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Is There an Expletive Subject in Estonian?

EasyChair Preprint no. 8491

9 pagesDate: July 16, 2022


This paper investigates whether expletive subjects occur in Estonian. Expletive subjects are well-attested in Several language, including German and Swedish but also Finnish, a language genetically closest to Estonian. Expletive uses of the 3SG personal pronoun have been noted in the North-Eastern dialects of Estonian, that are structurally closes to Finnish. Despite that, the language changes between the 13th and 16th century and and the planned “Estonianisation”, i.e. move away from the German-type syntactic and lexical features in the first half of the 20th century, have resulted in a language with no expletive elements in either the standard unified written or spoken language. However, owing to the relaxation of the language planning strategies and extensive influence of English as a global language since early 1990ies, the syntactic patterns are starting to show variability. The native speaker judgements indicate that an expletive element in the preverbal position is not uniformly accepted or rejected, thus one might hypothesise, early stages change from zero-expletive to topic-expletive might be underway.

Keyphrases: Estonian, Expletive subject, Finnic, language contact, syntactic change, syntax

BibTeX entry
BibTeX does not have the right entry for preprints. This is a hack for producing the correct reference:
  author = {Katrin Hiietam},
  title = {Is There an Expletive Subject in Estonian?},
  howpublished = {EasyChair Preprint no. 8491},

  year = {EasyChair, 2022}}
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