ELTE BTK Magyar Nyelvtudományi és Finnugor Intézet

Norvik, Miina (Tartu)

nyomtatható változat

Future Time Reference in Baltic-Finnic Languages on the Example of Salaca Livonian

It is generally accepted that Baltic-Finnic languages constitute a part of the "futureless" area of Northern Europe as future time reference is often left ungrammaticalized or only partly grammaticalized (Dahl  2000). However, previous research in this field has mostly relied on the biggest Baltic-Finnic languages – Finnish and Estonian – and often neglected the smaller ones (for example Livonian, Votic), which is why they deserve a closer examination.
Although most Baltic-Finnic languages lack an inflectional future, they all seem to have at least one partly grammaticalized periphrastic construction used for future time reference (Metslang 1996). However, for the reason that most studies of Baltic-Finnic languages have preceded from traditional levels of language description, periphrastic constructions are often overlooked as they remain between the levels of morphology and syntax, at the same time they may form a relatively unstable group for being only partly grammaticalized. Therefore there is a need to describe and examine the devices found in these languages more thoroughly.
As it has been noted by many researchers (for example Lyons 1977), future time reference is rarely, if ever, connected with time; rather, futurity often intertwines with modality and aspect. This is borne in mind also when studying more precisely Baltic-Finnic languages, including Salaca Livonian. Another important aspect to take into account is the possible foreign influence, for example most of these languages have had a long contact with Russian language, some also with English and German, Salaca Livonian also with Latvian language.
The aim of the conference presentation is to concentrate on future time reference in Salaca Livonian – in a language that is closest to Courland Livonian and that was last spoken in the Northern part of Latvia about 150 years ago. The material used in the study consists of sentences, proverbs and Bible translations collected by A. J. Sjögren in 1846 (published in 1961). The preliminary results seem to indicate that Salaca Livonian has a relatively well grammaticalized future marker, but the question is, however, if its primary function is to express the time. The other objectives are to examine the devices available in Salaca Livonian in the context of future time marking of other Baltic-Finnic languages and also to show how the modal, aspectual and tense meanings intertwine when dealing with future time reference in all of these languages.

Dahl, Östen 2000. Verbs of becoming as future copulas. − Tense and Aspect in the Languages of Europe. Ed. Östen Dahl. Berlin and New York: Mounton de Gruyter, pp. 351−364.
Lyons, John 1977. Semantics, vol. 2. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 
Metslang, Helle 1996. The Development of the Futures in the Finno-Ugric Languages. – Estonian: Typological Studies I. Ed. Mati Erelt. Tartu Ülikooli eesti keele õppetooli toimetised 4. Tartu: Tartu Ülikooli Kirjastus, pp. 123−144.
Sjögren, Anders Johan 1961. Joh. Andreas Sjögren’s Livische Grammatik nebst Sprachproben / im Auftrage der Kaiserlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften  bearbeitet und mit einer historisch-ethnographischen Einleitung versehen von Ferdinand Joh. Wiedemann. – Joh. Andreas Sjögren’s Gesammelte Schriften. Bd. II. Th. I. St. Petersburg: Kaiserliche Akademie der Wissenschaften.