LINGUIST List 23.2796

Thu Jun 21 2012

Qs: Native German Speaker Survey / Info Request on Focus in Hungarian

Editor for this issue: Zac Smith <>

Date: 21-Jun-2012
From: Petra-Kristin Bonitz <>
Subject: Online-Befragung: Akzeptabilität von deutschen Sät
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Liebe Damen und Herren,

In einer unserer wissenschaftlichen Untersuchungen an der UniversitätGöttingen geht es um die Bewertung von Sätzen hinsichtlich ihrerAkzeptabilität. Dafür suchen wir Teilnehmerinnen und Teilnehmer allerAltersgruppen mit der Muttersprache deutsch, die diese online-Befragung durchführen. Die Befragung dient allein wissenschaftlichenZwecken, d. h. Ihre anonymiserten Daten und Antworten werden nichtan Dritte weitergegeben. Die Befragung dauert ca. 15 Minuten und istunter diesem Link zu finden:

Sie können bis zum 31.07.2012 an der online-Befragung teilnehmen.Haben Sie vielen Dank für Ihre Unterstützung und viel Spaß beimBewerten der einzelnen Sätze.

Herzliche GrüßePetra-Kristin Bonitz (i.A. des Projektteams)

Petra-Kristin BonitzGeorg-August-Universität GöttingenSeminar für Deutsche PhilologieKäte-Hamburger-Weg 337073 Göttingen

Linguistic Field(s): Pragmatics                             Semantics                             Syntax
Message 2: Information on Focus in Hungarian
Date: 20-Jun-2012
From: Bradley Hoot <>
Subject: Information on Focus in Hungarian
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Dear Linguists,

I am attempting to create an aural acceptability judgment task for apsycholinguistic experiment with Hungarian/English bilinguals, and I aminterested in testing their judgments of post-verbal information focus inHungarian. However, I have encountered some difficulties, and I havetwo questions I have not been able to resolve which I was hopingsomeone might be able to help with.

Hungarian is well known for having a pre-verbal Focus position thatexpresses exhaustive identification. It is also claimed that Hungarianhas a post-verbal information focus, which is not exhaustive; it presentsnew information and might be felicitous when the information focusgives one of several possible answers (É. Kiss 1998, 2008; Horvath2005, 2007; Kenesei 2006; Roberts 1998), as in example (1) (from ÉKiss 1998).

(1) a. Hol jártál a nyáron? where the summer ‘Where did you go in the summer?’ b. Jártam OLASZORSZÁGBAN. went.I ‘I went to Italy [among other places].’

Question 1: Is there any experimental or other quantitative evidence onHungarian post-verbal information focus?

Most of the literature draws on the authors’ judgments, and Roberts(1998) points out that there is disagreement among Hungarian linguistson whether and/or in what contexts post-verbal information focus ispossible in Hungarian. Since there is disagreement in the literature,additional evidence using experimental or other quantitative methodswould be very helpful, but I haven’t been able to find any.

Question 2: Does Hungarian post-verbal information focus receivemain sentence stress, and, if so, what is its phonetic realization?

É. Kiss (1998, 2008) claims that post-verbal information focus receivesa “primary stress” but that this stress is weaker than the stress on theleftmost constituent in the predicate (usually the verb). In other words,for É. Kiss, sentences with information focus are similar to what hastraditionally been called the “neutral” sentence intonation (Hunyadi2002; Kálmán et al. 1986; Kenesei & Vogel 1989; Vogel & Kenesei1990): each prosodic word gets a pitch accent, with the leftmostprosodic word in the predicate most prominent, which is potentiallycompatible with Varga’s (1983, 2002) view that there is no mainsentence stress but rather a series of equally prominent accents.

On the other hand, Roberts (1998) and Horvath (2007) claim that post-verbal information focus receives the main or nuclear stress of theclause, which is presumably different than the “neutral” stress pattern.However, I have been unable to find a clear description of the phoneticrealization of this main stress.

I have so far been unable to determine whether the placement of stressin these sentences is still an open question or whether a consensushas developed around one of these two views, and I would appreciateany insights that anyone has. Also, if it is the case that the post-verbalinformation focus gets main sentence stress, I am not sure what thephonetic realization of that stress would be (that is, what makes it themain stress, beyond just bearing a pitch accent as it would in a“neutral” sentence?).

I would very much appreciate any leads you could give me, and I thankyou in advance for your help.

Thank you,Brad Hoot

ReferencesÉ. Kiss, Katalin. 1998. Identificational focus versus information focus.Language 74(2): 245-273.É. Kiss, Katalin. 2008. Structural focus and exhaustivity. MS.Horvath, Julia. 2005. Is “focus movement” driven by stress? In C. Piñón& P. Siptár (eds.) Approaches to Hungarian (pp. 131-158). Budapest:Akadémiai Kiadó.Horvath, Julia. 2007. Separating “focus movement” from focus. In S.Karimi, V. Samiian and W. Wilkins (eds.), Phrasal and ClausalArchitecture (pp. 108-145). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.Hunyadi, László. 2002. Hungarian sentence prosody and UniversalGrammar. Frankfurt: Peter Lang.Kálmán, László, Prószéky, Gábor, Nádasdy, Ádam, & Kálmán C.György. 1986. Hocus, focus, and verb types in Hungarian infinitiveconstructions. In W. Abraham & S. de Meij (eds.), Topic, focus andconfigurationality: Papers from the 6th Groningen Grammar Talks (pp.129-142.). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.Kenesei, István. 2006. Focus as identification. In V. Molnár & S. Winkler(eds.), The architecture of focus. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, pp. 137-168.Kenesei, István, & Vogel, Irene. 1989. Prosodic phonology inHungarian. Acta Linguistica Hungarica 39(1-4): 149-193.Roberts, Craige. 1998. Focus, the flow of information, and universalgrammar. In P. Culicover & L. McNally (eds.), The limits of syntax (pp.109-160). San Diego: Academic Press.Varga, László. 1983. Hungarian sentence prosody: An outline. FoliaLinguistica, 17: 117– 51.Varga, László. 2002. Intonation and stress: Evidence from Hungarian.Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan.Vogel, Irene. & Kenesei, István. 1990. Syntax and semantics inphonology. In D. Zec & S. Inkelas (eds.), The phonology-syntaxconnection (pp. 339-363). Chicago: U Chicago Press.

Linguistic Field(s): Phonetics                             Phonology                             Syntax

Page Updated: 21-Jun-2012