Vegans, teetotalers, and the decoupling of case and agreement in Old Hungarian
Tamás Halm
January 2023

The interdependence of accusative case and object agreement has changed dramatically during the history of Ugric languages. While Proto-Ugric exhibited full interdependence (mediated by topicality), this connection has loosened in the extant Ob-Ugric languages (Mansi and Khanty) and it is severed completely in Late to Modern Hungarian. In this paper, I introduce new, hitherto unreported empirical evidence (from nicknames and family names that preserve archaic syntactic features) for an intermediate stage of Early Old Hungarian (which predates our earliest written records) where case assignment was still a function of topicality but object agreement was already a function of definiteness. In addition to providing insight into an unrecorded stage of Hungarian, my findings also contribute to a more thorough understanding of the connection between case, agreement and information structure in Ugric and beyond.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/007080
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: under review
keywords: case, agreement, information structure, topic, old hungarian, historical syntax, diachrony, syntax
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