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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.

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Editor(s)-in-Chief: Katalin É. Kiss,
Ferenc Kiefer

Editor: Éva Dékány

Technical Editor: Zoltán G. Kiss

Review Editor: Beáta Gyuris

Editorial Board

  • Anne Abeillé
  • Željko Bošković
  • Marcel den Dikken
  • Hans-Martin Gärtner
  • Elly van Gelderen
  • Anders Holmberg
  • Katarzyna Jaszczolt
  • István Kenesei
  • Anikó Lipták
  • Katalin Mády
  • Gereon Müller
  • Csaba Pléh
  • Giampaolo Salvi
  • Irina Sekerina
  • Péter Siptár
  • Gregory Stump
  • Peter Svenonius
  • Anne Tamm
  • Akira Watanabe
  • Jeroen van de Weijer

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Acta Linguistica Hungarica
Language English
Year of
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Founder Magyar Tudományos Akadémia
H-1051 Budapest, Hungary, Széchenyi István tér 9.
Publisher Akadémiai Kiadó
H-1117 Budapest, Hungary 1516 Budapest, PO Box 245.
Chief Executive Officer, Akadémiai Kiadó
ISSN 1216-8076 (Print)
ISSN 1588-2624 (Online)