The syntax of anaphoric possessives in Hungarian
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Starting with the seminal work of Szabolcsi, morphologically unmarked and Dative-marked possessors in Hungarian have been the subject of rich investigation. Anaphoric possessive constructions, however, have remained poorly researched. In these possessives the possessor bears the mysterious -é suffix and the covert possessum is interpreted under identity with an antecedent. This paper presents new evidence in favour of Bartos’ (2001) analysis of anaphoric possessives, which holds that -é is the Genitive case. I further argue that anaphoric possessives in Hungarian involve a pro-form rather than deletion of a lexical noun, and this accounts for the restricted modification of the possessum.
KeywordsPossessive Construction Anaphoric possessum Ellipsis Genitive Case Demonstrative Concord
John’s two white ones/these two white ones of John’s found yesterday
Kugler (2000:181) characterizes the demonstrative concord in (17) as sajátos, a magyar nyelvre jellemző egyeztetés (“a special type of agreement characterising only Hungarian”). Zsigmond Simonyi, the great 19th century Hungarian linguist, stated that he knew no similar morpheme in other languages (Simonyi 1914:193). The view that -é is a special morpheme that has no exact equivalents in other languages is also shared by the non-generative, descriptively-oriented work of Korompay (1992:350), Fodor (1999:139), and Mártonfi (2004:71).
Explicit discussion of -é possessors is rare in the literature. The suffix -é is taken to be a pro-form (Laczkó 2007), or an incarnation of the functional head that introduces possessors in the structure (the so-called Poss head, cf. Bartos 1999), or it is taken to be the Genitive case marker (Bartos 2001). While certain aspects of the distribution of -é have been successfully tackled in the previous approaches, the totality of facts surrounding -é possessors has resisted a satisfactory explanation. It is the aim of this article to offer a comprehensive analysis of -é possessors and to show that -é is not nearly as exceptional as Simonyi, Kugler, and others have thought. Specifically, -é is the Genitive case marker in Hungarian. The discussion will also bear on the pro vs. deletion analysis of nominal ellipsis.
This paper is structured as follows. Section 2 sets the scene for the analysis by familiarizing the English speaking reader with possessive morphology and DP structure in Hungarian. In Sect. 3 I present the syntactic properties of -é in detail. The previous generative analyses of -é are summarized in Sect. 4. In Sect. 5 I argue that the morpheme -é is the Genitive case, and show how this accounts for certain properties of -é. In Sect. 6 I argue that Hungarian anaphoric possessives contain a pro-form in the position of the possessum, and this is key in accounting for their restricted modification. Section 7 summarizes the analysis and offers some concluding remarks.
2 Possessive morphology in Hungarian
This section gives a short introduction to the structure of possessed noun phrases and to Hungarian possessive morphology in non-anaphoric possessives. Familiarity with these data and structures will help the reader to understand how -é possessives are different from non-anaphoric possessives, and to appreciate the arguments presented in the paper.
NumP > PossP > NP
Poss2P > NumP > PossP > NP
dative possessor > DP > Poss2P > NumP > PossP > NP
3 The distribution of -é possessives
In Hungarian anaphoric possessive constructions the possessor bears the -é suffix. There is no lexical noun in the position of possessum; the possessum is interpreted anaphorically. These constructions have five syntactic properties that an adequate analysis has to account for. Of these, three properties are related to the -é suffix: (i) -é is restricted to possessors in anaphoric noun phrases, (ii) -é cannot occur on Dative possessors, and (iii) -é takes part in demonstrative concord. The remaining two properties are related to the anaphoric possessum: (iv) it cannot take the possessedness suffix -ja/-je/-a/-e, and (v) its modification is highly restricted. These properties have been mentioned in the previous discussion, and they will be explained in full below.
3.1 The -é suffix and the -é possessor
3.2 The anaphoric possessor
Of these inadmissible nominal modifiers, numerals and participial clauses are phrasal, the status of adjectives as phrases or heads is debated in the literature (I take them to be phrases sitting in specifier positions), demonstratives split into phrasal and head demonstratives (see below), and classifiers correspond to heads. The restriction on nominal modifiers thus affects both heads and specifiers in the extended nominal hierarchy.
DP > Poss2P > PrtcP > NumP > ClP/PrtcP/AP > PossP > NP
DP > Poss2P > PrtcP > DemP > PrtcP > NumP > ClP/PrtcP/AP > PossP > NP
[DP ez a [NumP hét [AP üreges [NP csont]]]]
I argue elsewhere (Dékány 2011) that the specifier of DP is a derived position for inflecting demonstratives, though, and their base position is the specifier of DemP. In other words, the two kinds of demonstratives are base-generated in the same functional projection, DemP, which means that inflecting demonstratives, too, are merged below Poss2P. This approach is in line with much recent work that suggests that demonstratives are generated below DP and reach the left edge of the nominal phrase by movement. A list of earlier work in this vein includes Bernstein (1997, 2001), Panagiotidis (2000), Brugè (2002), Alexiadou et al. (2007), and Guardiano (2009).
