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The intonation of the Q-marking construction: A comparison of Hungarian and Slovenian

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 June 2019

Somerville College, University of Oxford


This paper examines the Q-marking construction: an interrogative construction in which a question phrase takes scope over a higher clause even though it appears in a lower clause. In this construction, the scope of a question phrase is extended by the presence of another word, the Q-marker, in a higher clause. While the syntax of this construction has been described and analysed in a number of works, its intonation is yet to receive commensurate attention. This paper presents data from two unrelated languages in which the Q-marking construction can be used to form questions: Hungarian and Slovenian. Data show that while the Q-marker shares properties with question words in Hungarian (they bear the same pitch accent), in Slovenian the Q-marker and question words bear distinct pitch accents. Furthermore, in Hungarian a direct intonational link exists between the Q-marker and a question phrase whose scope is extended, rather than an indirect one between the Q-marker and the entire lower clause in which the question phrase appears. The Slovenian data are compatible with the existence of either an indirect or a direct intonational link. These findings reveal hitherto unidentified dimensions of cross-linguistic variation, for which any analysis of the Q-marking construction must account.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2019

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I would like to thank Rick Gartner, Mária Gósy, Tekla Etelka Gráczi, Darja Hoenigman, Kerstin Hoge, Viktória Horváth, Matjaž Justin, Aditi Lahiri, Albina Nećak Lük, Alexandra Markó, Maruška Markovčič, Attila Mártonfi, Lenka Meszler, Helena Seražin, Rastislav Šuštaršič, Tamás Péter Szabó, Nigel Vincent, Damjana Žbontar, and Maja Zupančič Justin for their time and assistance, and three anonymous Journal of Linguistics referees for their invaluable insights. This work was supported by a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship and a Postdoctoral Studies Research Scholarship awarded by the Hungarian Scholarship Board (Magyar Ösztöndíj Bizottság).

In this paper, the Leipzig Glossing conventions are augmented with the following: ine = inessive, QM = Q-marker, and vm = verbal modifier.


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