Symposium B2: Finno-Ugric languages in the Circum-Baltic region

Organizers: Helle Metslang & Karl Pajusalu

Tuesday, August 23, Department of African Studies (Afrikanistik)

(Original symposium call)


Karl Pajusalu, Uldis Balodis, Helle Metslang, Miina Norvik & Eva Saar:

Southern Finnic languages in the Baltic context

Finnic and Baltic languages have been in contact for more than two thousand years (Lang 2018; Balode & Bušs 2007). The contact experienced by the southernmost Finnic varieties has been the most extensive. Livonian has been spoken in the Baltic language area since its divergence from Proto-Finnic. Leivu and Lutsi South Estonian have experienced contacts to different degrees. Leivu was spoken in northern Latvia where it had various connections with Latvian and other South Estonian dialects. The Lutsi dialect area apparently formed as a result of several waves of migration (Iva & Pajusalu 2004). Different contacts with Latvian dialects often have caused surprising changes in the structure of these Southern Finnic varieties. For example, in Livonian, the use of the internal local cases has become generalized, while in Leivu and Lutsi, the same has occurred with the external local cases. However, in both situations the result has been a simplification of the agglutinating local case system (Ernštreits & Kļava 2014). In our study, we will examine the typological shift of these Southern Finnic varieties using new Uralic typological databases. These databases contain information about almost 300 features on phonology, morphology, and syntax for Standard Estonian, Võro, and Livonian (Norvik et al., to appear). We will add information for Standard Latvian, Latgalian, Leivu, and Lutsi and compare it to existing data. Our initial results show that there are some significant differences between studied varieties and not all of these can be interpreted as direct effects of Baltic influence. The addition of data from these other varieties will further clarify the nature of contact between Baltic and Finnic languages and also may provide new information on the social history of these Finnic-speaking populations as well as show evidence for possible influence in the opposite direction.


Balode, Laimute; Bušs, Ojārs (2007) “On Latvian Toponyms of Finno-Ugrian Origin”. Onomastica Uralica. Borrowings of Place Names in the Uralic Languages. Ritva Liisa Pitkänen, Janne Saarikivi (eds.). Debrecen-Helsinki: Debreceni Egyetem Magyar Nyelvtudományu Intézete, 2007, 27–43.

Ernštreits, Valts; Kļava, Gunta (2014) “Grammatical changes caused by contact between Livonian and Latvian”. Journal of Estonian and Finno-Ugric Linguistics 5–1: 77–90.

Iva, Sulev; Karl Pajusalu (2004) “The Võro Language: Historical Development and Present Situation”. In Language Policy and Sociolinguistics I: “Regional Languages in the New Europe”. Rēzekne: Rēzeknes Augstskolas Izdevniecība, 2004, 58–63.

Lang, Valter (2018) Läänemeresoome tulemised. Tartu: University of Tartu Press.

Norvik, Miina; Metslang, Helle; Klumpp, Gerson; Pajusalu, Karl; Saar, Eva (to appear) “Eesti keel uutes uurali keelte tüpoloogilistes andmebaasides.” Emakeele Seltsi Aastaraamat.


M. M. Jocelyne Fernandez-Vest:

The triple periphery of Northern Sami revisited: Sápmelaš, 70 years of typological struggle between oral tradition, SAE and Finnic models

Northern Sami is the best described of the Samic languages at the phonological and morphological levels. Its typological evolution has partly been tackled in the light of a change of communicative paradigm, under the pressure of written style, media and the neighboring Indo-European languages. The analysis of field work corpora has shown that in traditional Sami information strategies shaped by orality were prominent: numerous Discourse Particles (DIPs), a paratactic subordination. Information strategies based on initial and final detachments were frequent – see Ohcejohka corpus 1984. In modern dialogues, thematic DIPs are supplanted by cleft constructions that introduce into Sami a new morphosyntactic analyticity (Fernandez-Vest 2015, 2017); final detachments [FD] are restricted to the mere repetition of the Q-theme:

– [Is that music an essential part?]
Galhan dat – hui stuorra – oassi – lea dat musihkka [FD].
‘Yes indeed it – a very big – part – is that music [FD].’ (Oulu corpus, Giellagas Instituhtta 2015)

On the other hand, a comparison extended to electronic social networks tends to blur again the analyticity / syntheticity opposition generally associated with spoken vs. written language (Miller & Weinert 2009, Haspelmath & Michaelis 2017). The short utterances of Facebook spontaneous conversations resort to numerous thematic DIPs that marginalize the Norwegian-inspired cleft constructions.

