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The genitive case and the possessive construction in Finnish

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Abstract

In Finnish, the genitive case (marked by -<i>n</i>) has a distribution which is both broad and complex, making it one of the primary components of the grammar. Though sometimes assumed to mark the possessor, it is not found in the possessive construction which appears to be an existential sentence beginning with a locative phrase. This paper makes three points: (1) The Finnish genitive is not the possessor case, even in a broad sense; rather, it is a purely structural case appearing in an irreducible range of syntactic configurations. (2) In a few contexts, the -<i>n</i> marker is not a genitive as such but rather a semantic case with dative sense which corresponds to a P head in syntactic structure. These uses are likely relics of what the -<i>n</i> case was before it became grammaticalized as genitive. (3) The Finnish possessive construction is not a locative inversion, but rather a transitive sentence with a verb meaning &#8216;have&#8217;. The apparent contradiction between morphology and syntax can be resolved by using a transformational approach.

References

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