DP > Poss2P > PrtcP > DemP > PrtcP > spec, NumP > Num0 > ClP/PrtcP/ AP > spec, PossP > Poss 0 > NP
This concludes my survey of the five key distributional properties of -é. In the next section I turn to previous analyses of -é possessives.
4 Previous analyses
There are three generative analyses of -é possessives. They all agree that anaphoric possessives in Hungarian involve a pro-form (this view is also shared by the present paper). They hold different opinions, however, on the syntactic function and position of the -é morpheme. Laczkó (2007) suggests that -é is the pro-form itself. Bartos (1999, Chap. 2.2) and Bartos (2000) propose that the pro element is phonologically zero, and -é is a flavour of the Poss head. Finally, Bartos (2001) argues that the pro-form is phonologically zero, while -é sits in the Poss head and has case-like properties. Specifically, -é is the Genitive case marker in Hungarian. I will discuss these proposals in turn, pointing out how they do or do not account for the five key properties discussed in the previous section.
4.1 The suffix -é as the pro element
Laczkó (2007) presents an LFG analysis of Hungarian anaphoric possessives. In his view -é possessives do not involve a zero element; the suffix -é is the pro-form itself, standing in for the possessed noun plus possessedness suffix (-ja/-je/-a/-e) complex (p. 334: “an LFG-style “pro” element … the functional and semantic head of the whole nominal expression … most straightforwardly analyzable as a “pro possessive noun head” element”).11
The other two properties of -é constructions, however, appear to pose a problem for the analysis. The first potential problem is the fact that Dative possessors are incompatible with -é. In ordinary possessive constructions the possessor may be either morphologically unmarked or Dative-marked. In Laczkó’s analysis -é encodes the N-pro possessum, and it phonologically leans onto the unmarked possessor that precedes it. It is unclear why this would have an effect on the case-marking of the possessor, such that only unmarked possessors are possible and Dative-marked ones are no longer admissible.
4.2 The suffix -é as the Poss head
dative possessor > DP > Poss2P > PrtcP > DemP > NumP > AP > PossP > NP
Finally, in this analysis, just as in Laczkó’s, the possessor in -é possessives is an ordinary morphologically unmarked possessor, therefore it is predicted to have the same properties as unmarked possessors. We have seen in Sect. 4.1, however, that this is not the case: demonstratives cannot be unmarked possessors but they do occur in -é possessives, and unmarked possessors can be descriptive possessors, but the possessors of the -é construction cannot.
4.3 The suffix -é as the Genitive case
Bartos (2001) builds on the analysis in Bartos (1999, 2000) and takes the analysis one step further. Recall that in his previous analysis, anaphoric possessives involve a phonologically zero pro-form in the position of the possessum, and -é is in the Poss head. This leaves three properties of -é possessives unaccounted for: the involvement of -é in demonstrative concord, the lack of NP-modifiers, and the lack of Dative possessors in anaphoric possessives. Bartos (2001) argues that the demonstrative concord facts can be given a straightforward account if -é is taken to be a kind of case marker: the Genitive case of Hungarian.
Analyzing -é as a case marker has a number of immediate payoffs. Firstly, it allows us to eliminate a curious gap in the inventory of Hungarian cases. It is a matter of debate in the literature which Hungarian suffixes are genuine case markers and which ones are not, but even according to the strictest count, there are 17 case markers (this includes the morphologically zero Nominative, cf. Antal 1961; Kornai 1986). In spite of this impressive number of cases, Hungarian does not appear to have a separate Genitive case (recall that garden variety possessors are either unmarked or Dative-marked). If -é is the Genitive case marker, the gap in the paradigm can be eliminated.
Secondly, taking -é to be the Genitive case allows a natural account of the demonstrative concord facts. It is only -é, case markers, and the plural marker that demonstratives show concord for. If the suffix -é is the Genitive case, then the picture is more uniform: demonstratives show concord for number and case.
To summarize, this analysis makes sense of the otherwise mysterious demonstrative agreement facts (-é is a case marker), and it explains why -é does not co-occur with Dative possessors (a possessor may be assigned either Dative or Genitive case but not both). It also accounts for the fact that -é does not co-occur with the possessedness marker -ja/-je/-a/-e (they compete for the Poss position), and it explains why -é only occurs in anaphoric possessives (-é selects for a phonologically zero anaphoric NP).
However, the issue of why the anaphoric possessum cannot have overt modifiers is not explained (or even raised) in the discussion, and there are also conceptual problems with analyzing -é as a case-type Poss head. Firstly, in an approach that takes case to project a syntactic phrase, as in Bartos’ account and the present paper, the case phrase tops off the nominal projection rather than appearing somewhere in the middle of it (cf. Bittner and Hale 1996 or indeed any analysis employing a KP). The function of case is to embed the noun (in this case, the possessor) in the syntactic representation (the containing vP, PP, or as in this case, DP). It is not clear how this could happen with case sitting in the middle of a nominal sequence rather than on the syntactic boundary between the embedding category (here the possessum’s projection) and the embedded category (here the possessor’s projection).13 Secondly, even if case could be in the middle of the nominal hierarchy, it would certainly have to be within the projection of the noun phrase it belongs to. In the analysis of possessives, this means that the case of the possessor must be within the nominal projection of the possessor itself, and it cannot possibly be in the nominal projection of the possessum (which is the case if -é is the Genitive case of the possessor as well as the Poss head of the possessum, as in Bartos 2001).
