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The use of the partitive case in Finnish learner language: A corpus study

In document BOOK OF ABSTRACTS (sivua 86-89)

Finnish, an agglutinative language and a member of the Finno-Ugric language family, is particularly well known for its rich and complex morphology (Moscoso del Prado Mar- tin, Bertram, Häikiö, Schreuder & Baayen, 2004). The Finnish case system comprises fifteen cases (ISK, 2004; Leino, 1997) and is traditionally taken to consist of structural or grammatical cases and semantic cases (Nikanne, 1993). Semantic cases are divided into locative and marginal cases. Together with the nominative, genitive and accusative case, the partitive case constitutes the structural cases (Helasvuo, 2008).

The partitive case is a typical case characterizing the Finnic languages. From origin, the partitive was a spatial case, which had a separative meaning. Its unboundedness-marking functions developed within Balto-Finnic (Kiparsky, 1998). In modern Finnish, the partitive case expresses mainly unknown identities, partialness and irresultative actions. The Finnish partitive has two functions, which can be termed aspectual and NP-related (Kiparsky, 2005). Most often, partitives can be classified as partitive objects, partitive predicatives or partitive subjects.

The partitive case has often found to be problematic for foreign learners of Finnish (Schot-Saikku, 1990), because its use may involve polarity and aspect as well as divisibility and definiteness of the subject, object or referent (Muikku-Werner, 2002).

Denison (1957: 15) even describes the use of the partitive case as “the most baffling and at the same time the most intriguing problem which the foreign student of Finnish syntax has to face”.

This corpus study investigates the use of the partitive case in Finnish learner language, focusing on Dutch, German and Estonian learners of Finnish. The source lan- guages (L1s) have been chosen based on their genetic and typological distance to Fin- nish, since linguistic phenomena (in this case the partitive case) are assumed to be more difficult to learn, when not existing in a learner’s native language (Kaivapalu, 2008).

The purpose of the study is to provide valuable insight into the nature of learner language, the role of L1 influence and the use of the partitive case in Finnish learner language in all its nuances. The study is part of the project Corpus study on language- specific and universal features in learner language. This research project is led by Jarmo Harri Jantunen. Within the project, the International Corpus of Learner Finnish (ICLFI) is compiled from 2007 onward.

In this presentation, the three main applications of the partitive case will be discussed and illustrated by examples. In addition, a pilot study on the use of the partitive case in Finnish learner language will be discussed. This pilot study has been based on the use of partitive objects, predicatives and subjects in the Estonian, German and Dutch subcorpora of the International Corpus of Learner Finnish. Frequencies observed from the learner corpora were compared with each other and with a reference corpus (the Native Finnish corpus; Mauranen, 2000).


Denison, N. (1957). The partitive in Finnish, AnnalesAcademiae Scientiarum Fennicae B 108, 262. Helsinki: Suomalainen Tiedeakatemia.

Helasvuo, M-L. (2008). Aspects of the structure of Finnish. In: Klippi, A. & Launonen, K., Research in Logopedics, Speech and Language therapy in Finland. Multilin- gual Matters Ltd.

ISK: Iso Suomen Kielioppi (2004), Hakulinen, A.(yms) Suomalaisen Kirjalisuuden Seura.

Nikanne, U. (1993). On assigning semantic cases in Finnish. In: A. Holmberg & U. Ni- kanne (1993). Case and other functional categories in Finnish Syntax, Studies in Generative Grammar, Mouton de Gruyter, Berlin / New York.

Kaivapalu, A. (2008) Miten tutkia lähdekielen vaikutusta oppijankielen universaalina piirteenä? ICLFi-hankkeenworkshop-esitelmä, Standardtarkvara rakenda- misvõimalusi soome ja eesti õppijakeele analüüsimisel,Tallinn.

Kiparsky, P. 1998. Partitive Case and Aspect. in M. Butt and W. Geuder eds., The Pro- jection of Arguments:

Lexical and Compositional Factors. CSLI Publications, Stanford. 265-308.

