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Change versus force in the Finnish case system

Abstract

In the recent linguistic literature, an increasing attention has been devoted to the role of force dynamics in natural language. The present paper argues that the concept of force plays an important role in the Finnish case system. Translative case in this language is conventionally associated with change of state and the illative and allative cases, with change of location. Unexpectedly under such an approach, these forms are sometimes acceptable (and even required) in sentences that do not entail a change and superficially seem to be stative. This paper argues that translative, illative and allative are licensed by predicates that entail force exertion. While in many instances, force exertion results in a change, this is not an obligatory configuration, which explains the distribution of the cases under discussion.

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Acknowledgements

I am very grateful to Edit Doron (RIP), Bridget Copley, Malka Rappaport-Hovav and Tova Rapoport for fruitful discussions of the topic. My thanks also go to the audiences of BLINC 2 and IATL 33 for useful and inspiring questions and comments. I would like to thank three anonymous reviewers for their important feedback. And, of course, I am grateful to my Finnish consultants for sharing their intuitions and answering numerous questions.

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Kagan, O. Change versus force in the Finnish case system. Linguist and Philos 44, 649–693 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10988-020-09298-4

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Keywords

  • Force dynamics
  • Semantics
  • Translative case
  • Allative case
  • Illative case
  • Finnish
  • Change of state
  • Change of location