Sie sind auf Seite 1von 446

Aspects of a Systemic-Functional Grammar of Finnish

Susanna Shore

Thesis submitted in fulfilment of the requirements for the

degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the School of English
and Linguistics, Macquarie University, Sydney, N.S.W.

July 1992

Acknowledgements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . vii
Abstract . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ix

Chapter 1: Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
1.1. Purpose and Scope of this Study . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
1.2. Outline of the Chapters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
1.3. Data . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
1.4. Glosses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
1.5. Theory and Description . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9

Chapter 2: An Outline of Systemic-Functional Theory . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13

2.1. Overview . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
2.2. The London School of Linguistics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
2.2.1. General Remarks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
2.2.2. System and Structure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
2.2.3. Restricted Languages and Speech Fellowships . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
2.2.4. A General Linguistic Theory . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
2.2.5. Meaning . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
2.2.6. Rejection of Saussurean Structuralism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
2.2.7. Firth and SF Theory . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
2.3. SF Theory: General Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
2.3.1. Language as a Linguistic Behaviour Potential . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
2.3.2. The SF Interpretation of Langue . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
2.3.3. The Individual and the Social Aspect of Language . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25
2.3.4. Knowledge of Language . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
2.3.5. A Reality Construction View of Language . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
2.3.6. Language and Mind . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33
2.3.7. Grammar, Semantics and the Context of Situation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34
2.3.8. The Notion of Reference . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39
2.4. Central Notions in SF Grammar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42
2.4.1. Introductory Remarks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42
2.4.2. A Brief Historical Overview . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43
2.4.3. The Triplanar Organization of Language . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44
2.4.4. Units and the Rank Scale . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46
2.4.5. Types of Structure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49
2.4.6. System . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51
2.4.7. Delicacy and Realization . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54
2.4.8. Metafunctions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56
2.4.9. An Integrated Lexicogrammar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60
2.4.10. The Principle of Grammaticalization . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63
2.4.11. The Ineffability of Grammatical Categories . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63

2.4.12. Prototypes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65
2.4.13. Grammatical Proportionalities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66
2.4.14. Synoptic vs. Dynamic . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67

Chapter 3: The Finnish Language . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69

3.1. Overview . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69
3.2. Background Information . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69
3.3. Some General Characteristics of Finnish . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74
3.3.1. General Remarks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74
3.3.2. Verb Inflexions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 77
3.3.3. Finnish Cases . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 82
3.4. Issues in the Received Description of Finnish . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87
3.4.1. The Problem of the “Accusative” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87
3.4.2. Boundedness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 94
3.4.3. Traditionally Defined Grammatical Subject in Finnish . . . . . . . . . . . 99

Chapter 4: Constituency and Dependency in Finnish . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 105

4.1. Overview . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 105
4.2. Ranked Constituency . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 105
4.3. Some Problems with the Rank Hypothesis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 110
4.3.1. Discontinuous Constituents . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 110
4.3.2. Inclusion of Morphology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 112
4.4. Phrases in Finnish . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 114
4.4.1. Nominal Phrases (NP) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 114
4.4.2. Pre- and Postpositional Phrases (PP) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 123
4.4.3. Verb Phrases (VP) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 131
4.4.4. Adverbial Phrases (AdvP) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 133
4.4.5. A Further Note on Unmodified P-Positions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 134
4.5. Preliminary Analysis of Clause Complexes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 137
4.5.1. General Comments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 137
4.5.2. Interdependency: Parataxis and Hypotaxis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 139
4.5.3. The Function of a Clause Complex . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 146
4.5.4. Relativization and Embedding . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 149
4.5.5. Projection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 159

Chapter 5: Interactional Structure in the Finnish Clause . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 167

5.1. Preliminary Remarks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 167
5.2. From Rhetorical Functions to Grammatical Categories . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 168
5.2.1. The Clause as an Exchange or Interactive Event . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 172
5.2.2. Congruent and Metaphorical Realization . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 177
5.2.3. Problems with Halliday’s Analysis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 183
5.2.4. Alternative Analysis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 188
5.3. Interactional Options in Finnish . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 191

5.4. Interactional Functions in Finnish . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 197

5.4.1. Finite, Mood Marker, and Residue . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 197
5.4.2. The Grammatical Subject . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 201

Chapter 6: Experiential Structures in the Finnish Clause . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 205

6.1. Preliminary Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 205
6.1.1. General Remarks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 205
6.1.2. Processes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 210
6.1.3. Inherent and Non-Inherent Roles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 211
6.2. Process Types in Finnish: An Overview . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 213
6.3. Relational Processes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 214
6.3.1. Intensive Relational Processes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 214
6.3.1.(i) Attributive Intensive Processes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 215
6.3.1.(ii) Identifying Intensive Processes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 219
6.3.1.(iii) Other Intensive Processes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 231
6.3.2. Inclusive Processes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 237
6.3.3. Ambient Processes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 240
6.3.4. Circumstantial (Relational) Processes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 244
6.3.4.(i) Introductory Comments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 244
6.3.4.(ii) General Circumstantial Processes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 244
6.3.4.(iii) Possessive Circumstantial Processes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 249
6.3.5. Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 256
6.4. Material Processes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 256
6.4.1. Introductory Comments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 256
6.4.2. General Features of Material Processes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 257
6.4.3. Subtypes of Material Process . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 265
6.4.3.(i) Meteorological Processes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 266
6.4.3.(ii) Experiencer Processes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 267
6.4.3.(iii) Behavioural Processes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 272
6.5. Mental Processes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 274
6.5.1. Internal and External, Verbalized Consciousness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 274
6.5.2. Defined by Differences . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 276
6.5.4. Human Consciousness and Projection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 278
6.6. Experiential Metaphors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 284
6.7. Macro-Roles in Finnish . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 288
6.7.1. Medium and Domain . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 288
6.7.2. The Problem of the “Existential Subject” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 292
6.7.3. A Note on Derivational Affixes and External Causation . . . . . . . . . . 301
6.8. Concluding Remarks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 306

Chapter 7: Textual Structures in the Finnish Clause . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 307

7.1. Overview . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 307
7.2. Given and New . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 308

7.2.1. Brown and Yule’s Approach to Given and New . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 308

7.2.2. Halliday’s Approach . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 310
7.2.3. Segmental Markers of Information Structure in Finnish . . . . . . . . . . 315
7.3. Theme and Rheme . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 319
7.3.1. Introductory Remarks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 319
7.3.2. Topical Theme (Topic) in Finnish . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 320
7.3.3. Subsidiary Topical Themes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 327
7.3.4 Topical Themes in Post-Verbal Position . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 334
7.3.5 Theme and Topic-Worthiness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 336
7.3.6. Clause-Initial Interpersonal and Textual Elements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 339
7.4. Theme in Clause Complexes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 341
7.4.1. Relative Clauses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 341
7.4.2. Clause as Theme . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 343
7.4.3. Theme-Rheme in Hypotactic Complexes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 344
7.5. Additional Topics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 345
7.5.1. Non-realization of Inherent Human Participant . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 346
7.5.2. Non-Realization of Subject . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 348
7.5.3. Habitive and Manifestation Clauses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 360
7.6. Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 365

Chapter 8: Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 367

8.1. Overview . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 367
8.2. The Grammatical Analysis of a Text . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 368
8.3. Alongside and Beyond this Analysis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 372
8.4. Recurring Themes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 376

Appendix 1: Analysis of the “Cat Text” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 381

Appendix 2: Data Sources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 405
Appendix 3: Form Glosses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 409
Appendix 4: Function Glosses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 410
Appendix 5: Notational Conventions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 411
Appendix 6: System Network Conventions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 412

Bibliography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 413
Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 435
Maps and Figures

Map 1: Finnish Dialect Groupings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71

Figure 2-1: Planes in Language . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45

Figure 2-2: Levels in Language (Halliday 1961) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46
Figure 2-3: Simultaneous Paradigmatic Options in English . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52
Figure 2-4: Metafunctions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58

Figure 2-5: Transitivity Options in English . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61

Figure 2-6: Action Options in English . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62

Figure 3-1: Consonant Gradation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 76

Figure 3-2: Vowel Harmony . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 76
Figure 3-3: Present Indicative Forms of asua ‘to live/dwell’) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 78
Figure 3-4: Imperative Forms of ottaa ‘(to) take’ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80
Figure 3-5: Negative Forms of ottaa ‘(to) take’ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81
Figure 3-6: Common Case-Forms for Nominals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83
Figure 3-7: Convenient Groupings of Cases . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 84
Figure 3-8: Non-Productive or Semantically Restricted Case-Forms . . . . . . . . . . 85
Figure 3-9: Infinitives . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85
Figure 3-10: Common Case Forms for Non-Finite Verb Stems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 86

Figure 4-1: The Rank Scale in Finnish . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 107

Figure 4-2: Constituency and Dependency . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 111
Figure 4-3: Tactic Relationships in a Clause Complex . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 139

Figure 5-1: Variables in an Interactive Event . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 173

Figure 5-2: Primary Speech Functions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 173
Figure 5-3: Mood Options in English . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 174
Figure 5-4: Semantics as an Interface . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 175
Figure 5-5: Congruent Realizations of Speech Functions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 177
Figure 5-6: Halliday’s Symmetrical Model . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 188
Figure 5-7: Alternative Model . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 189
Figure 5-8: Mood Options in Finnish . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 196

Figure 6-1: Major Process Types . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 213



This text ) like any other text ) is pervaded by the intertextual sources that
engendered it. These intertextual sources are a reflection of my ties with both
Australia and Finland. I am deeply indebted to all of my teachers, colleagues and
friends ) at Macquarie University, the University of Sydney, the University of
Helsinki, and elsewhere ) for the critical and constructive dialogue without which
this study would not have materialized.
I am especially grateful to Professor Ruqaiya Hasan, my supervisor at
Macquarie University, for her advice and for her critical comments. Her question-
ing of me at various stages of writing this study has been an important catalyst in
the development of my thinking. I should also like to express my thanks to
Professor Pentti Leino of the Department of Finnish at the University of Helsinki
for reading and commenting on an earlier version of this thesis and for giving me
the opportunity to work and to do research in an academic environment. I am
indebted to Dr. Maria Vilkuna for her lengthy and thoughtful comments and
criticisms on an earlier draft of this thesis. Marja-Liisa Helasvuo, Ilona Herlin,
Associate Professor Esa Itkonen, Anne Thwaite, and Dr. Eija Ventola have also
read earlier versions of this thesis or parts of it. I am deeply grateful to all of them
for their comments and criticisms.
This thesis would not have been possible without financial support from the
Kone Foundation of Finland and the Australian Government Postgraduate Awards
Last, but not least, I wish to thank my family for their encouragement and
support over the years. I dedicate this study to my mother, Saara Rantamäki, who,
through her example, taught me the meaning of the Finnish expression kestää kuin
nainen ‘endure ) like a woman’.


This study is a functional analysis of Finnish based on systemic-functional theory

as developed by Michael Halliday and other linguists. The focus is on the description of
clause types in Finnish in terms of a number of simultaneous grammatical structures,
which are fused together in the process of realization. While the description of Finnish is
not based on any particular text or set of texts, the majority of examples are attested
examples from written Finnish or Finnish as it is spoken in the Helsinki area.
There are three introductory chapters to the study. The first chapter serves as an
introduction proper to the thesis and discusses some general issues concerned with theory
and data and the status of intuition in linguistic description. The second chapter is an
introduction to systemic-functional theory and it also discusses a number of issues (e.g.
knowledge of language) from a wider metatheoretical perspective. The third presents an
ethnographic account and a general outline of Finnish.
Chapters 4 to 7 constitute the main body of this thesis. Chapter 4 defines grammati-
cal units in terms of ranked constituency and gives a preliminary outline of clause
complexing in Finnish. Chapter 5 is concerned with structures in the Finnish clause that
reflect its internal organization as an exchange. A slightly modified version of Halliday’s
model is proposed: the parameters involved are whether the orientation of the exchange
is primarily linguistic (i.e. the exchange of words) or non-linguistic (i.e. directed at
action). The sixth chapter is concerned with the analysis of clauses into process types and
their concomitant participant and circumstantial roles. As in English, it is argued that in
Finnish there is also a basic division into relational processes, material processes and
processes of human consciousness (mental and verbal). The establishment of these process
types is based on Prototype Theory. Chapter 7 deals with textual structures. It presents a
preliminary discussion of Given and New and analyses the Theme-Rheme structure of the
Finnish clause. It is argued that the topical Theme in Finnish is realized by the experiential
element in the position preceding the finite verb, and that another subsidiary experiential
Theme needs to be recognized for Finnish. The Theme-Rheme structure is illustrated with
the analysis of a complete text reproduced in Appendix 1.
The study concludes by bringing together a number of recurring themes and by
presenting an analysis of a small fragment of text. The purpose of the text analysis is to
show how the various structures described in the main body of the study are intertwined
and conflated in a text and how the analysis presented in this study fits into a wider and
more comprehensive framework.
Chapter 1

1.1. Purpose and Scope of this Study

This study is a dialogue with linguists from two different traditions in linguistics.
It is a dialogue with Finnish linguists, particularly those working within the
framework of traditional linguistics and in applied areas of linguistics, and it is a
dialogue with systemic-functional linguists, since the theory of language on which
it is based is systemic-functional theory.

Although based on systemic-functional theory, the study also relies on

insights that have been gained from other linguistic theories and from traditional
grammars of Finnish. Traditional linguistics in Finland (generally referred to as
Fennistics) has tended to be theoretically eclectic, which ) from a positive
perspective ) can be seen as not being bound to any particular theory. From a
negative perspective, however, Fennistics could be seen as a mixture of various
theories, in which many of the critical and basic assumptions are not explicated.
This study offers Finnish linguists a way into systemic-functional theory, a way
into a theory that is concerned with explicating basic assumptions about language
and the study of language and with developing a coherent and comprehensive
theory of language.

It also offers Finnish linguists a new perspective on the analysis of Finnish as

it presents a functional description of Finnish grammar. The essence of a functional
grammar ) at least a systemic-functional grammar ) is that it relates the linguistic
system to texts, either spoken or written texts, and these texts, in turn, can be
related to human contexts of living. Moreover, in a systemic-functional perspec-
tive, the relation between language and human contexts of living is seen in both
dialectic and symbiotic terms. This has far-reaching repercussions for the way in
which the role of language in human activity is conceived ) for example, its role
in socialization, in education, in issues of ideology, race, gender (see, for example,

Halliday 1991, forthcoming). While this study focuses on grammar, it is a grammar

that will hopefully be of particular relevance to the study of spoken and written
texts and their function in Finnish society.

What is being offered to systemic-functional linguists in this study is an

insight into the grammatical description of a non-Indo-European language and the
problems that it poses. With a few exceptions, systemic-functional linguists ) like
many other linguists ) have tended to concentrate on the description of English.
There is often an implicit assumption in theoretical linguistics that a theory of
language need only be tested with the description of English: all too often one
hears or reads the words “Take a language, for example, English”.1 This study in
itself is “an act of meaning” (Halliday forthcoming), an act of meaning which may
change the meaning of saying something like “Take a language, for example,
Finnish” or “Take a language, for example, Gooniyandi”.

The purpose of the study is to provide a broad outline of a particular type of

functional grammar, systemic-functional grammar, as applied to Finnish. The focus
is on the description of clause types in Finnish in terms of a number of simul-
taneous grammatical structures. What this means is that the representation of a
clause is not seen as a single structural pattern, but as a number of patterns, which
are “conflated”, i.e. mapped onto each other or fused together, in the process of
realization. This approach to grammatical structure can be seen as a development
and an extension to grammatical phenomena of Firth’s analysis of phonological
structure (see e.g. 1957, Ch.9).2 A similar approach is taken in autosegmental
phonology. According to Halle and Vergnaud (1982: 65), for example:

The last time I heard words to this effect the speaker was, in fact, a Finnish linguist, and he
was not being facetious.
This is not meant to imply that grammatical and phonological phenomena are identical, but
I think it is useful ) particularly for those who are unacquainted with SF theory ) to draw
some sort of a parallel.

The major insight lying at the base of autosegmental phonology is that the phonological
representation is composed not of a single sequence of entities roughly corresponding to a line
of type, but rather that the phonological representation is made up of several parallel sequences
of entities, resembling thus more a score for a musical ensemble, than a single line of type.

The musical analogy that is used in this quotation echoes a similar analogy made
by Halliday, who compares grammatical structure to polyphonic music (e.g. 1978:
56). As is obvious from the above, the term grammatical structure as used here
does not only refer to constituency structure but to any kind of (non-random)
organization that is (more or less) restricted in scope to the boundaries of a clause.

The grammatical scope of this study is quite broad. In view of this, the degree
of detail (or “delicacy” in systemic-functional terms) is restricted: only the most
general type of organization is presented. A number of other restrictions on the
scope of the study are presented in the next section, in which there is an outline of
each chapter. One important restriction needs to be mentioned immediately: the
description presented here is not concerned with the “systemic” side of systemic-
functional theory, i.e. the setting up of systems networks to model the paradigmatic
options available in a language. The label “systemic-functional” (henceforth: SF)
is, nevertheless, used throughout to distinguish the approach taken here from other
brands of functionalism (see, e.g., Dirven & Fried (eds.) 1987, Matthiessen &
Halliday (forthcoming)). The systemic side is, nevertheless, implicit in the analysis
that is presented: in SF theory, the grammatical organization of a language is
modelled as a number of parallel complexes of networks, which represent various
kinds of meaningful (paradigmatic) options available in the language being inves-
tigated. This model of grammar iconically reflects the notion that the grammatical
system of a language is a “potential” for expressing and making meanings. A
particular combination of meanings ) at the grammatical level ) will result in a
number of simultaneous grammatical structures.

