Zeros and non-eros, little pro and big PRO in Hungarian
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Most linguists agree on the view of language as a system of linguistic signs involving two sides: '‘signifier' and 'signified'. The relations between these can be symmetrical (having exactly the same numbers on either side of linguistic signs) and asymmetrical. There are two main types of asymmetrical relations: (1) The correspondence is not one-to-one: (a) a signifier has more than one meaning (homonymy, polysemy), (b) a signified has more than one form (variants, synonyms). (2) One of the two sides of a linguistic sign is empty: (a) a signifier has no lexical or grammatical meaning: interjections, pletive words (Where's that bloody cat?), dummy words (It's raining. There's a wasp on your back. You ought to go (compare You must go)), swear words; unifix 'an empty morph occurring between a stem and a meaningful affix' (child-r-en, Hung. könyv-e-m 'my book'), interfix 'an empty morph between the roots or stems in a compound word' (galvan-o-meter); (b) a signified has no sound form. For example, many linguists would argue that the plural form sheep consists of two morphemes, the stem sheep and a null plural suffix 0. There are diverse uses of the term zero in the linguistic literature. The number and types of zeros have increased in the new Hungarian grammars of recent years. The author (following Charles Bally) suggests that the number of zeros should be reduced. He argues that the term zero should only be applied if the following three conditions are met: a zero signifier must have a definite meaning, and it must have both linear syntagmatic relations and vertical paradigmatic relations with other, non-null elements. Compare: Lat. nom. sing. vir-0 (man, husband); domin-us (gentleman, sir, mister, master); man-us (hand); vir-0 ; acc. vir-um; dat. vir-o. We must distinguish zeros from the absence, dropping, ellipsis, implication, and neutralisation of morphemes or words. Hungarian is a pro-drop language.
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