Curiosities in Finnish

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Omzinesý
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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.

(1)
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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Omzinesý
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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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