Quaternary suffixes

Discussion in 'Magyar (Hungarian)' started by antonto, May 15, 2014.

  1. antonto New Member

    I could not find anywhere an answer to my doubt about vowel harmony in quaternary suffixes like in accusative.

    When a suffix is tertiary (for instance ök ok ek) I am able to predict when to use each of them according to vowel harmony rules:
    ök-> front vowel, rounded
    ok-> back vowel
    ek-> front vowels, not rounded

    In accusative suffixes, instead it's possible to use -at as well (tollat). -A is a front vowel, like -o. Is there a rule or anytime I have 4 suffixes (maybe just accusative, I dont know) do I have to learn that noun by heart?

    Thank you very much

    Last edited by a moderator: May 16, 2014
  2. Olivier0 Senior Member

    français - France
    Suffix vowels are chosen in series of 2 or 3, never 4. The series are: (starting with all possible back vowels)
    - a / e
    - á / é
    - o / ö / e
    - ó / ő
    - u / ü
    - ú / ű
    So the e belongs to two different series, this is the origin of your mistake. (In fact in many Hungarian dialects, the 3rd series is o / ö / ë, so there is a difference between an open short e and a (half-)closed short ë, and no vowel belongs to two series; this ë can be seen in lyrics of folk songs and linguistic material only, it is not present in normal Hungarian orthography.)

    A noun like toll uses the series with a and a noun like nap uses the series with o, this has to be learnt and cannot be deduced from the root vowel. There are different possibilities to create a rule to decide which words normally use -o- or use -a-, but any choice of a rule will have many exceptions. One such rule of thumb is that -o- is for nouns and -a- for adjectives, and that -a- is used when the word already bears a suffix or when suffixation of the word modifies its root (eg. a vowel in the root is suppressed or shortened). But this does not work for toll and nap, since toll is still an exception.

    -- Olivier
    Last edited: May 16, 2014

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