Preverbal coordination and the semantics of noun incorporation in Hungarian Jos Tellings (UCLA)

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In this talk I will consider certain semantic properties of noun incorporation in Hungarian on the basis of a similar construction, which I will refer to as preverbal bare coordination. Noun incorporation (NI) in Hungarian has been well studied in the literature, yet the precise definition of what counts as noun incorporation remains to be controversial. The main properties of NI are that the incorporated noun is determinerless, and occupies a position directly in front of the verb: (1)

Mari u ´js´agot olvas. Mary newspaper.acc read.3p-sg.indef ‘Mary is engaged in newspaper-reading’

Another property of (1) is that it expresses an ‘institutionalized activity’. There is some debate on whether this rather vague semantic notion should be a defining property for NI or not. Certain constructions that do have the particular syntactic structure, but do not express an institutionalized activity, are sometimes counted as instances of NI, and sometimes not. I will look at this debate from the point of view of preverbal bare coordination, a construction that looks very similar syntactically, but is not clear if it can be subsumed under NI: (2)

P´eter k¨onyvet ´es u ´js´agot olvas. Peter book.acc and newspaper.acc read.3p-sg.indef ‘Peter is reading books and newspapers.’

Maleczki (1992) provides a semantic theory for incorporation based on lattice structure of nouns and events. Noun incorporation is modeled as a structure-preserving map between the object lattice into the event lattice. The debate about the proper demarcation of NI translates to Maleczki’s theory in the sense that advocates of a semantic notion of NI presume that this mapping represents an institutionalized activity reading, while others (including Maleczki herself) claim that it merely represents grammaticality. I will show how Maleczki’s theory can be straightforwardly extended to include cases of preverbal bare coordination, so that (2) is formally represented completely similar to (1): a structure-preserving mapping pertains between the domain of objects (i.e. ‘books and newspapers’) and events (i.e. ‘reading events’). This has some consequences for the debate on NI. According to the view that such a mapping represents an institutionalized activity reading, it would be predicted that sentences such as (2) represent institutionalized activities. However, according to the intuitive definition of ‘institutionalized activity’ this does not hold for most cases. I take this to be an argument against a formal notion of ‘institutional activity’ (i.e. in terms of structure-preserving mappings), and a definition of noun incorporation that is based on it. References Kiefer, F. (1991). Noun incorporation in Hungarian. Acta Linguistica Hungarica 40, 149–177. Maleczki, M. (1992). Bare common nouns and their relation to the temporal constitution of events in Hungarian. In P. Dekker and M. Stokhof (eds.) Proceedings of the 8th Amsterdam Colloquium, 357–365. 1

Preverbal coordination and the semantics of noun incorporation in ...

In this talk I will consider certain semantic properties of noun incorporation in Hungarian on the basis of a similar construction, which I will refer to as preverbal ...

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