Kriszta Eszter Szendrői


Professor of Information Structure in Linguistics


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Research projects


§  Yiddish syntax


I am working with both secular and ultra-orthodox (Hasidic) native speakers of Yiddish living in London on the syntax of pre-WW2 Central Yiddish and current-day Haredi Yiddish spoken in the Stamford Hill Community in London. The research targets various areas of Yiddish syntax, including basic word order, determiner doubling, the syntax and prosody of focus, deaccenting and the acquisition of Yiddish by children in the community, with initial results in [Belk et al, under review]. We are currently expanding the scope of this work to also include six Hasidic communities worldwide in an AHRC-funded project.



§  Syntax-prosody mapping of clauses


With Fatima Hamlaoui we study the syntax-prosody interface. Our proposal is that the overt position of the finite verb determines what counts as a syntactic ‘clause’ for the purposes of the syntax-prosody mapping in ‘clauses’ and Intonational Phrases. In [Hamlaoui and Szendroi 2015] our account was based on data from the Finno-Ugric language, Hungarian and the Bantu language, Basáa. We later expanded the typological coverage and extended our account to complex sentences involving complement and adjunct clauses, and clausal extraposition, [Hamlaoui and Szendroi 2017], [Szendroi 2017].



§  Acquisition of focus


With Barbara Höhle, Frauke Berger, Judit Gervain and Carline Bernard we studied in [Szendroi et al 2018] the acquisition of prosodic focus by 3-, 4-, 5-, and 6-year old English, French and German children. We designed a novel comprehension task and found that children are adultlike in their comprehension of prosodic focus in all three languages from Age 3.



§  Acquisition of quantifier raising


With Barbara Höhle and Rebecca Schumacher we studied in [Szendroi et al 2017] the acquisition of quantifier raising by 5- and 6-year-old English and German children. We carried out an act-out task whose results showed that children in both languages have access to both surface and inverse scope readings. This goes against the Isomorphism Observation (Musolino 1998) and supports Reinhart’s (2006) proposal on quantifier raising.


Szendrői, K. 2001. Focus and the syntax-phonology interface. PhD dissertation, UCL. PDF


Ackema, P. & Szendrői, K. 2002. Determiner sharing as coordinate ellipsis. Journal of Comparative Germanic Syntax 5(1), 3-34. DOI PDF


Szendrői, K. 2002. Stress-focus correspondence in Italian. In Beyssade, C., Bok-Bennema, R., Drijkoningen, F., Monachesi, P. (eds.). Romance languages and linguistic theory 2000. Selected papers from ‘Going Romance’ 2000, Utrecht, 30 November- 2 December, 287-303. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. PDF


Szendrői, K. 2003. A stress-based approach to the syntax of Hungarian focus. The Linguistic Review 20(1), 37-78. DOI PDF


Szendrői, K. 2004. Acquisition evidence for an interface theory of focus. Proceedings of GALA 2003, Volumes 1-2, Vol. 2, 457-468. Utrecht, The Netherlands: LOT. PDF


Szendrői, K. 2004. A stress-driven approach to climbing. In É. Kiss, K., van Riemsdijk, H. (eds.). Verb clusters. A study of Hungarian, German and Dutch, 205-223. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. PDF


Neeleman, A. & Szendrői, K. 2004. Superman Sentences. Linguistic Inquiry 35(1), 149-159. DOI PDF

Szendrői, K. & Tóth, I. 2004. Hungarian verbal clusters – results of a questionnaire survey. In É. Kiss, K., van Riemsdijk, H. (eds.). Verb clusters. A study of Hungarian, German and Dutch, 87-119. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. PDF


Szendrői, K. 2005. Focus movement (with special reference to Hungarian). In Everaert, M. & H. van Riemsdijk (eds.). The Syntactic Companion, 270-335. London: Blackwell. HTM


Costa, J. & Szendrői, K. 2006. Acquisition of focus marking in European Portuguese – Evidence for a unified approach to focus. In Torrens, V., Escobar, L. (eds.). The acquisition of syntax in Romance languages, 319-329. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. PDF


Neeleman, A. & Szendrői, K. 2007. Radical Pro Drop and the Morphology of Pronouns. Linguistic Inquiry 38(4), 671-714. DOI PDF

