MAKE-causative on the example of Estonian ajama Cover Image

Ajama-verbi polüseemia ja ajama-põhjustamiskonstruktsioon eesti kirjakeeles
MAKE-causative on the example of Estonian ajama

Author(s): Kairit Tomson
Subject(s): Morphology, Historical Linguistics
Published by: SA Kultuurileht
Keywords: polysemy; grammaticalization; causative construction; verb ajama; literary language; Estonian;

Summary/Abstract: This paper examines the polysemy of the Estonian core verb ajama (‘to move something; to force someone’) and focuses on the development and use of the ajama-(lit. drive)-causative (MAKE-causative; henceforth ajama-causative). The analysis draws on corpus data consisting of written Estonian texts from the 16th century until the present day. As many as 2,366 cases of ajama were analysed in order to decide over the meaning groups of the verb and the relations between its meanings. The lexical meanings of the verb ajama are ‘to move or push something’, ‘to force or direct some­one’, ‘to deal with something (continually)’ and ‘to move’. A remarkable number of ajama cases appear in the constructions that have the meaning ‘to put something or someone into a physical or abstract state’. These constructions are considered as bridging constructions, as they have both lexical and grammatical meaning. The percentage of bridging constructions is rising in Estonian, nowadays accounting for around 32 per cent of all the cases of the verb ajama. The verb ajama expresses causal meaning in a causative construction (causer + ajama + causee + Vma-inf).In addition, 1,341 cases of the ajama-causative were extracted from the Estonian National Corpus. It turned out that 2/3 of the cases of the ajama-causative do not explicitly express either the causer or the causee. The cases of the ajama-causative expressing both causer and causee were analysed in detail. The 458 such cases can be divided into 16 construction types. The most frequent type of the ajama-causative is FORCE-EXPERIENCER-PROCESS (about half of the cases). In this type, the verb of the result situation is mostly naerma ‘to laugh’ or nutma ‘to cry’. The next frequent type is FORCE-PATIENT-ACTION (around 20%), in which the result situation can be expressed by various verbs and which is therefore a more productive type than FORCE-EXPERIENCER-PROCESS. The next types that follow in frequency are FORCE-PATIENT-PROCESS (around 10%) and FORCE-EXPERIENCER-STATE (around 10%). The fifth most frequent type, AGENT-EXPERIENCER-STATE (around 5%), is the first containing AGENT as causer. The analysis shows that AGENT as causer is rare in the ajama-causative, appearing only in 10% of all ajama-causative cases.

  • Issue Year: LXIII/2020
  • Issue No: 6
  • Page Range: 502-522
  • Page Count: 21
  • Language: Estonian