Questions about Finnish / Kysymyksiä suomen kielestä

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Re: Questions about Finnish / Kysymyksiä suomen kielestä

Postby linguoboy » 2020-07-16, 15:25

Linguaphile wrote:
linguoboy wrote:I've pushed through to the end of the tree

Entä nyt? Tee puu uudelleen! Se oli hauskaa!

It took me a while to figure out what that lesson was about. I'm glad someone commented to explain what "tree" they were talking about because at first I thought this was more bizarre Duolingo whimsy. I sent my study partner screencaps of the phrase "It is over now. Are you okay?" with the comment "I think Duolingo is breaking up with me".

But now I'm actually going to use this thread for its intended purpose and ask a substantive question, since I know my friend is going to quiz me and I don't have a good answer: When is a predicate adjective in the partitive? Whitney includes this usage in his exhaustive list, of course: "(vii) 'Made of', 'partaking of the quality of': Ovi on tammea--The door is of oak. Pullo on keltaista lasia--The bottle is of yellow glass. Se on selvää--That is clear. Täällä on kaunista--It is beautiful here." Okay, but "partaking of the quality of" could apply to virtually any adjective. That's what they do--link qualities to objects. Why is it kaunista here but kaunis in a sentence like Kaupunki on kaunis? Does it have something to do with identifiability, i.e. a specific definite theme as opposed to an abstract implicit one?
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Re: Questions about Finnish / Kysymyksiä suomen kielestä

Postby Linguaphile » 2020-07-16, 15:58

linguoboy wrote:When is a predicate adjective in the partitive? Whitney includes this usage in his exhaustive list, of course: "(vii) 'Made of', 'partaking of the quality of': Ovi on tammea--The door is of oak. Pullo on keltaista lasia--The bottle is of yellow glass. Se on selvää--That is clear. Täällä on kaunista--It is beautiful here." Okay, but "partaking of the quality of" could apply to virtually any adjective. That's what they do--link qualities to objects. Why is it kaunista here but kaunis in a sentence like Kaupunki on kaunis? Does it have something to do with identifiability, i.e. a specific definite theme as opposed to an abstract implicit one?


Naava gave a good post on this topic here about a year ago.

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Re: Questions about Finnish / Kysymyksiä suomen kielestä

Postby linguoboy » 2020-07-16, 18:04

Linguaphile wrote:
Naava gave a good post on this topic here about a year ago.

Thanks! This is a great response. (Now to go back through the exercises and see how well it fits the examples.)
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Re: Questions about Finnish / Kysymyksiä suomen kielestä

Postby linguoboy » 2020-07-21, 14:56

aikoa + -n > aion
poika + -n > pojan

Is there an underlying principle at work here?
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Re: Questions about Finnish / Kysymyksiä suomen kielestä

Postby Linguaphile » 2020-07-21, 15:57

linguoboy wrote:aikoa + -n > aion
poika + -n > pojan

Is there an underlying principle at work here?

Consonant gradation.
Strong k is one of the letters that can undergo more than one type of gradation, including k:j (here, more specifically ik:j) and k:∅.

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Re: Questions about Finnish / Kysymyksiä suomen kielestä

Postby linguoboy » 2020-07-21, 16:02

Linguaphile wrote:
linguoboy wrote:aikoa + -n > aion
poika + -n > pojan

Is there an underlying principle at work here?

Consonant gradation.
Strong k is one of the letters that can undergo more than one type of gradation, including k:j (here, more specifically ik:j) and k:∅.

I understand consonant gradation. What I don't understand is why there are two different outcome when both words have the same underlying phonological shape: VikV. Why not both *ajon and pojan or aion and *poian? The genitive of aika, the etymon of aikoa, is ajan so is it just an orthographical differentiation between nouns and verbs?
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Re: Questions about Finnish / Kysymyksiä suomen kielestä

Postby Linguaphile » 2020-07-21, 16:18

linguoboy wrote:
Linguaphile wrote:
linguoboy wrote:aikoa + -n > aion
poika + -n > pojan

Is there an underlying principle at work here?

Consonant gradation.
Strong k is one of the letters that can undergo more than one type of gradation, including k:j (here, more specifically ik:j) and k:∅.

I understand consonant gradation. What I don't understand is why there are two different outcome when both words have the same underlying phonological shape: VikV. Why not both *ajon and pojan or aion and *poian? The genitive of aika, the etymon of aikoa, is ajan so is it just an orthographical differentiation between nouns and verbs?

It's a bit of an outlier in that the changes strong k undergoes include k:j, k:v and k:∅ (plus various others when consonant clusters get involved) and, while there are rules about when to use each, there are also some exceptions. The Vik:j change (aika>ajan and poika>pojan) is one of those exceptions that occurs in a limited number of words.

I believe that many of the exceptions (and even the rules) tend to have to do with historical forms. In other words, they are following rules based on old forms, but the logic to them can't be seen unless you also know the older forms of the words. I know that's the case with Estonian; I assume that's likely sometimes the case in Finnish also.

