Ferenc Kiefer:
The negative suffix in Hungarian

The negative suffix can be attached productively to transitive verbs and nouns but not to adjectives. First, the paper investigates the distribution of the suffix and its phonological shape. It is shown that verbs take form –atlen/-etlen and nouns can take either –tlan/-tlen, or –talan/-telen. The choice depends on phonological factors. The actual form of the suffix can be derived from the invariant form /tlAn/. Second, the derived adjectives containing the negative suffix always have a passive meaning: the unsolved problem – the problem is unsolved. This means that the transitive verb has to be passivized before suffixation. Morphologically, this can be achieved by zero-derivation. Third, in the case of nouns the possibility of suffixation depends on the presence of a part-of relation or an associative relation. The first case can be exemplified by lombtalan fa ‘leave-less tree’ (leaves are part of the tree), the second one by ruhátlan ember ‘clothes-less man’ (there is an associative link between clothes and people). Semantically, the derived form does not contrast with the base form but rather with another derived form, e.g. család+talan ‘family-less’, i.e. ‘without a family’, – család+os ‘having a family’. The two adjectives form an antonymous pair.

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