1.2. Outline of the Chapters

This chapter serves as an introduction and discusses some general issues concerned
with theory and data. The next two chapters give background information: as SF
theory is relatively unknown in Finland and as Finnish is relatively unknown to the
majority of linguists outside Finland, I have tried to accommodate possible readers
of this study by giving some background to SF theory in Chapter 2 and by giving
an ethnographic account and a general outline of Finnish in Chapter 3.

Chapters 4 to 7 constitute the main body of this study. Chapter 4 is primarily

concerned with one particular type of grammatical structure in Finnish )
constituency structure. Constituency refers to the part-whole relationships which
extend from the smallest grammatical unit, the morpheme, to the largest unit, the
clause. The chapter will also contain some discussion of clause complexing, which
can be regarded as straddling the area between grammatical and textual organiza-

The fifth chapter is concerned with structures in the Finnish clause that reflect
its internal organization as an exchange or interactive event. This is reflected in
mood structures, which are regarded as being related to the way in which the role
of the interactants is construed in language. Another aspect of interactive or
interpersonal clause-internal organization in SF theory is concerned with what
Halliday refers to as modality (assessments of probability and usuality) and
modulation (assessments of obligation or inclination) (Halliday 1985a: 86, 334 ff.;
Halliday in Kress ed. 1976: 189-213); however, this area of Finnish grammar will
not be dealt with in this study.

Chapter 6 is concerned with the way in which the clause in Finnish provides
a model of reality, i.e., a linguistic representation of the world around us, of the
world inside us, and of the world of our imagination. Central to the structure of the
clause as a model of reality is the analysis of clauses into process types and their
concomitant participant and circumstantial roles. For example, Akira Kurosawa

ohjasi tämän elokuvan ‘Akira Kurosawa directed this movie’ construes (encodes
and constructs) a material process, a happening or an action, whereas Akira
Kurosawa on japanilainen elokuvaohjaaja ‘Akira Kurosawa is a Japanese film
director’ construes a relational process in which the Carrier, realized by the proper
noun Akira Kurosawa is assigned an Attribute.

In the seventh chapter, the clause in Finnish is discussed in terms of the way
it is structured as a message, i.e., in terms of what Prague School linguists refer to
as the Functional Sentence Perspective (Halliday in Kress ed. 1976: 26-31; and e.g.
Daneš (ed.) 1974, Daneš 1987). From the point of view of the message, the
structure of the clause can be looked at in terms of its Theme-Rheme and Given-
New structure. According to Halliday (1985a: Chapter 8), the Given-New structure
in English is realized in intonational patterns (pitch movements) in the tone group.
While there is some preliminary discussion of Given and New in Finnish, a
phonetic analysis of the intonational patterns in Finnish is beyond the scope of this
study. The discussion of the Theme-Rheme structure of the Finnish clause focuses
on the topical Theme. The analysis is illustrated by a complete text, which is repro-
duced in Appendix 1.

The study concludes with the analysis of a small fragment of text in Chapter
8. This analysis is intended to show how the various structures described in the
main body of the study are intertwined and conflated in a text and how the analysis
presented here fits into a wider and more comprehensive framework. Chapter 8 also
brings together a number of recurring themes in the study.

1.3. Data

This study is based primarily on the Finnish that is spoken in the Helsinki area and
on standardized written Finnish, as this is the Finnish that I am familiar with.
However, the study is at such a primary degree of delicacy that is seems to me that
the analysis ) for the most part ) is also valid for at least those varieties of Finnish
that are spoken in Finland (see 3.2).

While the analysis and description here is not based on any particular text or
set of texts, the majority of examples in the main body of the text (Chapters 4 to 7)
are attested examples from either spoken or written Finnish. Each attested example
is followed by a reference to its source in square brackets. The sources are listed
in Appendix 2. In some instances, I have “tidied up” the original examples, e.g.
omitted false starts and stutters, since these are irrelevant to the functionally charac-
terized grammatical structures that are being explicated. For the same reason, I
have also standardized certain phonological features of dialect forms. In some
cases, I have also omitted parts of the clause if they are irrelevant to the point being

Since the majority of examples are authentic examples, instead of giving just
one or two examples to illustrate a grammatical phenomenon, a number of
examples are given. This is done to clearly illustrate the kind of phenomenon that
is being described. With constructed examples, it is relatively easy to construct an
example that clearly and unambiguously illustrates a grammatical point. An
intransitive material process, for example, could be illustrated by the example
Lapsi juoksee ‘The child runs/is running’. However, examples like this are rare in
actual text. An authentic example often contains constituents that are irrelevant to
the point being made and this “extraneous matter” cannot be omitted without
sacrificing the authenticity of the example.

Some of the examples are also constructed, i.e. based on my knowledge of

Finnish. This has been done for two reasons: 1) to illustrate a grammatical point by

comparing an authentic example with a possible variant and 2) in cases where a

particular type of example ) although commonly used and uncontroversial ) is
unlikely to occur in the corpora available to me, or it seemed that to search for an
example like mua palelee ‘I’m freezing’ would be taking the use of authentic
examples to unnecessary extremes (see below). To avoid taxing the non-Finnish
reader, I have also used simple, constructed examples in Chapter 3, which presents
some of the main features of Finnish in a nutshell.

I have not based this grammatical description on a particular corpus, because

what I am investigating is grammatical phenomena, phenomena that are not
restricted to a particular genre, a particular text or discourse type. While SF theory
recognizes both a semantic and a (lexico)grammatical plane in language,
grammatical categories are also seen as categories of meaning: they are
grammaticalizations of highly generalized semantic categories (Matthiessen 1989:

Grammatical meaning is, thus, distinguished from meaning in a broader sense:

how we understand what someone else has said or written can depend on a whole
range of factors. A particular language enables (and predisposes) us to express
certain general or particular semantic distinctions through its lexicogrammatical
resources; but when we begin to analyse the meanings that are created in a
particular text ) whether spoken or written, monologue or dialogue, informal or
institutionalized, and so on ) then we need to widen our perspective. We not only
need to augment a theory of the lexico-grammatical resources of a language (some
aspects of which are illustrated by this study) with a theory of cohesion (of the way
in which grammatical structures relate to the co-text and context (see e.g. Halliday
& Hasan (1976)), but, as Lemke (1988, 1989, 1990) points out, we need incorpo-
rate a wider text-semantic theory. A text-semantic theory would need to encompass
such notions as genre, intertextuality, and heteroglossia and would need to address
such issues as the social and ideological positions, the values, beliefs, attitudes etc.
of the interactants.

If one regards the grammar of a language as a resource that underlies the use
of language in a variety of different contexts, then to base one’s grammatical
description on a particular corpus would unavoidably distort the picture. The notion
of “grammar” can only make sense if it is applied to a language as a whole. The
only access we have to a language ) more or less as a whole1 ) is through our
knowledge of the way in which it is used in a multiplicity of contexts (cf. section
2.3.4, which discusses E. Itkonen’s (1983a, 1983b) view of the precedence of
intuition, i.e. knowledge, in grammatical description). It would be pointless to base
an analysis of the grammatical options available in Finnish on a corpus of casual
conversation, for example, or even on the large computer corpora of written
Finnish that are now available. In any of the available corpora, it would be difficult
to find many examples of imperatives or examples like mua palelee ‘I’m freezing’.
If the example is common and uncontroversial, then it is pointless to ignore it
because for some reason it does not occur in the particular corpus that has been
selected for analysis.

However, I have avoided the use of intuited or invented examples in the

analysis of Finnish presented in this study (Chapters 4 ) 7) because they smack of
a decontextualized view of language. Moreover, often our so-called “intuitions”
about language are influenced by the view of language that we have received
through schooling and an educational system that goes back for centuries. Our
intuitions may also be influenced by standardizing pressures on the language: what
we consider to be acceptable may, in fact, be unduly influenced by what we have
been told is correct.

The notion of a language as a whole is, of course, problematic: Firth (see section 2.2.3)
maintained that there was no such thing; needless to say, a grammatical description based on
this notion of language can only be based on regularities and tendencies, and not on hard and
fast rules.

1.4. Glosses

In Appendix 3 and Appendix 4, there are keys for the form and function glosses
used in the Finnish examples. Other notation conventions are listed in Appendix
5 and Appendix 6. There are two copies of each of the appendices, one of which
is detachable so that the reader can easily refer to it while reading the text. (The
loose copy is enclosed in a pocket on the inside cover of the study.) The non-
Finnish reader is advised to look at the glosses and not at the translation, as the
translation is an attempt to convey the meaning and not the grammatical relations
within the Finnish clause.

1.5. Theory and Description

This section is a brief, general discussion on theory per se, as it seems to me that
there is not necessarily a consensus on what is meant by theory and a theoretical
approach to the study of language. In my view, a theoretical approach is, in the first
instance, an attempt to “put one’s cards on the table”. It is an attempt to make
explicit the fundamental assumptions we have about language and the study of it.

Regardless of whether they are explicated or not, we all have assumptions

about language. The problem with linguistic descriptions that are not based on a
particular theory is that one is never sure what is meant by a particular term or
notion, and how the theoretical terms that are used in the description are related to
each other. If we take almost any article or book written about Finnish ) or any
other language for that matter ) regardless of whether the writer has avowedly
taken a theoretical approach, we are likely to find a plethora of linguistic terms.
This is true of traditional Fennistics. It is also true of ethnomethodological
conversation analysis, a more recent approach to linguistic analysis in Finland and
elsewhere, which has its roots in sociology. In Finland, at least,
ethnomethodological conversation analysis has been critical of theory and
preconceived theoretical categories (see A. Hakulinen ed. 1989, Ch. 1-2). The

following terms are a random selection from some articles on ethnomethodological

conversation analysis published in Finland (Hakulinen & Sorjonen 1986; A.
Hakulinen ed. 1989; A. Hakulinen 1991; Tainio et al. 1991; Sorjonen & Heritage

syntaksi ‘syntax’, kielioppi ‘grammar’, kieliopillinen kokonaisuus ‘a grammatical entirety’,

rakenne ‘structure’, syntaktinen kokonaisuus ‘a syntactic entirety’, morfeemi ‘morpheme’,
lauseke ‘phrase’, lause ‘clause/sentence’, virke ‘sentence’, partikkeli ‘particle’, idiomi
‘idiom’, kysymys ‘question’, leksikaalinen aines ‘lexical substance’, modaalinen aines
‘modal substance’, modaaliverbi ‘modal verb’, käskylause ‘command/imperative clause’,
imperatiivi ‘imperative’, NP, fonologis-morfologinen virhe ‘phonological-morphological
mistake’, leksikaalinen virhe ‘lexical mistake’, funktio ‘function’, käyttö ‘use’, viittaus ‘refer-
ence’, viitata ‘refer’, pronomini ‘pronoun’, nomini ‘noun/nominal’, verbi ‘verb’, topikaali-
nen koheesio ‘topical cohesion’, suora lainaus ‘direct quote’, ajatusreferaatti ‘reporting of
thought’, prosodinen kokonaisuus ‘prosodic entirety’, adverbiaali ‘adverbial’, subjekti
‘subject’, konteksti ‘context’, diskurssimaailma ‘universe of discourse’, semantiikka
‘semantics’, semanttis-pragmaattisesti ‘semantico-pragmatic’, lisämerkitys ‘secondary/added
meaning’, implikaatio ‘implicature’, spesifinen ‘specific’, geneerinen ‘generic’, kieliopilli-
nen kuvaus ‘grammatical description’, ellipsis, co-referentiality, topical focus etc.

Similar terms are, of course, found in traditional descriptions of Finnish. Surely it

is of relevance to ask, for example, “What is grammar? What is syntax? What is
lexis? Are they related to each other? If so, how? What is the nature of the
relationship between them? What is a grammatical entirety? What is a syntactical
entirety? What is a prosodic entirety? Are they related to each other? If so, how?
Is a virke ‘sentence’ a grammatical unit?” etc. etc. Even if linguistic terms such as
the ones that are listed above are not used in a particular article, the fact remains
that they are part and parcel of the implicit assumptions underlying any analysis:
the study of language is theory-laden.

However, making one’s assumptions explicit is not always an easy thing to

do: there are various difficulties involved in the explication of theories and
theoretical concepts. One of the problems in presenting SF theory to linguists who
have been schooled in or have been influenced by other theories is that it quite
clearly belongs to a different paradigm, in Kuhn’s (1970) sense of the word. Kuhn
was of the opinion that different paradigms are incommensurable, and, thus, mutual
understanding is impossible, or near impossible. Moreover, the language of theory,

like language itself, is not monoglossic: it, too, is inherently intertextual and

In spite of the difficulties involved, at least it can be said of a theoretical

approach is that it explicitly rejects what Chalmers (1982) has referred to as a
“naive inductivist” position. According to the naive inductivist, we start by
carefully observing and faithfully recording what we see and hear, and we do this
with an unprejudiced mind. Then we make statements about our observations, and
on the basis of these statements, we begin to develop our theories. The inductivist
works on the assumption that a general law or principle can be inferred by
observing particular instances. He or she assumes that observation precedes theory
and that we can make observation statements that are independent of theory, that
we can have direct, unadulterated and atheoretical access to what is happening in
the world around us. Such a view has long been questioned by philosophers of
science: no-one is born into a vacuum; our observations, and the statements we
make about them, depend on our education, our expectations, our knowledge, our
experiences and our culture, all of which can be referred to as “low-level” theory
(Chalmers 1982: 28). Observation does not precede theory, it presupposes theory.

The above is true of any of our observations, but when it comes to the
analysis of language, then any educated linguist has had at least twelve years of
exposure to a western European notion of language as it is enshrined in the
educational system (see e.g. Harris 1981, Mühlhausler 1987) and at least some
exposure to so-called traditional grammar, ie. grammatical description in which the
underlying theoretical assumptions are not explicated. Moreover, there are many
folk linguistic notions about language, which are part of the received view of
language in any society. Statements made by linguists about language are bound
to be theory-laden, the assumptions are simply not explicated (see also Joseph &
Taylor (eds.) 1990).

However, with any description of language, whether explicitly theoretical or

not, there is always the danger of making the data fit the categories that one set up

or even making it fit the unexplicated assumptions one has about the data. With
linguistic theories, all too often the theory becomes a self-sufficient end in itself,
without regard to the nature of the phenomenon that it purports to describe (cf. A.
Hakulinen 1989: 45 ff.). The linguistic categories that are originally set up to
account for similarities and oppositions in a language become reified (cf. Halliday
1988a: 27-28), and the dialectic between theory and description that should be the
basis of linguistic analysis is lost.
The importance of a dialectic between theory and description has been
stressed from the earliest systemic work. Firth, whose ideas laid the foundation for
SF theory, repeatedly refers to the somewhat mystical sounding “renewal of
connection” (e.g. Firth 1957: 24; in Palmer ed. 1968: 19,175-176). By this he
meant the testing of a theory or hypothesis with data. This topic is taken up by
Fawcett in the foreword of a recent volume of systemic papers, which echoes
earlier statements to a similar effect (e.g. Halliday, McIntosh, & Strevens 1964: 32;
Halliday in McIntosh & Halliday 1966: 41):

The theory that [this volume] discusses is always theory that arises out of the actual textual data
of languages, and that leads back to further description ) thus completing the cycle of the
‘renewal of connection’, which J.R. Firth wisely advised us to remember to make. One might
even propose as a guiding principle: No theory without description, and no description
without a theory ) the theory, of course, often turning out to be inadequate. (Halliday &
Fawcett (eds.) 1987: ix.) [Emphasis added.]

Chapter 2
An Outline of Systemic-Functional Theory

2.1. Overview

This chapter provides a short introduction to SF theory, from the early scale and
category grammar to what was known first as systemic theory and later as
systemic-functional theory. There is particular emphasis on those aspects of the
theory that are relevant to an understanding of the grammatical analysis that is
presented in this study and the assumptions that underlie it. It also discusses a
number of issues (e.g. knowledge of language) from a wider metatheoretical
perspective. The chapter is divided into three sections. Section 2.2 is a brief
discussion of the London School of Linguistics, which is important because it
provided the base from which SF theory has developed. Section 2.3 is concerned
with general theoretical issues and some of the basic assumptions of SF theory.
Section 2.4 deals with more specific features of SF grammar. The focus in section
2.4 is on the present position, although there is some discussion of developments
that have occurred since the earliest work. As not all SF linguists would concur on
all of the theoretical issues mentioned, an attempt will be made to bring together
what is common to those working within a SF framework, and take a critical look
at some of the assumptions.

2.2. The London School of Linguistics

2.2.1. General Remarks

SF theory has developed out of the London School of linguistics (see Robins 1967:
213-220; Butler 1985: 1-13; Sampson 1980: 212-235), a loosely framed school of
thought influenced by the ideas of J.R. Firth (1890 ) 1960). Firth’s theory of
language, if it can be referred to as a theory, was never fully and coherently
explicated. His ideas about language are sketchily presented in two early works

meant for the non-specialist (Firth 1930, 1937; republished in one volume in 1964)
and two collections of articles, one of them posthumously edited by F.R. Palmer
(Firth 1957; Palmer (ed.) 1968).1

Firth’s main areas of interest were 1) phonology, in particular, prosodic

analysis and 2) meaning, where linguistic meaning was seen as being contextually
determined, both in terms of a) the linguistic context (or, in Saussurean terms, the
linguistic value) of an item at a particular level or stratum and b) the extralinguistic
context of situation. Firth (1957: 27) reserved the word “semantics” for meaning
in this latter sense, i.e., meaning considered in terms of the extralinguistic context.
This has also been referred to as both “contextual meaning” (Firth 1957: 195) and
“situational meaning” (Robins 1961: 195).