Kiparsky, P. (2005). Absolutely a Matter of Degree: The Semantics of Structural Case in Finnish, CLS 2005.

Leino, P. (1997). Suomen Kielioppi, Kustannusosakeyhtiö Otava, Helsinki.

Mauranen, A. (2000). Strange Strings in Translated Language: A Study on Corpora. In:

M. Olohan (ed.) Intercultural Faultlines. Research Models in Translation Studies 1: Textual and Cognitive Aspects. Manchester: St. Jerome Publishing, 119 -141.

Moscoso del Prado Martín, F., Bertram, R., Häikiö, T, Schreuder, R. & Baayen, R.H.

(2004). Morphological Family Size in a Morphologically Rich Language: The Case of Finnish Compared With Dutch and Hebrew, Journal of Experimental Psychol- ogy: Learning, Memory, and Cognition 30, 1271–1278.

Muikku-Werner, P.(2002) Te kävitte Suomessa? Virolaisten ja saksalaisten oppijan- suomen syntaksia. In S.Rantatalo & H.Sulkala, eds, Tutkielmia oppijankielestä II. Oulun yliopistopaino 7-47

Schot-Saikku, P. (1990). Der Partitiv und die Kasusalternation: Zum Fall Partitiv in der Finnischen Syntax. Hamburg: Buske.

Uri Tadmor

The rise and fall of case marking in Malay-Indonesian pronouns

The pronominal system of Malay-Indonesian is extremely conservative. All six recon- structed Proto-Austronesian pronouns (described in Ross 2006) have closely-matching reflexes in one or another variety of modern Malay-Indonesian, five of them in the stan- dard language. This is remarkable given the time depth involved: Proto-Austronesian is estimated to have been spoken about 6,000 years ago. At the same time, the Malay- Indonesian pronominal system can also be said to be very innovative, because it in now includes loanwords such as saya (1SG, from Sanskrit), mereka (3PL, from Old Javanese), and several others. This is also remarkable, since closed, rigidly structured sets like pronouns are often said to be impermeable (or at least highly resistant) to borrowing.

Like some other languages (such as English), Malay-Indonesian case is only overtly expressed in the pronominal system. Yet unlike some other languages (again, such as English), this is not a vestige of an earlier general case system that once encom- passed all nouns. What makes the Malay-Indonesian case system particularly interest- ing is that it has experienced decay, reexpansion, restructuring, and then decay again.

The complex system described for Proto-Austronesian in Ross 2006 had partially de- cayed and restructured by the time Old Malay is first attested in the 7th century CE.

Classical Malay, attested from the 16th century CE after several ‘dark’ centuries, had a very different and arguably more complex case system, expressed in singular pronouns only, as shown in Table 1.

Simple form d- forms Proclitic forms Enclitic forms

1SG aku daku ku- -ku

2SG engkau dikau kau- -mu

3SG ia dia - -nya

Table 1: Case marking in Classical Malay pronouns

As will be demonstrated, the simple forms functioned were nominative, d- forms (which historically developed from simple forms preceded by the ablative preposition di) func- tioned as accusative, and enclitic forms functioned as genitive. Proclitic forms marked the actor in object voice constructions. This system subsequently underwent attrition and other changes, so that only vestiges remain in modern Malay-Indonesian.

This paper will trace and discuss the development of the Malay-Indonesian pro- nominal case system from its first attestations until the present, citing examples from inscriptions, manuscripts, literature, and natural conversations.


Ross, Malcolm, 2006. Reconstructing the case-marking and personal pronoun systems of Proto Austronesian. In Henry Y. Chang and Lillian M. Huang and Dah-an Ho (eds): Streams Converging into an Ocean: Festschrift in Honor of Professor Paul Jen-kuei Li on His 70th Birthday, 521–564. Taipei: Institute of Linguistics, Academia Sinica.

Anne Tamm

In document BOOK OF ABSTRACTS (sivua 86-89)