Here's a fun overview: The diabolical k

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Re: Questions about Finnish / Kysymyksiä suomen kielestä

Postby linguoboy » 2020-07-21, 17:09

Linguaphile wrote:It's a bit of an outlier in that the changes strong k undergoes include k:j, k:v and k:∅ (plus various others when consonant clusters get involved) and, while there are rules about when to use each, there are also some exceptions. The Vik:j change (aika>ajan and poika>pojan) is one of those exceptions that occurs in a limited number of words.

Is there actually a perceptual distinction between ajan and *aian? Or is the difference strictly orthographical?

Linguaphile wrote:I believe that many of the exceptions (and even the rules) tend to have to do with historical forms. In other words, they are following rules based on old forms, but the logic to them can't be seen unless you also know the older forms of the words. I know that's the case with Estonian; I assume that's likely sometimes the case in Finnish also.

Except aika and aikoa have exactly the same etymon, so you'd expect whatever changes apply to one to apply to the other.

A lot of the changes make sense to me if I assume the weak gradation of /k/ was *ɣ. This would've been fronted and absorbed by front vowels (e.g. *joɣen > *joʝen > joen) and rounded before high rounded vowels, yielding /v/. You see similar sound changes in Welsh, which shows historical lenition followed by variable outcomes of *ɣ, including vocalisation (e.g. Proto-Brythonic *ėrɣ "snow" > Middle Welsh eiry > Modern Welsh eira).
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Re: Questions about Finnish / Kysymyksiä suomen kielestä

Postby Linguaphile » 2020-07-21, 17:40

linguoboy wrote:
Linguaphile wrote:It's a bit of an outlier in that the changes strong k undergoes include k:j, k:v and k:∅ (plus various others when consonant clusters get involved) and, while there are rules about when to use each, there are also some exceptions. The Vik:j change (aika>ajan and poika>pojan) is one of those exceptions that occurs in a limited number of words.

Is there actually a perceptual distinction between ajan and *aian? Or is the difference strictly orthographical?
I believe so: /'ɑjɑn/ vs. /'ɑijan/. I can only say for sure that that's how it works in Estonian; most of my experience with Finnish is written, so I'll defer to someone else's expertise here. (Naava, are you around? ) Given the situation with dialects in Finnish, my guess is that it depends on the dialect, and at least those closer to Estonian would maintain the difference, but some speakers probably don't. :?: Again, I'm guessing there.

linguoboy wrote:
Linguaphile wrote:I believe that many of the exceptions (and even the rules) tend to have to do with historical forms. In other words, they are following rules based on old forms, but the logic to them can't be seen unless you also know the older forms of the words. I know that's the case with Estonian; I assume that's likely sometimes the case in Finnish also.

Except aika and aikoa have exactly the same etymon, so you'd expect whatever changes apply to one to apply to the other.
So you're going to really love this: a derivative of aikoa is aie, "intent."
Basically: it's Finnish. Don't expect whatever changes apply to one word to apply to another. :mrgreen:

linguoboy wrote:A lot of the changes make sense to me if I assume the weak gradation of /k/ was *ɣ.
Yes, it was.
In Estonian it has become k:g, k:j and k:∅.
In Votic, k itself has become tš in some situations, so the associated gradation is k:g, tš:j, tš:∅, tš:ď and tš:dž.
Last edited by Linguaphile on 2020-07-21, 22:52, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Questions about Finnish / Kysymyksiä suomen kielestä

Postby Naava » 2020-07-21, 21:31

Linguaphile wrote:(Naava, are you around? )

I am around! I'll read your posts more carefully later. We had a very belated birthday(s) party for me and my niece last weekend, and arranging that has kept me busy. I still have plans for tomorrow, but we'll see if I have the energy to come back to you in the evening! If not, I'll try again another day next week. :mrgreen:

I'll just quickly have a few words on what I can say so far:

linguoboy wrote: What I don't understand is why there are two different outcome when both words have the same underlying phonological shape: VikV. Why not both *ajon and pojan or aion and *poian? The genitive of aika, the etymon of aikoa, is ajan so is it just an orthographical differentiation between nouns and verbs?

Firstly, we're talking about Standard Finnish here. It's a (to some extent) artifical language created from a mix-and-match of several dialects and individual preferences of people who loved to argue about what the language should be like. I wouldn't be surprised if the reason for aion vs pojan was that someone long ago thought it looks better that way or that the people agreed on some detailed rules for when to use <i> and when <j>, but it could also be copied from a dialect I'm not familiar with*. I need to look it up and see if I can find an explanation!

However, I think it could also be that ajon would've been a homonym of the genitive of ajo ('driving', 'riding', 'chase') but there aren't homonyms for pojan.