2.2.2. System and Structure

Out of Firth’s work in phonology came two sets of notions which were to be of
significance in SF theory: a) system and structure and b) a “multi-structural and
polysystemic” approach to language (in Palmer (ed.) 1968: 200). Firth’s notions of
system and structure are based on the structuralist notions of paradigmatic and
syntagmatic relations, paradigmatic relations (first used by Hjelmslev 1959 [1938]:
152) being a development of Saussure’s psychologically oriented associative
relations (Saussure 1983 [1916]: 121-125). However, in contrast to Saussure, Firth
did not regard these notions as being applicable to the language as a whole (see
next section).

For Firth, a system and a structure are complementary: a structure is formed

by elements in syntagmatic relation at a particular level of analysis, while a system
is made up of the mutually exclusive paradigmatic options that come into play at

For a short overview of Firth’s ideas, see Henderson 1987.

a particular place in a structure (in Palmer (ed.) 1968: 103). This relationship has
been mnemonically illustrated by the following diagram (Dinneen 1967: 305):

s t r u c t u r e

Firth’s approach is, however, both “polysystemic” and “multi-structural” (in

Palmer (ed.) 1968: 200). The term “multi-structural” refers to the fact that any
structure may be the result of the integration of two or more co-existing structures.
For Firth (1957: 121-123, 137), a given language is polysystemic in that it involves
a “plurality of systems”. The notion of polysystemicity seems to be a general
principle which can be applied in various ways (see Firth 1957: 121 ff., 136; in
Palmer (ed.) 1968: 43; Robins 1964: 167; 1967: 219).

2.2.3. Restricted Languages and Speech Fellowships

Because of the vastness, complexity and diversity of language, Firth (in Palmer
(ed.) 1968: 97-98,110,112; cf. Bakhtin 1981) saw the task of describing it
exhaustively an impossible one. He insisted that the techniques of description
should be applied to “restricted languages”, not to the language as a whole. A
restricted language is seen as a delimited or circumscribed sub-language within the
general language with its own grammar and dictionary (in Palmer (ed.) 1968: 29-
30,87). It provides data that is already “fenced off”, as Firth put it, for the linguist.
The examples given by Firth would seem to indicate that the manner in which a
restricted language is “fenced off” was not important for Firth: his examples
suggest that a restricted language corresponds not only to a register, but also to the
language of a particular text or set of texts. Examples given by Firth (in Palmer
(ed.) 1968: 29,87,98, 106,112,118-119) include the language of modern Arabic
headlines, of politics or meteorology, or of a particular text or a particular writer.

As well as making a distinction between the general language and a restricted

language, Firth also made a distinction between the general language community
and what he referred to as a “speech fellowship”. In a speech fellowship, the speech
of a group reflects a bond of fellowship based on the “sharing of a truly common
experience” (Firth 1957: 186). Speech fellowships are reflected in the study of
persons or what Firth referred to as “personalities”, i.e. social (or socially
constructed) entities who actively participate in the creation and maintenance of a
particular culture or sub-culture. While Firth maintained that he was interested in
the specific person, he qualified this by saying that those that are to be studied are
“representative” or “usually typical of an important speech fellowship in a wider
speech community” (1957: 143,226; in Palmer (ed.) 1968: 32,187). Such persons
are seen as being in command of “a constellation of restricted languages” which
are “governed by personality in social life and the general language of the
community” (in Palmer (ed.) 1968: 207-208).

Thus, for Firth what was linguistically salient was the social entity, the
“personality”, rather than the biological or natural entity, which Firth referred to
as the “individual”. Firth (1957: 28,184) saw the social person as the product of the
various social roles she or he has to play in a particular society and likened a
person to an actor in a play with various roles to play.1 Social roles are learnt
almost from birth as a person is incorporated into various speech fellowships in a
particular society.

Members of a speech fellowship belong to a wider language community, and

the widest community based on English is the English-speaking world. This wider
community is not homogeneous, but based on diversity; it is not founded on a
standardization which neutralizes the various accents, registers and dialects, but on
the diversity of linguistic “personalities”:

Personality, in the Firthian sense, can thus be seen at the intersection of the various social
networks (in the sense of Milroy 1987) to which a person belongs.

Members of various speech fellowships may, however, belong to larger speech or language
communities without conflict of values. Both sets of values deserve respect. The vast
enterprises of the English-speaking world, operated by English, go on without standardization
of accent. You may estimate the relative values of what is called an Oxford accent, an
Aberdonian accent, a Boston, a New York, or an Australian accent, but the main thing is a
wider language community with room for diversity of personality. (Firth 1957: 186.)
[Emphasis added.]

As suggested earlier, Firth was aware of the problems inherent in describing

a monolithic system which purported to reflect the unity of language:

The multiplicity of social roles we have to play as members of a race, nation, class, family,
school, club, as sons, brothers, lovers, fathers, workers, ... public speakers, involves also a
certain degree of linguistic specialization. Unity is the last concept that should be applied to
language... There is no such thing as une langue une and there never has been. (Firth
1957: 29.) [Emphasis added.]

Thus, Firth’s notion of a general language, such as English or Swahili or Finnish,

can be seen as the union of a vast number of subsets of restricted languages. Firth’s
response to the complexity and diversity of language phenomena was to confine
the analysis to restricted subsets of the language.

Firth’s approach to the vastness of language phenomena can be contrasted

with the approach taken by Chomsky. Chomsky’s (1965: 3-4) response was to set
up a dichotomy between competence and performance, between the speaker-
listener’s knowledge of a language and the actual use of language (as an individual
activity) in concrete situations, and, furthermore, to regard linguistic theory as
being concerned with “an ideal speaker-listener in a perfectly homogenous speech-
community, who knows its language perfectly”.

Thus, while Firth at least purported to be concerned with abstracting and

making generalizations from the speech of specific persons typical of a speech
fellowship, Chomsky was concerned with the representation of the grammatical
knowledge of a collective uniformity. The ideal speaker-listener is a fiction: “it”
is a member of society in which there are no divisions according to race, sex, class

or social position. Chomsky’s approach could be seen as focusing on the

intersection of the restricted languages within a given language, or, given his
emphasis on what is common to all languages, on the intersection of the intersec-
tions of the restricted languages of all languages. Consequently, Chomsky’s
approach has led to a view of grammar where all variation is neutralized and
grammatical analysis is restricted to a small set of phenomena which are possible
candidates for language universals. No doubt, Firth would have felt that
Chomskyan linguistics had very little to do with the “living of life” (in Palmer (ed.)
1968: 169). Regardless of their theoretical manifestos, however, in practice both
Firth and Chomsky have based their grammatical descriptions on middle-to-upper
class standard varieties. Firth’s phonetic and phonological analyses of English (in
Firth 1957), for example, are clearly based on a standard middle-to-upper class

2.2.4. A General Linguistic Theory

Firth (1957: 144; in Palmer (ed.) 1968: 152, 190-202) was interested in a general
linguistic theory, a theoretical framework with which to approach the description
of any given language, but not in a theory of linguistic universals in the sense that
it has become familiar in Chomskyan and post-Chomskyan linguistics:

What is here being sketched is a general linguistic theory applicable to particular linguistic
descriptions, not a theory of universals for general linguistic description. (Firth in Palmer (ed.)
1968: 190.)

In response to universalist statements such as “there are no real adjectives in

Swahili”, Firth warned against the “hypostatization”, or reification, of grammatical
categories. The grammatical categories for a particular language are abstractions
which are determined by the interrelations in the systems set up by the linguist for
that language, not realities which are either present or absent in a language. (See
also Hasan 1971.) Moreover, a grammatical category is regarded by Firth (in
Palmer (ed.) 1968: 39) as ineffable: it eludes our conscious attempts to define it.

(This problem has been taken up by Halliday (1988a) and will be discussed in
section 2.4.11 (p. 63).)

2.2.5. Meaning

Firth saw meaning as the cornerstone of linguistic theory: the study of language
is the study of linguistic meaning (1957: 190; in Palmer (ed.) 1968, Ch.1).
Moreover, linguistic meaning could only be understood by appreciating the
intimate relationship between language and society. As Firth (1957: 226; in Palmer
(ed.) 1968: 12-13) points out, words are not isolates which somehow have meaning
in and by themselves, as logicians and some linguists would have us believe; they
have meaning because they function in the particular society in which the speakers
happen to live. Thus, language is seen not in terms of an individual mental activity
or as an abstract construct divorced from reality, but as an integral part of the
physical and social world in which we live. Meanings are created in society:

As we know so little about mind and as our study is essentially social, I shall cease to respect
the duality of mind and body, thought and word, and be satisfied with the whole man, thinking
and acting as a whole in association with his fellows. I do not therefore follow Ogden and
Richards in regarding meaning as relations in a hidden mental process, but chiefly as situational
relations in a context of situation and in that kind of language which disturbs the air and other
people’s ears, as modes of behaviour in relation to other elements in the context of
situation. (Firth 1957: 19.) [Emphasis added.]

Firth extended Malinowski’s (1923) view of meaning as “function in context”

to incorporate linguistic contexts at all levels: meaning originates not only in the
social context but in successive linguistic contexts. Linguistic meaning in its
entirety was thus seen as a “complex of contextual relations”:

Meaning ... is to be regarded as a complex of contextual relations, and phonetics, grammar,

lexicography, and semantics each handles its own components of the complex in its appropriate
environment. (Firth 1957: 19.)

Each successive linguistic context is, thus, seen as providing a step in the access
to the total meaning of an utterance. Firth, pace Harris (1987a), advocated a two-
way approach: one can either work from the context of situation to phonology or
from phonology to the context of situation (1957: 192).

In discussing his approach to meaning, Firth (e.g. Firth 1957: 19; in Palmer
(ed.) 1968: 200) often used the analogy of the dispersion of light waves into a
spectrum: just as white light is the fusion of a number of colours of differing
wavelengths, linguistic meaning is the fusion of a number of different “modes of
meaning”. This fusion of meaning is impossible to analyse until it is dispersed (or
deconstructed) into various modes of meaning.

It is necessary ... to split up the problem of meaning into its components or elements. The
process may be compared, metaphorically speaking, to the dispersion of white light into a
spectrum by means of a prism. The prism in our case is descriptive linguistics and the spectrum
is the multiple statements of meaning at various levels. (Firth in Palmer (ed.) 1968: 108.)

2.2.6. Rejection of Saussurean Structuralism

While Firth’s notions of a system and a structure are based on the Saussurean
notions of syntagmatic and associative relations, and, in some respects, his
approach to meaning relies on Saussure’s notion of value, Firth did not consider
himself a Saussurean and explicitly rejected many of Saussure’s ideas (Firth 1957:
36,179-181; in Palmer (ed.) 1968: 127-129; Halliday 1978: 51). What is central to
the Saussurean model of language is langue, a static synchronic system in which
there are no positive terms and everything is defined negatively in terms of abstract
relations of opposition (Saussure 1983 [1916]: 118). Such a conception of
language, as Firth (1957: 180-181) points out, excludes not only actual words and
sounds, but also the actual speakers of the language. Thus, Saussurean structural-
ism leads to a reification of langue, and the concrete dialogic nature of language
is ignored (cf. Voloshinov 1973 [1930]). If we ignore the constant dialectic
between language as system (or as multiple systems) and language as “speech and
... texts related to the living of, and therefore to the ‘meaning’ of life” (in Palmer

(ed.) 1968: 169), then we also ignore inter alia the means of exploring linguistic
variation and change. This distinction between language as system and language
as speech and text is comparable to Hjelmslev’s (1953: 5) notion of language as
system and language as process, which, in later SF terms could be glossed as
language as system and language as (spoken or written) text.1 For Firth, the
dialectic between system and text is central:

Renewal of connection with the processes and patterns of life in the instances of experience is
the final justification of abstract linguistics. (Firth 1957: 24.)

2.2.7. Firth and SF Theory

Many of the assumptions underlying Firth’s approach to linguistic analysis were

carried over into SF linguistics. While there have been many changes of emphasis
and direction, Firth’s influence and input is still evident. SF theory has retained
Firth’s focus on text and has built upon and developed his ideas on restricted
languages, the context of situation, and on the notions of system and structure.
More importantly, however, Firth’s influence is evident in the multifaceted and
wide-ranging approach to meaning: SF grammar is about meaning, about the
resources that are available in a language that allow us to say and do meaningful
things. It is about the lexicogrammatical resources that allow us to make meanings.

See section 2.4.14, for a further distinction between a synoptic and a dynamic perspective
on language.

2.3. SF Theory: General Considerations

2.3.1. Language as a Linguistic Behaviour Potential

For systemic-functional linguists, linguistic behaviour is a form of social behaviour

(Halliday 1978: 36-39): people are socialized into a particular culture and have
learnt to interact in meaningful ways. For example, ways of coming into actual
physical contact with another person (e.g. shaking hands, touching another person’s
shoulder or leg, hugging, kissing, slapping, and hitting) are meaningful and the
meaning of a particular action can vary from one culture (or sub-culture) to the next
and can co-vary with any of a multitude of factors such as gender, social status,
class, profession etc. A particular culture thus embodies a number of choices in its
socially sanctioned forms of interaction. These choices can be seen as making up
a resource or a potential of socially significant ways of behaving. This resource or
potential is referred to by Halliday as a “behaviour potential”.

Although much of our social behaviour, i.e. the behaviour we learn as we

become socialized into a particular group or society, is expressed in non-linguistic
ways, more significant, at least from the point of view of linguistics, is the way in
which we behave linguistically. If, for example, A and B are both speakers of
English, and A wants B to close the door, it is conceivable that A could point in the
direction of the door with appropriate gestures or glare at both B and the open door,
but there are a number of ways of achieving this linguistically, e.g. “How many
times have I told you to close the door behind you”, “Please close the door”,
“Would you please be so kind as to close the door behind you”, “Were you born
in a tent?” etc. From this perspective, a language can be seen as a form of
behaviour which finds expression linguistically. It is a resource or a potential for
doing meaningful things, enabling us to achieve certain ends in certain ways. It can
be represented as a system of choices or options. The use of the term “choice” or
“option”, however, is not meant to suggest that choices in language are simply a
matter of the speaking making a rational decision (see next section and Thibault
1987: 604,607).

A language can be seen as a “meaning potential” or a “semantic potential”

(see e.g. Halliday 1973: 51,72); or, perhaps, more appropriately, as a “meaning-
making” potential ) the notion of a potential should not be misunderstood as a
static inventory of predetermined meanings. The semantic potential of a language
is realized in terms of the linguistic resources that are available, i.e. in terms of the
lexicogrammatical system of the language. The semantic potential and the (non-
linguistic) behaviour potential together contribute to the total semiotic potential of
a society.

2.3.2. The SF Interpretation of Langue

To see language as a resource, rather than as a structure or as a system of rules, has

important repercussions for the way in which Saussure’s notions of langue and
parole are interpreted. In SF linguistics, this distinction is seen in terms of
potential vs. actual (Berry 1975: 24; Halliday 1978: 37-38; Fawcett 1980: 55). A
potential can be regarded as what it is possible for people to say in a particular
language, it can be regarded as a system of lexical and grammatical choices ) the
meaning-making resources ) that are available in any language. Actual linguistic
behaviour can be seen as what is said at a particular time and place, as the
particular configuration of choices that is made.

In contrast to Firth, who did not think it was feasible to look at language as
a whole and wanted to restrict linguistic analysis to a subset of a language as
reflected in his “restricted languages”, systemic-functional linguists see language
as the union of all of these subsets. Like Firth, however, they would still reject the
notion of language as a unity. Language is not unified, but inherently variable.
While there is variation in language, it is not random, but can be correlated with
various factors. These factors can be roughly grouped under a number of headings:

(1) Variation that can be associated with social phenomena such as gender,
class, etc. (see e.g. Hasan 1987a, 1988, 1989; Hasan & Cloran 1990).
(2) Variation related to differences in the contexts of language use (see 2.3.7).
(3) Variation related to regional (or geographical) differences in language.

An important consequence of regarding langue as a potential is that it allows

us to say that not all individuals (or, more correctly, groups of individuals) have the
same access to this potential. (This also applies to the linguist; see next section.)
An obvious example, is the differential access to legal institutions: many of us are
unfamiliar with legal procedures and courts of law, and, consequently, have to rely
on the services of a lawyer. However, there are also more subtle ways in which
some social groups do not have access to potential forms of linguistic interaction,
and this may put them at a social or educational disadvantage. For example,
Bernstein has attempted to show that the ways in which it is natural for lower
working class pupils to interact is different from the ways in which middle class
children interact, and, because the educational system is based on middle class
assumptions, working class children are at a disadvantage. (For an overview, see
Bernstein 1987.)

Saussure (1983[1916]) saw langue as basically a property of the speech

community, and, in this sense, the SF notion of langue as a potentiality is closer
to the Saussurean notion than Chomsky’s (1957) notion of competence, which is
a property of the individual. For Saussure (1983: 19), however, while langue was
a distillation of social behaviour, it “takes the form of a totality of imprints in
everyone’s brain, rather like a dictionary of which each individual has an identical
copy”, and it is this position which has led to an internalization of the object of
inquiry, as taken up by Chomsky and others. With Chomsky, this has led to an
extreme psycho-biological approach to language. Many other linguists, while they
may not share Chomsky’s views, still tend to view linguistics as a branch of
cognitive psychology.

