Anni Jürine will defend her doctoral thesis titled "The development of complex postpositions in Estonian: A case of grammaticalization via lexicalization" on 16 February at 14.15 at UT Senate Hall.
Supervisors: dotsent Külli Habicht ja dotsent Ilona Tragel
Opponent: professor Hubert Cuyckens (University of Leuven)
The dissertation focuses on the development of Estonian complex function words – complex adverbs and complex postpositions. Although the category of adverbs is considered to include simple as well as complex structures (juures ‘at’, seejuures ‘thereat’) in Estonian, the category of postpositions is traditionally considered to include simple members only (maja juures ‘at the house’). The present study proceeds from the model proposed by Habicht and Penjam (2007) and elaborated by Jürine and Habicht (2013), which postulates the development of the subcategory of complex postpositions in Estonian. The present study investigates this phenomenon in body part related phrases: selja taga (back+behind), käe all (hand+under), külje all (side+under), käe kõrval (hand+beside), kaela peal (neck+on), and jalge all (feet+under). The dissertation is the first study to investigate the development of Estonian complex postpositions in a natural language use, which includes contemporary as well as the diachronic data. The data has been extracted from the Estonian internet corpus etTenTen and the Corpus of Old Literary Estonian, the Corpus of 19th century texts, and the Corpus of Estonian Literary language. Because the studied phrases allow several interpretations in contemporary language, one of the aims of the study was to develop criteria to distinguish the complex postpositions from their source form. Additionally, the role of frequency and lexicalization were investigated. The diachronic study aimed to observe the stages of development of complex postpositions and discover the motivation of change. The results indicate that the complex postpositions display, to a certain extent, formal criteria – extension and decategorization. However, it is the development of the holistic meaning (i.e. lexicalization) that discriminates between the two structures. Even though all of the studied phrases can be considered as fixed units, the more frequent items are more tightly bound. With a few exceptions, the frequent units also express more general meanings and are more productive as complex units. The diachronic analysis indicates that the adverbialization is not necessarily a prerequisite of the development of the complex postposition and in some cases German influence is suspected to have triggered the change. The dissertation shows that the studied phrases are not compatible with the traditional view on Estonian language structure and are more appropriately analyzable as complex adverbs and complex postpositions. As a more general aim, the present study attempts to contribute to the ongoing debate on the development of complex adpositions.