ELTE BTK Magyar Nyelvtudományi és Finnugor Intézet

Karjus, Andres (Tartu)

nyomtatható változat

Grammaticalization in Estonian and Latvian.
From Nouns into Adverbs of Place and Beyond.


Estonian and Latvian are two geographically closely located, yet genetically unrelated languages in the Baltic Sea region – the former being Finno-Ugric, the latter belonging to the Baltic branch of the Indo-European family. Partially similar grammaticalization has taken place in these languages, involving nouns denoting the etymon ‘field’. The topic is approached using semantic maps as a means of cross-linguistic comparison, following the examples of Martin Haspelmath and Alexandre François.

The aim of the study was to explore the processes whereby the inflected case forms of the lexemes for ‘field’ (väli in Estonian, lauks in Latvian) have given rise to adverbs of place (in both languages), and additionally, aspect markers in Estonian through further decategorialization. These aspectual functions are still limited to certain contexts though. The Latvian adverb laukā ‘outside, outwards’ does display perfective-like functions in certain specific constructions too, but its further development in that direction is presumably averted by an already existent system of versatile aspect prefixes.

The semantic functions necessary for the comparison on subsequent semantic maps were derived from the voluminous explanatory dictionaries of both languages, while data from etymological studies were incorporated in order to reconstruct the possible paths of grammaticalization. The reasons behind the development of these grammaticalization paths in the two languages will be discussed, taking into account the possibilities of borrowing and analogy (including the Latvian ārs ‘field’ > ārā ‘out’); the influence of the historically superstrate German on the aspectual constructions, and the similarity of some grammaticalized constructions in nearby Slavic languages. The latter are to be presented on a final unified semantic map, in conjunction with a few additional, illustrating examples from other languages.

The results of this study are still to be taken as working hypotheses, as these grammaticalization paths certainly require further investigation. In order to generate a semantic map that would hold true as a display of universalities, a much larger language sample would be required. Therefore, this case study was conducted as a pilot survey for a typological research that is set to encompass the grammaticalization of space across languages of the Baltic Sea region.

The talk will be given in English.