Andres Tennus

Doctoral defence: Rodolfo Basile "Invenitive-Locational Constructions in Finnish: A Mixed Methods Approach"

On 24 May, at 14:15 Rodolfo Basile will defend his doctoral thesis "Invenitive-Locational Constructions in Finnish: A Mixed Methods Approach” for obtaining the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Finnic languages).

Professor Liina Lindström (University of Tartu)
Professor Tuomas Huumo (University of Turku and University of Tartu)
Associate Professor Ilmari Ivaska (University of Turku)

PhD Seppo Kittilä (University of Helsinki)

In different languages there are different ways of expressing how things are located in space. These different grammatical strategies depend on, for example, whether we are talking about stones, trees, animals, or people, on whether they are located in a concrete or an abstract place, but also on whether the thing being located is standing or lying down, or is simply existing in that space. We can also express whether we know something more about the thing being located or the location itself. For example, in English it is possible to say the bear is in the forest. This sentence can be used when we already know something about the bear, but not much about the place where it is located. Hence, this sentence provides information about the place and is called a locative construction. We can also say there is a bear in the forest. This sentence is used to specify what the forest contains: a bear. The bear is here indefinite, while the forest is a certain forest. This sentence type is called an existential construction. Both in locative and existential constructions it is possible to use different verbs to specify the spatial relation between the bear and the forest. For example, we can say that bears are found in the forest, without necessarily implying that someone be looking for said bears. In my article-based doctoral dissertation I investigate such ‘find’-based constructions in European languages, and I call them invenitive constructions. I focus on the corresponding Finnish verb löytyä ‘to be found’, which I analyze using mixed methods. This means that I look at the same problem from different perspectives, using both the classic methods of the field and statistical analyses. The purposes of the dissertation are to explain how often and broadly this Finnish verb is used, whether it has the same properties as other verbs, and whether it can be found in the other languages of Europe. As an answer, I found that the picture is more complex than it seems in European languages, and that in Finnish invenitive constructions are used very broadly and with different functions. This work opens new doors on the ongoing research on linguistic typology and language variation.

The defence can be followed in Zoom: (Meeting ID: 929 6816 8147, Passcode: 159874).


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