hely, mell, térd low-vowel nouns?

< Previous | Next >

entangledbank

Senior Member
English - South-East England
Can someone tell me why the likes of hely, mell, térd are listed (in the very good Routledge Essential Grammar) as low-vowel nouns, rather than 'regular' nouns? That is, they use the linking vowel from the e/a set rather than from the e/o/ö set. But if they're monosyllables with the stem vowel e or non-shortening é, the result is the same in either case: helyek, mellek, térdek. It's the same with the accusative ending, I believe. So what is the difference between these and regular nouns like szék, where there's also no shortening? Am I missing something?

Could it be the difference between the two sounds of e, hidden by the standard orthography?
 
  • Zsanna

    ModErrata
    Hungarian - Hungary
    I'm afraid I cannot and for several reasons...

    The first being that they are not low-vowel nouns but high-vowel. (It may be difficult to choose the right linking vowel at times but it is much easier to establish whether a particular vowel is high or low.)
    I do not know of any (easily visible) reason why those words could be considered as "not regular" or what the difference may be between them and e.g. szék. (For me there is none.)

    I don't think it could even be because of the different sorts of e sounds that may hide behind (although I don't think there is such a possibility in your examples) because both belong to the high-vowel category.

    So, having ruled out the possibilities I can think of, could it be just a typo?

    However, it is not clear to me on what basis they make a difference between the "e/a" and the "e/o/ö set"... Perhaps you could come back on that?
     

    frugnaglio

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Hi!
    Well, in the case of hely it's clearly in the e/a group, because otherwise its accusative would be helyt and not helyet.
    But I remember I had your same doubt about térd when I was using that book (which, by the way, is really good! Especially the section on word order was a terrific help to me).
    I supposed it was because of the underlying open e/closed ë distinction, but if Zsanna says it's high-vowel... who knows...
     

    frugnaglio

    Senior Member
    Italian
    IHowever, it is not clear to me on what basis they make a difference between the "e/a" and the "e/o/ö set"... Perhaps you could come back on that?
    It's very useful for a learner of the language to know there are two basic kinds of declension, the a/e type used by nearly all adjectives and some two hundred or so nouns plus the ones in -alom/elem, and the o/e/ö type used by nearly all nouns and a few adjectives (nationalities, and a very small number of other adjectives, like boldog). Knowing this means you'll be able to decline an adjective correctly even if you've never met it before (not a nationality? not in that small group? then it's a/e: zöldek and not zöldök). There's also the way the accusative is formed: the a/e type always inserts a vowel, the o/e/ö type doesn't: halat but dalt.
     

    frugnaglio

    Senior Member
    Italian
    because both belong to the high-vowel category.
    Hmm I have a doubt... Zsanna, do you use “high” and “low” referring to vowels as translations of “magas” and “mély” respectively? This is NOT their meaning! “High” and “low” refer to the openness of the mouth: they mean “closed” and “open” respectively. U and ü are both high vowels. The two sounds of e, for the speakers who make this distinction, are a high vowel and a low vowel.
    It'd be interesting to know if a speaker who makes this distinction pronounces térdet with the more open kind of e – this was the original question's sense.

    (magas = front, mély = back)
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    Well thank you both. I'll remain puzzled, but relieved that I'm not missing anything that I need to know for basic inflection. I was wondering if there was some other case or possessive suffix that was sensitive to the difference.
     
    Last edited:

    Zsanna

    ModErrata
    Hungarian - Hungary
    Hmm I have a doubt... Zsanna, do you use “high” and “low” referring to vowels as translations of “magas” and “mély” respectively? This is NOT their meaning!
    I'm not very familiar with these categories in other terms (than in Hungarian and in French, never had the chance to have a look at REG mentioned above, either) so it is important to decide what we mean by what term. (I did English phonetics in English but it doesn't help much here.)
    So I use the Hungarian terms translated (well or badly) into English...(I can't help feeling though that another meaning to "low and high vowels" would be very confusing to me in this context.) But obviously, in this case one should know the book in question to be able to judge.
    It'd be interesting to know if a speaker who makes this distinction pronounces térdet with the more open kind of e – this was the original question's sense.
    There again, "the more open kind of e" puzzles me a bit. Do you mean the ë? (It is closed as far as I know, at least more than the e sound.) I was thinking of it because in the Szeged dialect you could say térdök, maybe even helyök (however, not really mellök as far as I can tell) and our ö-s are said to come (often) from this ë. I hope this helps...

