This paper argues that the segment /j/ in Hungarian is neither a fricative (as traditionally claimed) nor a glide (as it is usually classified in the international literature). The arguments adduced involve syllabification patterns, processes of j-obstruentisation, phonetic details of hiatus resolution, as well as phonotactic phenomena. Additional problems that are touched upon include the question whether Hungarian has diphthongs, the behaviour of /j/ with respect to vowel zero alternation, voicing assimilation and final devoicing, the analysis of imperative forms of t-final verbs, as well as the relationship between the Duke of York gambit and the principle of Proper Inclusion Precedence.
following Hungarian books on linguistics: László Cseresnyési: Nyelvek és
stratégiák, avagy a nyelv antropológiája [Languages and strategies, or, the
anthropology of language]. Tinta Könyvkiadó, Budapest, 2004; Ferenc Kiefer:
Lehetőség és szükségszerűség: Tanulmányok a nyelvi modalitás köréből
[Possibility and necessity: Papers on linguistic modality]. Tinta Könyvkiadó,
Budapest, 2005; Christopher Piñón - Péter Siptár (eds): Approaches to
Hungarian, Volume Nine: Papers from the Düsseldorf Conference. Akadémiai Kiadó,
The paper discusses the possible analyses of the behaviour of [h] and [x] in Hungarian. It argues that in a derivational, rule-based framework two types of analyses are possible: one that assumes two separate underlying segments, /x/ and /h/, and thus misses the generalisation that the two segments are in complementary distribution, a typical characteristic of allophones. The second kind of approach argues that [h] and [x] come from the same underlying segment; this type of analysis can be further divided into two subtypes. According to one of these, the underlying segment is /h/. To be able to derive the attested output forms, three separate strengthening rules must be posited, an obvious disadvantage. The other possible approach, on the other hand, argues that the underlying segment is always /x/ weakened into a [h] in onsets and deleted in a group of lexically marked words by a minor rule. Besides, we also consider the behaviour of H-type segments in voice assimilation: they trigger but do not undergo that process. Siptár and Törkenczy (2000) suggest that if a filter disallowing surface voiced dorsal fricatives is proposed, then the desired result is obtained. While such a filter is an ad hoc device in rule-based theories, it is an organic part of a solution in Optimality Theory (OT), which argues that both /h/ and /x/ may occur in the input and the constraint hierarchy must be such that they should always select well-formed output candidates as optimal regardless of the input. As a result of this and Lexicon Optimization (LO), non-alternating forms will have /h/ or /x/ in their underlying representation depending on the output forms while alternating forms may have an underlying /x/ or /h/ as a result of the alternation sensitive LO (Inkelas 1994). Finally, we will show that the treatment of the behaviour of /x/ or /h/ in voice assimilation is simple in OT if we assume the constraint proposed by Siptár and Törkenczy (2000), prohibiting voiced dorsal fricatives, which, interacting with the ones suggested by Petrova et al. (2001), will be able to select the actual surface form as optimal in all cases.
It is traditionally held with respect to Hungarian degemination that geminates do not occur in this language word initially or flanked by another consonant on either side. The occurrence of geminates, true and fake ones alike, is said to be impossible except intervocalically or utterance finally (if preceded by a vowel and followed by a pause). However, this traditional view is oversimplified. Siptár (2000) proposed to amend it by positing three different degemination rules, applying at word level, postlexically, and in the phonetic implementation module, respectively. Furthermore, he reinterpreted several cases that traditionally had been analysed as degemination as lack of gemination. In view of the recent literature, however, the hypothesis can be advanced that the whole issue should be seen as a matter of phonetic duration rather than that of phonological quantity. In particular, the hypothesis is that the familiar degemination effects are not specific to geminates: they are due to phonetic compression of CCC clusters. The paper presents and discusses that hypothesis and cites some results of a small-scale phonetic experiment designed to confirm (or disconfirm) it by empirical data. Six short texts involving all types of geminates and control sequences with both short and long consonants were created. Six consonants (two fricatives, three plosives, and a nasal) were used in the test (and control) sequences. The duration of the target consonant and that of the consonant cluster including it were measured in each case. The results partially support the hypothesis but they also raise some further questions.