[Is Cinema ‘Činu’ in Sami ? – Maybe if you are an Oslo-Sami.]
– Doppe han eai máhte šat ‘č’ jiena dadjat.
There themat.DIP they-not can no longer ‘č’ sound pronounce.
‘There, as we know, they are not able any more to pronounce the ‘č’ sound (Facebook corpus 2017)

The discovery of a vast unexplored corpus, the Sami Journal Sápmelaš and its hundreds of issues (1934-2002), besides its interest for an interdisciplinary research, sheds a new light on the ecological evolution of this minority language (Mufwene 2001). Our discourse semantic investigation of a random selection of chronologically ordered articles, a project initiated in collaboration with previous editors of Sápmelaš, concentrates on the evolution of some specific markers of spoken registers after a common orthography was adopted for Northern Sami (1974): final detachments endangered by written style models, and impersonal expressions of implicitness, that implied a proximity of communication, gradually challenged by epistemic stances. This exceptional text resource turns out to be an essential complement to ethnolinguistic and cognitive studies of Information Structuring for answering this basic question: to what extent Northern Sami is like its Finnic neighbors brought closer to typical SAE languages ?


Chingduang Yurayong:

Typological maintenance and change in the Finnic and Saami demonstrative systems 

This paper discusses (dis)similarities among demonstrative systems across the Finnic dialect continuum with comparison to Saami languages where relevant. In the current study, such a shallow typological generalisation based on insufficient data of Finno-Ugric languages will be challenged by using the primary language data, which can reveal hidden information from the language-specific level.

Reconstruction of the Proto-Finnic system by Larjavaara (1986: 69–75) includes a tripartite system: 1) Proximal *tämä/nämä(t), 2) Medial *se/ne(t) and 3) Distal *too/noo(t) and *taa/naa(t). Taking this hypothetical system as starting point, several shared patterns can be identified among the modern Finnic languages. In this study, three typological features related to demonstratives are revisited: 1) Distance contrasts in demonstratives, 2) Relation between 3rd person pronouns and demonstratives and 3) Emergence of postposed demonstratives (WALS features 41A, 43A and 88A).

While most Finnic languages have maintained the tripartite system, it has been reduced to the one-way system in Livonian and North Estonian, in which the original medial demonstratives *se/ne have taken over the other spatial references (Pajusalu 2015). Compared to Finnic, Proto-Saami possesses a richer system with four distance contrasts, which can be enlarged up to six in modern Saami languages (Keresztes 2010).

The pattern of 3rd person pronouns is divided into two geographical areas. Firstly, the Southwestern Finnic languages use the proximal demonstratives *tämä/nämä as a 3rd person pronoun (Pajusalu 2015), which is typologically interesting as 3rd person pronouns more generally would have derived from either medial or distal demonstratives. Meanwhile, the Northeastern Finnic languages use other pronouns *hän/he, which are thought to be original Proto-Finnic 3rd person pronouns related to the Proto-Saami equivalents *son/soai/sii (SSA 1992: 208).

Against a head-final syntax of the Finno-Ugric languages, the medial demonstratives *se/ne also occur after a phrasal head (cf. Dryer 2013). Particularly the easternmost Finnic languages (Lude and Veps) can use the demonstratives *se/ne very productively as phrasal clitics in all clausal positions. Consequently, these medial demonstratives have acquired extended pragmatic uses as clause-second topic markers, mobile definite articles and focus particles, for instance. A similar phenomenon is not only observed in Finnic but also in the easternmost Saami languages, Kildin and Ter Saami, both cases of which are regarded as a shared contact-induced change with North Russian dialect where the use of postposed demonstratives is equally extensive.

The present study shows a concern in the typological studies regarding insufficiency of in-depth data from Finno-Ugric languages in the Circum-Baltic area. It emphasises that lesser investigated language varieties are significant input for advancing typological researches both on the macro- and micro-areal scale.


