Volume 37, Issue 1
  • ISSN 0176-4225
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9714



The present paper is a corpus-based study of the Voice Cycle in Hungarian. Based on data from the Old Hungarian Corpus and the Hungarian Historical Corpus, I will argue that while in Old Hungarian, middle voice was encoded through a separate inflectional paradigm (contextual allomorphy in the subject agreement suffix conditional on the feature content of a silent Voice head), in Modern Hungarian, middle voice is encoded through dedicated middle voice suffixes (i.e., the Voice head is spelled out overtly). I will claim that the underlying grammaticalization process involved the reanalysis of frequentative suffixes (v heads) as middle voice suffixes (Voice heads). I will show that this reinterpretation was not based on shared abstract features, but rather, on a principled correlation between middle voice and frequentative aspect: since some types of middles (antipassives and dispositional middles) were more likely to be associated with a frequentative or habitual reading than actives, frequentative suffixes were susceptible to reanalysis as middle suffixes in the course of language acquisition. I will thus claim that in addition to Feature Economy (van Gelderen 2011), reinterpretation based on correlation between featurally independent grammatical markers should also be regarded as a mechanism of grammaticalization.

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Keyword(s): cycles; grammaticalization; Hungarian; middles; morphology; syntax; voice
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