2.3.3. The Individual and the Social Aspect of Language

Systemic-functional linguists stress the social and interactive nature of language

(Halliday 1978: 12-13; 38-39; 56-57; Fawcett 1980: 6; Berry 1975: 22-23).
However, language as a social and interactive phenomenon can be viewed from
two perspectives. Halliday (1978: 12-16, 56-57) contrasts what he refers to as
“inter-organism” and “intra-organism” perspectives, which he sees as complemen-
tary. This is similar to Saussure’s (1983: 8-9) view of the complementarity of the
individual and social aspects of language. According to Saussure, the individual
and the social are complementary in the sense that they are dependent on each
other: “one is not conceivable without the other”.

The inter-organism perspective sees language externally: as something that

is happening between people. The intra-organism perspective looks at it internally:
as something that is going on in a person’s head. Halliday’s main interest is in an
inter-organism perspective on language; there are others within SF linguistics,
notably Fawcett (1980), who subscribe to an intra-organism perspective.

The intra-organism perspective on language is further complicated by the fact

that it can be interpreted in various ways. When Halliday first made the distinction
it was made at a time when linguistics was dominated by Chomsky’s assumptions
about the nature of language and the purpose of linguistics. In Chomsky’s (1968,
1976) approach, knowledge of language refers to abstract knowledge of the rules,
principles, and conditions that characterize all human languages. This knowledge
is abstracted by the linguist from “context-free” sentences, and related to innate,
but as yet unknown, mechanisms in the human brain. However, knowledge of
language involves a lot more than abstract rules about the organization of language:

We do not simply ‘know’ our mother tongue as an abstract system of vocal signals, or as if it
was some sort of grammar book with a dictionary attached. We know it in the sense of
knowing how to use it; we know how to communicate with other people, how to choose
forms of language that are appropriate to the type of situation we find ourselves in, and so on.
All this can be expressed as a form of knowledge: we know how to behave linguistically.
(Halliday 1978: 13.) [Emphasis added.]

It is in this wider sense that an intra-organism perspective is seen as being

complementary to an inter-organism perspective.

An intra-organism perspective on language in use is somewhat different to

Hymes’ (1967, 1986) notion of “communicative competence”. As Halliday (1978:
92) points out, the very notion of communicative competence assumes that there
is a distinct kind of competence (i.e. Chomsky’s grammatical competence) that is
based on one’s knowledge of language in vacuo. From a SF perspective, the only
kind of competence is communicative competence:

If our goal is the pursuit of system-in-language (Fishman 1971: 7), this is surely linguistics,
and linguistics always has ... accepted what Hymes (1967) calls the “socio-cultural dimensions
of its subject-matter”, the link between language and the social factors that must be adduced
to explain observed linguistic phenomena. By the same token, however, we do not need
“communicative competence”, which has to be adduced only if the system has first been
isolated from its social context. If we are concerned with “what the speaker-hearer knows”, as
distinct from what he can do, and we call this his “competence”, then competence is
communicative competence; there is no other kind. (Halliday 1978: 92.) [Emphasis

2.3.4. Knowledge of Language

On the other hand, from the perspective of the philosophy of science, it has been
cogently and convincingly argued by E. Itkonen (1983a, 1983b) that knowledge
is epistemologically prior in any investigation, whether the object of investigation
is language or electricity. Any investigation of language must be based on
assumptions that a linguist makes about the regularities in that language, and this
is true whether the language in question is the investigator’s native language, a
foreign language, or even a extinct language. Regularities or tendencies or rules are
not concrete entities that can be observed, they can only be intuited or abstracted
on the basis of our analytical reasoning processes.

While Itkonen talks of “knowledge of language”, he does not give it a

mystical status, but insists on the primarily social nature of knowledge and
language, and on the intersubjectivity of the rules of language (E. Itkonen 1978).

Moreover, when he describes it as “intuitive”, the implication is not that a native

speaker’s knowledge of a language is innate, but that it is internalized, and, in order
to be explicated, involves introspection. The analysis of a linguist’s knowledge of
the rules of a language is referred to by Itkonen as “autonomous linguistics” (i.e.
this is how Itkonen (1978) defines autonomous linguistics). According to Itkonen
(1983a: 1), autonomous linguistics “investigates ‘language in itself’”, abstracting
from either the social or psychological mechanisms that sustain it. It is “the
conceptual precondition of linguistic investigations dealing with external evidence”
(Itkonen 1983a: 10). As such, autonomous linguistics does not make use of
external evidence, and the use of a corpus is justified only in the analysis of unclear
cases and in the testing of descriptions.

While it seems clear that Itkonen is correct in maintaining that a linguist must
always proceed from (intuitive) knowledge of a language, and this is an important
consideration in the development of a theory, 1) one needs to carefully consider the
implications of what it means to say that knowledge of language is primarily social,
and 2) one needs to look more closely at the status of a corpus in linguistic theory
and description. The first point will be discussed first.

If knowledge of language is social, then it is learnt from experience, through

interaction with other socialized beings. Our knowledge of a language, thus,
depends on our capacity to abstract from our experiences with a particular language
and language community. If this is accepted, then it follows that a linguist’s
knowledge of language will depend not only on her or his social positioning but
also on the types of language that are legitimized through social and educational

An idealist might want to deny this. The fact remains, however, that while there is
differentiation according to class, race, ethnicity, education, age or sex in any society and
regional variation in nationally recognized languages, a privileged status is only afforded to
certain varieties: it would be difficult to imagine the president of Finland giving a speech in
Savo dialect or a black American judge handing down a sentence in black English vernacular,
except in a comedy programme on television.

Moreover, when we attempt to articulate this knowledge, we cannot assume

that we have direct or unadulterated access to it (cf. 1.5): we cannot overlook the
fact that many of our supposed “intuitions” about language depend on a received
view of what language is and how it works. Harris (1981), for example, has
referred to the received view of language in Western societies as “the language
myth”, a myth which he sees as having been perpetuated by modern theoretical
linguistics. One facet of the language myth is the fixed code fallacy, a fallacy
which has been institutionalized by an educational and political system intent on
standardizing the linguistic behaviour of pupils and which is based on the
sacrosanctity of the dictionary and grammar book.

Furthermore, our view of language is also influenced by the language we

speak, since any language incorporates theories about reality in its very structure
and organization (Whorf in Carroll 1956; Popper 1972: 165). Language itself is
part of that reality, and as Reddy (1979) has demonstrated, the English language,
for example, incorporates certain ways of talking about language, and, conse-
quently, predisposes us to talk about language in a particular way. The situation is
further complicated when we look at the position of the linguist as compared with
that of the non-linguist. While even the theoretically naive native speaker is
exposed to esoteric knowledge about language, i.e. the kind of knowledge that is
constructed in educational institutions, the position of the linguist is more complex
in that she or he, like any scientist, is schooled into a particular way of seeing
things (cf. Kuhn 1970).

To turn to the second point concerning the status of a corpus in linguistic

theory and description, as stated earlier, Itkonen (1983a, 1983b) sees the use of a
corpus as being justified only in the analysis of unclear cases and in the testing of
descriptions. While Itkonen (1983a: 10) does not claim that the use of a corpus is
incompatible with autonomous linguistics (as he defines it), he nevertheless gives
a prior and privileged status to the use of intuited examples. More recently,
however, there seems to be a slight shift in Itkonen’s position (1990: 354-355):

instead of minimizing the role of “external evidence”, he stresses the need for a
symbiotic relationship between a corpus, on the one hand, and, on the other hand,
one’s knowledge of language as manifest in the use of intuited examples and
grammatical tests (such as the deletion test used in determining, for example, the
core or obligatory actants in a process (see Chapter 6)).

One the other hand, one cannot simplistically assume that a corpus is
objective simply because it consists of text or fragments of text that have not been
intuited by the linguist. As Itkonen (1983a: 8) points out, an act of observation is
not necessarily any less subjective than an act of intuition. The choice of one
example rather than another is a subjective choice, as too is the choice of the text
from which the example is taken. Thus, the choice of a particular text representa-
tive of a particular genre ) e.g. newspaper editorials, dialects interviews (or
fragments from them), interpersonal (casual) conversations ) are not objective
choices, but necessarily involve theoretical assumptions and skew the description
towards a particular genre. In all of the examples just given, for instance, language
is constitutive rather than ancillary ) as in a service encounter or in a game of ice
hockey ) and this is true of the vast majority of linguistic corpora that I am aware

As pointed out in Chapter 1, I have avoided the use of intuited examples

because 1) they smack of a decontextualized view of language and 2) one’s
knowledge of (the use of) language is often unduly influenced by received views
of language. This study, however, is not a corpus-based study in that it is not based
on a particular corpus. The text examples have been selected on the basis of my
knowledge of the way in which Finnish is used in Finland: they are used to
illustrate my knowledge of Finnish. This, as Itkonen’s points out, must be the
starting point.

2.3.5. A Reality Construction View of Language

The view of language assumed in SF theory and in this study is what Grace (1987)
refers to as a “reality construction view” of language. Grace is not a systemic-
functional linguist, but his views are presented here as it seems to me that they are
more accessible to those unfamiliar with systemic-functional linguistics than the
writings of systemic-functional linguists. While the views of systemic-functional
linguists may be more developed than those of Grace (1987), they are also more
complex and, possibly, more esoteric (see, e.g. Halliday 1973, 1974, 1978, 1984,
1987; Hasan 1984a, 1988, 1989).

Grace distinguishes his “construction view” of language from a “mapping of

a common reality view”. In the “mapping view”, languages are analogous to maps
of a common reality; in the construction view, language is seen as one of the
essential means by which reality is socially constructed. Grace subscribes to a
construction view of language, as would many systemic-functional linguists. The
discussion that follows is based mainly on Grace (1987); however, as I do not
entirely agree with his interpretation of a reality construction view, I depart from
it in some respects. First, I shall explore some of the implications of the mapping

The mapping view is seen as the predominant view in linguistics; it is the

view of language which underlies “normal science” (Kuhn 1970). It assumes there
is a pre-existing language-independent reality, which can be talked about through
language. Each language is like a map of this reality. Although each language does,
in fact, provide a somewhat different mapping of reality, the differences are merely
differences in classification: languages divide reality up in different ways, they
provide different maps of the same content. The key assumption of the mapping
view, according to Grace, is the intertranslatability postulate, i.e. anything can be
said in any language. This assumption can be made because languages are seen as
empty codes which mediate a universally-shared reality.

Because languages are like maps of a language-independent reality, the

semantics of language is seen in terms of truth-conditions. This truth-conditional
approach is criticized by Grace and others (e.g. Harris 1987b) for seriously
misrepresenting the way in which language really works. In Harris’s view, truth-
conditional semantics is part of a view of language which divorces language from
human activities and truth from human morality and values, it is “a semantics for
robots, not human beings” (1987b: 159). (See also Shore 1991a.)

Whereas the mapping view is based on objectivist assumptions about reality,

the unknowability of reality is central in a reality construction view. Because
reality is unknowable,1 the languages we speak cannot represent it; instead, they
provide models of it (Grace 1987: 6; Halliday 1987). Language is assumed to
represent a reality which has been created by human beings rather than reflecting
some objective external reality. (Grace 1987: 118.) The constructionist view
emphasises the social and cultural shaping of our effective environment, i.e. the
world in which we live and conduct our daily affairs. It is a world which, to a large
extent, has been created by language and knowledge of which is maintained and
transmitted through language.

In a constructionist view (Grace 1987: 10,121-124), there is no clear line

between thinking, bringing a thought into being, and encoding the thought by
putting it into words. Grace sees thoughts as being dependent on words. I would
expand this to say that thoughts are dependent on our semiotic systems, and the
most important of our semiotic systems is the language that we use in everyday
life. (Another important consideration is how one understands the notion
“thought”. Some linguists appear to see thought in terms of problem-solving rather
than as a semiotic (meaning-making) process.)

A constructionist view rejects a truth-conditional approach to semantics.

Grace (1987: 49) discusses semantics in terms of “goodness of fit”: “instead of a

To say that reality is unknowable is not, of course, the same thing as saying that it does not

sharp line between truth and falsity there are degrees of goodness of fit”. Thus,
when someone makes a statement such as “The dog bit the man” or, to use Austin’s
example, “France is hexagonal”, according to Grace, the statement is judged on the
basis of the goodness of fit between the model and the actual reality. It seems to
me, however, that Grace is still tied to a tradition that sees semantics as being
primarily concerned with truth and falsity, in Grace’s case, with degrees of truth
or falsity. Halliday (1985: 76), on the other hand, maintains that “semantics has
nothing to do with truth”1, and this is reflected, for example, in his analysis of
polarity and modality. Semantics is seen as being concerned with how we use
language as a resource for meaning, how we can do meaningful things with
language, either truthfully or falsely. (See also Harris’ (1987b: 158 ff.) discussion
of truth-conditional semantics, truth and morality.)

The rejection of a truth-conditional approach has repercussions inter alia for

the way in which clause types are analysed in this study. An equative clause, for
example, has been defined in truth conditional terms as one in which the (“real-
world”) referent of two NPs is the same, i.e. the NPs are co-extensive (see
6.4.1.(ii)). Thus, the clause The barn is now the garage is not an equative clause
as the NPs are not really co-extensive, but become co-extensive once the sentence
has been uttered. This logical approach is based on the relating of clauses to real-
world referents, of seeing bits of language as parts of a map of the real world, as
providing labels or names for phenomena in the real world. As Hasan (1988: 48ff.)
points out, this approach ignores an essential feature of language: language is a
meaning-making resource and it has an active role in the creation of meaning.

While Grace acknowledges the importance of the social and cultural in vague
general terms, he looks at the constructionist view from the point of view of the
individual. When he discusses the role played by the speaker and the speech event
in mediating between linguistic expressions and reality, both speaker and speech

It is clear from the context, that Halliday is referring to truth in the truth-conditional sense.

event are discussed as though they were asocial constructs. Grace, in fact,
downplays the social and looks at language as though it were entirely a mental
phenomenon and the property of the individual. This is where he departs from the
systemic-functional view, which stresses the social, and explores how socio-
contextual factors shape language (see, e.g. Halliday 1973, 1974, 1978, 1984,
1987; Hasan 1984a, 1988, 1989; Hasan & Cloran 1990).

2.3.6. Language and M ind

If language is looked at as a mental phenomenon, then the focus, from a SF point

of view, is on those aspects of the mental that are a reflection of the social. This is
not to deny that there are features of the way in which language works that are not
dependent on social factors (for example, analogical processes in language (see e.g.
Anttila 1977, E. Itkonen 1991) and the actual mechanisms of speech), or that there
are universal features of language which may be shaped or constrained by the
nature of human perception or by features of human abilities.

For the systemic-functional linguist, to see the individual as largely a product

of the social involves a number of premisses. Firstly, along with Vygotsky (Wertch
& Stone 1985) and the Soviet semioticians of the Bakhtin circle (Voloshinov 1973
[1930]), systemic-functional linguists would argue that individual consciousness
emerges out of socially organized experience, i.e. out of the social life into which
an individual is born and into which she or he is integrated (see, for example,
Hasan 1988). Moreover, mediation between the social (external) and the individual
(internal) is based on semiotic processes, and especially on language. Thus,
according to the Soviet semioticians of the Bakhtin circle:

Consciousness becomes consciousness only once it has been filled with ideological (semiotic)
content, consequently, only in the process of social interaction ...

If we deprive consciousness of its semiotic, ideological content, it would have absolutely

nothing left. Consciousness can harbour only in the image, the word, the meaningful gesture,

and so forth. Outside such material, there remains the sheer physiological act unilluminated by
consciousness, i.e., without having light shed on it, without having meaning given to it, by
signs.” (Voloshinov 1973[1930]: 11-13). [Emphasis added.]

Hasan (1985a: 32) has argued against Leech’s (1974: 66) view that a
mentalist theory of meaning could be seen as a recognition of a common-sense
reality that “meaning is a mental phenomenon and it is useless to pretend
otherwise”. In Hasan’s view, the fact that meanings are stored in the human brain
does not make meaning a mental phenomenon:

There is a very obvious sense in which every piece of knowledge is mental. Whatever the
child’s or adult’s understanding of the linguistic sign dog, this understanding is surely stored
in the brain; further, it is only because of the structure of the brain that it is possible for humans
to arrive at understandings of this sort. But in a rather important sense it does not make the
meaning of the sign dog a mental phenomenon; the dictionary may be located in the brain but
the specific details relating to each entry in the dictionary originate not in the brain but in the
social human milieu. Meaning and mind are created in a social environment, through
social agencies ... [Emphasis added.]

This does not, of course, mean that there is a simple one-to-one correspondence or
isomorphism between the external and the internal, as Vygotsky (Wertsch & Stone
1985: 166-167) pointed out. This is evidenced not only by the fact that both society
and language change over time, but also by the fact that at any given time, there are
co-existing variants of each (Hasan 1988: 45).

2.3.7. Grammar, Semantics and the Context of Situation

SF theory has always rejected the notion of a “context-free” sentence. A basic

assumption, which underlies any SF analysis, is that people not only talk, they talk
to each other in socially recognizable forms of interaction. As Halliday (1978: 28-
29) has put it:

We do not experience language in isolation ... but always in relation to a scenario, some
background of persons and actions and events from which the things are said to derive their
meaning. This is referred to as the “situation”, so language is said to function in “contexts of

situation” and any account of language which fails to build in the situation as an essential
ingredient is likely to be artificial and unrewarding.

This is similar to Searle’s (1979: 117) argument against the context-free interpreta-
tion of sentences:

There is no such thing as the zero or null context for the interpretation of sentences ... We
understand the meaning of such sentences only against a set of background assumptions about
the contexts in which the sentence could be appropriately used. (Searle 1979: 117.)

