Hungarian object agreement

Edith A Moravcsik edith at CSD.UWM.EDU
Sat Nov 6 21:56:19 UTC 1999

This is regarding whether in Hungarian the verb agrees with the definite
object in person, or whether the verb agrees with the object in

While I agree with Martin Haspelmath that there is little evidence to
interpret the facts as verb-object agreement in person, there are
linguists who have taken this tack. Gyula De'csy in his "Einfuehrung in
die finnisch-ugrische Sprachwissenschaft" (1965, Wiesbaden, Harrasowitz;
pp. 175-176) proposes this analysis. He then contrasts Hungarian with
Vogul and Ostyak (p. 180), where the verb agrees with the definite object
in number, rather than person. - Also, Christian Lehmann, in his
comprehesive study of agreement (1982), I believe does not mention
verb-object agreement in definiteness in his otherwise exhaustive list
of agreement types even though I think he knew about the Hungarian facts.

To answer Martin's question in his last message: yes, in
first-person-singular-subject and second-person-singular-object
sentences, such as "Ke'rlek." 'I am asking you.", the overt
second-person-singular object "te'ged" 'you' is possible and thus
the verb ending can be analysed as a case of agreement with the optional
overt object argument.


			 Edith A. Moravcsik
			 Department of Foreign Languages and Linguistics
			 University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
		         Milwaukee, WI 53201-0413

			 E-mail: edith at
		         Telephone: (414) 229-6794 /office/
				    (414) 332-0141 /home/
		         Fax: (414) 229-2741


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