From Pronoun to Particle: Finnish tuo ‘that’ and tuota ‘well, erm’

Katri Priiki


This article studies the continuum of referential, vaguely referential, and particle-like occurrences of the Finnish demonstrative pronoun tuo ‘that’. Tuo is peculiar among hesitator demonstratives, since it has pragmaticized to its partitive form tuota instead of its nominative form and it is not the same pronoun that is used in the function of a definite article (se). The article aims to shed light on the question of why this form in particular has pragmaticized to a hesitation particle. The results reveal that it is not only the partitive forms but also other case forms of the pronoun that may be used without a clear referent. The meaning features of the pronoun tuo imply that the referent is only just becoming the target of attention, and the partitive case is used with referents that are not fully individuated. When an abstract entity is referred to in partitive object role, the referentiality of a determiner or a placeholder may become unclear.

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