Corpus-based analysis of independent conditional clauses and their semantic-pragmatic roles in Hungarian

31 May 2024
Room F1

Corpus-based analysis of independent conditional clauses and their semantic-pragmatic roles in Hungarian

Independent conditional clauses starting with the subordinate conjunction ha ‘if’ have diverse pragmatic functions (Evans 2007) in Hungarian (1) (2). They are not easy to collect from pragmatically unannotated corpora as they are formally very similar but much rarer compared to regular conditional clauses with a main clause.

  1. Ezzel azt hiszem a Linux eljutott arra a szintre, ahol már tényleg veszélyezteti az MS monopóliumát. (…) Ha még a játékok is futnának alatta!
    ’With this, I think Linux has reached the level where it really threatens MS’s monopoly. (…) If only games could run on it!’ (MNSz2, #255103097, personal) – wish
  2. MARA Te meg jobban teszed, ha meghúzod magad, és egy szót sem szólsz, érted?! Ha még egyszer meglátlak Béni közelében!
    ’MARA You’d do better if you shut up and don’t say a word, understand?! If I see you near Béni again!(MNSz2, #90948270, literature) – threat

The aim of this research is to collect a substantial number of stand-alone independent (insubordinate) conditional clauses from the Hungarian Gigaword Corpus (MNSz2) using automated methods, specifically crafted CQL queries. This collection will facilitate the classification of these clauses into semantic-pragmatic categories, which will be compared to typologies of independent clauses in various Indo-European languages (D’Hertefelt, 2018; Kaltenböck, 2016; Lastres-López, 2018). A comprehensive description of these clauses for the Hungarian language has not yet been conducted.

We hypothesize that the most effective extraction criteria in this context will include the following: conditional clauses beginning with the conjunction Ha (‘if’) with an uppercase letter, typical closing punctuation (e.g. exclamation mark), and short sentence length. We will analyze the valid hit rates for independent conditional clauses, specifically investigating their semantic-pragmatic types and typical formal features (e.g. particles, set phrases) and how these features vary with clause length.


D’Hertefelt, S. (2018). Insubordination in Germanic: A typology of complements and conditional constructions. Berlin: De Gruyter.

Evans, N. (2007). Insubordination and its uses In Nikolaeva, Irina (Ed.) Finiteness. Theoretical and empirical foundations (pp. 366–431). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Kaltenböck, G. (2016). On the grammatical status of insubordinate if-clauses. In: Kaltenböck, Gunther, Keizer, Evelien, Lohmann, Arne (Eds.) Outside the clause. Form and function of extra-clausal constituents (pp. 341–378). John Benjamins, Amsterdam & Philadelphia.

Lastres-López, C. (2018). If-insubordination in spoken British English: Syntactic and pragmatic properties. Language Sciences, 66, 42–59.

MNSz2 = Magyar Nemzeti Szövegtár 2. változat [Hungarian Gigaword Corpus 2.0.5; 1.5 billion words].