    But again, I still don't see the point about the a/e and o/e/ö type distinction. There are so many complications possible with the choice of the linking vowels... Does this distinction help e.g. in deciding when to use e.g. okosok and okosak? (To mention a fairly easy case.)
    SOS. I cannot even decide whether my question is off topic or not.:confused:;)
     

    frugnaglio

    Senior Member
    Italian
    There again, "the more open kind of e" puzzles me a bit. Do you mean the ë? (It is closed as far as I know, at least more than the e sound.)
    Of course, the ë is the more closed of the pair. So I meant the other one.;)

    I was thinking of it because in the Szeged dialect you could say térdök, maybe even helyök (however, not really mellök as far as I can tell) and our ö-s are said to come (often) from this ë. I hope this helps...
    Hmm, if you had only quoted térdök I would say it helps because it means that térd shouldn't be in that list. But your helyök muddies the issue again... :confused::D

    But again, I still don't see the point about the a/e and o/e/ö type distinction. There are so many complications possible with the choice of the linking vowels...
    The reason for the distinction is the same reason for any distinction in studying the grammar of any language. In English you learn that ray -> rays but belly -> bellies. It's kind of the same thing.
    Which complications are you talking about? Could you expand on this subject?

    Does this distinction help e.g. in deciding when to use e.g. okosok and okosak? (To mention a fairly easy case.)
    Well, my Hungarian is pretty limited and I don't know if okos has a specific use as a noun... but since you are citing it, I guess it does. So, okosak is the normal plural of the adjective, and okosok must be the plural of the noun. If this is right... then this distinction actually works!
     

    Zsanna

    ModErrata
    Hungarian - Hungary
    Of course, the ë is the more closed of the pair. So I meant the other one.;)
    I'm afraid I don't know of any other.

    Hmm, if you had only quoted térdök I would say it helps because it means that térd shouldn't be in that list. But your helyök muddies the issue again... :confused::D
    Providing it really exists.:oops: I am not really sure about that.

    The reason for the distinction is the same reason for any distinction in studying the grammar of any language...
    I understand that. I just don't understand the contents, the basis for the distinction but that is a private interest here which would deserve a new thread. (See there.)

    Well, my Hungarian is pretty limited and I don't know if okos has a specific use as a noun... but since you are citing it, I guess it does. So, okosak is the normal plural of the adjective, and okosok must be the plural of the noun. If this is right... then this distinction actually works!
    Right solution.:cool::thumbsup:
     

    frugnaglio

    Senior Member
    Italian
    I'm afraid I don't know of any other.
    I must have expressed myself in a strange and incomprehensible way... If e has two sounds (for some speakers), namely e and ë, I was referring to e.

    See you on the other thread for the rest!
     

    SReynolds

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    Well, my Hungarian is pretty limited and I don't know if okos has a specific use as a noun... but since you are citing it, I guess it does. So, okosak is the normal plural of the adjective, and okosok must be the plural of the noun. If this is right... then this distinction actually works!
    This is precisely the case. Adjectives can function as nouns in certain cases to refer to the members of a specific group. I know absolutely nothing about this whole vowel-harmony thing aside from being a native speaker and having an intuitive understanding of it (I also know the mnemonics autó and teniszütő for the front/back vowel categories):

    szegény (poor, adj, s) - szegények (poor, adj, pl)
    egy szegény (a poor person, noun, s) - a szegények (the poor, noun, pl)


    okos (smart, adj, s) - okosak (smart, adj, pl)
    egy okos (not used, noun, s) - az okosok (those that are smart, noun, pl)


    vak (blind, adj, s) - vakok (blind, adj, pl)
    egy vak (a blind person, noun, s) - a vakok (the blind, blind people, noun, pl)


    boldog (happy, adj, s) - boldogok (happy, adj, pl)
    boldog (Blessed (Catholic title), noun, s) - boldogok (beatified people, noun, pl)


    Boldog and okos seems to be conjugated differently (the accusative of boldog is boldogot, the accusative of okos is okosat) so this may be the reason why the two plurals differ.

    A good example of this behavior can be found in the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus says the following to his disciples:

    Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
    Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
    Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
    Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
    Boldogok a lélekben szegények, mert övék a mennyek országa.
    Boldogok, akik szomorúak, mert majd megvigasztalják őket.
    Boldogok a szelídek, mert övék lesz a föld.
    Boldogok, akik éhezik és szomjazzák az igazságot, mert majd eltelnek vele.
     