* I think it's worth mentioning here that my dialect doesn't make a distinction between these:
(ajan) aika : aijan
(pojan) poika : poijan
(aion) aikoa : aijon
(aie) aije : aikehen

They're either pronounced as /ɑijɑn/, /ɑj:ɑn/ or maybe even /ɑij:ɑn/.


linguoboy wrote:This would've been fronted and absorbed by front vowels (e.g. *joɣen > *joʝen > joen)

I'm sure you're delighted to know that in my dialect, it's joki : jojen.

Linguaphile wrote:
linguoboy wrote:Is there actually a perceptual distinction between ajan and *aian? Or is the difference strictly orthographical?
I believe so: /'ajɑn/ vs. /'aijan/. I can only say for sure that that's how it works in Estonian; most of my experience with Finnish is written, so I'll defer to someone else's expertise here. (Naava, are you around? ) Given the situation with dialects in Finnish, my guess is that it depends on the dialect, and at least those closer to Estonian would maintain the difference, but some speakers probably don't. :?: Again, I'm guessing there

(Linguaphile, I'm not sure what's going on with your /a/ vs /ɑ/ there. :D)

Yes, they'd be pronounced differently, although aian feels awkward to say. I don't know how to explain what the difference is though! Maybe it's something like /'ɑˌiɑn/. :hmm:

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Re: Questions about Finnish / Kysymyksiä suomen kielestä

Postby Linguaphile » 2020-07-21, 22:30

Naava wrote:
Linguaphile wrote:(Naava, are you around? )

We had a very belated birthday(s) party for me and my niece last weekend, and arranging that has kept me busy.

:partyhat: :birthday: :partyhat: Paljon onnea syntymäpäivänäsi! :birthday: :partyhat: :partyhat:

Naava wrote:(Linguaphile, I'm not sure what's going on with your /a/ vs /ɑ/ there. :D)

:shock: I don't know either! The two ɑ's should be the same. I started out with /'ɑjɑn/ & /'ɑijɑn/, honest. :mrgreen: But I had at first used a different symbol for ' , over the ɑ (as Wikipedia does, for example, 'cause I'm not all that great with IPA and was looking for verification there), and cut-and-pasted it but it didn't come out looking right on this forum so I deleted that. When I typed in the ' and deleted the combining character, I guess I must have somehow replaced ɑ with a without realizing. Thanks for catching it. Some help I am!!
:silly:

Naava wrote:Yes, they'd be pronounced differently, although aian feels awkward to say. I don't know how to explain what the difference is though! Maybe it's something like /'ɑˌiɑn/. :hmm:

Google Translate does a reasonable job of pronouncing the difference for Estonian:
click here (hopefully it goes to the words I typed in and not just to Google Translate's main page) and then click on the speaker symbol in the lower part of the left box.
If I change it to Finnish, it pronounces both words the same, at least to my ears. I don't know how accurate it is, though. Naava, what do you think?

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Re: Questions about Finnish / Kysymyksiä suomen kielestä

Postby linguoboy » 2020-08-02, 3:05

So I completed the Finnish tree. The lack of proofreading made it somewhat frustrating. A few of the sentences were not just unidiomatic but downright ungrammatical (generally failures of verb agreement). I felt like I was smashing the "Report" option every time I took a test.

But probably the most frustrating thing of all is that Finnish and English differ substantially in how they express definiteness and verbal aspect and very little effort was made to teach or explain these differences. From reading the discussions, I could see English-speakers frequently struggling to understand why sometimes versions with either "a" and "the" were accepted and sometimes one or the other was marked wrong. Often, this was due to a failure to supply both variants, something which will presumably be fixed down the road, but there are cases where apparently only one or the other version accurately conveys the sense of the Finnish sentence (as Finnish-English bilinguals tried to explain). But as there's no real attempt to teach the underlying principles, learners are left to guess and get annoyed when they guess wrong.

It's similar with the verbs. In many of the sentences, it's ambiguous whether the verb is habitual or progressive, but only one English equivalent is accepted. Again, this is something which can presumably be fixed in most cases. But the existence of momentane verbs in Finnish--something which again is not explained in the Tips--means that sometimes a progressive reading isn't possible. For instance, I kept getting dinged for translating potkaisee as "is kicking" and would have thought this was more bad proofreading if some charitable soul hadn't come along and explained the difference between potkaista and potkia.

I understand that the Duolingo format severely restricts discussion of grammatical points, but even given these limitations, there are still ways to teach definiteness contrasts. (The lessons for East Asian languages manage this to a degree, for instance.) As for the verbs, I don't know if there are enough common verbs which lack aspect contrasts that one could simply use these and not open that can of worms. Failing that, I suppose the best solution would be adding supplemental aspectual clues (such as adverbs of time) which force one reading or another, but that seems pretty time-consuming and demands close proofreading from someone who's very comfortable with the nuances of both languages.

(The friend of mine on whose behalf I ran through the tree is already hitting a wall and she's only gotten to the first checkpoint. She uses the mobile app so she can't even see the Tips--which is mind-boggling failure of usability, to be honest.)
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