Beliefs and hypotheses in Uralistics

This paper discusses certain assumptions that have been made within Uralistics, some of which are closely connected to the remote past of the Hungarian language. The author provides a critical survey of some unfounded hypotheses — or rather beliefs — that have been published over the past few decades and attempts to counter them with well-founded hypotheses. The specific issues are as follows: 1. the original (Proto-Uralic/Proto-Finno-Ugric) order of possessive suffixes and case suffixes; 2. the age and origin of Hungarian preverbs; 3. the explanation of Hungarian numerals exhibiting a locative structure (e.g. tiz-en—egy ‘eleven’, literally ‘one—on-ten’) that traces them back to Sla­vic; 4. the emergence of congruence between a noun and its adjectival modifier in Hungarian and other Uralic languages; 5. the issue of whether Proto-Ugric really existed.

László Honti

Outlines of a theory of the verbal particle

The paper aims to outline a theory of the verbal particle which can predict when a Hungarian verb takes a verbal particle and when it does not. It argues that the verbal particle appears in sentences describing complex events, and it is a secondary predicate predicated of the theme ar-gument (hence it is barred from unergative sentences with no theme). It has three subtypes: the resultative particle, predicating the resulting state of a theme undergoing a change of state; the terminative particle, predicating the resulting location of a theme undergoing a change of location, and the locative particle, predicating the location of a theme whose existence or spatial configuration is asserted. Since the subject of predication must be specific, sentences with a non-specific theme can have no particle.

Katalin É. Kiss

Conversion in Hungarian

This paper deals with one of the main issues in the history of parts of speech in Hungarian: that concerning how the individual word classes get expanded, in what way(s) new items emerge within, or are added to, a given word class. Related research has focussed on the various ways of word formation (compounding, derivation, lexicalisation of suffixed forms, etc.). Most parts of speech, however, get expanded in another manner, too: by way of conversion. For instance, adverbs like reggel ‘in the morning’ were converted into nouns (‘morning’), adverbs like hátra ‘to the back’ into preverbs (‘back’), adverbs like ha ‘whether’, hogy ‘how’ into conjunctions (‘if’, ‘that’), adverbial participles like múlva ‘having passed’ into postpositions (‘[some amount of time] later’), etc. This paper explores that process of conversion. The phenomenon has received a number of interpretations in the international literature; the present author uses the term in a restricted sense. She argues for the claim that „zero derivation”, „derivation by a zero morpheme” does not result in a new lexical item in Hungarian, hence it is not an instance of lexicalisation, but rather it produces a new sense and thereby a new part-of-speech affiliation of an existing lexical item (she discusses the issues of polysemy and homonymy in passing). The paper raises a number of problems with respect to conversion and concludes with a tabular summary of the major directions of conversion in Hungarian: which parts of speech may serve as its sources and which may serve as its targets.

Mária D. Mátai

The temporal organisation of lexical retrieval

The interaction between pauses and the retrieval of the desired lexemes in the process of word production is a topic that involves controversies worth investigating. The hypothesis of the present paper was that certain pauses might refer to specific operations in the mental lexicon predicting the phonetic output. The temporal analysis of word retrieval was carried out in a ‘tip-of-the-tongue’ elicitation experiment while pauses (1) marking the speaker’s word finding trouble and (2) preceding restarts and repetitions were measured in spontaneous speech. The results confirmed the existence of specific temporal organisation underlying lexical access: a significantly different amount of time was measured depending on the subprocesses involved and on the mode of word retrieval that mediated between concept and articulation.

Mária Gósy

On alternating priorities in the subject—predicate relationship

There are many ways in which sentences can be analysed. The author proposes five points of view (logical, semantic, grammatical, structural, and informational) for the analysis of predication and of sentences. (1) From an Aristotelian logical point of view, the sentence is divided into two main, coequal parts: subject and predicate. Further (secondary) parts of the sentence are within the scope of either the subject or the predicate: All good things | must come to an end. Betegsége miatt az iskolából sokat hiányzó Péter helyzete | az érettségi előtt nehéz ‘Peter having missed a lot of his classes due to his illness, his situation | is difficult before the final exam’. (Cf. aliquid — stat pro — aliquo ‘something is said about something’). In a formal logical analysis (based on Frege’s mathematical logic), a verbal predicate (having function R) takes priority over the subject and the other arguments: a R b c d. This paper argues against the priority of the predicate over the subject. The scope of the predicate does not extend to the modifiers or specifiers of the subject. — (2) From a semantic point of view, the subject is the nucleus of the sentence, because the majority of nouns are autonomous words, realising their referential meaning in a subject function and semantically controlling the whole sentence. — (3) From a grammatical point of view, the subject has priority over the predicate which must agree with its subject. — (4) From a structural point of view, the predicate governs its arguments in the structural tree of the sentence. — (5) With respect to an informational characterisation of the sentence, the predicate takes priority over all other constituents of the sentence since the informationally most prominent part of the rheme (or comment) usually precedes the predicate in Hungarian.

István Pete