ELTE BTK Magyar Nyelvtudományi és Finnugor Intézet

Tánczos Orsolya

nyomtatható változat

Tánczos, Orsolya (Piliscsaba)

The Udmurt Focus and the SOV (pdf)

1. In the Udmurt language, which is among the languages with relatively strict SOV word order, the first component of the neutral sentence is in the same time subject and topic, Udmurt simultaneously carries the characteristics of subject-prominent (A&A, 1998), and topic-prominent (É. Kiss, 1998) languages. Comparing it to English, where the pre-verbal position is always occupied by the subject, Udmurt shows an important difference, as not only the subject can occupy the topic position, however, in neutral sentences the default topic is the subject. In this respect Udmurt stands out among other topic-prominent languages, like Hungarian, for example, where there is no default topic. In sentences with the specified direct object in focus position (2), too, the language follows the neutral word order strategy – SOV (1) – however the word order changes when the subject occupies the focus position. Thus, we get a different pattern in word order with subject focus, for instance OSV (3a) or SVO (3b).

2. In Udmurt the basic word order of the neutral sentence is SOV:

(1)       Саша                   книгаез               лыдœиз.                                 SOV

The word order of non-neutral sentences with the determined direct object in focus is also SOV:

(2)       a) Саша кинотеатрын ТЕРМИНАТОРЕЗ учкиз.      SOV

            b) Саша ТЕРМИНАТОРЕЗ учкиз кинотеатрын.     SOV

The word order pattern changes when it comes to non-neutral sentences where the subject occupies the focus position:

(3)       a) Терминаторез кинотеатрын САША учкиз.                     OSV

b) САША учкиз кинотеатрын Терминаторез.                                SVO

3. Based on empirical evidence, we must hypothesize that the structure of the Udmurt sentence contains different discourse positions, like focus and topic. In case of neutral sentences only the subject can move into the topic position as the default topic of the sentence. The focus in the Udmurt sentence is syntactically marked, it appears always next to the verb.