Hungarian philologist and ethnologist; born at Nagy-Varad (Grosswardein) March 12, 1860; educated in his native city and at Budapest. He is a descendant of a famous rabbinical family, among his ancestors having been R. Joseph Stathagen, R. Joseph Lasch Lerner, Gabriel Banth, and Ezekiel Banth. Munkácsy's university studies were devoted to a scientific investigation of the Hungarian language under the guidance of Budenz, Vámbéry, and Simonyi. In 1880 he and Ignatz Kunos, despite many hardships, visited the Moldavo-Csángó colonies of Magyars on the Szereth.Linguistic Studies.
This trip laid the foundation of Munkácsy's linguistic studies and proved to be the first of a series of travels. He made a modest beginning of his philological work in 1879 in the "Magyar Nyelvör" (Hungarian Speech-Warden) and the "Nyelvtudományi Közlemények" (Linguistic Contributions). Two years later the Hungarian Academy of Sciences awarded the prize to his "A Moldvai-Csángók Nyelvjárása" (Moldavo-Csángó Language), conferring a like distinction on his "Törökölcsönszók" (Turkish Loan-Words) in 1882, and on his "Votyák Tanulmányok" (Votyak Studies) in 1884. In the latter year he received the degree of Ph.D., and in 1885 entered upon his important travels in the regions of the Kama and Volga to investigate the languages of the Votyaks and Tchuvashs. The results of these trips were embodied in his "Votják Népköltészeti Hagyományok" (Popular Poetry of the Votyaks) in 1887, and in his "Lexicon Linguæ Votjacorum" (1888-96), which received a prize from the Academy. Even before the publication of the latter work he traveled, with a subvention from the Academy and the Russian government, through the northern regions of the Ural, visiting Ob, Lozva, Szoszva, Konda, Gelym, and Tavda, with special reference to ethnography. Five volumes, devoted to the language and popular poetry of the Voguls, have already appeared as the results of this journey.
In recognition of his services to science, Munkácsy was elected a corresponding member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in 1890; and in the same year the Jewish community of Budapest chose him as inspector of religious instruction in all the schools of the capital. In this position he contributed greatly to the improvement of the instruction in religion by outlining a systematic course of study and by founding specifically Jewish schools. Since 1892 Munkácsy has been vice-president of the Hungarian Ethnographical Society, having become a member of the Société Ougrienne at Helsingfors in the previous year. He has been the editor of "Ethnographia" since 1893, and in 1900 he and Ignatz Kunos founded the "Keleti Szemle," in which his "Kaukasische Einflüsse in den Finnisch-Magyarischen Sprachen," "Aeltere Berichte über das Heidenthum der Vogulen und Ostjaken," and "Verschiedenheit in den Arischen Lehnwörtern der Finnisch-Magyarischen Sprachen" have appeared.