It is possible to keep the advantages of the Genitive analysis and avoid the above mentioned conceptual problems if -é is analysed as a pure Genitive case marker, lexicalizing the K head within the projection of the possessor. Bartos briefly mentions this as a possibility (p. 35). In the next sections I will argue extensively that this is indeed the right analysis of the -é suffix, and will explore the predictions and consequences of this approach.
5 The morpheme -é is the Genitive case
Bartos (2001) made a strong case that the suffix -é is the Genitive case; as far as I can tell, the demonstrative concord facts do not follow naturally in any other way. In this section I present two major and four minor but suggestive pieces of evidence supporting this view.
5.1 Syntactic evidence
5.1.1 Evidence from demonstrative modification
As the Hungarian Nominative case is phonologically zero, unmarked possessors may be analysed either as Nominative or as caseless DPs. Bartos (2001) and É. Kiss (2002) argue that morphologically unmarked possessors in Hungarian are caseless rather than Nominative. The motivation for this position comes from the distribution of demonstratives in possessive constructions.
Why is it the case that inflecting demonstratives can appear in bare form in (77a) and (77b) but produce ungrammaticality in (78a) and (79a)? Bartos (2001) and É. Kiss (2002) suggest that this surprising idiosyncrasy immediately becomes understandable if demonstratives require case marking but unmarked possessors do not have case (cf. also É. Kiss 1998:85). Then inflecting demonstratives get Nominative case as subjects, Dative case as possessors, and (78b) and (79b) are out because the case requirement of the demonstrative is not fulfilled. This analysis provides a principled account of the contrast between (77), (78), and (79), and I will take it on board here. (This pattern, in fact, has no alternative explanation in the literature.)14 , 15
[Possessum a [Possessor ti-é]-pro-i-tek-et]
5.1.2 Evidence from the distribution of interrogative and relative pronouns
Note that the alternative analyses in which -é spells out the Poss head (Bartos 1999, 2000) or the possessed noun plus possessedness suffix complex (Laczkó 2007) do not show any promise of handling (91). In these analyses -é leans onto a garden variety unmarked possessor for phonological support. However, we have seen that ki ‘who’, mi ‘what’, and relative pronouns cannot be unmarked possessors, and it does not strike me as very plausible that the phonological hosting of an -é Poss suffix should change that property.
5.1.3 Evidence from descriptive possessives
In the foregoing discussion we have seen that certain pronouns cannot be unmarked possessors but they can be Dative or -é marked possessors. Following Bartos (2001) an É. Kiss (2002) I argued that unmarked possessors are caseless, and the pronominals in question need case. The fact that they become acceptable in these positions once they are -é marked leads to the conclusion that -é possessors have case. In this section I turn the argument around and show that possessive relations that can be expressed with an unmarked possessor but not with a Dative possessor also reject -é possessors. On the basis of this fact I will argue that -é possessors cannot be analysed as unmarked possessors that give phonological support to a Poss or pro exponent -é.
Explicit discussion of these data is somewhat rare (though see Chisarik and Payne 2003 for a few remarks), and considerably more investigation of descriptive possessives is needed before we can fully understand the nature of the contrast between (92) and (93). We can, however, even in our current state of knowledge, use the pattern in (92) and (93) to support the Genitive analysis of -é.
This is important for us because it cannot be accommodated within the Poss head or the pro analysis of -é but it is compatible with the Genitive analysis. In both alternative analyses, -é lexicalizes a portion in the lower part of the possessed noun’s projection, and it leans onto an ordinary unmarked possessor for phonological support. In this scenario any and all kinds of possessive relationships that can be expressed with an unmarked possessor are predicted to be expressible with an -é possessive, too. Therefore (94b) and (95b) are predicted to be grammatical on a par with (92), contrary to fact. The judgments, however, are compatible with the Genitive analysis, as nothing compels a Genitive marked possessor to be able to encode descriptive possessive relations.
This argument is admittedly not as strong as the previous ones because (94b) and (95b) do not directly follow from the Genitive analysis; they are merely compatible with it. But these examples are incompatible with the alternative analyses, and this offers the hope that once the nature of the descriptive possessive construction is better understood, we will be able to show that (94b) and (95b) actually follow from the Genitive analysis.18
5.1.4 Evidence from demonstrative concord
5.2 Supporting evidence from typology
5.2.1 Evidence from Suffixaufnahme
[Possessor ez-é-t a diák-é]-[Possessum pro-t]
The interest of Suffixaufnahme with -é possessors in the present context is that cross-linguistically it is the Genitive that is most prone to double case. Plank (1995:83) writes that modifiers “practicing Suffixaufnahme are prototypically the Genitive, whose prototypical function is to encode nominal attributes, especially those denoting possessors”. This claim is also substantiated in Malchukov (2009:636) (“The most widespread pattern of Suffixaufnahme involves the genitive signaling the dependency within the NP in combination with an external case signaling agreement with the head”), and Moravcsik (1995:417) (“In almost all languages, if the internal case involved in Suffixaufnahme is a case other than that of the possessor, the case of the possessor may also be involved in Suffixaufnahme”). This fact thus supports the analysis of -é as the Genitive case from yet another angle.