Neeleman, A. & Szendrői, K. 2008. Case morphology and radical pro-drop. In Biberauer, T. (ed.). The limits of syntactic variation, 331-348. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins. PDF


Szendrői, K. 2010. A flexible approach to discourse-related word order variations in the DP. Lingua 120(4), 864-878. DOI PDF


Szendrői, K. 2010. Focus as a grammatical notion: a case study in autism. In The sound patterns of syntax, N. Erteschik-Shir, N. & L. Rochmann, L. eds.  OUP. 317-332. PDF


Brody, M. & Szendrői, K. 2011. A kimerítő felsorolás értemezésű fókusz válasz. [Exhaustive focus is an answer]. In Bartos, H. (ed.). Új irányok és eredmények a mondattani kutatásbanKiefer Ferenc 80. születésnapja alkalmából [New directions and results in syntactic researchIn honour of Ferenc Kiefer's 80th birthday] (Vol. 23). Budapest, Hungary: Akadémiai Kiadó/ Academic Press. PDF English version Ms


Szendrői, K. 2012. Focus movement can be destressing, but it need not be. In A flexible theory of topic and focus, A. Neeleman & R. Vermeulen eds., 189-226. Mouton de Gruyter. PDF


Lekakou, M. & Szendrői, K. 2012. Polydefinites in Greek: Ellipsis, close apposition and expletive determiners. Journal of Linguistics 48(1), 107-149. DOI PDF


Abrusán, M. & Szendrői, K. 2013. Experimenting with the King of FranceTopics, verifiability and definite descriptions. Semantics & Pragmatics 10:1-43. DOI PDF


Lekakou, M. & Szendrői, K. 2013. When determiners abound: implications for the encoding of definiteness. In Cross-linguistic studies on Noun Phrase Structure and Reference, P. Cabredo Hofher & A. Zribi-Hertz eds., 212-238. Leiden: Brill. PDF


Hamlaoui, F. & Szendrői, K. 2015. A flexible approach to the mapping of intonational phrases. Phonology 25(1): 79-110. DOI PDF


Mulders, I. & Szendrői, K. 2016. Early association of prosodic focus with alleen ‘only’: evidence from eye-movements in the visual-world paradigm. Frontiers in Psychology: Language Sciences  7: 150. DOI PDF


Szendrői, K. 2017. Focus movement. In Everaert, M. & H. van Riemsdijk (eds.). The Syntactic Companion, 2nd Edition. London: Blackwell. PDF


Szendrői, K. 2017. The syntax of information structure and the PF interface. In D. Ott & R. Simik (eds.). Special Issue of Glossa. PDF


Szendrői, K., Schumacher, R. & Höhle, B. 2017. Acquisition of quantifier raising of a universal across an existential: evidence from German. Glossa: a journal of general linguistics, 2(1), 46. DOI


Hamlaoui, F. & Szendrői K. 2017. The syntax-phonology mapping of intonational phrases in complex sentences: a flexible approach. Glossa: a journal of general linguistics, 2(1), 46. DOI


Szendrői, K., Bernard, C., Gervain, J., Berger, F. & Höhle, B. 2018. Acquisition of prosodic focus marking by English, French and German 3-, 4-, 5- and 6-year-olds. Journal of Child Language, 45(1), 219-241.


Belk, Z., L. Kahn & Szendrői K. (under review) Complete loss of case and gender within a generation: evidence from Stamford Hill Hasidic Yiddish. Journal of Comparative Germanic Syntax.




Other publications


Reinhart, T., Szendrői, K. 2003. Optimal design in language – Research proposal. 14pp. PDF


Szendrői, K. 2004. Focus and the interaction between syntax and pragmatics - Introduction. Lingua 114(3), 229-254. DOI PDF






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Contact details


Linguistics, Division of Psychology & Language Sciences, Faculty of Brain Sciences, UCL

Rm 1.15d, Chandler House, 2 Wakefield Street, WC1N 1PF, London, United Kingdom

k dot szendroi at ucl dot ac dot uk

+44 20 7679 4063, #24063

UCL Departmental personal page


UCL Linguistics

Division of Psychology and Language Sciences
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London WC2B 6BT