absence of possessive markers

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ml14
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absence of possessive markers

Post by ml14 » Mon Jun 23, 2014 7:37 am

Hello,

I'm curious about cases where a noun has no possessive markers (whether possessive suffixes or pronouns like minun, sinun, etc.), and the possessor is indicated entirely by context.

For example, when (if at all) would you say that the following sentences would be acceptable?

- Kerroin äidille koko tarinan. "I told [my] mother the whole story."

- Et voi pelata tänään, kun käsi on poikki. "You can't play today, since [your] arm is broken."

- Hän söi illallista ja pesi hampaat. "He ate dinner and brushed [his] teeth."

- Hän meni autoon ja käynnisti moottorin. "He got in [his] car and turned on the ignition." (assume that this car has not been mentioned in the previous context)

Some Finnish speakers have told me that these kinds of sentences are acceptable in the spoken language, but not in formal contexts. However, whenever I have written sentences like these, native speakers have tended to correct them by inserting possessive markers where I had deliberately left them out. (Then again, the Finnish sentences I write are usually not very colloquial-sounding, which might make the lack of possessive suffixes less acceptable.)

My impression from reading Finnish texts is that it's relatively common to talk about family relations like äiti without a possessive marker (at least if they are the speaker's own family relations). But, I don't have a clear sense about the other cases (parts of the body, material possessions).

What do you think?

Many thanks
M



absence of possessive markers

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jahasjahas
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Re: absence of possessive markers

Post by jahasjahas » Mon Jun 23, 2014 12:12 pm

ml14 wrote: - Kerroin äidille koko tarinan. "I told [my] mother the whole story."

- Hän söi illallista ja pesi hampaat. "He ate dinner and brushed [his] teeth."

- Hän meni autoon ja käynnisti moottorin. "He got in [his] car and turned on the ignition." (assume that this car has not been mentioned in the previous context)
These sound totally natural. There's no need to add the possessive suffix, since the context is enough to make it understandable.
- Et voi pelata tänään, kun käsi on poikki. "You can't play today, since [your] arm is broken."
But here I'd rather say something like

"Et voi pelata tänään, kun sinulla on käsi poikki."

"Et voi pelata tänään, kun tuo käsi on poikki."

"Et voi pelata tänään, kun kätesi on poikki."


Upphew
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Re: absence of possessive markers

Post by Upphew » Mon Jun 23, 2014 3:16 pm

ml14 wrote:Some Finnish speakers have told me that these kinds of sentences are acceptable in the spoken language, but not in formal contexts. However, whenever I have written sentences like these, native speakers have tended to correct them by inserting possessive markers where I had deliberately left them out.
See? ;)
Its like, you know like, like writing like this like? Might be acceptable when spoken, but when written... *puke*
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ml14
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Re: absence of possessive markers

Post by ml14 » Mon Jun 23, 2014 10:39 pm

Upphew wrote:
ml14 wrote:Some Finnish speakers have told me that these kinds of sentences are acceptable in the spoken language, but not in formal contexts. However, whenever I have written sentences like these, native speakers have tended to correct them by inserting possessive markers where I had deliberately left them out.
See? ;)
I know what you mean, but I often try to write sample sentences of dialogue to show to native speakers (to test how certain words/phrases work). But it still probably doesn't sound like convincing *spoken* dialogue without contractions (yksi > yks), dialectal words (toi, noi) and other colloquial features that I haven't mastered yet.


ml14
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Re: absence of possessive markers

Post by ml14 » Mon Jun 23, 2014 11:00 pm

Thanks for responding. I thought up some more examples: what do you think of them?

(Family relation, 3rd person: )
- Kerttu on lomalla koska äiti on sairas. "Kerttu is on leave because [her] mother is sick"

(Clothing item, 1st person: )
- Käveltyäni kaksi tuntia sateessa kenkät olivat läpimärät. "After 2 hours of walking in the rain, [my] shoes were completely soaked."