SF theory clearly belongs to what Harris (1987a: 131) has called the
integrational paradigm: one which sees language as “manifested in a network of
human abilities and activities complexly integrated in social interaction”. It is from
this position that systemic-functional linguists give prominence to the context of
situation and generic subcategories of speech events (i.e. to genres such as medical
consultations, scientific reports, casual conversation, service encounters etc.).1
However, such notions as context of situation and genre can be conceived of as
quite separate from grammatical analysis. As Harris (1987a) points out, the context
of situation can be seen as something which can be tacked on in order to complete
the description of decontextualized sentences that have already been analysed in
phonological and grammatical terms. It can be thought of as an optional extra,
which has no real bearing on the grammatical analysis. Harris suggests that a true
grasping of the full theoretical implications of the linguistic significance of the
context of situation requires that it is integrated into our grammatical analysis: the
analysis of grammatical organization of a language cannot be divorced from the
description of language in use.

In SF theory, the context of situation is built into the grammatical analysis of

a clause. The link between the grammatical form of language and the situation is

Thus the SF notion of genre covers not only written genres but also includes what Bakhtin
(1986: 78-79) refers to as “speech genres”.

made possible by a hypothesis, a “metafunctional” hypothesis, about the relation-

ship between them (Halliday in Thibault 1987: 608-610). A metafunctional hypo-
thesis is not a hypothesis about the functions or uses of text, as reflected in
functional theories of language put forward by scholars such as Malinowski and
Bühler who were working in other disciplines (Halliday 1981a: 33-35; Halliday &
Hasan 1985: 16ff.). It is a hypothesis about the internal grammatical organization
of the clause, about those functions of language that are built into the very structure
and organization of language itself. These functions of language can be seen as
generalized types of meaning, which are realized in the lexicogrammatical form of
a language.1 The types of meaning recognized by Halliday are interpersonal,
ideational (which is subdivided into experiential and logical) and textual (see also
2.4.5 and 2.4.8).

Interpersonal meaning is the meaning associated with language as a way

of getting things done, as a way of acting upon the world in which we live. It
reflects Malinowski’s (1923) and Austin’s (1962) view of language as a mode of
action. Interpersonal meaning can be subdivided into interactional and attitudinal
meaning. Interactional meaning has to do with the interactional roles that are
created in the speech situation (e.g. giver/demander of information). Attitudinal
meaning is concerned with the way in which the speaker (or listener) relates to
what is being said. This is concerned with the way in which speakers assess truth
or falsity, probability or improbability, frequency or rarity of occurrence, obligation
and willingness. Interpersonal meaning is mostly realized in the mood and
modality systems of a language.

Ideational meaning is concerned with what has traditionally been referred

to as semantics. It is concerned with the way in which language mediates about the
reality which we assume to be in us and around us, both real and imagined; it is

Thus, the grammatical (morpho-syntactical) form of a language is not a semantically-empty
frame into which lexical items are slotted. See 2.4.7 for a discussion of realization.

concerned with the way in which language serves as a model of reality. It can be
subdivided into experiential and logical meaning. Experiential meaning is
concerned with the “things” that we can talk about, and logical meaning with the
interdependency relationships that language allows us to construct between these
things. It is important to note that logical meaning is concerned with the logic of
a language and not with formal or mathematical logic, which has been based on
and has developed from logical expressions in language. Ideational meaning is
realized in what Halliday refers to as the transitivity system and in systems
concerned with the interdependency relations between units in a language.

Textual meaning relates to the way in which language makes links with
itself and with the situations in which it is used. Speech (and writing) is not just a
random collection of words that are unrelated 1) to what the speaker (or someone
else) has just said (or written) or 2) to the context in which they are uttered. Textual
meaning is made manifest in the resources that allow the speaker to create a
coherent text, one that makes sense in the context in which it is being uttered and
in the context of what has been uttered and will be uttered. It is mostly realized in
the theme and information focus system.

These types of meaning are referred to as “metafunctions” because they are

a result of a number of very broad and abstract uses that language has evolved to
serve. The metafunctions can be seen as the “interface” which links language to
other semiotic systems, they provide a link between language and what is outside
language (Thibault 1987: 608). They link up with another interface, the context of
situation, which is defined by Halliday (Thibault 1987: 610) as a “generalized
semiotic construct”:

The context of situation is a generalized semiotic construct deriving from the culture )
something that is recognized by the members as a form of social activity that they engage in.

Contexts of situation are characterized by Halliday (e.g. 1978: 61-62, 142-

145, 221-230; Halliday & Hasan 1985: 12-14, 56-69) in terms of three dimensions:
1) field, 2) tenor, and 3) mode, each of which can be simply glossed as 1) what is

happening, 2) who is taking part, and 3) the role of language in the linguistic
contact. These dimensions will be discussed in more detail below. However, as the
notion of a situation type and various developments of Halliday’s ideas are not
central to this study, the discussion below is brief and superficial. For a more
comprehensive discussion, see Gregory 1967, 1988; Gregory & Carroll 1978,
Halliday 1978, Halliday & Hasan 1985, Ventola 1987, 1988.

Field characterizes the situation in terms of the social activity that is taking
place, e.g. making an appointment, visiting someone in hospital, playing a game
of ice hockey, discussing a game that has been played etc. In some cases, it may
be necessary to make a distinction between first-order and second-order fields
(Halliday 1978: 144). In a discussion about a game of ice hockey, for example, the
discussion itself, the verbal interaction, constitutes the social activity that is taking
place. It is the first-order field. The game that is being talked about constitutes the
second-order field.
Tenor is concerned with the various kinds of relationships that hold between
the participants who are involved in the situation either directly (e.g. two people
speaking or writing to each other) or indirectly (e.g. a writer and her or his
audience). Tenor, thus, encompasses such variables as the relative statuses of the
participants, i.e. the power relationships and the social distance between them, their
frequency of contact, the emotional relationship between them etc.
Mode is concerned with the place that is assigned to the text in the situation
and encompasses a number of variables, which gives rise to a distinction between
the spoken and written medium. For example, the semiotic distance between the
text and the social activity in which it is embedded can either be constitutive (e.g.
a lecture, discussion or scientific article) or ancillary (e.g. playing a game of
basketball or cards). The relationship between the text and the participants can be
seen in terms of whether the producer of a text can edit it before it is exposed to an
addressee (e.g. as in most written texts and in texts that are written to be spoken)
and whether the addressee can share in the process of text creation (as in casual
conversation). A third variable within mode is channel, which can either be phonic
or graphic.

In a framework in which grammatical analysis is based on (abstractions from)

the situation, there is no need for a distinction between semantics and pragmatics
(Hasan MS; Halliday in Thibault 1987: 611). This distinction evolved in linguistics
from the late 1960s, when the generative semanticists began to assail Chomsky’s
standard theory (Levinson 1983: 4). Pragmatics came to refer to “those linguistic
investigations that make necessary reference to aspects of the context” (Levinson
1983: 5). Pragmatics was part of a tradition that tacked the situational context on
to a context-independent notion of language. It assumes that there are some kinds
of meanings that are not dependent on context, and these are handled under
semantics, and there are other kinds of meaning that relate these context-
independent meanings to the context in which language is used, and these
meanings are dealt with under pragmatics. In SF theory, the grammatical system
is based on the options that are available in language in use. These options involve
not only experiential meanings, but also interpersonal and textual meanings. This
means that, pace Leech (1983), experiential meanings are 1) context-dependent and
2) that they are no more integral to language as a system than interpersonal and
textual meanings (Hasan MS).

2.3.8. The Notion of Reference

A central notion in any linguistic analysis that needs to be discussed is the notion
of reference. In a tradition that goes back to Ogden and Richards (Lyons 1977a:
98), the term “referent” is applied to an object in the outside world to which a word
refers and “reference” to the “picking out” of something in an objective external
world. This notion of reference is clearly tied to a mapping of reality view of
language (see 2.3.5). In a reality construction view, on the other hand, the things
that we talk about when we use language are constructs of the language and the
culture that have made these things meaningful for us. I shall elaborate on this

In SF theory, however, while reference can be seen as a relation between

language and the social and material reality that makes our words meaningful, part
of this reality is language itself. A linguistic item can not only refer exophorically
to something outside language, it can also refer endophorically to another linguistic
item ) to a bit of text (cf. Larjavaara 1990, Chapter 3). Hence Halliday & Hasan
(1976), talk of reference as a cohesive relation in a text. Reference as a cohesive
relation will not be discussed; this section will briefly focus on reference as a
relation between language and the extralinguistic.

Rather than see reference in logical terms of the “things” that we refer to in
the external world, the notion of reference can be seen in terms of Saussure’s
signifié, the signified part of the linguistic sign (Saussure 1983 [1916], translation
by Roy Harris). A similar approach is taken by Hudson (1984: 138-139):

I am using the term [i.e. referent] to denote de Saussure’s ‘concept’ which is the signified part
of a linguistic sign ... Of all the obviously available words for referring to this mental entity,
the word referent seems the most suitable in spite of its traditional links with the outside world.
However, the connections between the real world and linguistic expressions are quite indirect
and not of any particular importance to a linguistic theory, so it seems preferable to adopt the
term “referent” for an area where we do need it, rather than to leave it for use on a hypothetical

In order to explicate Saussure’s notion of the signifié, the main points of his
approach will be outlined. Saussure saw a language as a system of arbitrary signs.
A sign consists of a relationship between two mutually dependent elements: a
sound pattern (image acoustique) and a concept (concept), which Saussure
referred to as the signifiant (‘signification’) and the signifié (‘signal’), respectively.
A linguistic sign is arbitrary in that a signal (signifiant) has no natural connection
with its signification (signifié), the signal which is written in Finnish as maa [ma:]
has no natural connection with what it signifies, and, consequently, a foreigner
could not guess its signification. (I shall give some translation equivalents shortly.)
Since the connection between a signal and its signification is not natural, it can
only be established by convention.

To say this much about the arbitrariness of the linguistic sign, however, is
nothing new, and was nothing new even in Saussure’s time. This aspect of the
arbitrariness of the sign was accepted well before Saussure, and can be traced back
to the debate in ancient Greece between the naturalists and conventionalists
(Robins 1967: 17ff.). Saussure’s insistence on the arbitrariness had more far-
reaching repercussions: if a sign such as maa or [ma:] in Finnish, Chinese,
Gooniyandi, or English is arbitrary, then its signification, the concept with which
this sound pattern is associated, can only be determined by reference to other signs,
by its linguistic value (valeur):

In a language, there are only differences, and no positive terms. Whether we take the
signification or the signal, the language includes neither ideas nor sounds existing prior to the
linguistic system, but only conceptual and phonetic differences arising out of that system.
(Saussure 1983: 118).
The conceptual part of linguistic value is determined solely by relations and differences with
other signs in the language... (Saussure 1983: 116).

Signs are thus relationally defined. They cannot be determined by reference to pre-
existing ideas; they are not labels for pre-existing, naturally occurring categories.

One area in which we may need to invoke a philosophico-logical notion of

reference is when we begin to consider how a novice, an infant or a second-
language learner, breaks into a linguistic system. As Hasan (1985a: 24) points out,
Saussure’s treatment of signification and value is circular. The signification of a
sign with the sound pattern maa [ma:] in Finnish, for example, can only be
determined by relating it to other signs, for example, taivas and kaupunki, whose
significations can only be determined by their values. Similarly the value of maa
in Gooniyandi is determined by its value. But the value of the sign is determined
by relating it to other signs, for example, manyi and gawi, whose significations can
only be determined by their values. Anyone who does not know Finnish or
Gooniyandi is none the wiser. The Finnish or Gooniyandi infant learning the word
maa, however, does not learn it in a vacuum, but in a process that involves “an
active experience of the word in conjunction with reality within a culturally
recognizable context of situation” (Hasan 1985a: 31). This is how a novice breaks

into a linguistic system: by making connections with other semiotic systems, which
include the concrete objects in the environment.

As for the second-language learner, if her or his native language is English,

then the impasse begins to be broken once she or he is told that the English
translation equivalents of Finnish maa include ‘earth, property, land, country’ and
in certain expressions ‘countryside (as opposed to the city)’, since the extra-
linguistic things to which these English items can refer are known to a native
speaker of English. The Gooniyandi examples are taken from McGregor (1990a:
594-596). I am not competent to comment on the relationships between the items,
but McGregor glosses maa as ‘meat’ and manyi as ‘vegetable food’ in the semantic
domain “food, cooking and fire” and gawi as ‘fish’ in the semantic domain “marine

2.4. Central Notions in SF Grammar

2.4.1. Introductory Remarks

The questions addressed in this section are more specific than those addressed in
the previous section. This section gives an overview of the main features and
principles underlying SF grammar, from the earliest work in the sixties to the
present. It is important to realize that there has been a gradual evolution from the
earliest work to the present grammar, and, thus, the grammatical concepts that were
articulated within the early framework have not been abandoned, but have become
recontextualized. Moreover, as the theory has expanded and developed, some
concepts have been given more prominence and new ones have been introduced.

2.4.2. A Brief Historical Overview

The earliest version of SF grammar, which came to be known as scale and category
grammar, was developed during the late fifties and early sixties by Halliday (1961;
Halliday et al. 1964), who studied under Firth. Although the first published paper
on scale and category grammar appeared in the mid-fifties (Halliday 1956), the
version published in 1961 will form the basis of comments made in the following
sections, since this later version is more developed and provides a more compre-
hensive account than the earlier one. Scale and category grammar is known as such
because it sets up three “scales” of abstraction (i.e. abstract relations), which are
referred to as rank, delicacy, and exponence. The relata are referred to as
“categories”, and include units, structures, classes, and systems. Thus, units,
structures, classes, and systems are related to each other and to the data in terms of
rank, delicacy and exponence (or realization). These concepts will be discussed in
some detail throughout the following sections.

From about the mid-sixties (Halliday 1966a), more theoretical significance

became attached to the notion of system, to the paradigmatic sets of options that
generate structures. The system became the fundamental organizing concept in the
grammar; and, as a result, systemic grammar emerged out of the scale and category
model. Scale and category grammar had been primarily designed for the analysis
of texts, and while this orientation was not abandoned, the developments that
accompanied the name change brought with them an added goal, that of generative-
ness (Hudson 1974). In order to test the generative potential of the theory, some
systemicists started to look at computer applications of systemic theory (e.g.
Henrici 1981 [1966], Winograd 1972). Research into computer applications has
continued to the present (see e.g. Butler 1985: 206 ff., Matthiessen 1988a, 1988b,
Patten 1988).

Soon afterwards, Halliday (1968: 207 ff.) began to develop the idea that the
systems in the grammar of a language were organized as a number of components.
These components are related to the functions (later “metafunctions”, see 2.4.8)

that language has evolved to serve. The metafunctions comprise the semantics of
a language, but, because there is a non-arbitrary relationship between semantics
and grammar, they are embodied in the grammatical organization of a language,
i.e. they shape the form of the grammar (Halliday in Thibault 1987: 608). With the
development and explication of the metafunctional organization of language,
systemic grammar also became known as systemic-functional grammar.

2.4.3. The Triplanar Organization of Language

Based on Hjelmslev (1953), Halliday (1978: 187; 1985b: 10,42) points out that
most elementary coding systems have two planes: a content plane and an
expression plane. For example, a cat might express the content or meaning ‘feed
me’ by a particular kind of miaow or an action that its owner recognizes. There is
a simple one-to-one correspondence between content and expression. Language,
however, differs in that it involves a third intermediate plane. This is the plane of
lexicogrammatical form, which includes grammar (syntax and morphology) and

Thus, language involves three planes of organization with a realization

relationship between them: a system of meanings, semantics, is realized as a
lexicogrammatical system, which, in turn, is realized phonologically as a system
of sounds in spoken language or a system of signs in sign language. (It can also be
realized as a system of written characters, graphology, which, in many languages
is based on the phonological system, however, for convenience, graphology will
henceforth be ignored.) This can be represented as follows; the downward-pointing
arrow is a symbol for ‘realizes/is realized by’. The downward pointing arrow used
to symbolize a realization relationship is somewhat misleading as it implies
directionality. A more appropriate symbol might be a double-headed arrow: à.

I use the term “plane” instead of “level”, because it is less concrete. Moreover, level is
sometimes confused with “rank” (see 2.4.4 below). Cf. Matthiessen & Halliday
(forthcoming), who use the term “stratum” for similar reasons.

However, directionality is also implied in the way in which we generally talk about
realization: “x is realized by y”. This directionality can be avoided by the rather
awkward expression “x and y are in a realization relationship”.

- - - - ú - - - - - - -

Figure 2-1: Planes in Language

The broken line in the above diagram is meant as an indication that the realization
relationship between phonology and the other planes of linguistic organization is
qualitatively different to the relationship between semantics and lexicogrammar.
The line indicates that the relationship is an arbitrary one. The relationship between
semantics and lexicogrammar, on the other hand, is not an arbitrary one: the
lexicogrammatical form of a language constructs the meanings that are available
in a language, and linguistic meanings could not be expressed except through the
lexicogrammatical form of a language (Halliday 1985a: xvii; Hasan & Cloran

These planes, which comprise the subject matter of linguistics, can be related
in terms of the form-substance distinction to what falls outside the scope of
linguistics and becomes the scope of phonetics: the phonological form of a
language is realized as phonic substance. Thus, there is a two-tier realization
relationship: 1) a realization relationship which relates form to form (i.e. between
the semantics, lexicogrammatical, and phonological form of a language) and 2) a
further realization relationship which relates form to substance, i.e. between
phonological form and phonic substance.

