Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Hungarian Word Order

Hungarian word order is much freer than in many other languages.  This is especially true in sentences which contain a direct object.  In such sentences, the direct object is marked by the suffix -t.  Because the direct object is marked, it does not have to follow the verb.

To illustrate word order in Hungarian, let us look at the following sentence:  Krisztina szereti a levest.  This sentence means "Christina loves the soup."  The word order of the sentence is the same as in English.  The word for soup is "leves" but with the suffix -t, it becomes a direct object.  However, other word orders are possible.

A levest Krisztina szereti.  In this sentence the emphasis is on the subject "Christina."

Krisztina a levest szereti.  Now the emphasis is on the object "soup."

A levest szereti Krisztina.  Here the emphasis is on the object "soup" but the emphasis is even greater than in the former sentence.

Szereti a levest Krisztina.  The emphasis is on the verb "loves."

Szereti Krisztina a levest.  Again the emphasis is on the verb "loves" but the subject Christina is more prominent than in the former sentence.

In languages with a relatively fixed word order such as English, a sentence such as "Christina loves soup" cannot be expressed with a different word order.  In Hungarian, however, the word order of such a sentence is very free.  The result is that the sentence can be expressed with six different word orders.

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