(Clothing item, 3p: )
- Juha halusi lähteä kotiin mutta ei löytänyt takkia. "Juha wanted to go home, but he couldn't find [his] coat."

(Place of residence, 3p: )
- Muistatko Tuomon? Hän on kuulemma tehnyt ison kalalammikon takapihalle. "Do you remember Tuomo? I hear that he put a big fishpond in [his] backyard."


Thanks again

jahasjahas wrote:
ml14 wrote: - Kerroin äidille koko tarinan. "I told [my] mother the whole story."

- Hän söi illallista ja pesi hampaat. "He ate dinner and brushed [his] teeth."

- Hän meni autoon ja käynnisti moottorin. "He got in [his] car and turned on the ignition." (assume that this car has not been mentioned in the previous context)
These sound totally natural. There's no need to add the possessive suffix, since the context is enough to make it understandable.
- Et voi pelata tänään, kun käsi on poikki. "You can't play today, since [your] arm is broken."
But here I'd rather say something like

"Et voi pelata tänään, kun sinulla on käsi poikki."

"Et voi pelata tänään, kun tuo käsi on poikki."

"Et voi pelata tänään, kun kätesi on poikki."


Jukka Aho
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Re: absence of possessive markers

Post by Jukka Aho » Tue Jun 24, 2014 1:46 am

ml14 wrote:Thanks for responding. I thought up some more examples: what do you think of them?

(Family relation, 3rd person: )
- Kerttu on lomalla koska äiti on sairas. "Kerttu is on leave because [her] mother is sick"
This one is a bit jarring. It seems to suggest the speaker is referring to his or her own mother, instead of Kerttu’s mother. (The sentence could work if the speaker were Kerttu’s sibling. ;))
ml14 wrote:(Clothing item, 1st person: )
- Käveltyäni kaksi tuntia sateessa kenkät olivat läpimärät. "After 2 hours of walking in the rain, [my] shoes were completely soaked."

(Clothing item, 3p: )
- Juha halusi lähteä kotiin mutta ei löytänyt takkia. "Juha wanted to go home, but he couldn't find [his] coat."
These are both OK (except it’s kengät, not kenkät.)
ml14 wrote:(Place of residence, 3p: )
- Muistatko Tuomon? Hän on kuulemma tehnyt ison kalalammikon takapihalle. "Do you remember Tuomo? I hear that he put a big fishpond in [his] backyard."
This sounds like the speaker might be referring to the backyard in the current location — wherever this discussion is taking place — and not necessarily Tuomo’s backyard. The proper interpretation depends on the context, I guess. (But if the conversation occurred while visiting Tuomo’s house, then it’s Tuomo’s backyard, of course.)
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Re: absence of possessive markers

Post by ml14 » Wed Jun 25, 2014 12:36 pm

Jukka Aho wrote:
ml14 wrote: (Family relation, 3rd person: )
- Kerttu on lomalla koska äiti on sairas. "Kerttu is on leave because [her] mother is sick"
This one is a bit jarring. It seems to suggest the speaker is referring to his or her own mother, instead of Kerttu’s mother. (The sentence could work if the speaker were Kerttu’s sibling. ;))
Hmm, interesting. If äiti were the object of the sentence rather than the subject, (e.g., A: Missä Kerttu on? B: On kotona hoitamassa äitiä.), would that affect your interpretation?

I also notice that the phrases Pese kädet / Harjaa hampaat and Pese kätesi / Harjaa hampaasi seem to be almost equally common, based on the web searches I did. Is there any nuance of meaning (or context) that separates the phrases with the possessive marker -si from the phrases without it?

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jahasjahas
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Re: absence of possessive markers

Post by jahasjahas » Wed Jun 25, 2014 1:01 pm

ml14 wrote:Hmm, interesting. If äiti were the object of the sentence rather than the subject, (e.g., A: Missä Kerttu on? B: On kotona hoitamassa äitiä.), would that affect your interpretation?
It wouldn't affect mine.

