Thesis supervisors: Professor Karl Pajusalu, University of Tartu
Professor Helle Metslang, University of Tartu
Opponent: Professor Andra Kalnača, University of Latvia
This dissertation studies the expression of future time reference in Livonian (a Finnic language closely related to Estonian). As Finnic languages in general are known to express future using a verb in the present tense (e.g. Livonian ma tī’eb ‘I do’ also conveys future), the focus of this thesis is on verbs that have become specialised as future time reference devices at least to some extent. One such verb is the Livonian līdõ ‘will be’, associated with the expression of future and conveying modal meanings (e.g. doubt and obligation) already earlier. As līdõ has cognates in all the Finnic languages (e.g. Karelian lie(nöy), Votic leevvä, Finnish lienee and lie), the use of līdõ is discussed in a broader Finnic context. A few other verbs are also analysed that can leave the source meaning in the background and primarily express the future. However, it is shown that regarding Livonian the expression of future can mainly be associated with līdõ in (i) copular clauses, e.g. se līb sūr ‘this will be big’, and (ii) the future perfect construction, e.g. līb tī’end ‘will have done’. Depending on the context, the epistemic reading (i.e. expressing doubt about a present situation) is also possible (‘maybe is big’ and ‘maybe has done’ respectively); this is regarded as a secondary function. The epistemic interpretation of future time reference devices is also cross-linguistically common, including in the case of English will, German werden and Russian bud-. However, neither Livonian nor other Finnic languages contain a “real” future auxiliary in an infinitival construction used obligatorily for conveying future (e.g. ma tī’eb is used instead of *ma līb tī’edõ/tī’emõ; cf. English I will do). As līdõ in copular clauses tended to display intertwining of ‘being’ and ‘becoming’, the expression of change was also in focus in this thesis. With respect to Livonian, īedõ ‘remain; stay’ and sǭdõ ‘get; become’ are shown to commonly convey change. Unlike in other Finnic languages, the most general change-of-state verb appears to be īedõ, used for expressing both ‘remaining’ and ‘becoming’.