Sofi Oksanen’s usage of Estonian words in the novel Kun kyyhkyset katosivat (‘When the Doves Disappeared’) Cover Image

Viron kieli Sofi Oksasen romaanissa Kun kyyhkyset katosivat
Sofi Oksanen’s usage of Estonian words in the novel Kun kyyhkyset katosivat (‘When the Doves Disappeared’)

Author(s): Maria Frick
Subject(s): Language and Literature Studies
Published by: Eesti Rakenduslingvistika Ühing (ERÜ)
Keywords: prose; code-switching; transfer; plurilingualism; heteroglossia; cultural borrowing; cultural word; semantic borrowing; Finnish; Estonian

Summary/Abstract: Kun kyyhkyset katosivat (‘When the Doves Disappeared’) is the third novel in So! Oksanen’s tetralogy about Estonian history. While the !rst one Stalinin lehmät (‘Stalin’s Cows’) takes place in Finland, Puhdistus (‘Purge’) and Kun kyyhkyset katosivat are staged in Estonia – the latter in the period of German occupation and the following decades of Soviet rule, the 1940’s–1960’s. Although the novels are all written in Finnish, they include codeswitching to Estonian. While in Stalinin lehmät and Puhdistus there are plenty of complete phrases and clauses in Estonian, printed in italics and translated either within the text or in a glossary, in Kun kyyhkyset katosivat the Estonian language is present almost exclusively in the form of lexical and grammatical choices. The Estonian elements in Kun kyyhkyset katosivat can be grouped into four types: cultural borrowings, frequential borrowings, semantic borrowings and grammatical calquing. &eir usage is somewhat similar to the everyday language use of Finns who live in Estonia: Cultural borrowings refer to something that is speci!c to Estonia or that is used in an Estonian context: hävityspataljoona ‘destruction battalion’, frikadellikeitto ‘meatball soup’, trammi ‘tram’. Frequential borrowings include international words that also exist in Finnish (as alternatives to more frequently used synonyms) but are more widely used in Estonian: okkupeera- ‘occupy’, divaani ‘divan’, fabrikoi- ‘fabricate’, shelatiini ‘gelatin’. Semantic borrowings include the verb huolitse- used in the meaning of Est. hoolitse- ‘care’ (cf. Fin. huolitse- ‘forward (freight), organise transportation of goods’) and two grammatical calques: oma ‘own’, used as an independent placeholder noun as in Estonian, and the postposition puolelta ‘from the side (of)’, used to mark the agent NP in a passive sentence (as Est. poolt), which is not possible in standard Finnish. These Estonianisms are all integrated into Finnish by stem modi!cation and Finnish su(xes. In the language use of Finns who live in Estonia, this is a conservative strategy most typical for recently migrated speakers and those who orient towards using monolingual Finnish. Grammatical calques on the other hand are very rare in their everyday language use; alongside other semantic borrowings, they are more typical of older migrants who may engage in involuntary switching of this kind. When Finns in Estonia communicate with each other, they usually need not worry whether the others understand their codeswitching to Estonian (and even if some recipients don’t, the meaning can be clari!ed then and there). In this novel, Estonian words are used in places where the reader can infer their approximate meaning from the context or rely on their knowledge of Finnish and other languages to understand them.

  • Issue Year: 2013
  • Issue No: 23
  • Page Range: 39-59
  • Page Count: 21
  • Language: Finnish