5.2.2 Evidence from the Blake hierarchy
nom – acc/erg – gen – dat – loc – abl/inst – others
If -é is not the Genitive case, then Hungarian does not conform to this generalization because it has all cases on the hierarchy except for the Genitive. However, if -é is the Genitive case indeed, then Hungarian is no longer an exception to Blake’s generalization.
5.3 A prediction concerning predicative possessives
In the analysis advocated here, the possessor and the suffix -é are in a single nominal functional hierarchy: both are inside the DP of the possessor. In the alternative analyses -é lexicalizes the Poss head or the Poss+N(P) unit, therefore the possessor+é string comprises elements from two nominal functional hierarchies: the possessor is trivially in the DP of the possessor, while -é is in the DP of the possessum.
Anything we find on this land is John’s. (Partee and Borschev 2001, ex. 22.)
However, it is debated in the literature whether this is the right approach to all predicative possessives. Some scholars have argued that at least in certain cases, the nominal projection of the possessum is missing from the structure of predicative possessives, and only the DP of the possessor is present (see Zribi-Hertz 1997; Partee and Borschev 2001, among others). In this scenario, the present approach and the alternative analyses make different predictions. In the Genitive analysis advocated here, both the possessor and the -é suffix are predicted to be present in these structurally deficient possessives as well, since both are inside the nominal phrase of the possessor. In the alternative approaches, on the other hand, these structurally deficient possessives are predicted to feature a bare possessor without the -é suffix, as -é lexicalizes a position in the possessum’s DP, now missing from the structure.
As Partee and Borschev (2001) point out, it can be difficult to make convincing arguments as to whether (some) predicative possessives contain a possessum or not. Moreover, the arguments that can be made for one language do not necessarily carry over to another language. In this paper I will not be able to settle the issue of whether Hungarian has such structurally impoverished possessives or not. If the answer is yes, then the different predictions of my approach and the alternatives are clear. These predictions remain to be verified until such time as reliable evidence is uncovered for the structure of Hungarian predicative possessives.
6 Explaining the restrictions on the anaphoric possessum
The proposal that the morpheme -é is the Genitive case explains two of the five key properties of -é possessors. First, it becomes immediately obvious why -é is incompatible with Dative possessors. A DP may be assigned only one case; if a possessor has already been assigned Dative case, it will not be assigned Genitive, too, and vice versa. Second, it gives a natural account of why the suffix -é participates in demonstrative concord: all case markers in this language do so. What is missing from a complete analysis of -é possessors at this point is an account of the obligatory lack of the possessedness suffix -ja/-je/-a/-e and several NP-modifiers of the anaphoric possessum, and an account of why -é possessors are confined to anaphoric possessives. In this section I will work out an explanation of these problems.
6.1 The restriction on modifiers
The signature property of anaphoric possessives is that the position of the possessed noun, the head of the whole construction, is not filled by a lexical noun with a fixed referent. Instead, the position of the possessed noun is either phonologically empty, or it is filled by some special vocabulary item (e.g. one in English), and it is interpreted under identity with an antecedent. There has been two major approaches to this state of affairs in the literature: PF-deletion (ellipsis) of the possessum, and employing a (possibly phonologically zero) pro-form in the position of the possessum (see Lobeck 2005 for an overview).21
English anaphoric possessives have been analysed in both ways. Jackendoff (1977, 58–60), Déchaine and Wiltschko (2002), and Panagiotidis (2003a), among others, argue that English anaphoric possessives employ a pronoun, and this pronoun is one. For Jackendoff, this pronoun stands in for the N̄ constituent, while for Déchaine and Wiltschko and Panagiotidis it stands in for the N head. Harley (2005), on the other hand, proposes that English anaphoric possessives involve ellipsis (understood as blocking of the normal vocabulary item insertion process). She suggests that terminals “which are exact equivalents of other nodes in an appropriate licensing relation” (p. 74) are marked with a feature [+Id]. Nodes with the [+Id] feature require a special vocabulary item to spell them out. The default vocabulary item for this purpose is the null morpheme ∅. There is, however, a more specialized [+Id] vocabulary item, too: one is specific to [+count] n0 nodes bearing the [+Id] feature. The lexical entry of one is more specific than that of ∅, therefore one appears in the position of count n0 heads and blocks ∅ from the same context, ∅ serving as the elsewhere case.
Which analysis is better suited to capture the Hungarian facts? I suggest that the pronominal analysis allows a more complete account of the data than the ellipsis approach. Under the ellipsis approach, we could say that the Poss head has two variants. The plain variety is spelled out as -ja/-je/-a/-e, while the variety marked for ellipsis by the [+Id] feature is spelled out with ∅. In this scenario the ellipsis feature of the [+Id] Poss head could be inherited by its nP complement, making both the possessum and the Poss head elliptical on the surface. This would derive that anaphoric possessives lack the -ja/-je/-a/-e possessedness marker and the overt lexical possessum.
