An introduction to Finnish spatial relations

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In their paper, Tuomas Huumo and Krista Ojutkangas first introduce the system of Finnish local cases in general and then discuss the main features of the system of adpositions. The Finnish system for expressing spatial relations consists of six local cases and many adpositions, the precise number of which cannot be determined since the borderline between adpositions and relator nouns is obscure. The local cases are divided into two series: the so-called internal cases and external cases. The internal cases express relations such as ‘inside’, ‘into’, ‘out of’, while the external cases express relations such as ‘at’,’to the outside of’ and ‘from the outside of’ or ‘on’, ‘onto’ and ‘off’. Thus, a pervasive feature in the case system is the expression of directionality: in both case series there is one static case (‘in’/ ‘at’/ ‘on’), one ‘to’ case and one ‘from’ case. Similar directional oppositions are expressed by many adpositions, since the adpositional stems generally bear locative case suffixes. This is possible because many Finnish adpositions typically originate from nouns; this is reflected in the fact that they still carry local case endings and take their complement in the genitive form. In their structure such adpositional phrases resemble noun phrases where the locative case-marked head is a relator noun preceded by a genitive modifier.


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