Natalia Kuznetsova:

Outstanding place of Finnic and Saami languages in the typology of alignment between ternary quantity and laryngeal features 

Phonological ternary quantity exists only in two dozens of world’s languages. In 4/5 of cases, ternary quantity has prosodic origins, as my cross-linguistic survey of ~20 varieties from Uralic, Indo-European, Eskimo-Aleut, Toto-Zoquean, Uto-Aztecan, Mixe, and Nilotic families showed. The survey also revealed a striking association between the ternary quantity and the activity of laryngeal features in the studied languages. Three patterns of alignment between overlength and laryngeal features were discovered. One of the three types is found almost exclusively in Finnic and Saami languages. In all studied families but one (Nilotic), ternary quantity is related to stress. Stress in these languages is associated with the contrastive patterns of distribution of quantity and, in some cases, of laryngeal features in the syllable or the foot. In languages with just two stress patterns, one pattern can be called “strong” (historically based on strengthening/lengthening) and the other one “weak”. Other languages have up to five-six contrastive stress patterns, some of which can be equally considered as “strong” and others as “weak”. Overlength is always associated with “strong” stress, while laryngeal features are associated with either “strong” or “weak” patterns.

1.“Enhancing” laryngeal features prosodically enhance the coda of a stressed syllable and are aligned together with (over)lengthening within the “strong” patterns. These are e.g. stød in Livonian (Viitso, 2007), an “additional subglottal pulse” in Saami (seen as the primary mechanism in the development of the whole “strong” pattern by Sammallahti, 2012). Estonian overlength might also manifest covert ballistic laryngeal activity, as some studies suggest (Lehiste, 1962; Liiv, 1961, 1962). Apart for one type of laryngeal features in Lowland Mixe, “enhancing” laryngeal features are found only in Finnic and Saami languages.

2.“Blocking” laryngeal features function as prosodic boundary markers which block stressed syllables from strengthening through (over)lengthening and become associated with the “weak” patterns. These cases are found in diverse genetic groupings (e.g. Scottish Gaelic, Nenets, Yupik, Mixe, German varieties), but not in Finnic or Saami.

3.Tonal West Nilotic languages (Dinka, Shilluk, Nuer) exhibit a voice quality/register contrast, “orthogonal” to both length and pitch. Most values of voice quality, length, and tone can co-occur (Andersen, 1992). Unlike in the stress languages, voice quality is a longer-term (syllable-length) larynx postural setting (Esling et al. 2019) rather than a single ballistic action of laryngeal constriction. Its origins are related to an [ATR] contrast rather than to any kind of strengthening/weakening.

An outstanding place of Finnic and Saami against other stress languages in this typology might be related to some specific articulatory properties, which have potentially triggered also other typologically rare prosodic features found in these languages.


Andersen, T. (1992). Morphological stratification in Dinka: On the alternations of voice quality, vowel length and tone in the morphology of transitive verbal roots in a monosyllabic language. Studies in African Linguistics, 23.

Esling, J. H., Moisik, S. R., Benner, A., & Crevier-Buchman, L. (2019). Voice quality: The laryngeal articulator model. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press.

Lehiste, I. (1962). Acoustic studies of boundary signals. In A. Sovijärvi & P. Aalto (Eds.), Proceedings of the Fourth International Congress of Phonetic Sciences: Held at the University of Helsinki 4-9 September 1961 (pp. 178–187). The Hague: Mouton & Co.

Liiv, G. (1961). On qualitative features of Estonian stressed monophthongs of three phonological degrees of length. Eesti NSV Teaduste Akadeemia Toimetised: Ühiskonnateaduste Seeria, 1–2, 41–66, 113–131.

Liiv, G. (1962). Acoustical features of Estonian vowels pronounced in isolation and in three phonological degrees of length. Eesti NSV Teaduste Akadeemia Toimetised: Ühiskonnateaduste Seeria, 1, 69–97.

Sammallahti, P. (2012). On subglottal pulses. In T. Hyytiäinen, L. Jalava, J. Saarikivi, & E. Sandman (Eds.), Per Urales ad Orientem. Iter polypronicum multilingue. Festskrift tillägnad Juha Janhunen på hans sextioårsdag den 12 februari 2012 (pp. 359–374). Suomalais-Ugrilainen Seura.

Viitso, T.-R. (2007). Livonian gradation: Types and genesis. Linguistica Uralica, XLIII, 45–62.