The above account can be combined with Halliday’s (1961) earlier model,
which brings in the form-substance distinction:

‹———————— LINGUISTICS ————————›

‹——— PHONETICS ———›


context grammar phonology phonic

extra-textual lexis substance

Figure 2-2: Levels in Language (Halliday 1961: 244)

This early model needs to be revised. Firstly, the terms semantics or contextual
semantics are now preferred to context. The word context was originally preferred
because semantics tends to be understood in conceptual terms, i.e. as a mental non-
observable phenomenon. Context, on the other hand, is seen as a link between the
lexical and grammatical forms of a language and abstractions from the actual
situations in which language is used (Halliday 1961: 245 footnote 13). Secondly,
systemic-functional linguists generally concur that meanings are realized on all
planes of language (cf. Firth in 2.2.5). Furthermore, the semantic and lexicogram-
matical resources of a language are now regarded as being organized
metafunctionally, the very broad and general functions which language has evolved
to serve are reflected in its semantic and lexicogrammatical organization (see

2.4.4. Units and the Rank Scale

In scale and category grammar, a unit is a category that is set up to account for
stretches that carry grammatical patterns. The units of a language are related to
each other by reference to the scale of rank. The units originally set up for
English are: sentence, clause, group and phrase, word, and morpheme (Halliday
1961: 253). Later, the sentence was reinterpreted as a clause complex (see below),
which is not a basic unit on the rank scale. In present-day SF theory, the sentence
is not a grammatical unit but the orthographic unit that is “contained between full
stops” (Halliday 1985a: 193). It has become customary to mark a group or phrase

boundary by a single vertical line, a clause boundary by double vertical lines, and
a clause complex boundary by three vertical lines, as in the following example:

(1) /// When / Alice / began telling / them / about her adventures, // the White Rabbit /
appeared / at the door. ///

The units are hierarchically ordered on a rank scale such that there is a constituency
relationship between a higher and a lower unit: clauses consist of groups or
phrases, which consist of words, which consist of morphemes.

SF grammar is, thus, a constituency grammar, but it differs from other

constituency analyses in that the constituents are ranked: each unit ) a clause, a
phrase or a group, and a word ) is potentially expandable into two or more units
at the rank below. This is generally referred to as the “rank hypothesis”. The
fundamental basis of the rank hypothesis is not that there are constituents that can
be ranked in terms of their size, but that these ranked constituents form a “strict
hierarchy” (Halliday 1985a: 25). The rank hypothesis allows for 1) singulary
branching, 2) rankshifting, and 3) the expansion of a unit at any rank to form
complexes and 4) the exclusion of certain elements from the rank scale.

Singulary branching means that a unit on the rank scale, say a group, can
consist of one unit on the rank below, the word, so that in a tree diagram the node
at the group rank does not branch into two separate branches, but continues as a
single branch. Each node is seen in terms of its potential for branching, and, thus,
an argument for singulary branching is that, in many instances where singulary
branching occurs, the unit is expandable (Lyne 1988: 62). For example, potatoes
in I’d prefer potatoes is a “simple” nominal group, but it is potentially expandable,
e.g. roast potatoes. While pronouns or proper names such as Alice are not
expandable, they are in paradigmatic contrast to other items (e.g. the little girl) that

The phenomenon known as rankshifting, which is also referred to as

embedding (e.g. Halliday 1985a: 166), allows for a grammatical unit to function
as part of another unit at the same or at a lower rank. For example, a phrase
(example 2 below) or a clause (example 3) can be embedded in the structure of a

nominal group. It has become customary to mark an embedded phrase with single
square brackets and an embedded clause with double bar square brackets.

(2) Just then her head struck against the roof [of the hall].
(3) They would not remember the simple rules [[their friends had taught them]].

A unit on the rank scale can be expanded (by co-ordination or subordination)

to form a complex. Any unit is, thus, a potential point of expansion. Expanded
units are referred to as supplementary units and include: clause complexes,
group/phrase complexes, word complexes, and morpheme complexes (Huddleston
1965: 57). An example of a clause complex is:

(4) /// She opened it, // and found in it a very small cake, // on which the words ‘EAT
ME’ were beautifully marked in currants. ///

Examples of a co-ordinative nominal group complex and a subordinative verbal

group complex are: the lobsters and the turtles and tried to reach, respectively.
An example of a (co-ordinative) word complex is more and more (in more and
more miserable) and a morpheme complex pro- and anti- (in pro- and anti-

As originally formulated, the theory of rank required that:

Each unit should be fully identifiable in description. This means that, if the description is
textual, every item of the text is accounted for at all ranks ... If the description is
exemplificatory, exactly the same is implied ... (Halliday 1961: 253). [Emphasis added.]

This became known as the “total accountability requirement”, and it became an

issue that was discussed within the scale and category framework (Halliday 1966a:
111). According to Halliday (1966a: 115-117) in reply to criticisms by Matthews
(1966), some elements were considered to fall outside the total accountability
requirement, i.e. they are excluded from the rank scale. These would include
logical elements such as and and or, which expand units into complexes, but do
not have constituency status. Another class of units which would have to be
excluded from the total accountability requirement are adjuncts like moreover in
Moreover he was late (Lyne 1988: 62). Presumably, these can be treated like

logical elements in that they do not directly engage in the constituency structure
of the clause.

McGregor (1990b, 1991), on the other hand, suggests that constituency

relations are relevant only for experiential meanings, i.e. meanings that are related
to the way in which language constructs and reflects the world in which we live.
From this point of view, the ranked constituency hypotheses is valid only for the
experiential meanings. This view is also consistent with Halliday’s most recent
views on the structural organization of language (e.g. Halliday 1978: 188; 1981a:
35-38; Thibault 1987: 612), where constituency structure is seen as being typically
associated with experiential meaning (see 2.3.7 and 2.4.8). This view of the rank
hierarchy hypothesis will be adopted as a starting point for Finnish (in Chapter 4).

2.4.5. Types of Structure

Another “category” that dates from scale and category grammar but has been
progressively redefined as it has become recontextualized is structure. Originally
a structure was set up to account for the abstract syntagmatic patterning of units
(e.g. phrases or words). While it involved ordering and patterning, it did not
necessarily refer to sequentiality. Nevertheless, structure originally seems to have
been equated with discrete segmentable elements and to the way in which these are
organized. More recently, however, it has been used to refer to any clause-rank
organization or patterning, i.e. to phenomena that are not random (Halliday 1978:
188; 1981a: 35-38; 1984: 33; Thibault 1987: 612; Butt 1988).

A structure (i.e. a pattern) is seen as the realization of grammatical choices,

i.e. simultaneous structures realize choices from a number of concurrent systems.
From an experiential perspective, for example, there are a number of options at
clause-rank associated with process type: material, relational etc. Interpersonal
options include those associated with either giving or asking for information that

are realized by declarative or interrogative structures. The following clause, for

example, realizes an interrogative and a mental process. (For form glosses, see
Appendix 3.)

(5) Mistä aineista sä pidät? [SIIIM3b:2]

which+ELA subject+PL+ELA you(sg)-NOM like+2SG
Phenomenon Senser Process: mental
‘Which subjects do you like?’

The experiential functions realized in the clause can be glossed as Senser 0Pro-
cess0Phenomenon, where the raised dot indicates a concatenation of elements with
no implication of sequence. (Sequence, on the other hand, can be indicated by the
caret or hat symbol: ^.)

Grammatical structure at the clause level is generally thought of in terms of

constituency, in terms of discrete and easily segmentable units, particularly in
isolating languages such as English and Chinese. As mentioned earlier, Halliday
sees this type of structure as being typically associated with experiential meaning.
The discrete and segmentable nature of experiential structure is seen as a reflection
of the relative discreteness of the phenomena of our experience. If one considers
the clause cows eat grass in terms of its experiential meaning, then the words
cows, eat, and grass can be related to recognizable and relatively discrete things
or events in our experience. This is at least true at a simple and concrete level, but,
as Halliday (1981a: 36) points, many phenomena are, in fact, unbounded and
fuzzy. Following Whorf, he suggests that the discreteness and segmentability of
experiential structures predisposes us to think of the phenomena of our experience
in similar terms.

Logical meaning is seen as being typically characterized by recursion, i.e. by

repetition of the same variable. For example, the clause-initial nominal group in the
previous example can be co-ordinatively extended: cows and horses eat grass,
cows and horses and sheep eat grass. Structures that result from recursion are
referred to as univariate structures. The term “univariate” (i.e. involving one
variable) dates back to the earlier scale and category model (Halliday 1981b

[1965]), where a distinction is made between univariate and multivariate structures

(i.e. involving a number of different variables, as with the experiential structure
exemplified in 5 above).

In contrast with experiential meaning, interpersonal and textual meaning do

not correspond to discrete, clearly delineated units. Interpersonal meaning, i.e.
speaker attitudes and assessments and role assignment, is seen as being typically
realized by prosodic patterns that run throughout the clause or by scopal relations
that affect the entire clause (see also 5.4.2). The clearest indication of prosodic
patterning is in intonation contours, which are typically associated with interper-
sonal meaning. (See, for example, Halliday in Kress (ed.) 1976: Ch.14) for English
and Hirvonen 1970 for Finnish.) The scope of a modal element is seldom restricted
to one discrete unit in the clause, and, furthermore, modal elements can be strung
throughout the clause reinforcing the effect of each other.

Textual meaning, according to Halliday, is typically realized by wave-like

movements associated with peaks of prominence in the clause. These peaks
typically occur at either clause-initial or clause-final position, and, consequently,
with a sequence of clause, there is a wave-like movement from one peak to the
next. In Halliday’s view, textual meaning in the English clause is realized by two
independent structures: Theme-Rheme and Given-New. In terms of the peaks of
prominence just discussed, Theme constitutes one peak while New constitutes
another peak, with the rest of the clause rising or falling towards these peaks.

2.4.6. System

The notion of a system was first introduced in 2.2.2 in the discussion on Firth.
Whereas a structure is concerned with syntagmatic relations, amongst elements in
praesentia; system is concerned with paradigmatic relations, amongst elements
in absentia (Halliday 1981b [1965]: 124). A system accounts for “the occurrence

of one rather than another from a number of like events” (Halliday 1961: 264).
These paradigmatic choices are represented as networks.

As mentioned earlier, system and structure were given an equal status in early
scale and category grammar. From about the mid-sixties, the system became the
central organizing concept in grammatical description; structures were seen as
secondary, as the output of a system or a number of systems. The grammatical
organization of a language came to be represented as a vast number of intercon-
nected and simultaneous systems. The following network (which is grossly over-
simplified for the purpose of illustration), combines mood, transitivity, theme and
information focus networks. The fact that the options are simultaneous is indicated
in systemic notation by curly brackets.1 (The examples given in the following table
(and in the above table) are meant only as an indication of the type of option
involved. A clause does not realize only one option but conflates a number of
simultaneous options (see also 2.4.8)).

Figure 2-3: Simultaneous Paradigmatic Options in English

See appendix 6 for other notational conventions.

These options can be further refined and extended.1 As Figure 2-3 illustrates, at a
primary degree of delicacy, systems networks tend to be taxonomic. It is only when
the degree of delicacy is increased and the networks become more complicated that
their efficacy and application in text generation, for example, becomes more

When systemic-functional linguists model the grammatical organization of

a language, they generally give priority to the systems and the grammatical
structures are seen as being generated by these systems. From an ontological
perspective, however, neither system nor structure can be given priority. We cannot
have one without the other:

There is no way in which a structure is first described and then by a separate step brought into
paradigmatic relation with other structures. A description is a statement of paradigmatic
relationships. (Halliday 1984: 6-7.)

This dual perspective is needed from the start: we can only describe a structure by
relating it to other structures. Methodologically, however, it is easier to start by
describing a structure, rather than by modelling the networks that have generated
the structure. Structures are more tangible; networks are more hypothetical. As
Halliday puts it (1985a: xxvii): “structures are less abstract; they are so to speak
nearer the text”).

From the discussion of the notions of system and structure in this section and
the previous section, it should be clear that the grammatical organization of a
language is not seen as a structure in SF theory ) either as a monolithic superstruc-
ture or as a number of clause structures. A language is seen as a resource or
potential, which, from a grammatical perspective, embodies lexical and grammati-
cal choices: a language is a meaning-making resource.

For some discussion of issues related to the formalization of options in systems networks,
see Martin 1987 and Fawcett 1988.

2.4.7. Delicacy and Realization

In section 2.4.4, the scale of rank was discussed. The other scales are delicacy and
realization (earlier referred to as exponence). The term “scale” is used in a slightly
different sense with reference to each of these. The scale of rank is referred to as
a scale because the units are hierarchically ordered: clause, group/phrase, word, and
morpheme. Delicacy1 refers to the degree of detail or differentiation that is made
at a particular rank. It is a scale in the sense of a cline: one can start by making very
broad and general distinctions in a system and then refine the analysis by making
finer, more specific distinctions. For example, at the primary degree of delicacy at
the rank of clause in Finnish grammar one might want to distinguish between
material and relational processes. At a greater degree of delicacy, one might then
want to distinguish between intensive and circumstantial relational processes, and
then distinguish between identifying and attributive relational processes, and so on.

Realization is referred to as a scale in that it involves successive steps along

a scale of abstraction which relates categories to each other and to the data. For
example, the option interrogative can be realized in English by the structure Finite
^ Subject. The element Subject is generally realized by a nominal group, which is
realized by a (M) ^ H ^ (Q) structure (i.e. the Head, which is possibly preceded by
a Modifier and followed by a Qualifier), which, in turn, is realized by certain
classes of words. The classes are then realized by the lexical items, for example,
“the”, “man”, “outside”. So far, I have referred to what Halliday and Martin (1981:
343) refer to as “intrastratal” realization relation (i.e. between systems, structures,
and units at the lexicogrammatical stratum or plane). As indicated in 2.4.3 (p. 45),
however, it can also refer to an interstratal relation: the lexical items mentioned
above are realized phonologically: /ðM mæn autsaid/. (There is also a realization
relationship between phonology and phonetics, i.e. between form and substance
(see Figure 2-2, p. 46).)

Finnish: hienojakoisuus, tarkennus.

The notion of realization in SF theory, however, must not be misunderstood

in terms of the folk linguistic notion of expression. It is erroneous to equate the
linguistic statement “X is realized by Y” as “X is expressed by Y”. For many, the
latter statement implies that X exists prior to Y. For example, in many studies of
definiteness and indefiniteness or of given and new, it seems to be assumed that
definiteness or givenness are prelinguistic (or extralinguistic) notions (see the
discussion of Brown and Yule in 7.2.). In the SF view of realization, X does not
exist without Y and Y does not exist without X. Thus, while in natural language
there is always a directional metaphor, for example, linguists often talk about
semantics being “above” the grammar, and systemic-functional linguists talk of the
context of situation and culture being “above” the semantics, semantics and
grammar are not related to each other in causal terms, but in dialectic and
realizational terms. An attempt to capture the notion of realization is made by
referring to it in terms of “construal”: X is construed by Y. (For further discussion
of realization as a dialectic, see Halliday (in press), Matthiessen & Halliday
(forthcoming, section 1.2.1).)

This realization relationship cannot, moreover, be seen in terms of a simple

one-to-one correspondence: for example, an interrogative need not necessarily
realize a question, or, it could realize a question at one level, but it functions
rhetorically as a request (e.g. Would you turn the radio on?). Halliday extends the
notion of metaphor to grammatical phenomena, and regards examples like these as
types of grammatical metaphor (Halliday 1985a: 319 ff.; Ravelli 1988).1 A
distinction is made between a “congruent” (or literal) and a “metaphorical”
realization. Congruency is often glossed in terms of typicality, but it seems to me
that it is more appropriate to think of a congruent realization in terms of Halliday’s
(1984: 14) alternative suggestion as “a kind of baseline” or as a “maximally
simple” way of expressing things, for example, as the way in which young children
typically express things. As with lexical metaphors, e.g. the leg of a table,

See Karvonen (1991, 1992) for a discussion of grammatical metaphor in Finnish.

grammatical metaphors also retain their literal or congruent meaning. (See also
5.2.2 and 6.6.)

2.4.8. Metafunctions

The notion of a metafunction was introduced 2.3.7. Metafunctions are seen as

being crucial to the semantic organization of language, and, since there is a non-
arbitrary relationship between semantics and grammar, they are reflected in the
lexicogrammatical organization of language.1 The lexicogrammatical plane
involves a “conflation”, a coming together, of different modes of meaning.
However, systemic-functional linguists vary on the number of metafunctions that
they recognize. According to Halliday (1978: 50; 1981a: 34; 1985: xiii), there are
three, with some further subdivisions; Fawcett (1980: 26ff.) recognizes eight major
core metafunctions (which he refers to as “functional components”) and two or
three minor ones. Figure 2-4 on page 58 below is a revised and simplified version
of a diagram which appears in Fawcett (1980: 28).

It is important to note that the examples given in Figure 2-4 are meant as an
indication of the type of meaning that is involved: they should not be misunder-
stood as implying that each clause (or linguistic unit) has only one function. This
position seems to be taken by Traugott (1982), whose model of linguistic change
is based on Halliday & Hasan (1976). Nevertheless, it is clear from Traugott’s
discussion that her model is not Hallidayan. For example, her “propositional
component” is explicitly based on truth-conditional semantics. As Halliday (1985b:
23) points out (in the context of analysing a written text):

While metafunctions are sometimes referred to as part of the lexicogrammatical system of
a language, this is not strictly true; however, statements like this are sometimes made because
of the non-arbitrary relationship between grammar and semantics (Thibault 1987: 608). In
this regard, Ellis (1987) makes a consistent distinction between function (i.e. metafunction)
and functional component.

