• If you are citizen of an European Union member nation, you may not use this service unless you are at least 16 years old.

  • Finally, you can manage your Google Docs, uploads, and email attachments (plus Dropbox and Slack files) in one convenient place. Claim a free account, and in less than 2 minutes, Dokkio (from the makers of PBworks) can automatically organize your content for you.

  • A planned 2-hour maintenance window will start at 12 AM Pacific / 3 AM Eastern / 7 AM UTC / 8 AM BST. We strongly advise you to save any work in progress now.



Page history last edited by Anne Tamm 10 years, 5 months ago

Non-Finite Phenomena in Finnic


The workshop on Non-finite phenomena in Finnic takes place on November 25, 2009 at the Institute of the Estonian Language, Tallinn, Roosikrantsi 6.

This is a part of the cross-linguistic workshop on Finiteness and Non-Finiteness, which is a twin event with Uralic Typology Days.


The Finnic languages are special about the number of non-finite verb forms. Often this phenomenon is related to the rich case systems of these languages. The syntax, morphology, and semantics of Finnic non-finite verbs are studied by several earlier scholars, but cross-modular approaches, the pragmatics and discourse properties of Finnic non-finites have enjoyed less attention, as well as the relevance of the data for establishing the nature of finiteness and non-finiteness. Those who wish to discuss these issues or present their work can send an abstract of max. 1 page to heete@eki.ee, iris.metsmagi@eki.ee or anne.tamm@unifi.it by November 10, 2009.


Here is some information about the venue, transport, etc.


More details


What is special about the Finnic non-finites?


The Finnic languages are not unusual in having non-finite forms. Many languages have several non-finite verb forms and mixed categories. The Finnic languages are also not typologically unique in combining case with verbs. What makes the Finnic system worth studying is the extent and regularity of case-marking on the non-finite—semantically hybrid—forms. This fact allows us to study the relationships between the forms and finer meanings in more detail than in other languages. For instance, the Modern Estonian m-formative non-finite forms contain the illative, inessive, elative, translative, and abessive cases; the d-formative non-finite form has an inessive. The present participle has a partitive non-finite form. The case marking of non-finite forms is synchronically unproductive; the internal spatial cases are particularly common in Finnic.


Finnic non-finites and case


The question of Finnic non-finite verbs is related to questions about case. More precisely, case in atypical environments—as parts of non-finite verb forms. The Finnic combinations of case and non-finite verb forms can be compared with combinations of adpositions and non-finites in several Indo-European languages. Consider the combinations of prepositions, which otherwise denote source or goal of movement with non-finite forms, as in French (1) and English (2). 

(1)        Je viens de manger.

            ‘I just ate.’

(2)        I go to eat.

Next to adpositions denoting goals and sources, adpositions denoting locations may be used in combination with an infinitive, as in Dutch (3).

(3)        Jan is aan het eten.

            ‘John is eating.’

The prepositions encode the relationships of events as source, goal, and location by means of adpositions and non-finite forms. However, these languages are not symmetric in grammatically encoding the three directionality options, and the locative meaning is bleached. There seems to be no clear principle between the choice between using a preposition or no preposition in these constructions in these languages. For instance, English combines the uninflected form with a goal preposition, but not with a source one (4). French combines a source preposition with the infinitive, but a goal preposition is not necessarily present for expressing a goal event with a motion verb and the non-finite form (5).

(4)        *I come from eat.

(5)        Je vais manger.

            ‘I am going to eat.’

The combinations with the preposition are subject to several lexical or constructional constraints in these languages. Moreover, the relationship between the preposition when it is applied to an argument and when it is applied to a predicate (manger, eten, eat) is not always transparent. In some instances, the combinations of adpositions and non-finite forms have retained much of their core meanings after transferring to the domain of relationships between events. In others, the combinations have acquired new temporal grammatical meanings, such as future or progressive.


Symmetric nominal-non-finite case semantics


The demonstrated languages combine spatial adpositions with non-finite forms in a random, asymmetric way. However, other languages are symmetric in grammatically encoding the three directionality options. Baltic-Finnic languages have non-finite forms comprising all three forms that stand for internal spatial directionality relations (e.g., ‘into, inside, from inside’). These languages encode predicate semantics symmetrically by spatial case; examples (6)-(8) illustrate the phenomenon of the Estonian non-finite case forms of the verb ‘swim’.In these examples, the temporal relationships of events are encoded by spatial case on non-finite predicates in argument positions. Illative is the Goal case in (6); the sentence describes the subject going somewhere to get involved in an activity. 

(6)        Mari        läheb  uju-ma.

            M[nom]  go-3s swim-m_inf-ill

           ‘Mary is going swimming.’

Inessive is the Location case in (7); the sentence describes the subject somewhere in the middle of the activity or a place related to the activity.

(7)        Mari        on         uju-ma-s.

            M[nom]  be-3s   swim-m_inf-ine

            ‘Mary is (off) swimming.’

Elative is the Source case; sentence (8) describes the subject leaving a place related to an activity.

(8)        Mari        tuleb       uju-ma-st.

            M[nom]  come-3s swim- m_inf-ela

            ‘Mary is coming from swimming.’                                         

The non-finite predicate case has a direct parallel in spatial case marking of argument NPs. Illative marks Goal arguments in (9), inessive marks Location arguments (10), and elative marks Source arguments (11).

(9)        Mari        läheb  metsa.

            M[nom]  go-3s  forest.ill

            ‘Mary is going to the forest.’

(10)      Mari        on      metsa-s.

           M[nom]  be-3s forest-ine

            ‘Mary is in the forest.’

(11)     Mari        tuleb       metsa-st.

          M[nom]  come-3s forest-ela

          ‘Mary is coming from the forest.’                                          

Since the data in (6)-(11) give evidence of parallel case marking on predicates and arguments, verb-like and nominal linguistic units, the phenomenon will be referred to as cross-categorial case. The m-formative non-finite verbs are not identical with regular nominalizations. Regular nominalizations can be marked with any case, but the m-formative ones above have restricted options for case marking.


Additional semantics and pragmatics


As opposed to the case-marking of arguments, the combinations with non-finite forms have developed additional TAM semantics and pragmatics that has not been studied in detail

  • the partitive has developed into an evidentiality and epistemic modality related marker
  • the translative is related to modal meanings of not much studied nature, such as intentions
  • the m- vs. d-formative non-finite forms are semantically linked to telicity-atelicity alternation in causatives (telicizing the situation)
  • inessive forms give rise to the progressive and absentive
  • illative and elative forms are linked to situation bounding. More specifically, the illative case-marked NP and non-finite verb telicize the situation, providing an endpoint or boundary to the event. The non-finite forms interact with the event structural properties of the matrix verb exactly as their case-marked NP counterparts do.An example of situation bounding with an m-formative illative shows that the aspectual properties of the predicates with the illative case-marked NP and non-finite verb are identical.

Comments (0)

You don't have permission to comment on this page.