University of Oulu

Sivonen, Jari, The Finnish abstract motion construction mennä V-mA-An [go V-inf-ill] ‘do something unwished’ : Usage, development and motivation. Review of Cognitive Linguistics, Volume 14, Issue 2, 2016, pages: 247 –274

The Finnish abstract motion construction mennä V-mA-An [go V-inf-ill] ‘do something unwished’ : usage, development and motivation

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Author: Sivonen, Jari1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.3 MB)
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Language: English
Published: John Benjamins Publishing Company, 2016
Publish Date: 2017-06-26


This paper addresses the usage, development and motivation of the Finnish mennä V-mA-An [go V-inf-ill] construction. In this construction, the literal motion sense of ‘going’ has been grammaticalized to evoke an affective meaning: the activity expressed in the construction’s infinitival element is considered as unwished (e.g. Johtaja-t men-i-vät lakkautta-ma-an ohjelma-n [manager- pl.nom go-pst-3pl shut.down-inf-ill show-acc] ‘Managers shut down the show [though they should not have]’). This paper uncovers the different ways the construction is used (for example, projecting the disapproving stance onto a specific element, such as the manner, objective or result of the activity, that the speaker finds especially inappropriate when compared to the desired course of events, or creating an ironic tone for the description of an event) and reveals its lexical profile in modern language. The role of the context in the interpretation of the construction as well as its grammaticalization process are also dealt with. It is argued that the affective meaning of the construction is metaphorically motivated by a previously undiscovered image-schematic pattern “deviant path — erroneous goal”. In this schema the trajector is conceived of abstractly deviating from a projected path and ending up at an unwished ending point, and this constitutes a contrast to the desired course of events, the core meaning of the construction. The analysis supports a tenet in cognitive semantics that linguistic structures are often motivated by general cognitive processes such as metaphor and image-schema patterns.

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Series: Review of cognitive linguistics
ISSN: 1877-9751
ISSN-E: 1877-976X
ISSN-L: 1877-9751
Volume: 14
Issue: 2
Pages: 247 - 274
DOI: 10.1075/rcl.14.2.01siv
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 6121 Languages
Copyright information: © John Benjamins.