Hungary.

June 15, 1940

He became a member of the "Gárdony"-Society.

August 26, 1940

On that day, Pável Ágoston started an expedition to Örség. Together with István Gyorffy and Károly Visky he accumulated material for his monography.

December 13, 1940

He was elected member of the "Pen Klub".


The translation of the literary works of Ivan Cankar appeared as part of the series on south Slavic authors. The Hungarian culture review wrote on March 15, 1941: "The translation by Pável Ágoston is artistic and perfect."

February 1941

At the Philosophical Faculty of Szeged University Pável Ágoston habilitated as private tutor for the subjects south Slavic language and literature due to his paper "King Matthew" about Slovene folklore and literature.

September 27, 1941

He became member of the "Janus Pannonius" Society.


Pável Ágoston elaborated the curricular about the knowledge of the Hungarian language and composed the Hungarian literary history in favor of the schools in the Mura region in Slovene.

May 1945

In this month he was elected president of the local pedagogic "Free Province Organisation". Furthermore, he worked as an official interpreter for Russian in Vas County.

June 1945

On the initiative of Pável Ágoston the first Russian course was held in Szombathely, which he also designed on his own.

November 18, 1945

He was elected ordinary member of the "János Batsányi" Literary Society of Pécs.

Pável Ágoston died on January 2, 1946.

Translated from German into English: Joël Gerber
The German text is based on: "Pável Ágoston"; Tilcsikné Pásztor Ágnes, Berzsenyi Dániel Megyei Könyvtár Szombathely, (1986)