Lexical categories and constructions with the verb saama (‘to get’) in written Estonian


The paper gives a panchronic overview of the central lexical uses and constructions related to the polysemous Estonian verb saama ‘to get’, from its first records in the written language until the present day. The paper concentrates on the main semantic categories that saama expresses in its lexical usage. The potential development paths of the central lexical meanings of saama and their interrelatedness have been outlined.

The conclusion is that based on documented written Estonian, the SUCCEED meaning has always been part of the semantic field of the verb saama, being present in the central grammatical functions of POSSIBILITY, NECESSITY, and FUTURE, the latter of which will be discussed in more detail in our next study. SUCCEED is also a co-meaning present in the POSSESS and BECOME meanings, which can be seen as the central lexical uses of saama in the present day language. Although the available sources of written Estonian do not contain the original meaning of saama, MOTION/COME, anymore, traces of it can be detected in OBTAIN. Since the meaning of CHANGE is somewhat more complicated than that of OBTAIN and since the constructions differ partly, it can be assumed that the meaning of CHANGE has developed from that of OBTAIN. The meaning CHANGE of saama in modern Estonian manifests in two main constructions, the translative and elative change constructions.