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Emakeele Seltsi aastaraamat
The Yearbook of the Estonian Mother Tongue Society
ISSN 2228-1215 (electronic)   ISSN 0206-3735 (print)

Emakeele Seltsi aastaraamat
The Yearbook of the Estonian Mother Tongue Society
ISSN 2228-1215 (electronic)   ISSN 0206-3735 (print)

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Vol. 60, Issue 1
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EESTI VÕTMA-TULEVIKU LUGU; pp. 19–50

(Full article in PDF format) doi:10.3176/esa60.02


Authors

Külli Habicht, Piret Piiroja, Ilona Tragel

Abstract

In this paper we use corpus data and a constructional approach to describe the grammaticalization of a hitherto little studied võtma ‘get’ + Vinf1 construction in Estonian. The availability of Estonian language corpora has made it possible to follow the changes in the use of the construction over time. The development and use of the construction has been influenced by natural grammaticalization on the one hand and a prescriptive approach to the literary language on the other. In the paper we describe how the construction consisting of the verb võtma ‘get’ and the first infinitive (da-infinitive), which was mainly used to express the beginning of a volitional activity in older vernacular, acquired a new grammatical function as a translation of the German future constructions. We describe the grammaticalization path of the construction, outline its main grammatical functions and analyze the origin of the construction (native or borrowed; natural or contact-induced grammaticalization) based on corpus data. Our data shows that in addition to its original use to express volitional physical activity, the construction developed grammatical functions of volitional ingressive aspect, agent-oriented modality and future. All grammatical functions of the construction were viewed as a continuum with the boundaries between the functions being indistinct. The presence of the construction in closely related languages, in the archaic language of runic songs and in dialects indicates its vernacular origin which may have facilitated its establishment in the written language. However, the prescriptive approach dominant since the mid-19th century considered all future constructions completely foreign to Estonian, which resulted in deliberate efforts to prevent the use of such constructions in the written language. Accordingly, the construction is no longer used to express future in modern Estonian, although it has retained its volitional ingressive meaning as well as the related meaning of ‘deigning’, which is associated with agent-oriented modality. The emergence and decline of the cross-linguistically rare get future in written Estonian enables us to observe how natural grammaticalization can progress in parallel with deliberate development of the written language and how the triumph of a prescriptive-purist approach along with avoidance of foreign constructions puts an end to the grammatical use of võtma ‘get’ in future constructions.

Keywords

morphosyntax, diachronic approach, future, verb get, written Estonian

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