Use of negative forms ei ole and pole in spontaneous Estonian interaction Cover Image

Ei ole ja pole kasutus suulises spontaanses eesti keeles
Use of negative forms ei ole and pole in spontaneous Estonian interaction

Author(s): Tiit Hennoste
Subject(s): Language and Literature Studies
Published by: Teaduste Akadeemia Kirjastus
Keywords: spoken Estonian; negative forms; conversation; interactional linguistics; syntax

Summary/Abstract: There are two negative forms in Estonian: ei ole and pole. They are used as main verbs (see ei ole koer / see pole koer ‘this is not a dog’) and auxiliary verbs (see ei ole / pole kirjutatud eile ‘this was not written yesterday’). The article analyses the grammatical and interactional factors that infl uence their choice in spontaneous everyday and institutional conversations. The material comes from the Corpus of Spoken Estonian of the University of Tartu, which contains about 1.3 million tokens of spontaneous dialogues. The analysed subcorpus contained randomly selected 140 occurrences of negative forms. The methods used include interactional linguistics and syntactic analysis. Analysis showed that the choice between the two forms is infl uenced by several syntactic and interactional factors in spoken Estonian. Ei ole is preferred grammatically if the negative verb constitutes a separate clause / utterance and ei ole is preferred if the main verb is situated at the end of a clause. Pole is preferred if there is some other focused element in the utterance; the negative form is a predicate of the predicative clause. Ei ole is preferred interactionally if the negative form is used in overlapping, the negative utterance is a question or a direct answer to the question, the negative utterance participates in grammatical, semantic, or interactional opposition, the negative form is used in the utterance which stresses the negative viewpoint of the speaker. Pole is preferred if the utterance repeats or varies information presented earlier in the same conversation, the utterance is an indirect answer to the question (an indirect answer is used if the respondent has no information to answer directly to the question), the negative utterance is used in some deviation from the main line of the conversation. To conclude, one can see that the use of pole is connected with the backgrounding of the negative form in the interaction. From the perspective of grammar pole is preferred if there is some focused element in utterance, and ei ole is preferred if the components of the clause have balanced weight.

  • Issue Year: 2008
  • Issue No: 54
  • Page Range: 072-093
  • Page Count: 22
  • Language: Estonian