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NATLANG: Re: Hungarian tense, aspect, mood...

From:Tamás Racskó <tracsko@...>
Date:Tuesday, April 27, 2004, 10:18
On 27 Apr 2004 Frank George Valoczy <valoczy@...> wrote:

> It is the -l- infix which makes the distinction of meaning here - > indicating 2nd person object.
The things that prevents me thinking of the -l- as an infix are the following: It's a morphological "hapax": you may insert only in 1st person singular forms (Sg1). But it's impossible to infix into other forms, e.g. into 1st person (Pl1) plural _szeretu:nk_ 'we love' + - l- > _*szeretlu:nk_. Morphological cathegories, like infixes, should have a bit more systematic characteristics for me. The -ek on the end of _szeretlek_ is the marker of the *indefinite* Sg1. Therefore, -l- influences the next suffix and transforms it from indifinite to definite one. It seems a bit odd behaviour when speaking about infixes. You wrote: "'szeretek' exists on its own; *szeretl obviously does not". The string *szeretl (in form *szeretel) can be analysed as a valid word in a previous state of the language. Note that -l is the original Sg2 marker in "ik"-type paradigm, and the "ik"-type paradigm originally was used to transform the Agent into an Experiencer or into a Patient. Thus _*szeretel_ is a possible word for 'thou are loved, X loves thee'. Rarely, even verbs with personal markers can be a base in Hunarian to derive other verbs, cf. _la'ttamoz_ 'to countersign, lit. to [write] "la'ttam" (= 'I have seen, I agree') [on it]'. So, the variable "X" could be resolved by attaching another (namely Sg1) personal marker to the verbal form _*szeretel_ 'X loves thee'. And this marker is systematically comes from the indefinite series, because the "ik"-type verbs are intransitive by definition. (Note: The omission of the vowel from _*szeretelek_ is a regular process. There's a rule in Hungarian, called "double open syllable rule" that tends to elide either vowel of two consecutive open syllables.) A very similar situation exist is in Mordvin (this language has a nearly full bipersonal marker system). E.g. vechk-at 'thou love' + vechk-an 'I love' :> *vechk-at-an > vechk-t'an 'I love thee'. Most of the Mordvin bipersonal markers adopt the scheme: personal suffix of the direct object (as it were subject) + personal suffix of the subject. [Mordvin data came from the Erza dialect: ch = /tS/, ' = palatalization of previous consonant]