Hungarian Generative Diachronic Syntax

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About this site

This site provides information on the projects Hungarian Generative Diachronic Syntax 1 and 2, which ran from 2009 to 2013 and from 2015 to 2018 under the auspices of the Research Institute for Linguistics of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, and which was funded by the Hungarian Scientific Research Fund (Hungarian abbreviation: OTKA) (NK 78074, K 112057).

The core aim of the projects has been the study of the history of Hungarian in a generative framework. Theoretical work has involved the reconstruction and characterisation of syntactic change, focusing on key building blocks of the sentence, the so-called functional projections. Investigations have included changes affecting the tense system, aspect, complementisers, postpositions and adverbial suffixes, as well as the determiner system. A further topic of our queries is the emergence of the dedicated preverbal focus and quantifier positions. Our results were made public at several conferences, and in several publications; these can be accessed via the websites of the first and the second project.

Research efforts have led to a comprehensive description and analysis of Hungarian diachronic syntax, which are published in a Hungarian and in an English volume. Since earlier diachronic studies of Hungarian have focused on phonological and morphological change the volumes prepared by us represent a breakthrough, and, we hope, will become works of reference in the study of Hungarian diachronic syntax.

The second principal aim of the project has been to build an annotated historical database accessible to the public, in order to complement and support theoretical research. We have built a corpus that contains all extant records from the Old Hungarian period (896–1526), as well as some records and several Bible translations from the Middle Hungarian period (1526–1772). Material comprises 47 Old Hungarian codices, 24 Old Hungarian minor texts, 244 letters, and 5 Middle Hungarian Bible translations, totalling 3.2 million tokens. Original orthographic forms of the entire material, as well as the normalized and morphologically analyzed variants of some records are accessible from the link Texts in the menu; these can also be queried after clicking on the link Search. A detailed description of corpus architecture and the stages of corpus building can be found on the page Corpus.