Btw, note that in the standard language you shouldn't drop the subject and keep the predicate when you're talking in the 3rd person singular/plural: olen kotona, olet kotona, hän on kotona, olemme kotona, olette kotona, he ovat kotona.

Dropping both the subject and the predicate would be ok. ("Missä Kerttu on?" "Kotona hoitamassa äitiään.")

There are some situations (at least in the spoken language) where you might drop the subject in the 3rd person plural. It makes the sentence passive-like without actually using the passive construction:

"Ovat kuulemma kaataneet kaikki puut puistosta." ~= "Kaikki puut on kuulemma kaadettu puistosta."
I also notice that the phrases Pese kädet / Harjaa hampaat and Pese kätesi / Harjaa hampaasi seem to be almost equally common, based on the web searches I did. Is there any nuance of meaning (or context) that separates the phrases with the possessive marker -si from the phrases without it?
I don't think there is.


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Re: absence of possessive markers

Post by Upphew » Wed Jun 25, 2014 2:33 pm

jahasjahas wrote:
I also notice that the phrases Pese kädet / Harjaa hampaat and Pese kätesi / Harjaa hampaasi seem to be almost equally common, based on the web searches I did. Is there any nuance of meaning (or context) that separates the phrases with the possessive marker -si from the phrases without it?
I don't think there is.
In both cases I expect hands to be washed or teeth to be brushed. If reading more to it one could argue that small child has his/her hands done by someone else if using Pese kädet and does it by him/herself if using Pese kätesi. But I agree, that there really isn't any difference in regular usage.
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Re: absence of possessive markers

Post by ml14 » Sat Jun 28, 2014 6:18 am

If it's alright with you guys, I'm going to keep adding new examples to this thread as they occur to me.

Is a possessive marker needed in the following sentences?

(Family relation, non-parental, 3rd person)
Virpi on lomalla koska serkku menee naimisiin. (or serkun häiden vuoksi)

(Spouse, 2nd person)
Mitä sinulle kuuluu, Perttu? Miten menee vaimolla?

(Part of the body, singular, 1st person)
Anteeksi, valmentaja, en voi pelata tänään: jalka on poikki.

(Part of the body, plural, 3rd person)
Kuulitko, että Mikko poltti kädet viime viikolla paistaessaan makkaraa?


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Re: absence of possessive markers

Post by Jukka Aho » Sat Jun 28, 2014 2:07 pm

ml14 wrote:Is a possessive marker needed in the following sentences?

(Family relation, non-parental, 3rd person)
Virpi on lomalla koska serkku menee naimisiin. (or serkun häiden vuoksi)
I’d use koska hänen serkkunsa menee naimisiin instead of the first alternative.

Otherwise, there’s this odd feeling I might be talking about my cousin. Or at least some previously mentioned, very well-known “the cousin” (you know), who the listeners will immediately recognize from that passing reference.

Then again, serkun häiden vuoksi sounds acceptable to me.

In an actual conversation, I’d probably say:

Virpi on lomalla koska sen serkku menee naimisiin.

...because using hän to refer to people in colloquial speech feels natural (and not pretentious or an attempt at overt politeness) only if you’re a Turkuite, I guess.
ml14 wrote:(Spouse, 2nd person)
Mitä sinulle kuuluu, Perttu? Miten menee vaimolla?
All good, except the word order Miten vaimolla menee would sound slightly more idiomatic.
ml14 wrote:(Part of the body, singular, 1st person)
Anteeksi, valmentaja, en voi pelata tänään: jalka on poikki.
Hmm.

Phone conversation.

Valmentaja: Ryynänen.
Pelaaja: No se on Jukka tässä, terve!
Valmentaja: Terve!
Pelaaja: Kuule, siitä tämänpäiväisestä pelistä – –
Valmentaja: Niin?
Pelaaja: – – nyt kävi niin, että en voi pelata.
Valmentaja: Mikset?
Pelaaja: Hyppäsin Puijon tornista base-hypyn ja meni jalka poikki.
Valmentaja: ...