KP > DP > Poss2P > PrtcP > DemP > PrtcP > spec, NumP > Num0 > ClP/PrtcP/AP > spec, PossP > Poss 0 > NP
The possessor is required in any possessive construction; if the possessor were not in the structure, we would not be talking about an anaphoric possessive construction to begin with. Pronominal possessors in Hungarian are obligatorily preceded by the definite article22 and they obligatorily trigger possessive agreement. So the fact that the definite article and the possessive agreement appear in (121) can be reduced to the general properties of possessive constructions in the language, and do not require further explanation. The fact that the case marker can appear in (121) can also be reduced to an independent factor: non-predicative noun phrases need case, therefore the nominal projection of the possessum has to be closed off by a KP.
To summarize, I argued that the pronoun that is the core of anaphoric possessives in Hungarian excludes NP-modifiers by default, and those modifiers that can appear are either independently known to be compatible with pronouns (the ϕ-feature lexicalized by the plural), or are independently required on all non-predicative noun phrases (the case marker), or are independently required in the possessive constructions of the language (the possessor, the definite article, and the possessive agreement).
That pronouns may correspond to phrasal constituents is not new. Jackendoff (1977) proposes that English one corresponds to N̄, and Uriagereka (1995) and Corver and Delfitto (1999) suggest that clitic pronouns are D-elements that take a phonologically zero pro-NP complement. Weerman and Evers-Vermeul (2002) and Neeleman and Szendrői (2007) argue that overt and covert personal pronouns correspond to whole phrasal projections in several languages, and they derive the restricted modification of pronouns (as well as cross-linguistic and intra-linguistic variation thereof) from this assumption.
Weerman and Evers-Vermeul (2002) argue that Dutch pronouns that cannot co-occur with DP-internal material such as numerals and adjectives but can co-occur with D spell out some projection between NP and DP. Pronouns that co-occur neither with NP-modifiers nor D spell out DP, while some pronouns spell out the entire KP (this gives rise to the subject vs. object pronoun distinction). Neeleman and Szendrői (2007) suggest that pronouns which are agglutinating for both number and case spell out NP, pronouns agglutinating only for case spell out DP, and pronouns fusional for number and case spell out KP. Both accounts derive the co-occurrence restrictions between pronouns and NP-modifiers/nominal affixes from the size of pronouns: the bigger structure the pronoun stands for, the more restricted its modification is. In both approaches, the fact that the possessedness marker -ja/-je/-a/-e is obligatorily missing from Hungarian anaphoric possessives is most straightforwardly captured by the assumption that the pro-form spells out a category bigger than NP; in effect, it realizes the N(P) position and the Poss head fusionally, as a portmanteau.24
Whether a language is able to use a pro-form in anaphoric possessives, and if so, in what contexts, that obviously depends on what sort of lexicon the language has. Only if there is an anaphoric pro-form in the lexicon of the language is the pronominal route available to create anaphoric NPs. If the vocabulary item inventory of a language has no anaphoric pro-form, then its only option to create NPs interpreted under identity with an antecedent is to use ellipsis. In the foregoing discussion I suggested that the lexicon of Hungarian does have an anaphoric pro-nominal. However, this pro-form is a portmanteau for N(P) and the Poss head.25 Therefore when this pro-nominal is employed, a possessor is also always introduced (via the Poss head), which leads to anaphoric possessives. Hungarian has no pro-nominal that is specified for N(P) only, therefore in order to create non-possessive anaphoric nominals, the language has to use ellipsis of a lexical noun.26
John’s two white ones/these two white ones of John’s found yesterday
6.2 The restriction on the distribution of Genitive possessors
In Sect. 3 I identified five key properties of Hungarian anaphoric possessives. In Sect. 5 I argued that the Genitive analysis of -é derives the fact that -é does not combine with Dative possessors, and that -é takes part in demonstrative concord. In Sect. 6.1 I suggested that the modification of -é possessives is restricted because the anaphoric element is a pronoun, and the possessedness marker -ja/-je/-a/-e is excluded because the pronoun is a portmanteau for N(P) and Poss. There is one property that remains to be accounted for: the Genitive (-é) possessor appears only in anaphoric possessives, and conversely, anaphoric possessives allow only a Genitive (-é) possessor. The relevant data are repeated below for the reader’s convenience.
Let us now turn to the issue of why Genitive possessors will not appear in non-anaphoric noun phrases. Csaba Olsvay (personal communication) suggests that we might be dealing with a case of contextual allomorphy (a.k.a. context-sensitive spellout) here. Specifically, the Genitive case is spelled out as -é when it is followed by an anaphoric possessum, and elsewhere it is syncretic with the Dative case (-nak/nek).
