Status of indefinite articles (Hungarian)

Indef=Num: The indefinite article is the numeral ‘one.’

DoubleIndef: A functional distinction is made between the use of and lack of indefinite articles, such as contrasting the nonspecific and the generic. (This value can only appear alongside the values Indef=Num, IndefNotNum and Indef=Aff.)

(1) peti film-et néz.

Peti movie-acc watch.prs.3sg

’Peti is watching a movie.’

(2) peti egy film-et néz.

Peti a movie-acc watch. prs.3sg

’Peti is watching a movie.’

(3) peti néz-i a film-et.

Peti watch-prs.obj.3sg the movie-acc

‘Peti is watching the movie.’

In Hungarian, the indefinite article is homonymous with the numeral egy ‘one’. The indefinite article is in opposition with the definite articles (3) and the construction which have no articles (1) (cf. Kugler 2000b:  282‒287). Those constructions which do not have articles typically express generic connotations (1), while the meaning of the indefinite phrase is rather underspecified (2).


Nikolett F. Gulyás