Pelikentällä:

Pelaaja: (irvistäen, toista jalkaa laahaten) Mikko! Mikko!
Valmentaja: No mitä? Mikä hätänä?
Pelaaja: Mun jalka meni poikki.

I guess it depends on whether it is obvious (from the preceding context) whose leg we’re talking about. If even slightly in doubt (for example, in the latter conversation, it might still have been the other player’s leg), use a possessive pronoun and a suffixless noun (in colloquial speech) or, in formal written texts, the noun and a possessive suffix alone, or combined with an optional possessive pronoun.
ml14 wrote:(Part of the body, plural, 3rd person)
Kuulitko, että Mikko poltti kädet viime viikolla paistaessaan makkaraa?
Not impossible but I’d use kätensä.
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Re: absence of possessive markers

Post by Rip » Mon Jun 30, 2014 11:05 am

ml14 wrote: - Kerroin äidille koko tarinan. "I told [my] mother the whole story."
Little bit on this. Presuming you'd talking to a friend, then in spoken language I don't sense much a difference between "kerroin äidille" and "kerroin äidilleni", while if you'd be talking to your sibling, then the form corresponding to the later would be "kerroin äidillemme", and I have difficult time imagining that ever coming out of my mouth (except perhaps when talking to third person with my sibling present).


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jahasjahas
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Re: absence of possessive markers

Post by jahasjahas » Mon Jun 30, 2014 12:00 pm

Rip wrote:the form corresponding to the later would be "kerroin äidillemme", and I have difficult time imagining that ever coming out of my mouth
Yeah, it sounds like http://pbfcomics.com/86/

(Even though they don't say "our" in the comic.)


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Re: absence of possessive markers

Post by onkko » Thu Jul 03, 2014 3:29 pm

Jukka Aho wrote:
ml14 wrote:(Part of the body, plural, 3rd person)
Kuulitko, että Mikko poltti kädet viime viikolla paistaessaan makkaraa?
Not impossible but I’d use kätensä.
Kädet in this seems to me he burned hands of other people.
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Re: absence of possessive markers

Post by AldenG » Thu Jul 03, 2014 5:32 pm

It's possible to overgeneralize and thereby learn the wrong lesson from looking at phrases like pesi hampaat. Such a phrase tells you less about possessive markers in general and more about the formation of . . . well, call it idioms or call it special kinds of verbs, I'm not sure of the best description, but pesi hampaat and poltti kädet are not exactly congruent.

As others have indicated, it would be more idiomatic to say "Leila pesi hampaat ja meni nukkuman" than to say "Leila poltti kädet ja meni nukkuman." In the first, pestä hampaat is a recognized activity in its own right and, in a sense, a verb in its own right. (I guess it's not quite a phrasal verb because hampaat isn't a preposition, but the expression has some of that quality.) In the second, you are combining poltti and kädet on an ad hoc basis to describe something that happened to take place in that instance, but not a recognized activity enshrined in a phrase of its own. Therefore it's more likely to be poltti kätensä.

It's not that you couldn't say pesi hampaansa or poltti kädet; but a shortcut exists for the first, and the second is attempting to use a shortcut that people would recognize but that doesn't actually exist, or at best half-exists, in the popular lexicon and psyche. That's why onkko comments that it sounds like somebody burned other people's hands or, in my imagination, even a stack of loose hands. Maybe that's just because I have a gruesome imagination, a bit like Stephen King, who says he has the mind of a 10-year-old -- and keeps it in a jar on his desk. But I'm leading somewhere with that, see, because "the mind of a 10-year-old" has a similar kind of ambiguity to poltti kädet. A few extra words can change your interpretation entirely between something like an idiom and a prosaic description of reality.
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