Necessive Expressions in Finnic Bible Translations

  • Aet Lees


A corpus study has been carried out concerning necessive expressions in the Finnic languages Estonian, Finnish, Karelian (Olonets), Livonian and Veps, using the Gospel of St. Matthew in the New Testament in these five languages. The aim of the study is to compare the necessive expressions and their frequency in the various languages synchronically and diachronically. Although Livonian is now virtually a dead language, the New Testament (1942) has been used. In the modern section of the corpus Estonian and Karelian use mainly the verbs pidama and piteä respectively. In Finnish the construction ‘on -(t)tAvA’ is slightly more frequent than pitää. Veps has tarbiž almost exclusively and Livonian uses a possessive construction with the partitive case of the fourth infinitive ‘on V-mõst’. Diachronic studies show an excessive use of pidama/pitää in the older Estonian (southern and northern dialects) and Finnish texts, attributed mainly to German influence. Older translations of the Gospel of St. Matthew in Karelian and Livonian contain some necessive constructions, which are no longer found in the most recent translations.


Early Text Illative Case Bible Text Nominative Subject Genitive Case 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



I am very grateful to Maria Vilkuna for her review of my paper and the correction of errors concerning Finnish. Any remaining errors are of course my own. My thanks are also due to Jane Simpson, who looked at my paper from a non-Finnic perspective and made helpful suggestions concerning some sections which were not easy to follow. Jussi Ylikoski was of great help in finding the transliteration of the 1820 Karelian Gospel of St. Matthew, and I really appreciate that. I am also grateful to Toomas Pill for help with the original Greek text and to Baiba Liepins, who helped me to understand the Latvian construction.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of LinguisticsUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia

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