    Last edited by a moderator:

    Zsanna

    ModErrata
    Hungarian - Hungary
    I must have expressed myself in a strange and incomprehensible way... If e has two sounds (for some speakers), namely e and ë, I was referring to e.
    I have found (in the Nyelvművelő Kézikönyv II.vol.1073 old.) what you meant: in the dialects using ë (in the pronunciation only!), when the linking vowel is e, it indicates that the word is an adjective (e.g. szőrmések - decorated with fur, in the plural) and when the original word is used as a noun, the linking vowel will be ë (e.g. szőrmésëk - people who sell fur).
     

    frugnaglio

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Wow… I am almost sorry if I pushed you to make a serious research on this! However, now we only need a szőrmésëk-pronouncing person so we can ask her if it's térdek or térdëk… hmm, we can leave this as a mission for the OP. ;)
     

    Zsanna

    ModErrata
    Hungarian - Hungary
    I didn't have to start from page 1.;) (In fact, the page was marked and the right sentence was even highlighted by me some time ago...:rolleyes:)

    But if our local ö corresponds as it should, I would say it could work because this szőrmésëk would be pronounced as szőrmésök round here, too.
     

    frugnaglio

    Senior Member
    Italian
    This is precisely the case. Adjectives can function as nouns in certain cases to refer to the members of a specific group.
    Of course, but the point about okos was that it has two kinds of declension, one for the noun and one for the adjective. For most adjectives this doesn't happen: you have the zöldek (the political party), not zöldök; you have szűzek and not szűzök; if you want to say “the serious ones” it's a komolyak and not a komolyok. Okos looks like an exception.
     

    franknagy

    Senior Member

    francisgranada

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    Sorry to say, the ё sound was missing from the NE dialect, which was spoken by Ferenc Kazinczy who reformed the Hungarian spelling in the 19th century.
    This is true, but is this the reason? ... I have some Hungarian books printed in the 17th and 18th centuries and none of them distinguishes the e/ё in spelling. Neither the Károli's nor the Káldi's Bible distinguishes these two phonemes in spelling, though both were printed long before Kazinczy's reform. I think Kazinczy simply maintained the traditional orthography in this case.
     

    franknagy

    Senior Member
    Hmm, if you had only quoted térdök I would say it helps because it means that térd shouldn't be in that list. But your helyök muddies the issue again...
    1) ok/ök -> uk/ük change:
    The plural 3rd of the possesive which is now "helyük, fiuk" used to be "helyök,fiok".

    zöldek (the political party), not zöldök; you have szűzek and not szűzök; if you want to say “the serious ones” it's a komolyak and not a komolyok. Okos looks like an exception.
    Nations: törökök, görögök.

    This is true, but is this the reason? ... I have some Hungarian books printed in the 17th and 18th centuries and none of them distinguishes the e/ё in spelling. Neither the Károli's nor the Káldi's Bible distinguishes these two phonemes in spelling, though both were printed long before Kazinczy's reform. I think Kazinczy simply maintained the traditional orthography in this case.
    Interesting: Kazinczy forced so many changes. If he had been born im conty Somogy then he would have introduced the ё.
    :rolleyes:Maybe he liked the symmetry, that each short vowel has to have long pair, and vica versa.
    AEIOÖUÜ
    ÁÉÍÓÖUŰ


    :(The i<->í, u<->ú, ü<->ű contrasts are not present in all dialects, and they swap in several cases:
    tíz<->tized, út<->utak, szűz<->szüzen.
     

    gorilla

    Member
    Hungarian - Hungary
    As a native speaker who doesn't use ё, I don't feel any difference between szék and térd. They both require a linking vowel because and ending -k or -d always requires it. And since the linking vowel can only be -e- in this case, there is no place for further distinctions (at least in the standard variant without ё).
     

    francisgranada

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    I'd like to add for completeness that those linking vowels have often (not always) etymological origin, i.e. they once belonged to the stem itself, even if they have notably changed their original quality due to various sound shifts that have occurred during the last more than 1000 years. For example, today we say várat and fehéret (not *várt, *fehért) because - according to the written documents - yet in the 11th century these words had a final vowel : váru and fehérü (of course, without diacritical signs in the original manuscript).
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top