The grammar and pragmatics of interrogatives and their (special) uses

The central question the project is concerned with is the following: what factors determine whether a speaker of Hungarian, when aiming to utter a question, chooses an interrogative containing the -e particle, one with a final rise-fall intonation, their counterparts containing the nem negative particle, or an alternative question containing vagy? Although there are many, sometimes conflicting, opinions on how these construction types and their versions containing the particles vajon, hát, ugye, etc. are interpreted, there has been no attempt at a systematic description of their use that can also predict that a particular construction is unavailable in a particular situation. Our project undertakes this task: by analyzing naturally occurring data, formulating theoretically founded generalizations about them, and testing these generalizations with native speakers, we expect to make an important contribution to our knowledge of Hungarian, which can be put to use in language teaching and computer applications. In the course of our work, we will rely closely on insights about better analysed Romance and Germanic languages, and will pay particular attention to certain types of so far unnoticed dialectal differences concerning the use of interrogative sentence types.

This research is supported by the National Research, Development and Innovation Office (NKFIH), under project No. K 115922.