[escape.hatch possessor i [DP D [Poss2P t i Poss2 [ t i possessum ]]]]
In this paper I discussed the structure of Hungarian anaphoric possessives. I argued against the view held by traditional grammarians that the -é morpheme that appears on the possessor in these constructions has no direct equivalents in other languages. I compared three approaches to -é: the Genitive analysis, in which -é is a case-marker on the possessor, the Poss analysis, in which -é is the Poss functional head on the main projection line, and the pro analysis, in which -é stands in for the possessum and its possessedness marker. I argued that the Genitive analysis of -é derives the fact that -é takes part in demonstrative concord (all Hungarian case-markers do so), that certain types of pronouns can be Dative-marked and -é marked but they cannot be unmarked as possessors (these pronouns need case), and it also explains why -é does not appear on Dative-marked possessors (a possessor cannot bear two cases in its own right). The alternative analyses cannot derive either of these properties, which led me to reject them, and to conclude that -é is the Genitive case of Hungarian.
The discussion of the Genitive and the Poss analyses of -é was reminiscent of the debate about the status of the Saxon Genitive in English. The Saxon Genitive has also been analysed as the Genitive case on the possessor (Jackendoff 1977; Chomsky 1986) and as a functional head that takes the possessum as its complement (Abney 1987; Kayne 1993, 1994; Zribi-Hertz 1997; den Dikken 1998; Bernstein and Tortora 2005). While consensus has been converging toward the functional head approach for the Saxon Genitive, I hope to have shown that the case approach to Hungarian -é is superior.
As for anaphoric nominals in Hungarian, I suggested that non-possessive anaphoric NPs are derived by ellipsis of a lexical noun, so these constructions admit the full range of NP-modifiers like ordinary DPs do. Anaphoric possessives, on the other hand, employ a pro-form. Pronouns in Hungarian strongly resist NP-modifiers, and by virtue of containing a pro element, anaphoric possessives also resist NP-modifiers. Those few modifiers that can appear are either compatible with the pronouns in the language, or are required by independent factors. I further proposed that the pro-form realizes N(P) and the Poss head in a fusional form. This blocks the ordinary Poss lexicalizer -ja/-je/-a/-e from anaphoric possessives, and allows a more economical way of creating anaphoric possessives than lexicalizing and eliding N and Poss separately.
The main argument for the pronominal analysis was built on the observation that lexical nouns allow modification but Hungarian pronouns do not, and anaphoric possessives also cannot be modified. In a language like Japanese, however, where pronouns can be modified much like lexical nouns (Noguchi 1997), looking at the modification of anaphoric nominals does not adjudicate the issue of whether they have a lexical noun or a pronoun at their core. In such languages this matter needs to be settled on the basis of other empirical evidence.
The Hungarian literature refers to -é under two different labels: birtokjel ‘possessum suffix’ (Korompay 1992; Bartos 1999, 2001; Mártonfi 2004), and birtokjelölő ‘possessum marker’ (Rebrus 2000:776). I will not take over either of them. I will use the neutral term ‘-é (morpheme/suffix)’ instead, and will gloss it as ‘-é’.
- 2.According to Kornai (1989), in spoken Hungarian the plural marker, too, is absent in anaphoric possessives. Compare the standard Hungarian (i) with the spoken Hungarian (ii):
Bartos (1999) argues that possessors of event nominals are merged in NP. They get their theta-role there, and later on move to spec, PossP. This detail need not concern us here.
- 4.When the possessed noun is morphologically singular, the Num head has no overt exponent, so the possessedness marker -ja/-je/-a/-e and the agreement suffix end up being adjacent. In this case, if the possessor is first or second person, the two suffixes are fused (Bartos 2000, 674–683; Rebrus 2000, 776–777, 922–931; Kiefer 2000, 590–598). Hence (ia), (ib), (id), and (ie) feature just a single possession-related suffix.
A reviewer would like me to comment on the fact that there is a NumP in (27) but at the same time I adopt the Chomsky-Julien approach to number (and person) agreement and so take number agreement not to project its own phrase. The number feature that projects the NumP (27) and the number agreement feature that tracks the number of the possessor are distinct types of features. The latter is an uninterpretable feature that enters the derivation without a value (uNum), and gets a value in the course of the derivation via probing the possessor. The number feature that projects the NumP of (27), on the other hand, is an interpretable feature (its semantic contribution is to make the noun singular or plural) that enters the derivation with an inherent +/− plural value. In sum, the number feature in the head of NumP of (27) is not an agreement feature, and this is why it projects its own phrase. Not only does NumP have an interpretable number feature it its head, but it also hosts numerals in its specifier.
Note that the interpretation of (41) is ‘this boy’s one’, not ‘the boy’s this one’. In other words, the demonstrative modifies the possessor rather than the anaphoric possessum.
- 7.Case-assigning postpositions, on the other hand, take an oblique marked complement and do not participate in demonstrative concord.
Discussion of the relative order of adjectives and classifiers would divert us into a very different domain of data, and I will not attempt it here. The interested reader is referred to Muromatsu (2003), Truswell (2004), Svenonius (2008) for discussion and to Dékány (2011) and Csirmaz and Dékány (2014) for an analysis of the Hungarian facts.
- 9.However, as shown in (i), they cannot be contiguous to the definite article: the linear order becomes visible only if a possessor or a participial clause intervenes between them, cf. Szabolcsi (1994). This detail is orthogonal to the topic of anaphoric possessives.
