The Even Yearbook 12 (2016)

ELTE SEAS Working Papers in Linguistics, ISSN 2061–490X

authors: Benkő, Csontos, den Dikken, Jánosy, Kucsera, Newson, Szigetvári
editors: Mark Newson & Péter Szigetvári (editorial note)

Ágnes Benkő
A typological review of the phonetic characteristics of neutral vowels
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This paper focuses on neutral vowels in various vowel harmony languages. A review is presented with a focus on recent experimental findings, which describe the phonetic characteristics of neutral vowels. Neutral vowels are traditionally thought of as non-participating segments; however, examinations of neutral vowels in several vowel harmony languages show that neutral vowels are slightly different with respect to the harmonic feature in different harmonic environments, which may indicate that neutral vowels also participate in vowel harmony at a phonetic level. Phonetic experiments also imply that the distinction between participating and non-participating vowels is not simply a question of whether the vowel shows transparent or opaque behaviour, and a finer distinction of neutral vowels may be necessary.

keywords: vowel harmony, neutral vowels, typology, phonetic experiments

Tamás Csontos
Nominal and pronominal arguments in German: a Syntax First Alignment approach
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This article focuses on the order of nominal and pronominal arguments in German. It argues that the basic word order is subject > direct object > indirect object. The factors that can modify this arrangement are animacy status, (contrastive) focus and (contrastive) topic status. It will also be shown that pronominal arguments are blind to the animacy factor. I give an analysis of these word order issues within the framework of Syntax First Alignment and demonstrate that this theory can account for a number of phenomena in a straightforward way.

keywords: Syntax First Alignment, nominal and pronominal arguments, German, animacy, focus, topic

Marcel den Dikken
Negation Topicalisation
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Particles which indicate the polarity of a proposition have the entire proposition in their scope, yet typically occur clause-medially, not in the left periphery. In Dutch, however, it is possible to place the negation particle niet in sentence-initial position by itself (immediately followed by the finite verb in a Verb Second pattern), provided that (a) the fronted negation is a contrastive topic and (b) the sentence contains a phrasal contrastive focus in an extraposed, clause-final position. This construction type has things in common with both sentential negation and constituent negation, but does not directly reduce to either. This paper presents an analysis of negation topicalisation that treats niet as a focus particle and mobilises an abstract sentential negation operator. The analysis accounts for the difference between Dutch and English regarding the frontability of negation.

keywords: negation, topicalisation, contrastive focus, focus particle, extraposition, abstract negation operator

Márton Jánosy
Vowel breaking in today’s English
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Conservative SSBE and Current British English differ in the distribution of pre-liquid schwas. I argue that in the current state of the language, synchronic analyses can benefit from treating instances of pre-liquid schwa insertion (a.k.a ‘breaking’) as the resolution of blocked CC clusters.

keywords: breaking, schwa epenthesis, liquids, glides, consonant clusters, CuBE, SSBE

Márton Kucsera
Preposed headed relatives in Hungarian
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This paper focuses on a peculiar variety of Hungarian headed relatives; relative clauses that precede their head noun. These are termed “preposed relatives”, and it is shown that they are different from the correlative constructions found often in Hungarian. After introducing the data, an Alignment-based approach is offered for this phenomenon: preposing is shown to emerge as a result of an interaction between the Conceptual Unit responsible for the relative interpretation and other Conceptual Units that want to precede every element of a domain.

keywords: Hungarian, Alignment Syntax, relative clauses, late vocabulary insertion

Mark Newson
A Late Insertion Approach to English Quantified Wh-Interrogatives in the Syntax First Framework
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Certain multiple wh-constructions involve one or more of the wh-expressions interpreted as universal quantifiers. Newson and Kucsera (2016) analyse these as containing underlying quantifiers which are realised as wh-expressions rather than underlying wh-operators which are reinterpreted as quantifiers. This works well for Hungarian because these wh-expressions behave like quantifiers syntactically. In English, however, these wh-expressions behave more like wh-operators, despite their quantifier interpretation. The present paper demonstrates that this difference between Hungarian and English is only apparent and that these constructions in both languages can be analysed similarly, with minor points of variation.

keywords: quantified wh-interrogatives, late lexical insertion, alignment syntax, optimality theory

Péter Szigetvári
The curious case of Cj clusters in English
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Cj clusters in English have several properties that make them different from Cw, Cr, and Cl clusters: the consonant before the yod is less restricted, the vowel after it is more restricted. More surprisingly, Cj clusters are much more common before an unstressed vowel than the other obstruent+sonorant clusters. The paper argues that this is because many Cj clusters are created by high vowel gliding, which occurs exclusively before unstressed vowels.

keywords: consonant clusters, high vowel gliding, analogy