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Syntactic reduplicative constructions in Hungarian (and elsewhere): Categorization, topicalization and concessivity rolled into one

The present article deals with clause-initial syntactic reduplications involving verbs, adjectives and nouns in Hungarian. Structurally, they appear to be cases of left-dislocation of a copy of a predicate, their function being contrastive topicalization. After outlining the scope of the phenomenon of reduplication in the system of the present-day Hungarian language, we turn to the so-called contrastive topicalization reduplication construction (CTR) in Hungarian and demonstrate that there are several subtypes of this construction, all of which lend themselves to concessive interpretation. In explaining how concessivity arises, we start from their categorizing function. We argue that what all these constructions of variable size and form have in common is dynamic, online categorization, i.e. they set up mental spaces that either narrow or widen a category, placing the events, properties and participants in the centre of the category, or at its very periphery (within a category, or even outside the category). This cluster of Hungarian constructions is also contrasted with similar reduplication phenomena on the syntactic-lexical continuum in a number of languages, such as so-called Contrastive Focus Reduplication, the Echo reduplication, and (S)hm-Reduplication. It is also demonstrated how their concessive interpretation is made possible by a series of metonymic inferences involving parts of frames and whole frames. By pulling together various strands of research in cognitive linguistics, i.e. research on grammatical constructions, information structure, metonymy and categorization, we show how they can fruitfully inform each other in accounting for complex linguistic phenomena, and thus contribute towards achieving conceptual unification in the sense of Langacker (1999: 24).

Key words: syntactic reduplication, contrastive-topicalization construction, Hungarian, concessive, metonymy, categorization


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