Katrin Hiietam:

Is the expletive subject an areal phenomenon of the Finnic and Saami languages in the Circum-Baltic region? 

This paper investgates whether expletive subjects can be said to be an areal feature of the Finnic and Saami languages in the Circum-Baltc region. In this talk, data from the larger Finnic languages, Finnish and Estonian are studied, and the existing accounts on Saami languages are referred to. Subject expletives are considered to be elements with no actual semantc content or referent, but with the required agreement features (cf. Asudeh and Toivonen 2009, Booth 2018), as illustrated in (1) and marked in bold font:

(1) a. It   is   raining         ENG

        3SG be.3SG rain.PRTC

      b. Nyt  (se)  taas    sataa       FIN

        now   (it)   again   rains

‘Now it’s raining again.’  (from Holmberg & Nikanne 2002, ex. 8)

       c. Det regnar. SWE

       3.SG.PRON rain.PRES.

‘It is raining.’

It has been well established that expletive subjects occur in non-Finno-Ugric languages in the Circum-Baltic area, such as Germanic, for example German (e.g. Haider 2019) and Swedish (e.g. Engdahl 2012), languages that have historically had an infuence on Estonian. Also, expletives have been attested in spoken Finnish (e.g. Holmberg and Nikanne 2002, Vilkuna 2010, 2011), and expletive uses of the 3SG personal pronoun have been described in the North-Eastern dialects of Estonian, that are structurally closest to Finnish (Tirkkonen 2006). Example (2) is from Tirkkonen (2006, example 86), glosses and translations are mine. This example shows a semantically empty pronoun in a clause initial positon in conjunction with a copula:

(2) a. see suvel õli vähäne einiäkasv
3SG.NOM this.NOM summer.ADE be.PAST.SG. poor hay growth.NOM
‘EXPL This summer (there) was poor hay growth’

Despite the evidence above, the standard language and other dialects of Finnish or Estonian stll seem to lack an established expletive subject element (Holmberg & Nikanne 2002, Vilkuna 2011, Hiietam 2021). Similarly, there are no attested descriptons of viable expletive subjects in Saami languages (cf. Sammallahti 1998, Nelson & Toivonen 2007). Therefore, based on the current research fndings, we could conclude that a dummy pronoun in the clause initial, or subject position is not a wide-spread syntactic phenomenon in the studied Finnic and Saami languages in the Circum-Baltic area. A non-referential animate or inanimate 3SG pronoun in a clause is present only marginally in spoken Finnish and Estonian, and might flll the function of a topic rather than a grammatical subject.


Ilmari Ivaska & Anne Tamm:

Big Data, Finnish and Estonian: the distribution of partitives in the corpus of the European Parliament translations 


This contribution compares the distributional differences in the use of the partitive case in Estonian and Finnish. Although it is a venerable topic (e.g., Metslang 1994, Huumo 2003, a.o.), it provides still puzzles across various branches of theoretical and applied linguistics. Lees 2015 addresses the partitive in five Finnic languages on the basis of their Bible translations, but large quantitative data on the distribution of contemporary Estonian and Finnish partitives in comparable texts are scarce. We discuss the current differences in modern written Finnish and Estonian as they emerge in the corpus of European Parliament translations.

Data and Methods

The data come from CoStEP corpus (Graën et al 2014), and they consist of 990 texts of European Parliament plenary proceedings translated from English into Estonian and Finnish. The texts stem from identical text sources and are translated by professional translators. The data have been parsed automatically according to the Universal Dependencies annotation scheme (Bohnet et al 2013), using the Turku neural parser (Kanerva et al 2018).


In the Estonian data, there are altogether 10,572 occurrences of words in partitive, and there are 12,914 occurrences in the Finnish data. There are thus more partitives in Finnish, because there are more partitive subject complements in Finnish, as in example (1).

(1) Tajani-n kommenti-t o-vat tärke-i-tä
Tajani-gen comment-pl be-pl3 important-pl-par
‘Tajani’s comments are important.’

Object complements, however, are more common in Estonian. Objects are the most common syntactic function for the partitives in both languages (59.4% in Estonian and 45.6% in Finnish). Objects are followed by existential subjects (6.1% in Estonian and 7.3% in Finnish) and subject complements (2.7% in Estonian and 8.5% in Finnish). The rest of the partitive occurrences are modifiers of objects, existential subjects and subject complements, and complements of numeral or adpositional phrases.