We cannot pick out one word or one phrase and say this has only experiential meaning, or this
has only interpersonal meaning ... Every sentence in a text is multifunctional; but not in such
a way that you can point to one particular constituent or segment and say this segment has just
this function. The meanings are woven together in a very dense fabric in such a way that, to
understand them, we do not look separately at its different parts; rather we look at the whole
thing simultaneously from a number of different angles, each perspective contributing towards
the total interpretation.

Thus, essential to an SF approach is the analysis of language from different

semantic perspectives, i.e. from the perspective of the various metafunctions.
Moreover, grammatical description is organized on the basis of these metafunc-
tions, not on the basis of forms. This does not, however, mean that formal and
structural properties are ignored (see further 2.4.10).

The main difference between Figure 2-4 and Fawcett’s original diagram
concerns Fawcett’s view of how his minor functional components (marked with the
superscript “m” in Figure 2-4) relate to the metafunctions postulated by Halliday.
Fawcett puts a question mark in the Halliday column indicating that he is not sure
how these would fit into Halliday’s schema. It seems to me that Fawcett’s
inferential (he even fell down) and metalingual (he fell down, as it were) would
be considered interpersonal in Halliday’s schema as they are concerned with
speaker attitudes and judgments. The discourse organizational (firstly, he fell
down) seems to belong to the textual metafunction, as indicated in Figure 2-4. (Cf.
Gregory (1987: 100), who also regards Fawcett’s metalingual as falling within
Halliday’s interpersonal; he sees Fawcett’s discourse organizational as being
related to matters of textual cohesion, textual structure and register.)

Halliday’s Fawcett’s Functional Examples of Realization at

Metafunctions Components Clause Rank

ideational experiential he fell down

(experiential & he was pushed down

logical he fell down

if he fell down

negativity he fell down

he didn’t fall down

interactional he fell down

did he fall down?

affective he fell down

unfortunately he fell down

modality he fell down

he m ay have fell down

inferentialm he fell down

he even fell down

metalingualm he fell down

he fell down, as it were

thematic he fell down

down he fell

informational he fell down

discourse he fell down

organizationalm? firstly, he fell down

Figure 2-4: Metafunctions

As can be seen from Figure 2-4, Fawcett’s and Halliday’s analyses differ in
that Fawcett separates out each metafunction into a number of distinct functional

components. As Gregory (1987: 100) suggests, this could be seen as an increase

in delicacy, which could be useful for certain purposes and preoccupations. From
this point of view, Halliday’s and Fawcett’s positions are not incompatible. How-
ever, there is an essential difference in the way in which Halliday and Fawcett
conceive of their metafunctions or functional components. Fawcett (1980: 26)
sees his functional components as different “types of meaning that are reflected in
the organization of language”. Halliday (1978: 143; Thibault 1987: 608), on the
other hand, sees the metafunctions as an interface between the lexicogrammatical
organization of language and the contexts in which language functions, as out-
lined in section 2.3.7.

Thus, Halliday’s position is based on relating the linguistic system to the

context of situation. However, the hypothetical nature of Halliday’s analysis of
both of these should not be forgotten: the analysis of the linguistic system in
terms of three metafunctions is a hypothesis about the linguistic system and the
analysis of the context of situation in terms of three dimensions is a hypothesis
about the semiotic structure of the situation. While Fawcett has come up with an
alternative metafunctional analysis of the linguistic system, others (e.g. Hymes
1986) have put forward other variables for the context of situation. There is no
apriori reason to assume that there are just three dimensions in the linguistic sys-
tem and just three in the context of situation.

Problems arise when we begin to consider how these hypotheses can be

tested. It would appear that there are three separate hypotheses that need to be

(1) the metafunctional hypothesis: is it the case that systemic relationships (i.e.
the paradigmatic options available in a language) tend to fall into relatively
independent sets and that each set more or less corresponds to a different func-
tion of language (see Halliday 1973: 110);

(2) the second hypothesis concerns the tripartite analysis of the context of situ-
ation (i.e. in terms of field, tenor, and mode);

(3) the hypothesis about the relationship between these two: the contextual
variables of field, tenor and mode are regarded by Halliday (1978: 116-
117,142-145) as being typically associated with a particular metafunction.

Whether or not these hypotheses are feasible has never really been put to the test.
Gregory (1987: 104) suggests that an attempt to prove the existence of the
metafunctions could be seen as falling into the trap of scientism. He suggests that
they are “a means of tackling the manifold complexity of meaning” (cf. Firth in
2.2.5) and that we should continue using them as organizing and investigative
concepts in linguistic analysis.

2.4.9. An Integrated Lexicogrammar

In SF theory, grammar is usually understood as including lexis. Grammar and

lexis are seen as being part of a continuum. As Halliday and Hasan (1976: 5) put

There is no hard-and-fast division between vocabulary and grammar; the guiding principle in
language is that the more general meanings are expressed through the grammar, and the more
specific meanings through the vocabulary.

The relationship between grammar and lexis is seen as one of delicacy. This
approach was first suggested within the framework of scale and category gram-
mar by Halliday (1961: 267):

The grammarian’s dream is (and must be, such is the nature of grammar) of constant territo-
rial expansion. He would like to turn the whole of linguistic form into grammar, hoping to
show that lexis can be defined as “most delicate grammar”.

However, for work like this to be viable, a vast amount of statistical analysis
needs to be done, and, as Halliday (1961: 267) pointed out over three decades
ago, serious statistical work in linguistics had hardly begun. Because of this and
because of the difficulty of distinguishing lexical items using grammatical crite-
ria, scale and category grammar saw lexis in terms of open sets.

In spite of the increased use of mainframe computers in linguistics today, no

work in lexis using statistical evidence has been done in SF linguistics. However,
a study that relies on the linguist’s own observations and intuitions has been done
by Hasan (1987b). This will be used to further illustrate the notion of “lexis as
most delicate grammar” and to provide another example of a systems network.
Some of the details of Hasan’s analysis will be simplified for the purposes of il-

Hasan (1987b) has described how in a transitivity system for English if the
option [material process]1 is chosen, then a choice between sub-types of [action]
and [behaviour] processes is available. The following diagram, based on Hasan
(1987b: 186), illustrates these choices.2

Figure 2-5: Transitivity Options in English

If [action] is chosen, then there is a simultaneous choice in two systems. There is

a choice in the systems network w hich Hasan labels [ACT], which is a gloss for
the type of action, and, at the same time, there is a choice that Hasan labels

It is customary to write the name of an option in square brackets when it appears in the
body of a text; brackets are not used when it appears in the systems network.
For notational conventions, see Appendix 6.

[ BENEFACTION ], which is a gloss for whether or not someone benefits from the
action. The following diagram (based on Hasan 1987b: 189) follows on from the
systems network above, and focuses on a sub-type of [ACT], which Hasan labels
[disposal], which can be described as actions that result in the gain or loss of ac-
cess to things, i.e. actions that are realized by such lexical items as give, share,
collect etc.

Figure 2-6: Action Options in English (Continuation of Fig. 2-5 above)

The system [ACC ESS ] involves a choice between whether someone loses or
gains access to something, i.e. whether she or he is taking or giving something;
the label [ CHARACTER ] is a gloss for the system which involves a choice between
whether or not an action is inherently iterative. Hasan shows how by taking the
combination [deprivation] and [iterative] and by postulating further sub-systems,
features can be established to distinguish between such lexical items as scatter,
strew, and spill.

It is clear, however, that this type of analysis ) in which we proceed from

general to specific meanings ) is most readily applicable to experiential mean-
ings; it is questionable whether it is viable for the other metafunctions. Another
question that needs to be addressed is whether the above analysis does, in fact,
proceed from grammar to lexis, i.e. from general to specific meanings. Crucial to
the above analysis is the initial classification of action types (e.g disposal, trans-
form, locomotion ... ). It is not altogether clear that these can these be established
on the basis of grammatical criteria. If they cannot be established on the basis of

grammatical criteria, then the notion of lexis as most delicate grammar is mis-

2.4.10. The Principle of Grammaticalization

The categories employed in grammatical description are not simply set up to label
differences in meaning. Any semantic distinction that is set up must be systemati-
cally reflected in the grammatical organization of a language:

We do not argue: “these two sets of examples differ in meaning; therefore they must be sys-
tematically distinct in the grammar”. They may be; but if there is no lexicogrammatical reflex
of the distinction they are not. If we simply took account of differences in meaning, then any
set of clauses and phrases could be classified in all kinds of different ways; there would be no
way of preferring one scheme over another. The fact that this is a ‘functional’ grammar
means that it is based on meaning; but the fact that it is grammar means that it is an interpre-
tation of linguistic forms. Every distinction that is recognised in the grammar ... makes some
contribution to the form of the wording. Often it will be a very indirect one, but it will be
somewhere in the picture. (Halliday 1985a: xx.)

As Halliday points out, the lexicogrammatical reflex of a semantic distinction is

not to be seen in terms of a simplistic one-to-one correspondence between
meaning and form or that the only formal distinctions that count are overt and
self-evident (such as case-endings in Finnish); meaningful distinctions can be
reflected in the grammatical organization in less overt ways (cf. Whorf’s discus-
sion of gender in English and covert categories in Carroll (ed.) 1956: 68 ff, 89).

2.4.11. The Ineffability of Grammatical Categories

As pointed out in section 2.2.4, Firth talked of the “ineffability” of grammatical

categories. This topic has been taken up again by Halliday (1988a). A category is
ineffable in that it eludes our conscious attempts to define it. Grammatical catego-
ries, whether they are functional or formal (Subject, Actor, Goal, Theme, Given,
noun, passive, present, modal etc.) have not been consciously designed since the

grammar of a language is not a designed system, but an evolved one.1 As Halli-

day (1988a: 42) puts it:

Designed systems are designed so as to be effable; in fact, effability is a necessary condition

of design. You cannot design unless the principle can be made explicit. But a language is an
evolved system; and evolved systems rest on principles that are ineffable ) because they do
not correspond to any consciously accessible categorization of our experience.

Grammatical categories are ineffable because there are no counterparts to Subject,

Actor, Theme etc. in the outside world. There is no counterpart to a typical gram-
matical category, say Actor, because languages are not maps of a pre-existing
model of reality:

If language was a purely passive partner, ‘expressing’ a ‘reality’ that was already there, its
categories would be eminently glossable. But it is not. Language is an active participant in
the semogenic process. Language creates reality ) and therefore its categories of content
cannot be defined, since we could define them only by relating them to some pre-existing
model of experience, and there is no model of experience until the linguistic categories are
there to model it. The only meaning of Subject is the meaning that has evolved along with the
category itself. (Halliday 1988a: 39.) [Emphasis added.]

Similarly, Whorf (in Carroll (ed.) 1956: 92) says that “grammatical categories
represent experience ... but experience seen in terms of a definite linguistic

Functional labels such as Actor or Possessor can be thought of as mnemonic

devices, capturing some core meaning. However, while the labels are meant to
refer to core instances (Halliday 1985a: 106), this does not mean, as Huddleston
(1988: 164) assumes, that the meanings are “intended to apply only to core in-
stances”. The meanings are ineffable. While it may be impossible to find an ade-
quate gloss for a grammatical category, to exhaustively define it, this does not
make a category devoid of meaning.

Cf. Hockett’s (1968) critique of Chomskyan linguistics in which he points out that the
grammar of a language is not well-defined, but ill-defined.

2.4.12. Prototypes

SF theory (and its predecessor scale and category grammar) has never been based
on the notion of categorial grammatical categories, as is clear from Halliday’s
(1961: 254) earliest account of the theory, where he discusses categories in terms
of likeness, which is seen as a cline ranging from “having everything in common”
to “having nothing in common”.1 In spite of Halliday’s early recognition of the
importance of not seeing linguistic phenomena in terms of categorial categories,
and in spite of the fact that concepts clearly related to the notion of a prototype
have been put forward during the past century (see Karlsson 1983a, Givón 1986),
it was not until the work of cognitive psychologists such as Rosch that other
schools of linguistic thought began to discuss linguistic categories in terms of
prototypes (e.g. Lakoff 1973, 1977, 1982, 1987; Ross 1972, 1973, 1974; Lakoff
& Johnson 1980; Givón 1982, 1986; Karlsson 1983a).

The notion of a prototype is offered as an alternative to the Platonic view

that categories are discrete and absolute, with no overlap between them, and that
the members of a category can be determined on the basis of a certain number of
necessary and sufficient properties. With prototypes, on the other hand, members
of a category are considered to be more or less representative of the particular
category. Rather than having certain necessary and sufficient criterial properties,
a category can be defined in terms of characteristic or typical features or proper-
ties. In this approach, properties may be of unequal importance in determining
category membership.

In linguistics, the notion of a prototype has been extended from the analysis
of lexical items to grammatical phenomena. Analysis in terms of prototypes is
evident in the analysis of process types in Chapter 6. Not all subtypes of rela-
tional processes, for example, possess all of the properties of the superordinate
process type.

Cf. Firth’s discussion (in Palmer (ed.) 1968: 46-47) of indeterminacy in language and
linguistic description.

With Prototype Theory, however, the moot point is the basis that we use for
establishing a prototype. Karlsson (1983a), although aware of this inherent prob-
lem, seems to put a lot of store on the quantitative analysis of computer corpora.
As most of the computer corpora in Finland consists of either various genres of
standardized written Finnish (from newspapers, magazines and novels) or dialect
interviews (i.e. interviews between a linguist and a speaker of a dialect), it is
worth considering whether the available corpora represent prototypical genres of
Finnish. If we are to invoke quantitative empirical evidence in support of a proto-
type, then it seems to me that our data should consist of what we consider to be
prototypical genres, i.e. genres with which all (or almost all) speakers of the lan-
guage come into contact in everyday life (see further Ch. 5, Shore 1991b). Other-
wise we should restrict our claims to the genres that are represented in our analy-

2.4.13. Grammatical Proportionalities

Any formal or functional label used in linguistic description is a convenient way

of referring to what Halliday refers to as a grammatical proportionality (1985a:
xxxii-xxxiii). A grammatical proportionality is the “main heuristic technique” in
linguistic analysis: proportional relations are postulated between a number of
pairs of items:
a : b :: c : d :: e : f etc.
Thus, a and b differ in some respect, and there is a similar difference between c
and d and between e and f.

The notion of “agnateness” is important in the establishment of

proportionalities. Clauses that differ from each other in a particular respect are
said to be agnate clauses. For example, an active clause in English can be related
to an agnate passive clause. When clauses are said to be agnate, it is not implied
that one is derived from the other or that there is a transformational relationship
between them.

The notion of grammatical proportionality underscores E. Itkonen’s point

that knowledge of language is epistemologically prior in linguistic investigations
(2.3.4). A proportionality is not something that can be proved by finding text
examples that vary in some respect, they can only be based on our knowledge of
systematic distinctions between linguistic items. Underlying the notion of gram-
matical proportionality is, of course, the classical notion of analogy, which fell
into disrepute in the 1960s with the onset of transformational-generative grammar
(see Anttila 1977). E. Itkonen (1991) has recently brought the issue of analogy vs.
innate knowledge of language into focus again. Following Anttila (and others),
Itkonen argues that we are not born with innate knowledge of language but rather
with an innate capacity to analogize.

In his discussion of analogy, Anttila does not appear to make a distinction

between analogy and metaphor, and, indeed, as Givón (1986: 100) points out:

These two names for the same phenomenon come into linguistics from two separate tradi-
tions. The metaphor term comes from the literary analysis tradition, the analogy term from
the philosophical tradition, most recently via Kant and Peirce.

While these terms are similar, whether in fact they are identical is questionable. In
SF theory, at least, while analogy and metaphor are both pervasive meaning-mak-
ing resources in language, analogy is more basic, unlike metaphor it cannot be
related to a more basic (linguistic) analogy.

2.4.14. Synoptic vs. Dynamic

A distinction is made in SF theory between dynamic and synoptic perspectives in

linguistic analysis (Halliday 1985b: 97 ff.; Martin 1988: 243-244). From a dy-
namic perspective, grammatical options are seen as a process, produced in a step
by step temporal sequence. From a synoptic perspective, the larger structures that
result from these choices are viewed as a product. Both of these perspectives are
relevant ) and necessary ) to the description of grammar and to the description of

In SF grammar, multivariate structures (e.g. the experiential structure of the

clause) are analysed synoptically and univariate ones (e.g. clause complexes)
dynamically. While it would also be feasible to analyse multivariate structures
dynamically ) focusing, for example, on how certain choices affect or determine
subsequent choices ) there are theoretical reasons for giving priority to a synoptic
perspective in the analysis of multivariate structures. The clause itself is regarded
as a meaningful unit: it realizes a conglomeration of functions. In the case of ex-
periential functions, for example, the function of a particular NP cannot be deter-
mined until the whole conglomeration of functions is realized.

As described above, the notions “synoptic” and “dynamic” are related to

time and temporal sequence. This is how these notions are employed in this
study. However, from a deeper and more philosophical perspective, linguistic
description can only be synoptic. In the first place, we cannot analyse something
unless we freeze it. As Harris (1980: 16) points out, in his discussion of the status
of spoken and written language in linguistics:

The systematic analysis of spoken languages depends essentially on their conceptualization as

systems amenable to representation in a medium other than sound. (Harris 1980: 16.)

