Title: Long split Focus Constructions in Hungarian with a View on Speaker Variaton
Authors: Jánosi, Adrienn
Issue Date: 30-Jan-2014
Abstract: Long Split Focus Constructions in Hungarian with a View on Speaker Variation Long focus movement in Hungarian (henceforth LUF, cf. (1)) has received much attention in the generative literature over the past decades (e.g. É. Kiss 1987, Lipták 1998). (1) ÚJ AUTÓTFocus mondott hogy vett. new car.ACC said.3SG that bought.3SG ‘(S)he said that (s)he had bought a NEW CAR.’ Recent research (Gervain 2009, Den Dikken 2010) has argued that in addition to the movement derivation of the structure, long focus constructions may be derived by base-generating the focused NP in the matrix clause. In addition, the existence of speaker variation in the acceptance of long focus constructions has been tied to two speaker groups according to whether they accept the movement derivation or not.My research takes another set of related data, namely long focus constructions involving split bare NPs (henceforth LSF, cf. (2)), and argues for a double derivation of such structures: one in which the focused NP portion undergoes long-distance movement and one in which it does not. (2) AUTÓTFocus mondott hogy újat vett. car.ACC said.3SG that new.ACC bought.3SG ‘(S)he said that (s)he had bought a new CAR.’ The central data come from two questionnaires, each filled out by over 80 native speakers. The results show that while there is speaker variaton concerning the different types of the construction, no consistent speaker groups can be distinguished. I propose to account for this fact by assuming that there are two derivations for these constructions (i.e. long-distance movement and base-generation) both of which are available in all native speakers’ grammar. This explains why some types of the structure are sensitive to constraints on movement while others are not. Chapter 1 introduces some basic facts about LSF and the primary issues that will be addressed in the context of long focus constructions, each of the subsequent chapters discusses a topic that brings us closer to the analysis of LSF. Chapter 2 first briefly situates Hungarian among the languages of the world and it discusses some properties of word order characteristic of discourse-configurational languages. Then it presents a basic overview of the structure of the simple clause in Hungarian. Finally, it provides some insight into three issues that return in later chapters, namely the structure of nominal phrases, object definiteness agreement and the structure of expletive-associate constructions (henceforth EA, cf. (3)) in Hungarian. (3) (Azt) mondta Mari, hogy fekete macskát látott. expl.ACC said.3SG Mary that black cat.ACC saw.3SG ‘Mary said that she had seen a black cat.’ Chapter 3 is devoted to the discussion of split nominal phrase constructions, one of which is LSF. This chapter situates LSF in a group of related structures defined by the presence of a split nominal phrase (i.e. short-distance/long-distance split topicalization and short-distance/long-distance split focalization). LSF is singled out as it is the central topic of this thesis and its distinctive characteristics are summarized in the context of other split nominal phrase constructions. Chapter 4 compares LSF to its close relative, LUF and juxtaposes the syntactic characteristics of LSF and LUF in a systematic way. This chapter is based on the informal testing of informants living in North-Eastern Hungary. The chapter ends with the conclusion that LSF and LUF come in the same two types and that these two types share the same syntactic characteristics. Chapter 5 outlines some of the most influential analyses of LUF. These include long-distance movement, base-generation and so-called double (i.e. long-distance movement and base-generation) analyses. This chapter serves as background to my analysis of LSF. The analyses presented in this chapter do not extend to each empirical detail about LUF introduced in Chapter 4 as some of the data presented there has not been described in the existing literature on LUF. Chapter 6 introduces some prerequisites for the analysis and outlines the analysis of LSF based on the data introduced in Chapter 4. I propose that the underlying structure of long focus constructions, i.e. EA comes in two types: in one type the ‘matrix expletive’ is base-generated in the matrix clause while in the other it is base-generated in the embedded clause. I draw a parallel between the base-generation sites of the clausal expletive in EA and in LSF. Based on this I claim that LSF can be divided into a base-generation type and a movement type. I argue that the base-generation type of LSF is derived by base-generating the two NP portions in their respective clause. The link between the two NP portions is established by concord, a type of A’-dependency introduced in the generative theory by Den Dikken (2010) for LUF. On the other hand, I claim that the movement type of LSF is derived via long-distance movement of the long-focused NP (cf. Den Dikken 2010, Ott 2012). Chapter 7 reports the findings of two questionnaires. The primary aim of both questionnaires was to test the preliminary analysis formulated in chapter 6. Questionnaire 1 involved 83 speakers and used the 5-point scale method while questionnaire 2 was filled out by 88 informants and applied the magnitude estimation method. Both questionnaires are briefly described in the main text and a detailed description of both of them can be found in Appendix 1 and Appendix 2, respectively. The findings support the double (i.e. base-generation and long-distance movement) analysis of LSF outlined in Chapter 6. A section of Chapter 7 is devoted to the discussion of speaker variation as it affects both LSF and LUF (cf. Gervain 2009). Both of my questionnaires show a lack of systematic speaker variation. Chapter 8 provides a detailed analysis of both the base-generation and the movement type of LSF. It considers the results of questionnaire 1 and questionnaire 2 and it incorporates several elements of previous analyses of LUF. It is claimed here that the main syntactic difference between the base-generation and movement type of LSF can be traced back to two possible base-generation sites of the clausal expletive that is always present in the structure. It is shown that this analysis can carry over to LUF, the difference being that unlike in LSF, in LUF a full NP is moved to the matrix focus position from the embedded clause. Chapter 9 summarizes the main claims of this dissertation and discusses some directions for future research. References Den Dikken, Marcel (2010). On the strategies for forming long A’–dependencies:Evidence from Hungarian. Unpublished manuscript, CUNY. Gervain, Judit (2009). ‘Resumption in focus(-raising)’, in Lingua 119: 4. É. Kiss, Katalin (1987). Configurationality in Hungarian. Reidel, Dordrecht. Lipták, Anikó (1998). A magyar fókuszemelések egy minimalista elemzése. In: Büky, L., Maleczki, M. (Eds.). Proceedings of A mai magyar nyelv leírásának újabb módszerei III. JATE Press, Szeged, pp. 93-115. Ott, Dennis (2011) Local instability: The syntax of split topics. Ph.D. Dissertation, Harvard University.
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: TH
Appears in Collections:Formal and Computational Linguistics (ComForT), Campus Brussels
Linguistics Research Unit - miscellaneous

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