The corpus study of European Parliament translations has shown that the distribution of Modern written Estonian and Finnish partitives is clearly different. Partitive case is more common in Finnish, since it marks subject complements more frequently than in Estonian. Object complements are more common in Estonian.


Bohnet, B et al 2013 Joint Morphological and Syntactic Analysis for Richly Inflected Languages Graën, J et al 2014 Cleaning the Europarl corpus for linguistic applications

Huumo, T 2003 Aspectual object marking with verbs of perception and cognition

Kanerva, J et al 2018 Turku Neural Parser Pipeline

Lees, A 2015 Case Alternations in Five Finnic Languages

Metslang, H 1994 Temporal relations in the predicate and the grammatical system of Estonian and Finnish


Sándor Földvári:

The Finno-Ugric Origin of Locatives in the Old Lithuanian as a Result of the Areal Contacts: A Morphosyntactic Isogloss

There were three cases expressing the locus (place) in Old and Middle Lithuanian; the Illativus, Allativus and Adessivus. (Senn, 1966: 437-40, §§ 980-95.) According to the most of Lithuanian linguists, these variations of the contemporary only Locativus (Senn, 1966: 434-36, §§ 973-79) were evolved in a result of impacts by the neighboring Finno-Ugric languages. (Ambrazas, 1990). While the Modus Obliquus, the narrative verb mode evolved in the Finno-Ugric (mainly is Estonian, also Setu-Est. and partly in Livonian) under Indo-European impact (Földvári, 2005) – the noun-system demonstrates the Finno-Ugric impact on the Baltic IEu languages. The areal contacts of the Circum-Baltic languages were and have been subject of investigations in the field of phonology and social linguistics. However, the morphology and the syntax can demonstrate the classical definition of the Language Areal given by Skalička: “two or more languages may build an areal ‘Sprachbund’, if the same meaning is expressed by similar tools” (Skalička, 1937, cf. 1979). Therefore, these reciprocal impacts maintain the theory of the convergence of Circum-Baltic languages toward a Sprachbund. To be more precise, we deal here with those languages are considered by Décsy, 1973 as parts of the Peipus-bund. The author has been doing researches on base of folk-tale texts, mainly in Lithuanian, with comparison of some Latvian texts and the published corpus of the Setu Peko. The author – as a person of the classical school of areal linguistics – is of the opinion the Baltic Language Areal can be definitely regarded as a Sprachbund, even more if we are not strictly bond to the Donau-Sprachbund or the Balkan-bund as “perfect” examples, but we can accept the various realization of the areal contacts, too. Although some authors are of the opinion that these phenomena are not isoglosses but results of parallel development and/or grammaticalization. This paper gives contributions from the point of view of a Lithuanist to the view-points of Finno-Ugric scholars of the panel.

Ambrazas, Vytautas 1990: Baltų kalbų dalyvių lyginamoji sintaksė. Vilnius

Décsy, Gyula 1973: Die linguistische Struktur Europas. Wiesbaden.

Földvári, Sándor 2000: “The »Modus Obliquus« In The Baltic Language Union: A Review of The Literature on The Field” in: Vakarų baltų kalbos ir kultūros reliktai III, Klaipeda, 10-13.

Földvári, Sándor 2005: “Modus Obliquus -- areális nyelvészet és alapnyelvi rekontsrukció“ in: Észt-magyar összevetés, 4. Szombathely, 52-70.

Morkūnas, K. 1964: “Iš rytų aukštaičių tarmių daugiškaitos inesyvo formų istorijos” in Lietuviu ̨ kalbos morfologiné sandara ir jos raida, Vilnius, 145‐152.

Senn, Alfred 1966: Handbuch der Litauischen Sprache, Band I. Grammatik, Heidelberg.

Skalička, Vladimír 1937: “Bemerkungen zur Kongruenz” in Sbornik Matice slovenskej, 15, 35-38.

Skalička, Vladimír 1979: Typologische Studien. Braunschweig - Wiesbaden.


