ELTE BTK Magyar Nyelvtudományi és Finnugor Intézet

Guttmann, Csenge (Kolozsvár)

nyomtatható változat

Implicit negation and direction reversing

In Finnish and in Hungarian we can often face the fact that these languages use separative (“out of”/”from”) case when this would logically seem paradoxical. Take a look at following examples:
(1)    (1)    Jäin         junasta
Miss-PST.1SG    train-ELAT
Lit: I missed from the train
“I missed the train”
(2)    Lemaradtam     a     vonatról
Miss-PST.1SG    the    train-DELAT
Lit: I missed from the train
“I missed the train”

(3)    Myöhästyin         tunnilta
Be late-PST.1SG        class-ABLAT
Lit: I was late from the class
“I have been late for my class”
(4)    Elkéstem         az     óráról
Be late-PST.1SG        the    class-DELAT
Lit: I was late from the class
“I have been late for my class”
Reading the examples, the question arises: how can you miss “from” the train, if you have not been on the train in question and how can you be late “from” a class which you have not attended yet. A possible explanation for this could be the fact that the speaker basically imagined his/herself already getting into the train or arriving on time to the class (lative case in both cases). However, when faced with the situation of having missed the train/being late for the class, the situation needs to be mentally reconstructed, turning around the direction of movement, so it becomes “missing from the train” and “being late from my class”.
When we take a more accurate look at the verbs above it can be noticed that both verbs (jäädä/lemaradni, myöhästyä/elkésni) contain an implicit negation and convey in their meaning the aberration from, respectively the negation of the formerly designed/basically imagined action. This leads to a change of the grammatical case in the opposite direction compared to the planned situation, phenomena that could be called direction reversing.
The notion of direction reversing could motivate the case governments of verbs of implicit negation as jäädä johonkin (to remain ”into” somewhere), jättää johonkin (to leave something ”into” somewhere), kieltää jostakin (to forbid ”from” something), salata joltakulta (to hide something from somebody) etc.
Another interesting aspect of direction reversing when comparing Hungarian and Finnish examples is that while in Finnish both directions: lative®separative and separative®lative are possible, in Hungarian only the separative®lative way seems to be possible. As an illustration of this hypothesis take for example the following situation:  you want to get off the train, but you forget/can’t get off:
(5)    Jäin             junaan
Remain-PST.1SG    train-ILL
Lit.: I remained into the train
(6)    A     vonaton         maradtam         (not: rámaradtam a     vonatra)
The    train-SUPERESS        remain-PST.1SG     remain-PST. 1SG the    train-SUBL
Lit: I remained on the train (not: I remained into the train)
The aim of my presentation is to outline more accurately the phenomenon of direction reversing.

Szilágyi N Sándor 1996: Hogyan teremtsünk világot. Rávezetés a nyelvi világ vizsgálatára. (”Miten luodaan maailmaa. Johtolanka kielellisen maailman tarkastelemiseen”). Erdélyi Tankönyvtanács. Kolozsvár