Supervisors: prof Tuomas Huumo ja dots Külli Habicht
Opponent: dr Seppo Kittilä (Helsingi ülikool)
This thesis focuses on grammatical relations in Estonian from the viewpoint of typological, cognitive and functional theories of grammar. What unites all the different insights of this dissertation are the the common morphosyntactic, semantic and information structural parameters that have been used in exploring the grammatical relations as well as the extensive use of corpus data. In the thesis, the Estonian subject category is determined in a novel way by focusing on the morphosyntactic behavioural properties. The dissertation also provides an integrated model for making comparisons of object's, the existential construction's argument's and extent adverbials' case-marking in Estonian. This analysis is based on Dixon's (1994) typology of argument coding factors. The impact of different semantic and message-packaging properties on case-marking is analyzed. The study found that the existential construction's argument (for example milk in the sentence 'Külmkapis on piima' - There is milk in the fridge) is from the point of view of semantics, information structure and coding closer to the direct object than the subject. Estonian subject-like arguments, e.g. both arguments in the constructions 'Talle meeldib fotograafia' (She likes photography), 'Norralasel on kaks kulda' (The Norwegian has two gold medals) and 'Mariast sai õpetaja' (Maria became a teacher) form a continuum on the basis of their subjecthood properties. However, all these argument types display subject-like behaviour to a significantly lower degree than the prototypical subject. The case-alternation systems of the direct object and existential construction's argument are comparable in their complexity. They mainly depend on the same case-assignment factors but these factors have different usage frequencies in the case of both arguments. The case-alternation of object-like degree adverbials (e.g. 'kaks kuud' - for two months) only depends on a small subset of object's case-assignment factors. The findings of the thesis suggest that although Estonian is an accusative language the spread of fluid intransitivity is significant in Estonian. It mainly manifests itself in word order alternation which is a relatively rare feature in typological alignment descriptions. The study also analyses for the first time the suitability of Estonian data with several typological argument realization hypotheses. The data partly supports the Referential Hierarchy hypothesis. The Estonian data confirms the predictions of the typological Hierarchy of Grammatical Relations Constructions (which makes predictions on the accu¬sative and ergative alignment of arguments in different behavioural constructions) and Croft's (2001) Behavioural Potential universal (that assumes a link between a category's high token frequency in the discourse and the versatility of syntacic behaviour).