Milda Dailidėnaitė:

Livonian commands in Estonian and Baltic context

It is well known that Baltic and Finnic (especially South Finnic) languages have been in contact for a long time and share quite a few loanwords and other features. They are frequently described in the context of a larger linguistic areal group often refered to as the Circum-Baltic languages. The term refers to the languages spoken around the Baltic sea (Dahl & Koptjevskaja-Tamm 2001: XVIII-XIX). An overview of the area and commonalities within the area can be found in Koptjevskaja-Tamm & Wälchli (2001). South Finnic and Baltic languages also share many specificities that are not found in the surrounding languages.

A lot of the commonalities between Baltic and South Finnic languages are predication related. The most nutorious common feature which is not found in the surrounding languages is using infinite predication to mark evidentiality (for more see Wälchli 2000). A lot of commonalities can also be observed in constructions dedicated to convey commands, some of which have been briefly discussed in an article by Klaas-Lang & Norvik (2014).

The most obvious commonality is the fact that all languages developed hortative particles of the same origin. It is also curious that the hortative particle did not inherit the rection of the verbs they were derived from. Unlike in English hortative construction let us go! where the subject of the command inherited the object marking and is marked with accusative, in the Baltic and South Finnic languages hortative construction subjects are marked using the standard subject marking, which can be observed in the following Estonian example:

las ta läheb!
let.hort 3sg.nom go.3sg

'Let him go!'

Livonian has two dedicated command conveying forms: the imperative for direct commands and the jussive for indirect commands. The talk will provide an overview of the pecularities of the Livonian command conveying constructions. I will also provide the results of the analysis of the Livonian imperative and jussive usage based on the Livonian corpus. In the end I will put it in the context of Baltic languages and Estonian.


Dahl, Östen, Koptjevskaja-Tamm, Maria 2001. The Circum-Baltic Languages.  Typology and Contact. Volume 2. Grammar and Typology. Ed. Dahl, Östen, Koptjevskaja-Tamm M. John Benjamins Publishing Company: XV-XX.

Klaas-Lang, Birute, Norvik Miina 2014. Balti areaali tüpoloogilisi sarnasusi morfosüntaksi valdkonnas. Keel ja Kirjandus 8-9: 590−608. Tallinn: Eesti teaduste akadeemia.

Koptjevskaja-Tamm, Maria, Wälchli, Bernhard 2001. The Circum-Baltic Languages: An areal-typological approach. The Circum-Baltic Languages. Typology and Contact. Volume 2. Grammar and Typology. Ed. Dahl, Östen, Koptjevskaja-Tamm M. John Benjamins Publishing Company: 615-750.

Wälchli, Bernhard 2000. Infinite predication as a marker of evidentiality and modality in the languages of the Baltic region. — Sprachtypologie und Universalienforschung 53, 186—210.


Emīlija Mežale:

Article-like usage of demonstrative pronouns: a case of Finnish and Latvian

In both Finnish and Latvian, demonstrative pronouns (DP) are sometimes used in an article-like function (Hakulinen et al. 2004, §569; Nītiņa 2013, 440–441).

It has mostly been viewed as a colloquial feature, though there have been claims that DP can already be viewed as an article in Finnish (Laury 1997, 250), or is on its way to becoming one (Chesterman 1991, 153).

Article-like usage of DPs derives from their adjectival usage. As can be seen from the examples gathered from Latvian and Finnish Internet media, the adjectival usage of DPs can be divided into following subtypes (Mežale To appear):

  • adj. usage with a particular reference;
  • adj. usage without particular reference: article-like usage;
  • adj. usage without particular reference: usage as emotional marker.

Even though in article languages definite article is used also to refer to previous mention (Bhat 2004, 203–204), in Finnish and in Latvian such usage should be viewed as the basic adj. function of DP, rather than an emerging article (see also Larjavaara 2001)):

(1) Se päivä oli toiveiden täyttymys.
That-NOM day-NOM was-3SG hopes-GEN fulfillment-NOM
‘That day was a fulfilment of hopes.’ (

Rather, DP can be viewed as article in cases where its basic function is lost, i.e., it does not point to any previously mentioned referents (Hakulinen et al. 2004, §569, §1413; Nītiņa 2013, 429). However, it does indicate that there is a common knowledge base shared by both the addresser and the addressee (Lyons 1999, 2–3):

(2) Tänään on se kouluun ilmoittautuminen ...
Today is-3SG that-NOM school-ILL registration-NOM
‘Today is the registration for school ...’ (

In cases where DP works as an emotional marker, it appears together with emotionally expressive vocabulary in Latvian and particles in Finnish, and is often used in clusters (Mežale To appear). These indications can be used to separate DP as an emotional marker from the article-like DP:

(3) ... onhan tämä nykymaailma aika kaoottinen.
is-3SG this-NOM modern-world-NOM quite chaotic
‘... this modern world is quite chaotic after all.’ (

It can be concluded that there are no articles in Finnish, nor in Latvian grammatical system, and that article-like usage of DP can be viewed as a colloquial feature. Moreover, the usage of DP can be divided into similar categories in both languages.


