Strengthening gradation and restructuring of paradigms: analyses of inflectional relations in Finnish and Estonian
Consonant gradation occupies a pivotal role in the inflectional systems of Finnish and Estonian. The present article takes a Finnish perspective into those conditions and constraints of usage of strengthening gradation that exhibit significant differences between the two languages. It is especially the nominal and verb paradigms of Estonian that have undergone extensive restructuring. This state of affairs is due to the fact that, in Estonian, a lexeme cannot be subject to strengthening gradation, if its initial syllable is short, i.e., when its phonological quantity represents the so-called first degree. Due to this constraint this paradigm type has changed: qualitative alternation can have developed into quantitative (e.g. rukis : rukki, tõke : tõkke, cf. Fi. ruis : rukiin, toe : tokeen) or strengthening gradation has been replaced with weakening gradation (kude : koe, kaduta : kaon, cf. Fi. kude : kuteen, kadota : katoan). However, it has been more usual for strengthening gradation to become generalized and for the word to move into a simpler paradigm (side : side, lubada : luban). In the nominal paradigms, however, in order to avoid case syncretism, the end-result has been the emergence of relations that show clearer distinctions between the grammatical forms (kube : kubeme, säde : sädeme). The restructuring of the Estonian paradigms has also resulted in an inflectional type with no Finnish parallel (tõde : tõe) and in gradational types that do not exist in Finnish (osata : oskan, salata : salkan, cf. Fi. osata : osaan, salata : salaan). Because of the changes the mapping relations between the two languages have developed into a configuration in which a single inflectional type in Finnish may correspond to two or more Estonian types.
Keywordsmorphology, gradation, paradigm types, Finnish, Estonian