Aspect and irregular object case variation in Estonian da-infinitive constructions

David Ogren


The article describes the ways in which various aspectual characteristics and markers affect the total vs. partial object alternation in Estonian da-infinitive constructions, where object case usage is far less consistent than it is in finite clauses. The variation in object case in these constructions can be seen as a case of competing motivations, where some elements of the sentence support the use of the total object and others the use of the partial object. Using corpus data, the article explores the interplay between different constructions and aspectual features, revealing a considerable degree of constructionspecificity: while some aspectual features prove significant for object case in all the constructions examined, others may have a substantial impact on object case in one dainfinitive construction but no impact at all in another construction. Moreover, aside from the core criteria which condition the use of the partitive object in all constructions in Estonian (including finite clauses), none of the relationships between aspect and object case in da-infinitive constructions are anywhere close to absolute. Finally, attention is drawn to the notion of the partitive as the default object case and how this default status manifests itself in da-infinitive constructions as compared to finite clauses.

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