Bhat, D. N. S. (2004). Pronouns. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Chesterman, A. (1991). On Definiteness: A Study with Special Reference to English and Finnish. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Hakulinen, A. et al. (2004). Ison suomen kieliopin verkkoversio, [online]. Helsinki: Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seura. Available at [Accessed 23.04.2018].

Larjavaara, M. (2001). Määräinan artikkeli – suomessa? Kielikello, [online], 4/2001. Available at [Accesed 24.09.2018].

Laury, R. (1997). Demonstratives in Interaction: The Emergence of a Definite Article in Finnish. Amsterdam, Philadeplhia: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

Lyons, C. (1999). Definiteness. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Mežale, E. (To appear). Norādāmo vietniekvārdu lietojums latviešu un somu presē. In: A. Kalnača, I. Lokmane, eds., Valoda: nozīme un forma. 10. Latvijas gramatiskā doma gadsimta gaitā. Rīga: LU Akadēmiskais apgāds.

Nītiņa, D. (2013). Vietniekvārds (pronomens). In: D. Nītiņa, J. Grigorjevs, eds., Latviešu valodas gramatika. Rīga: LU Latviešu valodas institūts, 428–455.


Tiit Hennoste, Külli Habicht & Külli Prillop:

Expression of probability and attitudes in different registers and genres: the case of Estonian compared to other languages 

The topic of our presentation is the use of particles which express varying degrees of probability and attitudes in different registers and genres. We concentrate on five Estonian particles (vist ‘probably’, ilmselt ‘evidently’, tegelikult ‘really, in fact’, õnneks ‘fortunately’ and kahjuks ‘unfortunately’) and compare our results to the results obtained from the other languages.

We have two research questions: 1) are there any systematic relationships between the frequency of those particles in different registers and genres, 2) which contextual features define the difference of the frequency of particles (on registers see Biber & Conrad 2009).

Our approach is usage-based and corpus-driven. We combine a cluster analysis with qualitative pragmatic analysis. Our data come from the Estonian Language Corpora ( of written, spoken, and computer-mediated texts and conversations. Registers and genres analyzed are: print media (news, interviews and editorials); official documents; instruction texts (cooking instructions, instructions for use of medicines, etc.); academic prose; narrative fiction; everyday and institutional conversation, and computer-mediated communication (instant messaging, comments and chat room texts).

Our study belongs to the broader topic of the expression of subjectivity and intersubjectivity in language. We define subjectivity as the expression of the speaker/writer himself/herself and his/her own attitudes and beliefs. Intersubjectivity we regard as the involvement of the hearer/reader, which manifests itself in the speaker’s attention toward the addressee (Narrog 2017; Traugott 2010). There are only few studies of subjectivity/intersubjectivity which include a register-based dimension and those studies concentrate on few registers and genres only (e.g. Baumgarten, Du Bois & House 2012). Therefore, our study fills a large gap in the research of subjectivity/intersubjectivity.


Baumgarten, N., Du Bois, I., & House, J. (Eds.). (2012). Subjectivity in Language and Discourse. Brill.
Biber, D., & Conrad, S. (2009). Register, Genre, and Style. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Narrog, H. (2017). Three types of subjectivity, three types of intersubjectivity, their dynamicization and a synthesis. In D. Van Olmen, H. Cuyckens, & L. Ghesquière (Eds.), Aspects of Grammaticalization: (Inter)subjectification and directionality. (pp. 19–46). Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter Mouton.
Traugott, E. C. (2010). (Inter)subjectivity and (inter)subjectification: A reassessment. In K. Davidse, L. Vandelanotte, & H. Cuyckens (Eds.), Subjectification, Intersubjectification and Grammaticalization. (Topics in English Linguistics 66.) (pp. 29–74). De Gruyter Mouton.