ELTE BTK Magyar Nyelvtudományi és Finnugor Intézet

Dér Csilla

nyomtatható változat


Dér, Csilla (Budapest)

The role of context in the behaviour of suffix-attracting postpositions in Hungarian

Hungarian postpositions can be divided into two groups: there are plain postpositions (PPPs) and suffix-attracting postpositions (SAPPs). The main difference between them is that most SAPPs can take the position before and after their noun, e.g. az igazságot kivéve ~ kivéve az igazságot ’except the truth’, so they are unfixed, while PPPs are not, as they can only follow their nouns (a ház felett ’over the house’, but there is no *felett a ház).
In a previous research, using survey and corpus data, I was focusing on the possible positions of 20 SAPPs. Results indicated that most of them are very mobile (e. g. eltekintve vmitől ’apart from sg’; közel vmihez ’close to sg’) but some of them have completely fixed back position (e.g. vmiből kifolyólag ’in consequence of sg’, vmire vonatkozóan ’relating to, in respect of sg’). Another remarkable result was that new(er) SAPPs don’t behave uniformly in contemporary Hungarian, some members being very mobile, others having only one possible position.
The current study - using the corpus of MNSz and based on the functionalist framework of Bybee (2007, 2010) and Croft (2001) - is seeking the answers to the following questions:
What is the connection between the semantics of the SAPP (+ noun construction) and its position? Do semantical differences explain the inconsistent behaviour of new(er) SAPPs?
How does the context influence the behaviour of the SAPP, especially the use of pronouns in SAPP constructions (e. g. erre nézve ’in this connection’)?
My hypotheses are:
The more abstract meaning(s) the SAPP has, the more fixed its position is.
More mobile SAPPs are used in different contexts, than fixed SAPPs. Collocations and idioms like szájon át ’orally’, övön alul ’below the belt’, közel a halálhoz ’close to the death’, ettől kezdve ’from that time on’ have strong influence on the possible positions of their SAPPs.
I will show that not only the existence of collocations is important: their frequency in different corpora also bears significant consequences.

Croft, William 2001. Radical construction grammar. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Bybee, Joan 2007. Frequency of use and the organization of language. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Bybee, Joan 2010. Language, usage and cognition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

In Hungarian.