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Saturday, June 24, 2006

& Linguistcs - Case - Finnish

So, for the last two posts in this series, I've got a couple languages unlike the ones already discussed (at least with respect to case). This post's topic is Finnish, a language different in that it relies much less on prepositions than any of the languages mentioned so far. This is possible due to a large number of cases that fill the role that would otherwise be filled using prepositions.

Finnish declines its nouns, pronouns and adjectives, and a number of disputed cases exist, where it is debatable whether they are actual cases, or merely forms of creating adverbs from adjectives or nouns.

The definitive cases in Finnish are *takes a deep breath*: nominative, genitive, accusative, partitive, inessive, elative, illative, adessive, ablative, allative, essive, translative, translative, abessive, and comitative.

The accusative case is slightly different in meaning than the accusative of the other languages we have examined. In Finnish, the accusative case refers to the direct object, where the entirety of the direct object is involved in the action. This is in contrast to the partitive case, which refers either to a portion of a single object, to a number of objects which are a portion of a greater number of objects, or to an incomplete action.

The inessive case of an object (or even a point in time) refers to something else being contained inside that object (think of "in"; or "at" or "on", with respect to a point in time). Similarly but distinctly, the adessive case refers to existence near some object, such as "on", "near", or "around".

The elative case implies movement out of an object or a point in time (think of "out of", "from", or "since"). The illative indicates just the opposite: movement into an object or a point in time (such as "into" or "until").

Similarly, the ablative case conveys movement off the surface of an object, such as "off of" or "from". The allative is the opposite, indicating movement onto an object, such as "onto", "to", and "for". Both may be used to also indicate a change in possession.

The essive case seems to indicate a temporary state, or partition of time in which some action occurs (think "as", "when", "on", "in", etc.); looking at some examples of the essive case, it is not wholly clear to me how this differs from some of the other cases. The translative case indicates a change in state, property, or composition, corresponding to "into" or "to". The abessive case seems to be dying out in the language, and indicates the lack of something (essentially "without"). Finally, the instructive case indicates a means of action, such as "with", "by", or "using".

15 in all. Man, that's way too many cases. I'm tired out just from writing about them :P Note also that I've tried to give a description of the cases in an intuitive manner, reducing each to a single concept, perhaps applied in different ways. But some cases also have uses that aren't intuitive (at least not to me).

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