Hungarian object agreement

Martin Haspelmath haspelmath at EVA.MPG.DE
Fri Nov 5 09:35:21 UTC 1999

Dear Edith,

>This is just a quick question to Martin for clarification:
>if we considered Hungarian transitive verbs as not showing definiteness

>agreement - i.e., an instance of agreement of the verb with the direct
>object in definiteness - but, rather, as showing object agreement, as
>Martin suggested, then what would be the agreement feature? In other
>words, the verb would then agree with the object in what?

I just saw that the terminology I had chosen was misleading: The
question is not "definiteness agr." vs. "object agr.", because in both
cases agreement is with the object. The question is object agreement in
what -- definiteness or person? My suggestion was that Hungarian shows
agreement in person, but I now realize that that is not a very
comfortable position to hold, because the only non-3rd person form is
the one in -lek/-lak (and I'm not sure if this is felicitously regarded
as agreement -- can one say TEGED kérlek 'I'm asking YOU'?)

So on my view Hungarian would show object agreement in person, but for
most person/number combinations there happen to be no inflected forms.
This situation is not completely impossible, but it's not exactly what
we expect either. So it seems that there is no way around the conclusion
that Hungarian is a very special after all.


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