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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton October 16, 2018

Attractors of variation in Hungarian inflectional morphology

  • Péter Rácz

    Péter Rácz is an associate at the Research Institute for Linguistics of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and at the University of Bristol. His interests include the interactions of cognition and culture in language and elsewhere, the mechanics of learning, and replicability and transparency in scientific research.

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    , Péter Rebrus

    Péter Rebrus is a senior research fellow at the at the Research Institute for Linguistics of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. A renowned expert on Hungarian verbal morphology, he is interested in morphological variation and the structure of the mental lexicon.

    and Miklós Törkenczy

    Miklós Törkenczy is a full professor at the Department of English Linguistics, Eötvös Loránd Science University and the Research Institute for Linguistics, Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Co-author of the Phonology of Hungarian, his interests include morpho-phonological and morphological variation.


We use algorithmic learning and statistical methods over a form frequency list (compiled from the Hungarian web corpus) to investigate variation in Hungarian verbal inflection. Our aims are twofold: (i) to give an adequate description of this variation, which has not been described in detail in the literature and (ii) to explore the range and depth of lexical attractors that potentially shape this variation. These attractors range from closely related ones, such as the shape of the word form or the behaviour of the verb’s paradigm, to broad ones, such as the behaviour of similar verbs or the phonotactics of related verb forms. We find that verbal variation is predominantly determined by similarity to related verb forms rather than by word shape or by word frequency. What is more, the effect of similarity is better approximated using inflected forms as opposed to base forms as points of comparison. This, in turn, supports a rich memory model of morphology and the mental lexicon.

About the authors

Péter Rácz

Péter Rácz is an associate at the Research Institute for Linguistics of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and at the University of Bristol. His interests include the interactions of cognition and culture in language and elsewhere, the mechanics of learning, and replicability and transparency in scientific research.

Péter Rebrus

Péter Rebrus is a senior research fellow at the at the Research Institute for Linguistics of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. A renowned expert on Hungarian verbal morphology, he is interested in morphological variation and the structure of the mental lexicon.

Miklós Törkenczy

Miklós Törkenczy is a full professor at the Department of English Linguistics, Eötvös Loránd Science University and the Research Institute for Linguistics, Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Co-author of the Phonology of Hungarian, his interests include morpho-phonological and morphological variation.


The list of stems in the data in 3sg.indef is, in orthographic form, contained in Table 6. We consider both the CVC and the CC forms of the 3sg.indef – here, only the CC form is printed. Table 7 lists, for each form, the most frequent CVC form in the corpus. Table 8 lists, for each form, the most frequent CC form in the corpus.

A note on the orthography: á:[aː], é:[eː], a:[ɒ], e:[ɛ], ö:[ø], ü:[y], sz:[s], s:[ʃ], zs:[ʒ], ny:[ɲ]

Table 6:

List of verbs. ‘Form 3sg’ is the 3sg.ind form, ‘ikfreq’ is the frequency of the 3sg.ind, ‘cvc freq total’ is the summed frequency of CVC forms, ‘cc freq total’ is the summed frequency of CC forms, ‘cvc cc odds’ is the odds ratio, ‘gloss stem’ is the gloss of the stem.

form_3sg ikfreq cvc_freq_total cc_freq_total cvc_cc_odds gloss_stem
áramlik 2773 177 968 1.18 flow
bomlik 1746 16 960 1.02 decompose
botlik 493 9 343 1.03 toddle
burjánzik 247 32 117 1.28 burgeon
bűzlik 560 1 107 1.02 stink
döglik 381 29 302 1.10 perish
dohányzik 1314 2253 3 752.33 smoke
elhangzik 2545 192 1061 1.18 be voiced
feslik 18 3 19 1.21 peel
fogzik 21 6 3 3.33 tooth
fuldoklik 276 220 21 11.52 choke
hajlik 2439 919 1363 1.67 bend
haldoklik 821 161 18 10.00 die
hangzik 17253 474 5550 1.09 sound
hiányzik 29456 11538 346 34.35 be missing
hullámzik 722 126 218 1.58 wave
kiviláglik 728 2 20 1.15 light up
ködlik 25 1 16 1.12 fog
lélegzik 862 1084 176 7.16 breathe
lúdbőrzik 11 7 2 5.00 get goosebumps
omlik 803 59 654 1.09 collapse
ömlik 1693 11 610 1.02 pour
oszlik 3818 27 1600 1.02 decompose
ötlik 460 5 118 1.05 occur
özönlik 229 7 716 1.01 surge
párzik 101 15 132 1.12 mate
patakzik 57 1 62 1.03 efflux
rajzik 91 6 183 1.04 swarm
romlik 5257 19 2480 1.01 degrade
sereglik 80 12 294 1.04 rally
szólamlik 13 1 3 1.67 voice
tajtékzik 81 12 15 1.87 tantrum
tündöklik 164 482 21 24.00 shine
ugrik 3620 12 3769 1.00 jump
vérzik 1248 479 24 21.00 bleed
viharzik 68 1 34 1.06 storm
világlik 146 20 21 2.00 lighten
virágzik 3133 814 250 4.26 bloom
viszonylik 172 2319 13 179.46 relate
Table 7:

