Näkökulmia suomen kieltolauseen sanajärjestyksen määräytymiseen [Factors that influence word order in negative clauses in Finnish]

Auli Hakulinen


This article deals with several factors that infl uence the placement of the negative word (NEG) in declarative clauses. In Finnish, the negative word is predominantly, but not exclusively, an auxiliary verb; under certain circumstances it can be analysed as a particle as well. Since the negative verb diff ers from other verbs in many respects, its placement within a declarative clause is presumably also diff erent. What makes the issue interesting is that NEG initial word order seems to be dependent on other than linguistic or contextual factors. In his dialectal studies, Savijärvi has noted that the further east one goes, the less often NEG occurs initially in a clause; there is no sharp line of division from west to east, and the decrease is gradual. He has not focused on the context but counted isolated sentences. In this paper, I have made similar observations with proverbs that are fi xed, and idiomatic expressions of clausal length. The further east that proverbs are documented, the less often they begin with NEG. Another observation has to do with textual history: NEG initial clauses are more frequent in the early Bible translations than in the one from the 1960s. Texts from other genres show that, indeed, initial NEG became a spoken language phenomenon. As this seems to be an established fact, I have looked into present day conversational data to see what uses NEG initial turn may serve. The positions I studied were answers to questions and refutations of the prior speaker’s statement, and I contrasted these with equal responses but with NEG in the middle of the clause. I found reasonably clear semantic-pragmatic diff erences. If these diff erences are generalizable to any spoken Finnish – my data did not cover dialectal material – the curious fact remains that there are established diff erences in the dialectal data gathered from informants through interviews that cannot be explained by interactional factors.


inversion, conversation, negative auxiliary verb, writt en language, dialects, particles, speech language, word order, proverb, theme, answer

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ISSN 2504-6616 (print/trükis)

ISSN 2504-6624 (online/võrguväljaanne)