ESTONIAN ACADEMY
PUBLISHERS
eesti teaduste
akadeemia kirjastus
PUBLISHED
SINCE 1965
 
Linguistica Uralica cover
Linguistica Uralica
ISSN 1736-7506 (Electronic)
ISSN 0868-4731 (Print)

Declension Classes in Estonian; pp. 241-267

Full article in PDF format | doi:10.3176/lu.2008.4.01

Author
James P. Blevins

Abstract
Although the declensional system of Estonian exhibits considerable inflectional variation, nominals can be assigned to a small number of classes based on implicational relations between principal parts and inflectional patterns. The shape of the partitive singular and the prosodic structure of the genitive singular are of particular value in identifying class. Given that the other forms of a paradigm are transparently related to these principal parts, most forms of a nominal identify at least one principal part and the other forms that are also based on it. In addition to the symmetry of its implicational structure, the declensional system is distinguished by the role of ’pure’ morphological patterns. Classes are cued by variation in form, without evident syntactic or semantic correlates, so that recognizing the class of an item just identifies other forms of the item.
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