This special issue of Acta Linguistica Academica has developed from selected papers presented at the 14th International Conference on the Structure of Hungarian (ICSH 14). ICSH is a biennial international conference forum for linguistic research that makes a contribution to our understanding of the structure of Hungarian and general linguistic theory. The conference series provides a platform for presentations on any synchronic or diachronic aspect of syntax and morphology, phonology and phonetics, semantics and pragmatics, as well as their interfaces and psycholinguistic aspects, studied from theoretically or empirically oriented perspectives. The conference is held alternately inside and outside Hungary. ICSH 14 was generously hosted in June 2019 by the University of Potsdam.
Traditionally, a selection of the papers presented at ICSH was published in the book series Approaches to Hungarian. This title was produced originally by the University of Szeged Press, then taken over by Akadémiai Kiadó, and subsequently until 2020, by John Benjamins. Following the general changes in the publishing and academic landscape, this model is now being supplanted by a series of thematic journal publications: a selection of the papers presented at ICSH 14 is collected in Issue 2 of the Journal of Uralic Linguistics, to be published by John Benjamins. Another selection is contained in the present thematic issue of Acta Linguistica Academica.
The current issue contains four articles on Hungarian, each of which is characterized by a strong empirical focus, while addressing issues of general theoretical linguistic relevance.
In the paper “Between adjective and noun” Péter Rebrus and Péter Szigetvári investigate the much-contested boundary between adjectives and nouns from a morphophonological perspective. Focusing on the alternation of presuffixal vowels occurring after ‘adjectival’ and ‘nominal’ stems, the authors carefully map the complex empirical landscape, partly relying on corpus data. They argue that contrary to previous over-simplified assumptions, the “low” vs. “non-low” status of such vowels depends not only on the category (plus arbitrary lexical properties) of the stem, but also on syntactic position and semantic properties. Both the syntactic positions where adjectives may occur and the suffixes that may be attached to adjectives can be arranged in adjectivalness hierarchies ranging from most to least adjectival (and simultaneously from least to most nominal). According to this picture, the difference between ‘adjectives’ and ‘nouns’ is not categorical in Hungarian.
Enikő Tóth and György Rákosi's article titled “Pushed out of arm's reach: Pronouns and spatial anaphora in Hungarian” offers an investigation of so-called snake sentences: configurations of spatial anaphora where, in English, both pronouns and reflexives are known to be grammatical as anaphora. While the prevailing view has been that in Hungarian only reflexives are licit in snake sentences in the standard dialect, the authors provide solid empirical evidence from corpus research and from a questionnaire study that the pronoun strategy is also available if i) the figure is located at some distance away from the individual denoted by the complement of the P-element and ii) the anaphor is part of a case-assigning P-construction (as opposed to a case-like P-construction or a construction with a case suffix). The authors' empirical data show that with some extra structure added to the PP configuration, by which the extended PP is possibly rendered a phase and thus a local domain for the purposes of binding theory, the pronoun is in fact the more acceptable alternative.
Angelika Kiss in her contribution “The Hungarian question tag mi? as characterized by dependent and independent commitments” studies the use-conditional meaning of a previously unexplored question tag of Hungarian. The paper argues that an utterance featuring the tag mi? ‘huh?’ i) tentatively commits the addressee as a source for the anchor proposition p of the tag question, and ii) it commits the speaker as a source for the addressee's being a source for p, which is a pragmatic presupposition. Following up on this commitment-based pragmatic account, the author also compares mi? ‘huh?’ to the better studied ugye? ‘right?’, which expresses a less complex bias than mi?. The account is corroborated by the results of an acceptability judgment questionnaire, which reveals that the contexts where mi? is available form a proper subset of the contexts where ugye? is licensed. In particular, the tag mi? is favoured in contexts where both the addressee and the speaker are independently committed to p, as predicted.
In “Differentiation of segmentally identical expressions occurring in the same or different sentence zones in Hungarian by duration, pitch, intensity and irregular voicing”, Anna Szeteli, Ákos Gocsál, Gábor Szente and Gábor Alberti investigate the hypothesis that if, and only if, segmentally identical expressions belong to different parts of the pitch-tier model of Varga (2016), their acoustic differentiation will be primarily due to their difference in pitch. The authors report on two production experiments targeting the acoustic realization of i) the discourse particle hát ‘well/so’ and ii) of is-phrases (‘also’-phrases) and universal quantifier expressions. While the variations in the realization of the discourse particle as well as in the realization of is-phrases are correctly predicted by the authors' hypothesis, the results from universal quantifier expressions are somewhat more involved, and they point to the need to extend the investigation to the triplet of pitch, duration and intensity values as well as the steepness of falls.
The editors of the present collection wish to thank the anonymous reviewers of the manuscripts as well as the University of Potsdam, and especially Malte Zimmermann, Mira Grubic, Doreen Georgi and Gisbert Fanselow, for organizing and hosting ICSH 14.