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  • Argument structure in Hungarian by István Kenesei
  • Kleanthes K. Grohmann
Argument structure in Hungarian. By István Kenesei. Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 2001. Pp. 247. ISBN 9630578131. $38.

In a brief but concise ‘Foreword’ (7–11), Kenesei introduces the present collection of papers and asserts the relevance of this volume to investigations into the role of the lexicon in natural language. As he states, this collection ‘aims at discussing various aspects of argument structure in Hungarian, not in some unified framework, but intending to highlight some of the fundamental issues at different levels of grammatical analysis or from different vantage points’ (8). And so they do, as lexicosyntactic approaches are complemented by semantic and pragmatic view-points.

Tibor Laczkó provides ‘A comprehensive analysis of /, a multifunctional deverbal nominalizer in Hungarian’ (13–49) within the framework of lexical functional grammar. He examines changes in argument structure in constructions whose head nominals are derived from verbs. Of the various forms derived, the author concentrates on those that express a ‘complex event’. The relation between ‘Impersonal constructions and null expletives’ (51–78) is the topic of Ildíko Tóth’s contribution. She looks at modification in argument structure in various nonfinite forms, in particular, clauses involving one subclass of verbs with no subject at all, and connects these ‘impersonal resultatives’ with issues in the theory of grammar. István Kenesei is concerned with ‘Criteria for auxiliaries in Hungarian’ (79–111) and identifies ‘core’ auxiliaries whose argument structure is defective and fits that of functional categories, in which the subject of the clause receives its thematic role from the full verb of the auxiliary’s complement, which is neither a proposition nor an event.

Enikõ Németh T. considers ‘Implicit arguments in Hungarian: Manners of their occurrence and possibilities of their identification’ (113–56). She shows that the context of the ‘indefinite or definite null argument’ of certain transitive verbs underdetermines the missing information, suggesting an analysis that incorporates (pragmatic) principles of relevance as well as the lexical representation (conceptual semantics) of the verb involved. The semantics of ‘Indefinite arguments in Hungarian’ (157–99), determinerless nouns as arguments of verbs, is investigated by Márta Maleczki. Distinguishing definite from indefinite and specific from nonspecific, she examines the interpretation of these determinerless nouns and suggests a delimiting effect orienting the event denoted by the verb towards some endpoint, very similar in spirit to the telic/atelic distinction in grammar. Gábor Alberti investigates ‘Morphological relations and idioms in a totally lexicalist framework’ (201–35); he abandons not only transformations but also syntactic structure at large, placing all relevant information into the lexicon. Aside from making a strong lexicalist proposal, he also discusses notions that are particularly interesting in languages like Hungarian, such as focus and discontinuous constituents.

The book is rounded off with a list of abbreviations, an author index, and a subject index. It can certainly be recommended to anyone interested in more than framework-specific considerations of argument structure.

Kleanthes K. Grohmann
University of Cyprus


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