Patient marking on the verb (Hungarian)

PatDet: Transitive verbs show agreement with the patient in terms of definiteness.

PatP: Transitive verbs show person agreement with the patient.

(1) én vár-ok valaki-t / egy busz-t.

I wait_for-prs.1sg somebody-acc a bus-acc

‘I’m waiting for somebody/ a bus.’

(2) én vár-om a busz-t / ő-t.

I wait_for-prs.obj.1sg the bus-acc he/she-acc

‘I’m waiting for the bus/ him/her.’

(3) én vár-lak téged / bennet-ek-et.

I wait_for-prs.2obj.1sg you.acc you(pl.)-acc

‘I’m waiting for you.’

In Hungarian, there are two verb conjugations: one of them is used to refer to indefinite/generic objects (1), while the other indicates the presence of a definite object (2). In the indefinite (subjective/indeterminate) conjugation the -lak/-lek suffix codes the person of the agent and the patient at the same time. In this case, the object can only be second person singular or plural (cf. Kugler 2000a: 104‒123, Kiefer 2003: 212‒222). There is no accepted explanation why the two different conjugations evolved this way in Hungarian (cf. Havas 2005, 2008, Csepregi 2010b, É. Kiss 2010, 2013, Honti 2008, Sárosi 2003).


Nikolett F. Gulyás