A Comparison of the Referential Properties of Third Person Pronouns in Finnish and Estonian

Elsi Kaiser, Katrin Hiietam
2004 Nordlyd: Tromsø University Working Papers on Language & Linguistics  
Abstract: This paper investigates the referential properties of third person anaphors in two closely related languages, Finnish and Estonian. Previous crosslinguistic research has shown that the most salient referents are referred to with the most reduced referring expressions. Moreover, factors such as (i) grammatical role, (ii) word order and (iii) the main/subordinate clause distinction have been claimed to be correlated with referent salience. In this paper, we focus on how these factors
more » ... ow these factors influence the referential properties of the different members of the third person anaphoric paradigms in Finnish and Estonian. We use corpus evidence and native speaker survey data to investigate the referential properties of the Estonian forms and to compare them to the patterns observed for the Finnish pronoun hän 's/he' and demonstrative tämä 'this' (see Kaiser, this volume; Kaiser 2000). Our preliminary results suggest that (i) the Estonian short pronoun ta 's/he' patterns like the Finnish pronoun hän 's/he', in that they both prefer to refer to subjects, and (ii) the Estonian demonstratives see/too 'this/that' resemble the Finnish demonstrative tämä 'this,' generally referring to non-subjects, postverbal NPs or subjects in subordinate clauses. Moreover, we find that the Estonian long pronominal form tema 's/he' differs from the Finnish demonstrative tämä, despite their historical connection: As suggested by Pajusalu (1997), in Estonian, tema is used to refer to entities that contrast with something, whereas in Finnish tämä is used for entities low in salience (Kaiser, this volume). The implications of our findings for 'accessibility hierarchy'-based approaches to reference resolution are also discussed.
doi:10.7557/12.31 fatcat:gkd5yesvabfspfx2752hoddcwi