Curiosities in Finnish

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Re: Curiosities in Finnish

Post by Omzinesý »

Derivational morphology is maybe the most interesting part of Finnish. In this post, I am going to discuss the causative suffix -tta.

All verbs can be causativized. The causee appears in the Adessive which is the instrumental case. Dixon's article on causatives analyses it very oddly because he doesn't seem to know that the adessive is just the instrumental case.

Teetin kengät suutarilla.
tee-t-i-n kenkä-t suutari-lla
make-CAUS-PST-SG1 shoe-PL.ACC shoemaker-ADDESS
'I let a shoemaker make the shoes.'

Many causatives also are lexicalized.
ajaa 'to drive' -> ajattaa -> ajatella 'to think'
kulua 'to corrode' -> kuluttaa 'to consume'
käydä 'to visit' -> käyttää 'to use'
lähteä -> lähettää 'to send' - lähdettää 'to abort (for animals)'
mennä 'to go' -> menettää 'to loose'
saada 'to get' -> saattaa 'to escort, may'
tuoda 'to bring' -> tuottaa 'to produce'
viedä 'to take' -> viettää 'to spend (time)'
voida 'to be able to' -> voittaa 'to win'

Sometimes it can also be used denominally.
kivi 'a stone' -> kivittää 'to stone'
ase 'a weapon' (but asema 'a position, a station') -> asettaa 'to position'
jälki 'a track' -> jäljittää 'to track'
kahvi 'coffee' -> kahvittaa 'to serve coffee'
My meta-thread: viewtopic.php?f=6&t=5760
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Re: Curiosities in Finnish

Post by Omzinesý »

Finnish usually distinguishes (often one derived from the other) stems for transitive and (unassusative) intransitive verbs.

One interesting example is palaa 'to burn (intr.) and polttaa 'to burn (tr.)'. Polttaa is clearly derived from palaa with causative suffixe -ttaa, but there is some irregular ablaut.

(1) Metsä palaa.
forest burn.PRS.sg3
'The forest is burning.'

Because of many conjugation classes, palaa can also be translated 'returns' PRS.SG3 form of palata 'to return', but the context in (1) is quite clear.

(2) Poltan kuivia lehtiä.
burn.PRS.SG1 dry.PART leaf.PL.PART
'I am burning dry leaves.'

Polttaa does also mean 'to smoke'.

(3) Älä polta sisällä.
NEG.IMP.SG2 burn.CONNEG indoors
'Don't smoke indoors.'

In that sense, polttaa can be interpreter either as an (unergative) intransitive verb or an elliptic expression: Älä polta [tupakkaa] sisällä. 'Don't some [tobacco/cigarette] indoors.'

It is generally interesting how transitive verbs without an object develop new idiomatic meanings that can grammaticalize.
My meta-thread: viewtopic.php?f=6&t=5760
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Re: Curiosities in Finnish - Agreement of Verbs in Standard and Spoken Varieties

Post by Omzinesý »

This blog / material gets new posts very slowly, but it's not dead.

This post is abaut the inflection of Finnish (finite) verbs.

The first part is quite boring.
Finnish is a normal synthetic but not polysynthetic agglutinative language. Itsverb template is shown in (1).

(1) 0[root]1[passive]2[TAM]3[SUBJECT AGREEMENT]

Puhua 'to speak' is morphologically simple, so let's use it as the example. The present or rather non-past forms in Standard Finnish are shown in (2).

(2) puhu-a 'to speak'
puhu-n 'I speak'
puhu-t 'you speak'
puhu-u 'speaks'
puhu-mme 'we speak'
puhu-tte 'you speak'
puhu-vat 'they speak'

There is also a "passive" which is rather an impersonal than an English-style passive. I translate it with 'they'. The last morpheme -an is historically a person agreement marker, so it's still glossed as one.

(3) puhu-ta-an 'they speak'

Finnish is famous of having a negative verb, though it's less a verb than English don't. The negated verb is however shown in (4). The main verb appears in a form called CONNEGATIVE, i.e. a nonfinite form that appears with the negative verb. It has a marker -ʔ in most dialects, though it is not usually written. It is pronounced as gemination of the first consonant of the following word. I write its underlying presentation as a glottal stop.

e-n puhu-ʔ 'I don't speak'
e-t puhu-ʔ 'you don't speak'
ei puhu-ʔ 'doesn't speak'
e-mme puhu-ʔ 'we don't speak'
e-tte puhu-ʔ 'you don't speak'
ei-vät puhu-ʔ 'they don't speak (passive)'

ei puhu-ta-ʔ 'they don't speak'

The other TAM markers, beside -∅ 'present', are -i 'past' and -isi 'conditional'. Imperatives have a distinct inflection shown in (5).

puhu-ʔ 'speak! (sg)'
puhu-kaa 'speak! (pl)'
puhu-koon 'shall he speak'
puhu-koot 'shall they speak'

puhu-tta-koon 'shall they speak (passive)'

Now we get to the first interesting thing in this post.
I listened to the Conlangery Podcast episode on auxiliaries and found that that Finnish negative verb has a split auxiliary construction. Person agreement appears in the auxiliary while TAM appears in the main verb. The conditional form appearing with the negative verb is the SG3 CONDITIONAL form 'he would speak', see (6a). The form of a past negative verb that appears with the negative verb the ACTIVE PAST PARTICIPLE 'having spoken', see (6b).

