Prominence in Hungarian: the prosody–syntax connection


University of Oxford
Centre for Linguistics and Philology
Walton Street
Oxford OX1 2HG


An element can be emphasised by occupying a specific syntactic position or by bearing an appropriate intonational contour. Determining how these two types of prominence signalling and the information they encode are related raises a number of important issues concerning the interaction of syntax, prosody and meaning. A language such as Hungarian, in which discourse functions and different kinds of semantic operator are associated with certain syntactic positions, provides data that enable the connection between prosody, syntax, information structure and semantics to be investigated. Analysis of elicited spoken data reveals that (i) syntactic focus and prosodic prominence do not always align in Hungarian, and (ii) the location of prosodic prominence is determined by semantics, specifically scope, but relative scope is not computed on the basis of prosody alone. I seek to address weaknesses identified in a previous formalisation by capturing the relevant generalisations within a constraint-based, parallel grammatical architecture.