A reviewer asks what the relationship is between DemP and Szabolcsi’s (1994) DetP. DemP, as used here, is a functional head dedicated to demonstratives. Szabolcsi’s DetP, on the other hand, is a functional head that “determines both the quantification and the definiteness of the noun phrase” (p. 219). In addition to non-inflecting demonstratives, it also houses “determiners” in general: minden ‘all’, melyik ‘which’, valamennyi ‘each’, bármelyik ‘either’, semelyik ‘neither’, and possibly a few others.
The same idea is also expressed in Lotz’s (1968) descriptive approach: “-é is substituted for the stem portion of the head of the nominal phrase; it points to this segment—and to the attributes, if any” (p. 634).
- 12.As we have already seen, the suffix -é can also be followed by a plural suffix, a possessive agreement marker, and a case marker. Any suffix following -é is a suffix of the anaphoric, unpronounced possessum.
On the other hand, any suffix that precedes -é is a suffix of the possessor, cf. (75). When both the possessor and the possessum are plural, then the plural appears twice: once in a position preceding and once in a position following -é. These positions correlate with scope: the one preceding -é scopes over the possessor, while the one following -é scopes over the possessum.
In an approach that takes case not to project a syntactic phrase, case is either a feature on N or on D, but again, not a feature on a functional category in between.
- 14.A reviewer asks why other nominals can get away without case marking as unmarked possessors. I assume with Den Dikken (1999, 2006, 2007) that the possessor and the possessum are in a predicative relationship, with the possessum being the subject of predication and the possessor being the predicate (see also Larson and Cho 2003). Predicate noun phrases do not need case, hence possessors can escape the Case Filter. Of course, this is not to say that specific languages cannot require predicates in certain positions to have case, cf. (i).Therefore I do not exclude the possibility that specific languages require their possessors to have case (this obviously materializes in a lot of languages). What I suggest is that in the absence of a language-specific requirement to the contrary, possessors escape the Case Filter by virtue of being predicates.
- 15.As pointed out in Bartos (2001), certain speakers allow the plural version of (78a), but even these speakers reject the plural version of (79a). It is not clear at this point whether the speaker variation on this point stems from dialectal or other factors.Bartos (2001) sets (ia) aside for further research. The analysis of this variation is still a standing issue, on which I have nothing interesting to contribute.
- 16.An anonymous reviewer points out that ki ‘who’ can combine with the existential quantifier vala and the universal quantifier minden, and mi ‘what’ can combine with the existential quantifier vala (but not the universal quantifier minden).These quantified forms, in turn, can serve as unmarked possessors.
It is clear that the feature composition of ki ‘who’, mi ‘what’ in (88a) and (88b) on the one hand and in (iia) and (iib) on the other hand are different. In (88a) and (88b) we are dealing with genuine interrogative pronouns with a wh- feature, while in (iia) and (iib) ki and mi are not interrogative pronouns and concomitantly lack the wh- feature. This is consistent with the proposal made above, viz. that it is the indefinite interrogative pronouns what require case, rather than indefinite pronouns in general.
The reviewer also points out that an interrogative pronoun followed by the quantified pronoun is fine as an unmarked possessor.At present, I have no suggestions as to why the judgments of (88) and (iii) are different, and I will set this issue aside.
Note that in English, too, there are two kinds of possessors, but this kind of relationship can only be expressed with an of possessive (the city of Paris) and not with the Saxon genitive (*Paris’ city).
In the foregoing discussion we have seen that Hungarian has possessors with specific requirements pertaining to case: inflecting demonstratives, indefinite interrogative pronouns, and relative pronouns require case. We could hypothesize that descriptive possessors show the opposite behaviour: they resist case, and (93) is out because its descriptive possessor is case-marked. Then the ungrammaticality of (94b) and (95b) would actually follow from the Genitive analysis. Exploring this possibility in detail would lead us too far afield into the realm of descriptive possessors, however, and I will not attempt to flesh out this idea here.
- 20.Analytical cases do not give rise to a double case construction (i). Interestingly, (i) has no well-formed counterpart: omission of the analytical case from the demonstrative also leads to ungrammaticality (ii).
I use the terms pro-form and pro to mean simply ‘pronoun’; not the more specific pro of pro-drop.
- 22.This is an indisputable fact, but I am not aware of any explicit discussion in the literature why this should be the case.
- 23.Alternatively, the pro-form could correspond to the whole PossP. In this case the usual merge-in position of possessors in spec, PossP would be unavailable, and we would have to assume that -é possessors are inserted in their surface position in spec, Poss2P.In either case, the pro-form already takes up the position where -ja/-je/-a/-e would be merged, so this suffix will not co-occur with the pro-form.
- 24.If the lack of adjectives, classifiers, numerals, demonstratives, and participial clauses is also to be derived from the size of the pronoun, some non-standard assumptions have to be made about the structure. Under the standard assumption that possessors are merged in spec, PossP (Bartos 1999), the pro-form can be at most as big as Poss′. Adjectives, classifiers, numerals, demonstratives, and participial clauses are all merged above PossP (i).This means that their absence does not follow from the size of the pronoun, and their unavailability must be attributed to some other factor.
