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A pioneering theory of information structure
A pioneering theory of information structure

Author(s): Katalin É. Kiss
Subject(s): Syntax, Finno-Ugrian studies
Published by: Akadémiai Kiadó
Keywords: information structure; topic; focus; typology; Hungarian syntax;

Summary/Abstract: The paper deals with Samuel Brassai, a 19th-century Hungarian linguist and polyhistor, who was the first in the world to discover the role of information structure in the syntactic organization of the sentence. Preparing to describe Hungarian syntax, he first wanted to establish the universal and typical characteristics of the sentence on the basis of a number of genetically unrelated languages. The universal structure he identified is essentially the topic-comment structure (called inchoativum-bulk articulation by him). French-type languages realize a constrained version of this universal structure, requiring the topicalization of the grammatical subject. In Hungarian, the initial position of the comment is a focus (in his terminology: attribute ) position. His Hungarian sentence model is a forerunner of today’s generative sentence structure.

  • Issue Year: 55/2008
  • Issue No: 1-2
  • Page Range: 23-40
  • Page Count: 18
  • Language: English