ELTE BTK Magyar Nyelvtudományi és Finnugor Intézet

Västi, Katja (Oulu)

nyomtatható változat

Construing Schematic Constructions

In my presentation, different aspects that interact with construal of schematic clause level constructions are discussed. These aspects include lexical semantics, pragmatics, and world knowledge. The data consist of the Finnish verbless ablative-initial (cf. 1) and allative-initial (cf. 2) constructions that are functionally comparable to finite clauses but cannot be described as elliptic structures. The schematicity of the constructions is associated with their lack of a verb: usually, verbs largely specify the event types that are referred to by clausal constructions. The data are collected from newspaper headlines as these constructions seem to be restricted to written language and specifically to headlines.

(1)    Opiskelijo-i-lta    monikulttuurinen    vaatemallisto
    student-pl-abl    multicultural        apparel.collection
    lit. ‘From students a multicultural apparel collection.’

(2)    Varka-i-lle    iso    saalis    ravirada-lta
    thief-pl-all    big    haul    trotting-track-abl
    lit. ‘To thieves a big haul from trotting-track.’

These constructions are necessarily ambiguous, since they do not have a verb specifying the event type they denote. However, there is systematicity in the way they are interpreted: based on both an intuitive analysis and two extensive paraphrase tests, I have identified four semantic subtypes for the ablative-initial construction (Västi in prep.) and eight semantic subtypes for the allative-initial construction (Västi to appear). The subtypes indicate the most common construals of particular instances of these constructions. This systematicity in interpretation of the ambiguous constructions in question needs to be explained in semantico-pragmatic terms as the constructions are formally uniform, consisting minimally of two arguments: an element in the ablative or allative case and an element in the nominative or partitive case. Thus I address to what kind of lexical semantic, contextual, and encyclopedic information correlate with the subtypes of the constructions under investigation.


Västi, Katja (to appear): “A case in search of an independent life: Semantics of the initial allative in a Finnish verbless construction”. In Seppo Kittilä, Katja Västi & Jussi Ylikoski (eds.), Case, Animacy and Semantic Roles. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Västi, Katja (in prep.): “Alkuasemaisen ablatiivin semantiikkaa suomen kielen predikaatittomassa konstruktiossa” [Semantics of the initial ablative in a Finnish verbless construction].

The presentation will be in Finnish.