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Complex interrogative-relative proadverbs in Estonian

Keywords: written language, conjuctives, interrogative-relative proadverbs, forced grammaticalization, Estonian

 

The article discusses the usage dynamics of complex interrogative-relative pro­adverbs (hereinafter relative adverbs) based on the corpora of 16th to 20th century written Estonian.

In a sentence, relative adverbs can function as interrogative markers, complement or relative clause subordinators and discourse particles. The grammaticalization cline of the studied elements from interrogative markers to headed relative clause subordinators (Heine, Kuteva 2006) and subsequently to discourse particles (Metslang et al. 2014) would be as follows: interrogative marker > also a complement clause subordinator > also a headed relative clause subordinator > also a relative clause referring to the whole sentence > also a coordinating conjunction > also a discourse particle. However, taking into account the influence of German in the history of Estonian language and the similarities between the studied elements and German relative adverbs based on structure and function, it is presumed that the studied words have found their way into Estonian through forced grammaticalization (Zwangsgrammatikalisierung following Nau 1995).

By analysing the development of these relative adverbs, it was expected to identify whether the studied words have been forcefully grammaticalized following the example of German, whether they have developed as a result of gradual grammaticalization or whether both trends have in some degree intertwined during the development of these adverbs. Another objective of the article was to explore and introduce the usage of relative adverb mispärast more closely to identify some of the factors that might have influenced its formation and more broadly the formation of other relative words.

Analysis of the usage of relative adverbs in the sources of written Estonian confirmed the hypothesis of forced grammaticalization. It also showed that this was coupled later on with the grammaticalization taking place inside the language. Amongst other factors that influenced the usage dynamics of relative adverbs were the genre of the text, and some sociocultural circumstances.

 

Elen Pärt (b. 1988), MA, University of Tartu, Institute of Estonian and General Linguistics, Research Group Member (Jakobi 2, 51005 Tartu), elen.p2rt@gmail.com

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