If we assume that -é possessors are actually merged in their surface position in spec, Poss2P, and make the standard assumption that the plural of (121) (repeated below as (ii)) spells out the Num head, then the pronoun can be as big as the complement of Num.Then the size of the pronoun explains why the possessedness marker, classifiers, adjectives, and low participial clauses cannot occur in Hungarian anaphoric possessives (they are all merged in the complement zone of the Num head, which is now occupied the pro-form). The absence of numerals, demonstratives, and high participial modifiers is not accounted for by the size of the pronoun, because these are merged above the Num head, and their unavailability must be attributed to some other factor.
KP > DP > Poss2P > PrtcP > DemP > PrtcP > NumP > ClP/PrtcP/AP > PossP > NP
If the whole range of unavailable modifiers is to be explained in terms of pronoun size, then the pronoun must be as big as the complement of Poss2, because this is the smallest constituent that contains the merge-in site of all the excluded modifiers (the possessedness marker -ja/-je/-a/-e, adjectives, classifiers, numerals, demonstratives, as well as high and low participial clauses). For this analysis to work, two assumptions have to be made. First, possessors must be merged in their surface position in spec, Poss2 (because the regular merge position of possessors in spec, PossP is unavailable due to the pronoun). Second, the -i of (ii) and (iv), encoding plurality, cannot correspond to the Num head, because the Num position is also in the complement zone of Poss2, which is now taken up by the pronoun. One possibility is that only the singular anaphoric pronoun is lexicalized as ∅, and the -i that we see in (iv) is actually the spellout of the plural anaphoric pronoun.
Another possibility is to keep the spellout of both the singular and the plural anaphoric pronoun as ∅, and treat the -i of (iv) as some sort of agreement marker (see Dékány 2011 for an analysis along these lines).
We are thus in the following position. If we want to derive all the co-occurrence restrictions between the anaphoric possessum and NP-modifiers from pronoun size, the -i of (ii) and (iv) cannot correspond to the Num head (if this -i is the Num head, then the pro-form is not bigger than the complement of Num, and the fact that some NP-modifiers above NumP are also out will not be derived). Therefore we either have to accept that the plural that co-occurs with -é possessors is not the spellout of Num, or we have to dispense with the assumption that all co-occurrence restrictions between pronouns and their modifiers follow from the size of the pronoun (see Déchaine and Wiltschko 2002 as an example of how to do this).
As this work is primarily concerned with Hungarian anaphoric noun phrases, I do not consider it my task to explain why modifiers do not easily combine with pronouns. Whatever the reason is, it is a fact that Hungarian pronouns strongly resist modification, and the presence of a pro-form in anaphoric possessives derives that modification is heavily restricted in this construction, too.
A valid question that arises here is the following: if the pro-route is available in a certain construction of a given language, is the ellipsis route also available for that construction? In other words, can the pro-method and the ellipsis method be in free variation? Whether Universal Grammar allows for this possibility can only be determined on the basis of a cross-linguistic study. For the Hungarian anaphoric possessive, it appears to be the case that only the pro-route is available. If ellipsis were also possible, then we should be able to build a possessed noun that is modified by adjectives, classifiers, demonstratives, etc., and then we should be able to elide the possessed noun or the possessed noun plus possessedness marker sequence from that phrase. This would yield an DP where the possessum is anaphoric but it has overt modifiers, which simply does not materialize in Hungarian.
It turns out to be the case that there is a principled reason why ellipsis will not work in Hungarian anaphoric possessives. The pro-route of creating these structures uses just one vocabulary entry, a portmanteau, to lexicalize N and Poss. The ellipsis route, on the other hand, uses one lexical item to realize N, and another one to realize Poss (plus deletes them at PF, or in Harley’s approach, lexicalizes both positions with the ∅ item in the first place). It has long been appreciated in the literature that there is an economy principle regulating the spellout of structure, such that fewer vocabulary items are preferred over more vocabulary items (e.g. went blocks *goed). This principle is known under different names, such as Siddiqi’s (2009) Minimize Exponence, Muriungi’s (2009) Union Spellout Principle, or the Maximize Span of Nanosyntax; and it can be viewed as a special case of Cardinaletti and Starke’s (1999) Minimise α (p. 204: “Minimise α, up to crash, given a particular choice of interpretation”). The pro-route in Hungarian is thus more economical in terms of vocabulary item use than ellipsis, and therefore the former blocks the latter. Whether the pro-route also blocks the use of ellipsis when the two lead to equally economical vocabularization is an issue that remains for future research.
An NLLT reviewer points out that he is anaphoric to an individual (type <e>), while one is anaphoric to a property (<e, t>), and this semantic difference might play a role in their modification possibilities. The semantic distinction, however, cannot be the whole story: both Hungarian -é constructions and English anaphoric one constructions are anaphoric to a property, but only the latter admit NP-modifiers.
I wish to thank Gillian Ramchand, Marcel den Dikken, Balázs Surányi, and Csaba Olsvay for useful discussion, and the audience of SinFonIJA-6 for feedback on an earlier version of this paper. Further thanks to Tibor Laczkó for discussing the LFG analysis with me, Orsolya Tánczos for her assistance with the Udmurt data, and two anonymous NLLT reviewers for valuable questions and comments. All disclaimers apply.
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