Supervisor: emeriitprofessor Mati Erelt
Opponent: professor Marja-Liisa Helasvuo (Turu ülikool)
This doctoral thesis examines Estonian adverbial clauses expressing a cause-effect relationship and their markers from a functional-typological point of view. The current thesis adds the concessive conditional clause type to those which have thus far been seen to involve a cause-effect relationship (causal, conditional, concessive, purpose, and result clause). Each type of adverbial clause is described, together with its connection to other clause types. Although the thesis concentrates on contemporary language, the historical development of adverbial conjunctions is also traced. The linguistic data come from the Corpus of Written Estonian.
The thesis demonstrates that there is a fuzzy transition area between adverbial clause types. Both temporal and conditional clauses are marked by the conjunction kui (compare Kui ma laps olin, tahtsin õpetajaks saada 'when I was a child, I wanted to become a teacher' and Kui on ilus ilm, läheme ujuma 'If the weather is good, we'll go swimming'). If there is a hypothetical cause-effect relationship between the events or state of affairs expressed in the subordinate and main clause, and the tense is non-past, the subordinate clause is mostly understood as a conditional clause. Adverbial clauses are also related historically, through their conjunctions. The temporal conjunction kuna (Ta pani kirja lauale, kuna ise toast välja läks 'He put the letter on the table, while he left the room') has developed into a causal conjunction (Ta pani kirja lauale, kuna oli selle läbi lugenud 'He put the letter on the table, because he had read it'), mainly during the 20th century. The concessive conjunction kuigi (kui + particle -gi/-ki) has developed through concessive conditional stage.
In the case of purpose and conditional clauses, the thesis investigates the role played by the main verb form. In purpose clauses, the main verb can be in da-infinitive form or in the conditional mood. In the former case, the purpose clause is referentially dependent on the main clause, whereas in the latter, it is not (compare Mari tõuseb püsti, et akent avada 'Mari rises to open the window' and Mari tõuseb püsti, et ma pääseksin akent avama 'Mari rises so that I could open the window'). In conditional clauses, the main verb can be in indicative or conditional mood or the da-infinitive. The verb form depends mostly on the degree of hypotheticality. However, although previous studies have posited a one-to-one correspondence between verb form and degree of hypotheticality, this study does not support this claim. Conditional clauses with the main verb in indicative mood or da-infinitive form can express a higher degree of hypotheticality.
The thesis contributes new information about adverbial clauses and on the relations between types of adverbial clauses.