The principle of epistemological tolerance in theoretical linguistics

The paper tackles the problem of what kinds of contradiction may be tolerated between the data and the hypotheses in theoretical linguistics. The author introduces a particular version of paraconsistent logic that distinguishes between weak and strong contradiction. This logic is applied to two case studies the result of which is that in theoretical linguistics weak contradiction between the data and the hypotheses may be tolerated, whereas strong contradiction between them is unacceptable. The final conclusion of the paper is that in order to avoid strong contradiction, a renewal of the methodological foundations of theoretical linguistics is needed.

Keywords: Chomsky, epistemological tolerance, linguistic data, paraconsistent logic, philosophy of science.

Kertész András


Allomorphs and alternations

This paper discusses the issue of the Hungarian infinitive suffix that has as many as eight surface shapes occurring in the various inflected forms of the infinitive. The final conclusion is that the issue is best treated in terms of morphology (allomorph selection) and not in terms of morphophonological rules/constraints involving segment insertion and deletion, respectively. An alternative treatment by Rebrus and Kálmán (2009) is also summarized and tentatively accepted. However, their alternative solution only serves to fill in the gaps left by the specific treatment proposed here: the general conclusion reached in this paper is not thereby undermined.

Keywords: infinitive, possessive suffixes, vowel harmony, self-lowering suffixes, hiatus resolution, Optimality Theory

Siptár Péter


Attributive constructions with singular/plural alternation in
Late Old Hungarian, in Middle Hungarian,
and in Early Modern Hungarian

As it is widely known, the cooccurrence of attributive numerals with singular head nouns is a feature of Hungarian inherited from Proto-Finno-Ugric. Nevertheless, plural head nouns can be profusely attested from Late Old Hungarian onwards; the appearance of these can be attributed to Latin, the source language of the translation literature of the Old Hungarian period. Later on, in addition to the direct and indirect influence of Latin, that of other languages, especially German, helped this practice to survive. (With non-numeral quantifiers, the issue may be even more complex, beyond the alternative of linguistic tradition vs. contact effects.) Singular and plural forms, therefore, struggled with each other for centuries. The focus of the present investigation is the linguistic material of Late Old Hungarian, Middle Hungarian, and the first eight decades of Modern Hungarian, that is, the almost half a millennium prior to the middle of the nineteenth century. The results suggest that an absolute victory of singular forms only took place after the first half of the Modern Hungarian period had elapsed. The details of that final victory will constitute the subject matter of further study.

Keywords: attributive construction, numeral, singular/plural alternation, linguistic tradition, contact effect.

Dömötör Adrienne


On the analysis of chiastic configurations in sung texts

“If a people sing, it can be heard from far away that they exist,” the Hungarian writer András Sütő writes. This paper discusses folk songs as verbal and musical texts. The tunes of the variants are given in notes and tonic sol-fa, their rhythm indicated with short and long values. It is necessary to find a theory and methodology suitable for the textual description of folk songs, which are built of verbal and musical elements. In this paper, S.J. Petőfi’s (2004, 2007, 2009) semiotic textual approach is used for this purpose. It is important to note that meaning components of the musical code can be interpreted in terms of their tone, dynamics, and mood; less specifically through their tendencies and the details of tunes, rhythms and cadences, and their interrelationships. The present approach of analysis assumes one of the possibilities for the discussion of folk songs as rhetorical text-complexities.

Keywords: Hungarian folk songs, rhetoric-stylistic configurations, strophic structure, semiotic approach.

Nagy L. János