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Analysis Of Finnish Syntax Gregory Clayman Prof. Harry Howard ANTH-359/759 10 December 2007.

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Presentation on theme: "Analysis Of Finnish Syntax Gregory Clayman Prof. Harry Howard ANTH-359/759 10 December 2007."— Presentation transcript:

1 Analysis Of Finnish Syntax Gregory Clayman Prof. Harry Howard ANTH-359/ December 2007

2 Important Things To Know About Finnish Syntax ● Requirement for licensing Spec(IP) position means that in Finnish the Spec(IP) – or subject – must be filled – though it can be filled syntactically instead of lexically. Requirement for INFL licensing requires INFL to be filled. ● Finnish, grammatically, has free word order. Sentences can be VSO, VOS, SOV, SVO, OVS, or OSV; though it is often classified as an SVO language. ● No VP-fronting or other types of VP- movement in Finnish; it is argued that VP does not exist in Finnish (though Vainikka – the “authority on Finnish linguistics”) argues that VP DOES exist...it remains unproven ● Only Finnish auxiliary is “olla” - to be; “olla” is ALWAYS base-generated in INFL and usually occupies this position Basic Tree Adopted For Finnish:

3 Finnish Text Paimenpoika oli paimenemassa lampaita, ja siellä koko päivään ollessaan hän puhui usiamman kerran lampaille. Ja kerran hän kysyi lampaalta, että “Mistäs eniten lammas on kipeä?” Niin lammas aina vastasi: “Pää-ää.”

4 Finnish To English Gloss Original Finnish Text: Paimenpoika oli paimenemassa lampaita, ja siellä koko päivään ollessaan hän puhui usiamman kerran lampaille. Ja kerran hän kysyi lampaalta, että “Mistäs eniten lammas on kipeä?” Niin lammas aina vastasi: “Pää-ää.” Literal English Translation: A shepherd boy was shepherding sheep, and there spending all day he spoke several times to the sheep. And one time he inquired from a sheep, that “Whence most sheep is ailing?” Yet the sheep always only says: “Pää-ää” (the head) Actual English Gloss: A shepherd boy was tending sheep, and there, as he was spending the whole day, he talked to the sheep several times. And once, he asked a sheep that: “Where is the sheep ailing most?” And the sheep always answered, “Pää-ää” (the head)

5 Paimenpoika oli paimenpoika lampaita = “A shepherd boy was tending sheep” Syntactic Analysis

6 Syntactic Analysis, Cont. “Ja siellä, koko päivää ollessaan hän puhui usiamaan kerran lampaille” = “And there, as he was spending the whole day, he talked to the sheep several times ● Due to the Finnish language's free word-order, a syntactic tree is a bit difficult for this construction, which syntactically contains “hän” in the Spec(IP) but lexically does not. ● In addition, “ollessaan” is not a verb here, but an inflection of “olla” in the incessive case that acts freely to roughly translate as “was spending” ● The agglutinative nature of Finnish makes this construction even more difficult to show in tree form. For example, “lampaille” = to the sheep. The '-lle' is an allative case that makes this one noun in Finnish a prepositional phrase in English. The construction, in Finnish, looks like: [NP [N' [[PP -lle] [NP lampai]]]]

7 Syntactic Analysis, Cont. Ja kerran hän kysyi lampaalta, että = And once he asked a sheep, that... ● Once again, “hän” is occupying, syntactically, the Spec(IP) position. “-i” on the end of “kysy-” occupies the INFL position. ● “Lampaalta” here, is again, “lammas” in the ablative case. The -lta suffix means “from” (ask from a sheep). ● Että always precedes “WH”-phrases; usually occupies the Spec(CP) position (Vainikka, 1989)

8 Syntactic Analysis of the Finnish 'WH' Structure Mistäs eniten lammas on kipeä? = Where is the sheep aching most?

9 Syntactic Analysis, Cont. Niin lammas aina vastasi: “Pää-ää” Yet the sheep always answered: “Pää-ää!” (the head). ● For the first time, we see the noun 'lammas' in its unchanged form; “The sheep” (singular). It licenses the Spec(IP) position. ● And again we see “-i” occupying the INFL position, on the end of “vastas” = answer. ● “Niin” is the Finnish coordinating conjunction. It can stand for 'and', 'but', 'so', 'yet', or 'for'. It does not exist in spoken Finnish (puhekieli); but only in written Finnish (yleiskieli).

10 Sources ● Vainikka, Anne Marjatta. “Deriving Syntactic Representations in Finnish.” Submitted to UMass for a phD in philosophy, ● Haegeman, Liliane. “Thinking Syntactically”, 2006.


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