The marking of definiteness in old written Finnish and Estonian: Native or borrowed?



    Finnish and Estonian are traditionally not considered to have articles. However, definiteness and indefiniteness are marked with demonstratives and indefinite determiners in both writing and speech in both languages, and both languages can be seen to be in the process of grammaticizing articles. The project aims to discuss the use of definite and indefinite determiners in the written language during Old Finnish and Estonian, about 1500-1900: should it be considered incipient grammaticalization (’native’ in that sense) or merely direct borrowing due to bilingualism of the authors. The study is based on an assumption that grammaticalization and contact-induced change are not mutually exclusive processes. This involves speakers noticing a grammatical category in the model language and developing it from native resources in the replica language through ordinary contact-induced grammaticalization, replica grammaticalization or polysemy copying (’calquing’). The development of indefinite and definite determiners in Old Finnish and Estonian thus show evidence of contact influence, but also of universal tendencies in the development of articles, as well as influence of language standardization and ideology.
    Gällande start-/slutdatum01/08/2007 → …