Rice University
Linguistics Colloquium

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Northern Moldavian Hungarian Verbal Morphology

Anne-Marie Hartenstein, Rice University


Northern Moldavian Hungarian (NMH) is a Finno-Ugric Language and the closest relative to Hungarian. Despite its almost millennium-long history, it is still undocumented. Since settling east of the Carpathian Mountains around the 13th century, the speakers of this language have lived in Romania in little contact with Standard Hungarian and continuous contact with Romanian.

In the present day, NMH is spoken by no more than 3000 people, mainly elderly women in Săbăoani (Szabofalva), and Pildeşti (Kelgyest), Co. Neamţ, North-Eastern Romania. NMH is seriously endangered because no monolingual speakers or bilingual speakers below the age of 60 are left.

This presentation is based on data collected from 10 consultants in the villages of Săbăoani (Szabofalva), and Pildeşti (Kelgyest) which represents 160 hours of recordings, and a 14,782 sentence Toolbox database with a 1441 word quadri-lingual word list.

This presentation mainly focuses on the inflectional and derivational verbal morphology of this language. We will show that verbs in NMH can be classified into roughly three groups depending on the way they form their stem. This grouping motivates different morphological behavior of verbs, such as the inflectional paradigms they take for person. We will discuss the relation of these personal endings with the notion of definiteness.

As for derivational morphological behavior, we will show the four middle voice suffixes and discuss their functions. To close this presentation we will briefly touch upon some of the major differences in the use of the middle voice constructions in Standard Hungarian and NMH.

© 2007 Anne-Marie Hartenstein
Last updated 26 Nov 07