(6a) e-n puhu-isi 'I wouldn't speak' lit. 'I-don't would-speak'
(6b) e-n puhu-nut 'I didn't speak' lit. 'I-don't having-spoken'

Negated imperative imperative is a suppletive stem äl(ä). When the subject is sg2, it appears with the normal connegative but in with other persons it has a distinct imperative connegative form -koʔ. Genative imperative pl2, sg3, and pl3 thus have a double marking construction, where IMPERATIVE is marked in both the negation auxiliary and the main verb.

älä puhu-ʔ 'don't speak! (sg)'
äl-kää puhu-koʔ 'don't speak! (pl)'
äl-köön puhu-koʔ 'shall he not speak'
äl-kööt puhu-koʔ 'shall they not speak'
äl-köön puhu-tta-ko 'shall they not speak (passive)'

Now we get to the second interesting thing!
Let's move to the non-standardized language. I don't go to the dialects. The following feature of spoken Finnish is very well spread and standard in its way.

The pl1 form is basically always replaced by the "passive form". In French, you often say On parle instead of Nous parlons, I have heard. It still often is preceded by pronoun me 'we'.

Written Finnish: (me) puhu-mme 'we speak'
Spoken Finnish:(me) puhu-taan 'we speak'

The passive form thus has three uses that mainly differ by word order. In (9a), it is a passive or an impersonal. In (9b), it is the indicative pl1 form. In (9c), it is the Pl1 imperative form. (There actually is an archaic pl1 imperative puhukaamme, but let's skip it.)

Suomea puhu-ta-an.
Finnish speak-PASS-?
'Finnish is being spoken.'

Me puhu-taan suomea.
we speak.PL1 Finnish
'We speak Finnish.'

Puhu-taan suomea.
speak-PL1.IMP Finnish
'Let's speak Finnish.'

(10a) shows the positive passive-like pl1 forms.

me puhu-taan 'we speak'
puhu-ttiin 'we spoke'
puhu-tta-isi 'we would speak'
puhu-ta-an 'let's speak'

(10b) shows the corresponding negative forms. See that, in the past form, a PASSIVE PAST PARTICIPLE -TTU 'spoken' is used.

me ei puhu-ta-ʔ
me ei puhu-ttu 'we didn't speak' lit. 'we doesn't spoken'
me ei puhu-tta-isi 'we wouldn't speak'
ei puhuta-ʔ 'let's not speak'

(11) has (9) turned to negatives.

Me ei puhutaʔ suomea. 'We don't speak Finnish.'
Suomea ei puhutaʔ. 'Finnish is not spoken.'
Ei puhutaʔ suomea. 'Let's not speak Finnish.'

Now we get to syntax, and things get graze!

Finnish object cases are a notorious nightmare for L2 learners. But calm down. This post is not about Partitive. It is always the object of negated verbs but that's easy and regular.

The accusative object is much more interesting, because it looks like Genitive if the clause has (or could have) a Nominative subject, see (12a). But it looks like Genitive if the clause cannot have a nominative subject, see (12b). (Some pronouns have special accusative forms, but we are not interested in them now.) I thin it is Comrie (or some of the famous ones) that calls this phenomenon ANTIERGATIVITY. I think it is a bad term because there is nothing about ergativity, but let's mention it however. It basically means that you mark the accusative like the nominative if the nominative marking is free.

Minä-∅ kirjoita-n tämä-n blogiteksti-n.
I-NOM write-sg1 this-GEN blog_text-GEN
'I will write this blog text.'

Necessative verbs, like pitää 'must' always take a genitive subject because why not. So they have a nominative object. And I emphasize, it still is an object.

Minu-n pitää kirjoitta-a tämä-∅ blogiteksti-∅.
I-GEN must write-INF this-NOM blog_text-NOM
'I must write this blog text.'

Finnish "passive" is an impersonal. It does not have a subject. Thus it governs an accusative object that is like Nominative, see (13). Here we have an everlasting debate if maailma in (13) is a subject or object, but let's keep the view of traditional Fennists that it is an object.

Maailma-∅ luo-tiin seitsemä-ssä päivä-ssä.
world-NOM create-PASS.PAST seven-INESS day-INESS
'The world was created in seven days.'

Now, because the spoken language pl1 form developed from "Passive", why to change any of its government patterns when it is a pl1 form. (14) is (12a) with a plural 1st subject.

Me kirjoite-taan tämä-∅ blogitensti-∅.
we write-PL1 this-NOM blog_text-NOM
'We will write this blog text.'

(15) has clause '_ write a text.' for all subject persons in spoken language. (Personal pronouns have many dialectal variants. (15) is how they are in Helsinki. The singular 3rd verb form is also used for plural 3rd, but it is not that interesting. Nobody really pronounces [kirjoittaa] but [kirjottaa] but let's not mind that either.)

Mä kirjoitan tekstin.
Sä kirjoitat tekstin.
Se kirjoittaa tekstin.
Me kirjoitetaan teksti.
Te kirjoitatte tekstin.
Ne kirjoittaa tekstin.

Spoken Finnish is the only language I know where the object form is affected by the person of subject. The nominative-like accusative object appears only if the subject is pl1 (or impersonal passive).
My meta-thread: viewtopic.php?f=6&t=5760
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