verbs and definite objects

Matthew S Dryer dryer at ACSU.BUFFALO.EDU
Tue Nov 2 17:30:53 UTC 1999

With respect to Edith's comments about Hungarian, I should point out that
there are languages in which there are two forms of verbs, call them A and
B, where A is used when some argument is definite and B is used when some
argument is indefinite, which I think nobody would characterize in terms
of agreement in definiteness.  Among the candidates for this are socalled
focus alternations in some Philippine languages, antipassive vs. basic
clauses, existential vs. nonexistential constructions, etc.  There are
thus apparently clear instances where the choice of verb form or
construction is conditioned by the definiteness of an argument where the
notion of agreement does not seem applicable, and the question for Edith,
therefore, is whether there is some argument that the Hungarian case is an
instance of agreement rather than of a constructional contrast of this

Matthew Dryer

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