Negation or concord?
The word order, interpretation and prosody of se-pronouns

This paper discusses the behavior of negative pronouns in a generative framework. It intends to account for their possible word order, as well as their interpretation and prosody (stressed vs. unstressed occurrence) in the various positions. The generative theory of language maintains that word order, semantic interpretation and prosody are all dependent on syntactic structure. What we have to determine, then, is the structural position of negative pronouns. – The main claims of this paper are as follows: se-pronouns are quantifiers left- or right-adjoined (Q-raised) to NegP, subjected to negative concord. In the preverbal part of the sentence, their word order automatically follows from their syntactic position (they are left-adjacent to the negative particle). When right-adjoined to NegP, they participate in optional reordering in he phonological component. They carry stress except when occurring within the scope of focus or negation in their surface position; in the latter case, they are destressed. They are universal or existential quantifiers (depending on their specificity feature). The particle sem ‘neither’ is ambiguous: it may represent the negative particle, or else it can be a ‘minimalizing modifier’, the counterpart of is ‘also’ in a negative context. Sem functions as a negative particle if no other negative particle occurs in the portion of the sentence that precedes it.

É. Kiss Katalin


The aspectual role of obligatory adjuncts

In this paper I investigate the role of expressions traditionally called obligatory adjuncts, i.e. constituents that seem to be adjuncts (vs. arguments), but cannot be omitted from the sentence. The main question I address is whether they are really obligatory, in other words, why certain sentences are ungrammatical in the absence of these constituents. On the basis of English examples, Goldberg and Ackerman claim that the sentences without obligatory adjuncts are infelicitous. According to Goldberg and Ackerman, in the absence of obligatory adjuncts, the focal requirement, as a pragmatic constraint, is violated. In the present paper I show that the Hungarian data take their origin on a more basic level (i.e., the syntax–semantics interface). On the one hand, I suggest that obligatory adjuncts play a role in forming the aspectual structure of the sentence; on the other hand, I emphasize the ability of arguments (having a theta-role other than theme) to have the same function (i.e., “obligatory adjuncts” are not always adjuncts). By this argumentation, I refute not only the pragmatic explanation but also the old concept of preverbs saying that these particles are the unique as-pectual operators in Hungarian. I conclude that the reason for these constituents to be obligatory is not their contribution to the meaning of the verb, but their contribution to its aspect. This phenomenon is restricted to sentences involving verbs of creation with definite theme arguments; in this case, the perfective reading is impossible. When obligatory adjuncts are present, however, they form complex predicates with the verb and make the perfective reading possible despite the fact that they are neither resultative nor terminative adjuncts.

Márta Peredy


On potentials and limits of sociolinguistic research on language shift

The study investigates the potentials and limits of sociolinguistic research on language shift. Starting from a position that the ultimate goal of the research must be to create a general theory of language shift of predictive power, the author examines the explanatory potential of current mainstream research methodology regarded as canonical in the practice of research. He argues for the view that, for the purposes of the research goal mentioned, the arsenal of social psychology may prove more fruitful than sociologically-based correlative-global analysis methodology. There are, however, two necessary conditions on this. On the one hand, we cannot be satisfied with a mere additive consideration of “subjective” psychological factors in addition to the “objective” factors of language shift. Instead, there is a need for a general change in point of view. On the other hand, sociolinguistics needs to show greater care in treating terms, notions, and theories borrowed from social psychology in a methodologically more precise way than is reflected in today’s research practice.

Péter Maitz


The effect of document-writing techniques on the emergence of surnames
in the 14th century

The claim that document-writing techniques had a major influence on the emergence of family names is a commonplace in onomatology. But what exactly does this mean? What was the nature and extent of that influence? These questions make further research necessary; the aim of the present paper is merely to contribute a few observations. The data have been collected from documents written in the first one-third of the fourteenth century and have been restricted to noblemen’s or noblewomen’s names. In the period under study, the use of distinctive names can be said to have been general. However, the name of a particular person occurred in widely different versions. The reason may have been that the person had acquired a new property or been awarded a new position or dignity. Also, the “explicitness” of the name may have depended on the person’s social status, gender, and role in the affair recorded in the document, as well as what image he/she wanted to project of himself/herself. These facts allow us to conclude that, a few exceptions apart, we cannot speak of inherited surnames in this period, even with respect to the nobility. The intention to achieve precision and invariability of reference is more appropriate to consider as a factor facilitating the stabilization of two-element names with respect to commoners, especially servants and serfs. The detailing circumscriptions occurring in nobles’ names were a retarding, rather than facilitating, factor in the stabilization of two-element personal names.

Mariann Slíz