List of verbs with most frequent CVC form. ‘Form 3sg’ is the 3sg.ind form, ‘best cvc form’ is the most frequent CVC form of the verb, ‘freq cvc form’ is the frequency of this specific form, ‘gloss suffix’ is the gloss of the suffix, ‘gloss stem’ is the gloss of the stem.

form_3sg best_cvc_form freq_cvc_form gloss_suffix gloss_stem
áramlik áramolni 75 inf flow
bomlik bomolni 6 inf decompose
botlik botolnak 3 3pl.ind toddle
burjánzik burjánoztak 16 3pl.past burgeon
bűzlik bűzölni 1 inf stink
döglik dögölni 18 inf perish
dohányzik dohányozni 1493 inf smoke
elhangzik elhangoztak 89 3pl.past be voiced
feslik feseltek 1 3pl.past peel
fogzik fogaznak 4 3pl.ind tooth
fuldoklik fuldokolni 130 inf choke
hajlik hajolni 400 inf bend
haldoklik haldokolnak 72 3pl.ind die
hangzik hangoztak 201 3pl.past sound
hiányzik hiányoznak 7012 3pl.ind be missing
hullámzik hullámoztak 59 3pl.past wave
kiviláglik kivilágolnak 1 3pl.ind light up
ködlik ködölni 1 inf fog
lélegzik lélegezni 677 inf breathe
lúdbőrzik lúdbőrözni 4 inf get goosebumps
omlik omolnak 23 3pl.ind collapse
ömlik ömölni 4 inf pour
oszlik oszolni 11 inf decompose
ötlik ötölni 2 inf occur
özönlik özönölnek 4 3pl.ind surge
párzik pározni 14 inf mate
patakzik patakoznak 1 3pl.ind efflux
rajzik rajoznak 5 3pl.ind swarm
romlik romolni 9 inf degrade
sereglik seregeltek 4 3pl.past rally
szólamlik szólamolnak 1 3pl.ind voice
tajtékzik tajtékoznak 9 3pl.ind tantrum
tündöklik tündökölni 208 inf shine
ugrik ugornak 12 3pl.ind jump
vérzik vérezni 232 inf bleed
viharzik viharoznak 1 3pl.ind storm
világlik világolnak 8 3pl.ind lighten
virágzik virágoznak 378 3pl.ind bloom
viszonylik viszonyulnak 1339 3pl.ind relate
Table 8:

List of verbs with most frequent CC form. ‘Form 3sg’ is the 3sg.ind form, ‘best cc form’ is the most frequent CC form of the verb, ‘freq cc form’ is the frequency of this specific form, ‘gloss suffix’ is the gloss of the suffix, ‘gloss stem’ is the gloss of the stem.

form_3sg best_cc_form freq_cc_form gloss_suffix gloss_stem
áramlik áramlanak 593 3pl.ind flow
bomlik bomlanak 710 3pl.ind decompose
botlik botlanak 168 3pl.ind toddle
burjánzik burjánzanak 76 3pl.ind burgeon
bűzlik bűzlenek 42 3pl.ind stink
döglik dögleni 136 inf perish
dohányzik dohányzani 2 inf smoke
elhangzik elhangzanak 937 3pl.ind be voiced
feslik feslenek 9 3pl.ind peel
fogzik fogzani 2 inf tooth
fuldoklik fuldoklani 11 inf choke
hajlik hajlanak 916 3pl.ind bend
haldoklik haldoklanak 11 3pl.ind die
hangzik hangzottak 3019 3pl.past sound
hiányzik hiányzanak 326 3pl.ind be missing
hullámzik hullámzanak 87 3pl.ind wave
kiviláglik kiviláglanak 12 3pl.ind light up
ködlik ködlenek 10 3pl.ind fog
lélegzik lélegzeni 144 inf breathe
lúdbőrzik lúdbőrzenek 2 3pl.ind get goosebumps
omlik omlanak 256 3pl.ind collapse
ömlik ömlenek 253 3pl.ind pour
oszlik oszlanak 1132 3pl.ind decompose
ötlik ötlenek 55 3pl.ind occur
özönlik özönlöttek 320 3pl.past surge
párzik párzanak 88 3pl.ind mate
patakzik patakzottak 35 3pl.past efflux
rajzik rajzanak 160 3pl.ind swarm
romlik romlottak 979 3pl.past degrade
sereglik sereglettek 174 3pl.past rally
szólamlik szólamlani 2 inf voice
tajtékzik tajtékzottak 8 3pl.past tantrum
tündöklik tündöklenek 14 3pl.ind shine
ugrik ugrani 2151 inf jump
vérzik vérzenek 9 3pl.ind bleed
viharzik viharzottak 18 3pl.past storm
világlik világlottak 11 3pl.past lighten
virágzik virágzanak 187 3pl.ind bloom
viszonylik viszonylanak 13 3pl.ind relate


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Published Online: 2018-10-16
Published in Print: 2021-10-26

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