ELTE BTK Magyar Nyelvtudományi és Finnugor Intézet

Valdmets, Annika (Tartu)

nyomtatható változat

From an adverb to a modal particle – the development in Estonian

The study shows the grammaticalization of some of the Estonian adverbs (e.g. tegelikult ‘actually, in fact’, loomulikult ‘certainly, naturally’, vabalt ‘frankly, openly’, absoluutselt ‘absolutely’) into modal particles, based on written sources from the 1890s through 2000s. These words once had a syntactic role and carried a concrete meaning but now provide a modal assessment to a sentence or a phrase as a whole.

Modal particles could hold many different functions (see Brinton 1996; Simon-Vandenbergen, Aijmer 2007) and have a tendency to grammaticalize (see e.g. Hopper, Traugott 2003; Heine, Narrog 2010; Traugott, Dasher 2002), displaying generalization in meaning content, occurrence in new contexts, and loss of phonetic substance. The current study argues that regardless of the general unity of the process, the evolution of every single word can be quite diverse.

The data come mainly from the Corpus of Estonian Literary Language and from the Balanced Corpus of Estonian with some additional examples from current colloquial usage. A separate section is dedicated to each modal particle. First, the qualitative differences between adverbial and particle usage are shown in concrete examples. Secondly, the quantitative analysis is presented, showing the relative shares of percentage and numbers of the two types of usage per decade. Also frequency at which each word appears in the corpus as a function of studied decade is shown. In order to avoid very small numbers, frequency per 100,000 words is used. The resulting graphs illustrate the close relationship between frequency of occurrence and the modal function of the word.

The actual language of the intended paper is English.

Brinton, L. J. 1996. Pragmatic Markers in English: Grammaticalization and Discourse Functions. Berlin–New York (Topics in English Linguistics 19).
Heine, B., H. Narrog 2010. Grammaticalization and Linguistic Analysis. – The Oxford Handbook of Linguistic Analysis. New York (Oxford Handbooks in Linguistics), 401–423.
Hopper, P. J., E. Traugott 2003. Grammaticalization. Second edition. Cambridge (Cambridge Textbooks in Linguistics).
Simon-Vandenbergen, A.-M., K. Aijmer 2007. The Semantic Field of Modal Certainty. A Corpus-Based Study of English Adverbs. Berlin–New York (Topics in English Linguistics 56).
Traugott, E., R. B. Dasher 2002. Regularity in Semantic Change. Cambridge (Cambridge Studies in Linguistics).