Anikó Lipták Hungarian Academy of Sciences Research Institute for Linguistics Benczúr utca 33. H--1068 Budapest Hungary

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This article revisits the (non)configurationality debate of the 80s and early 90s concerning Hungarian, a `free word order' language, which was shown during that period to be characterized by an articulate and, crucially, hierarchical preverbal domain, with A-bar positions dedicated to discourse functions such as topic and focus. What this debate did not conclusively settle, however, is the question whether or not the structure of A-positions in Hungarian is also configurational. The most prevalent, and indeed empirically most well-argued and elaborated analysis that has emerged is that of É. Kiss's (1987a, b; 1991, 1994a, 2002, 2003), according to which the answer is negative: arguments are base-generated in the verb phrase in a free order in a flat structure. The present paper challenges this view by demonstrating systematically that the arguments put forward to back it up are inconclusive, and in fact it fails descriptively as well. The alternative proposed here is based on a hierarchical verb phrase (vacated by the raised verb) and a Japanese-type local scrambling movement that operates in the post-verbal domain of the clause. The scrambling movement analysis, besides being theoretically more desirable than the nonconfigurational verb phrase approach, makes available a superior descriptive coverage by accounting for a varied set of structural symmetries and asymmetries holding between subject and object. Modulo scrambling, Hungarian is configurational all the way down.

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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

Acta Linguistica Academica
Address: Benczúr u. 33. HU–1068 Budapest, Hungary
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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)