On peripheral causativity


Causation is generally defined through its valency-increasing property to bring an additional causer argument onto a basic clause, restricting the focus of research on the verbal predicates and the core sentence. This study argues for the inclusion of the forms belonging outside the core sentence to the scope of linguistic causation. The article discusses the subordinate structures or adjuncts that have a causative relationship to the matrix sentence within the conceptual semantics framework. A two-way causative relationship between the matrix sentence and the adjunct structure is proposed: (i) the adjunct structure causes the situation in the matrix sentence (the beacuse of relation), and (ii) the matrix sentence causes the adjunct’s situation (the lead to relation). The former type of causative subordinate structures is named the reason-adjuncts and the latter as the result-adjuncts.

The examination of causative adjuncts is based on the causative expressions in Estonian. The analysis reveals that causal and temporal relationships do not display a 1:1 relationships in the sense that the causing event always precedes the caused event chronologically. The Jackendovian (1990) causa-temporal types entrainment and launching are represented in the case of reason-adjuncts; in connection with purpose-adjuncts the hunch-causation proposed by Pörn (2004) occurs beside launching; the incremental causation or partial entrainment type, introduced in this paper, occurs in connection with result-adjuncts. The purpose-adjuncts show a particularly complicated causal-temporal configuration, a bidirectional causative relationship: the desired event (the temporally latter event) is the reason behind the activity denoted by the core verb and the activity denoted by the matrix sentence causes the intended event. The present study also points to the tendency that illative case is used in connection with intransitive verbs and comitative in connection with transitive verbs conveying causation in Estonian; elative is a „universal” causative case in the sense that it combines both with transitive and intransitive verbs.

The preliminary examination suggests that a comprehensive account of the subordinate structures is needed in order to explain the „causative content” of different types of adjuncts like e.g. causative, manner, instrumental, purpose, conditional and temporal adjuncts. Regarding the research of Estonian, an investigation of causative adjuncts would contribute to the elaboration of the semantico-syntactic behaviour of synthetic vs. analytic linguistic forms.