Balázs Surányi & Shinichiro Ishihara (MTA NYTI – Goethe University Frankfurt)

Multiple positions of sentence-level prominence and prosodic recursion: Evidence from pre-verbal quantifiers in Hungarian


While the prosody of focus has been studied extensively in languages that optionally utilize word order in the marking of focus (including Germanic, Romance and Japanese), relatively little experimental work has concentrated on prosodic focus-marking strategies in languages in which syntactic focus marking is obligatory in general.  

Our talk addresses this paucity by reporting on a production study on the prosodic realization of focus in Hungarian, an obligatory syntactic focus marking language. In our study we investigate sentences in which the focused element, a pre-verbal quantifier phrase, a Verbal Modifier or a particle verb, for independent reasons, cannot be syntactically marked as focus. We explore whether the language employs prosodic means in the marking of such narrow foci, and if so, whether the nature of the marking is phonological or merely phonetic. The empirical results are argued to fall out from the interaction of principles regulating the syntax-prosody mapping and those governing focus prominence.