In the second place, the analysis of language ) or any other phenomena ) is nec-
essarily synoptic since any analysis must hold steady the dynamic flow of lan-
guage; it necessarily involves a synoptic perspective on the dynamic ) a frozen
representation of it. The linguist has to abstract and generalize from a constant
flux in which ) in the final analysis ) nothing is repeated. As Firth (1957: 190)
put it “each word when used in a new context is a new word”. (See further, Hasan
(in press).)

Chapter 3
The Finnish Language

3.1. Overview

This chapter is meant to serve as a brief introduction to the linguistic situation

in Finland and to the Finnish language. In the section 3.2, there is a brief dis-
cussion of languages that are related to Finnish and of other languages that are
spoken in Finland. This is followed by an outline of the dialects of Finnish and
a brief discussion of the development of standard Finnish. The following sec-
tion, section 3.3, gives an outline of some of the formal characteristics of Finn-
ish. This section is meant simply as a convenience for those readers who do not
have access to grammatical outlines of Finnish. The information on case-forms
and verb inflexions is meant simply as a guide: the details can be glossed over
and, if necessary, reference can be made to this chapter when reading later
chapters of this study. The final section (3.4) is devoted to a number of impor-
tant issues in the received view of Finnish grammar. The received notion of the
accusative and the notion of subject will be discussed and criticized. This will
be followed by a sub-section devoted to boundedness, which is an important
semantic and grammatical feature of Finnish.

3.2. Background Information

Although Finland is often referred to as part of Scandinavia, Finnish is not a

Scandinavian language. In fact, it is one of the few languages spoken in Europe
that is not an Indo-European language. It belongs to the Finno-Ugric group of
languages, which are part of the Uralic family of languages. Finnish is closely
related to Estonian and to some other languages spoken in the region of the
Baltic Sea, including Karelian, Vepsian, Izhorian, Votian, and Livonian. Be-
cause of their proximity to the Baltic Sea, these languages are referred to as the
Baltic-Finnic languages. The Baltic-Finnic languages are related to the Saame
(Lappish) languages and more distantly to Mordvinian, Mari, Udmurt, and

Komi, which are spoken in Russia. The languages mentioned so far comprise
the Finnic branch of the Finno-Ugric languages. On the Ugric side are Mansi
(also referred to as Vogul) and Khanty (also referred to as Ostyak), spoken on
the eastern side of the Ural Mountains, and Hungarian. The Finno-Ugric lan-
guages and the Samoyed languages, which are spoken in the north-eastern re-
gions of Russia, together form the Uralic family of languages. (For more detail,
see, e.g., Austerlitz 1987, Branch 1987.)

Finnish is spoken by some 4.7 million speakers living in Finland. It is also

spoken in countries to which Finns have emigrated, the most important of
which are Sweden, the United States, Canada, and Australia. There is a small
minority of Finns living in Finland who do not have Finnish as their first lan-
guage. The largest established minority is comprised of Swedish-speaking
Finns, whose linguistic status has been legally reinforced: the Language Edict
of 1922 enforces the status of Swedish as the second official language in Fin-
land. According to the Finnish Bureau of Statistics (quoted by Nuolijärvi 1991),
there are about 300 000 Swedish-speaking Finns (6.2 % of the population) in
Finland. Another significant indigenous minority is made up of speakers of
Sign Language. There are 8 000 deaf people in Finland, and of these approxi-
mately 5 000 use Sign Language, either Finnish Sign Language or signed Finn-
ish. Three Saame (Lappish) languages are spoken in Finland: North Saame,
Inari Saame and Skolt Saame, with about 2 000 speakers altogether. There are
approximately 6 000 Romanies (Gypsies) in Finland, but the active use of the
Romany language in everyday interaction has all but died out. As well as these
indigenous minorities, there are about 53 000 people in Finland who were not
born in Finland. These include descendants of Finnish emigrants who have re-
turned to Finland, immigrants or foreigners temporarily resident in Finland, and

As the total number of people who speak a language other than Finnish as
their first language is no more than approximately 7% of the population, and
almost all of the members of the established minority groups speak Finnish (or
signed Finnish) as their second language, it is clear that Finnish clearly domi-
nates the language scene in Finland. The Finnish spoken in Finland comprises a

number of dialects, all of which are mutually intelligible. The main dialect
groupings in Finland are shown on the map below.

Map 1: Finnish Dialect Groupings


Although these groupings are based on the situation prior to World War II,
they are still used by Finnish linguists today. They are used, for example, in the
Finnish Dialect Dictionary (Suomen murteiden sanakirja). As indicated on the
map, a broad division is generally made between the eastern and western dia-
lects. The so-called far northern dialects are usually grouped with the western
dialects. Swedish is spoken mainly along the coastal areas and Saame in the far
north of Finland.

Both the eastern and western dialects have contributed to standard written
Finnish (kirjakieli literally ‘book language’). Standardized spoken Finnish is
based on kirjakieli: what approximates as a spoken form of kirjakieli is consid-
ered to be standardized spoken Finnish (i.e. the Finnish heard on radio and tele-
vision news and current affairs broadcasts and in similar formal and public
situations). Written Finnish is very phonemic, so kirjakieli serves as a guide to
“correct pronunciation”, and when children learn to read and write Finnish, they
also learn the basis of standardized spoken Finnish.

To understand the dialect basis of standard written Finnish, one has to go

back to the origins of literary Finnish and take a brief look at the history of Fin-
land. Finland was under Swedish rule until 1809, when it became an Autono-
mous Grand Duchy under the Russian Empire. It became an independent re-
public in 1917. While Finland was still under Swedish rule and for some time
afterwards, about the only texts written in Finnish were a handful of religious
and legal ones. The earliest of these texts date back to the middle of the 16th
century: the first translation of the New Testament appeared in 1548, and other
texts soon followed. These early texts and translations were the work of Mikael
Agricola, a Finnish priest who attended university in Wittenberg and was later
appointed bishop of the diocese of Turku. Agricola is considered to be the
founder of literary Finnish. The Finnish in Agricola’s texts is based mainly on
the dialects of the south-west Finland (near Turku). However, in some respects
it is quite stilted: the influence of the languages from which he translated is

It was not until the 1870s (when Finland was an Autonomous Grand
Duchy in the Russian Empire) that Finnish began to develop as a national and
literary language. Finnish scholars began to consciously develop the resources
of their languages so that Finland could develop as an advanced industrial na-
tion. This meant the development inter alia of various scientific and political
genres, and thus a lot of new words and scientific terms were coined. Some of
these words were taken from dialects other than those used by Agricola in his
writings. As well as this lexical input, other dialects increasingly began to influ-
ence the grammar and morphology of the standard written language. (For more
detail, see Korhonen 1986: 67ff.)

Thus, standard Finnish is historically an amalgam of dialects and not

based exclusively on any one particular dialect. Nowadays, however, it would
be fair to say that it is most strongly influenced by the Finnish spoken in Hel-
sinki and in southern Finland generally, as this is the area in which the majority
of people live. It would also be fair to say that this standard is accepted by most
Finns as it provides access to literacy and education and, moreover, it is not as
associated, at least overtly, with such factors as class or race, as is the case with
some other standard languages in the world.

The status of standardized Finnish in schools and elsewhere is reinforced

by the fact that language standardization is institutionalized in Finland. This
standardization is carried out by the Language Board (Kielilautakunta) and ad-
vice on what is considered to be correct Finnish is given by a certain sections of
the Research Centre for Domestic Languages (Kotimaisten kielten tutkimuskes-
kus). Unlike the French Academy, however, neither the Language Board nor
the Research Centre for Domestic Languages has legal jurisdiction.

3.3. Some General Characteristics of Finnish

3.3.1. General Remarks

As indicated earlier, this section is included simply as a convenience for those

readers who do not have access to reference grammars of Finnish and may be
puzzled by some of the formal features of Finnish that are glossed in the main
body of this study (Chapters 4 ) 7). Recent outlines of Finnish written in Eng-
lish include Karlsson 1983b, Leino 1986: 13-16, and Branch 1987: 593-617.
Karlsson’s grammar is also in Swedish (Karlsson 1978a).

Finnish is generally typologically characterized as an agglutinative lan-

guage: there is a tendency to tack morphemes onto one another to form words:
kirja+ssa+ni+kin (book+in+my+too) ‘in my book too’. However, there are also
fairly strong inflectional tendencies in Finnish, and, thus, there are often com-
plex (morpho)phonological changes in word stems and affixes, e.g., käsi
‘hand’, kädessä ‘hand +INE ’, kättä ‘hand +PAR ’. Finnish has sixteen cases, i.e.
case-forms, which are discussed in section 3.3.3 below. There is also a rich
derivational morphology in Finnish. Affixes can be added to stems to modify
the meaning of the stem, for example, hypätä ‘(to) jump’, hypähtää ‘to make a
quick jump’, hypellä ‘to jump about (in a desultory fashion)’.

Because case-marking is used to indicate grammatical relations, Finnish

word order is fairly flexible. For the most part, it has a textual function. There
are a number of interpersonal and textual suffixes in Finnish (see e.g. A.
Hakulinen 1976, Vilkuna 1984, Vilppula 1984). These are suffixes which have
no effect on the experiential meaning of the clause, e.g. -pa/pä in on+pa ‘is
(3sg)’ and ei+pä ole ‘is not (3sg)’ typically occurs in assertions and denials.
There are no articles in standardized written Finnish, although se ‘it/that’ and
yks ‘one’ are used in an article-like way in informal spoken Finnish, particularly
in the speech of young people (see e.g. Laury 1991).

As mentioned in the previous section, written Finnish (kirjakieli) is very

phonemic, but this is partly because standardized spoken Finnish is based on
standardized written Finnish; i.e. basing the way in which something is pro-
nounced on the way it is spelt is the norm in Finnish. In the everyday, unself-
conscious speech of some Finns, foreign proper names, apart from those that

have a Finnish equivalent (e.g. Lontoo ‘London’, Saksa ‘Deutschland’), are

sometimes pronounced as though the letters correspond to Finnish sounds: thus
the English name Peter Westlake [pi:tM w gstleik] would be pronounced [pe-ter
vest-la-ke] (where the hyphen indicates a syllable boundary and the vowels and
consonants are given Finnish values).

There are eight vowel phonemes in Finnish, which are generally tran-
scribed phonetically in the same way as they are normally written, although for
consistency /y/ is sometimes represented as /ü/, since the umlaut ( () is used to
mark front vowels in Finnish. The front vowels are: i, y (ü), e, ö, and ä; the
back vowels are: u, o, and a. There are seventeen consonant phonemes in Finn-
ish: p, b, t, k, g, d, s, š (sometimes written or typed as sh), h, f, v, j, l, r, m, n, õ
(written n, occurs only before k). The consonants p, t, and k are unaspirated.
The consonants b, g, š, and f are found only in recent loan words and are often
replaced by p, k, s, and v in the unselfconscious speech of some Finns. The
consonant d is also a recent addition to the consonant inventory of Finnish but it
is more established. It either occurs in recent loan words or else it occurs as the
counterpart of t in consonant gradation (see below); it is sometimes replaced by
t (unaspirated) or omitted. The use of d as a counterpart to t in consonant grada-
tion is largely the result of spelling pronunciation: it is assumed that the original
counterpart to t was a voiced dental fricative (IPA: [ð]), which Agricola repre-
sented orthographically as d or dh. When this sound began to disappear from
Finnish dialects, the d(h) in written Finnish began to be pronounced as a voiced
dental stop on the model of Swedish where a sound change from [ð] to [d] had
occurred. (See Lehikoinen & Kiuru 1991: 94 ff.)

Compared with English, there are a lot of diphthongs in Finnish (ei, ey, äi,
ui, ai, oi, öi, yi, au, ou, eu, iu, äy, öy, ie, yö, uo); but consonant clusters are
fairly restricted. Length is phonemically distinct in Finnish: short vowels are
distinct from long vowels and consonants are distinct from geminates (double
consonants). In Finnish orthography, a long vowel is written as a double vowel:
e.g. long /a:/ is represented as aa (cf. latu ‘skiing track’, laatu ‘quality’).
Geminates are written as double consonants (cf. muta ‘mud’, mutta ‘but’).

Amongst the more pervasive phonological features of Finnish are conso-

nant gradation and vowel harmony. Consonant gradation means that there is an
opposition between what are referred to as strong and weak consonants. Strong
consonants occur in certain phonological environments, weak consonants occur
in others. As a general rule, strong consonants occur before an open syllable,
weak consonants occur in closed syllables. For example:

pp: p loppu: lopusta (end: end+ELA) p: v tupa: tuvasta (hut: hut+ELA)

tt: t hattu: hatussa (hat: hat+INE) t: d pata: padassa (pot: pot+INE)
kk: k kukka: kukan (flower: k: – jalka: jalan (foot: foot+GEN )
flower+GEN )

Figure 3-1: Consonant Gradation

In some phonological environments there is assimilation of a weak consonant

and the following consonant: e.g. ranta ‘shore’, rannalla ‘on the shore’. Some
recent loan words and proper nouns do not undergo consonant gradation: e.g.
auto ‘car’, autossa ‘in the car’. (See Karlsson (1983b: 30 ff.) for a more com-
prehensive outline of sound alternations in Finnish.)

Vowel harmony means that a word either contains front vowels (ortho-
graphically: ä, ö, and y) or back vowels (a, o and u). The vowels /i/ and /e/ are
neutral and can occur with either front or back vowels.

CLO SE y i u
OPEN ä a

Figure 3-2: Vowel Harmony


Because of vowel harmony, many case-endings have front and back variants. For
example, the inessive ending is either -ssa or -ssä, depending on whether the stem
has front vowels or back vowels: solmu ‘knot, tie’, solmussa ‘in a knot’, silmä
‘eye’, silmässä ‘in (one’s) eye’. There is no vowel harmony between the parts of
a compound word: työmaa ‘work place’. Exceptions to vowel harmony are wide-
ly found in recent loan words, e.g. hypoteesi ‘hypothesis’, konduktööri ‘conduc-

3.3.2. Verb Inflexions

Finite verbs in Finnish are similar to finite verbs in European languages: the
tenses in Finnish are present (or, more correctly non-past, as it is also used to
express future time), past, perfect, and pluperfect. Finite verbs are marked for
person and number, but not for gender, as gender is not expressed in the morphol-
ogy of Finnish. (Even the third person singular pronoun hän ‘he/she’ can refer to
either male or female; and in spoken Finnish, the third person singular pronoun se
‘he/she/it’ is used to refer to human and non-humans.)

From the point of view of the better-known European languages, Finnish

verbs are different in at least two respects. Firstly, the so-called Finnish passive
form, which I shall refer to as the indefinite, differs in that it incorporates a bound
morpheme which indicates that the process (i.e. the action or state) was brought
about by a human participant, but the identity of this participant is not further
specified (see Shore 1986, 1988). Thus, as well as transitive verbs, intransitive
and modal verbs and the verb olla ‘(to) be’ occur in the indefinite. The second
way in which the Finnish verb system is distinct is in the variety of nominalized
forms of the verb. Finnish is generally said to have four infinitives, with the so-
called first infinitive having a short and long form (Ikola 1977: 52). This first
infinitive in its short form is the only form that occurs without a case-ending. The
other infinitives are really nominalized verb stems which can only occur with a
case-ending (see next section).

There is agreement between the finite verb and the subject1: if there is a
finite verb with a personal ending in the clause, and, if the subject is realized in
the clause, then the verb agrees with it in number and person. This agreement
between subject and finite verb is consistent in standard written Finnish, although
it is not entirely consistent in informal spoken Finnish, where the third person
plural form of the verb is the same as the third person singular form and the indef-
inite (passive) form is used as a first person plural. The present indicative forms
of asua ‘to live’ (i.e. ‘to dwell’), for example, are as follows:


1. (minä) asu+n ‘I live’ 1. mä asu+n ‘I live’
2. (sinä) asu+t ‘you live’ 2. sä asu+t ‘you live’
3. hän asu+u ‘she/he lives’ 3. se asu+u ‘she/he/it lives’
se asu+u ‘it lives’
1. (me) asu+mme ‘we live’ 1. me asutaan ‘we live’
2. (te) asu+tte ‘you live’ 2. (te) asu+tte ‘you live’
3. he asu+vat ‘they [human] 3. ne asu+u ‘they [human or
ne asu+vat ‘they [non-human] live’ non-human] live’
INDEFINITE (passive): INDEFINITE (passive):
asu+ta+an ‘live (non-specified human asu+ta+an ‘live (non-specified
participant(s))’ human participant(s))’

Figure 3-3: Present Indicative Forms of asua ‘to live/dwell)

The variants given illustrate the declarative in standardized written Finnish and in
informal spoken Finnish (i.e. based on the Finnish spoken in the Helsinki area).
Verbs inflect in all tenses. The personal endings are the same for all verbs, al-
though there is morphophonological variation in the stem of different verb types
(for a more detailed account of the different types, see L. Hakulinen 1961, Karls-
son 1983b).

The term “subject” is used here as a formal category, i.e. the nominal (or nominal group)
that agrees with the finite verb in number and person.

The indefinite (passive) is not marked for number or person as there is no

subject in an indefinite clause: Kaupungeissa asutaan kerrostaloissa [in+cities
live in+apartment+ houses] ‘In cities people/one/we/they/you live(s) in apartment
houses’ (see Shore 1986, 1988). The third person singular form asuu is used with-
out a subject to refer to a hypothetical person: jos asuu lasitalossa ... [if live+3SG
in+glass +house] ‘if one lives in a glass house ...’. A variant of this in spoken
Finnish is a second person singular with the unstressed pronoun sä ‘you (sg)’: jos
sä asut lasitalossa ... [if you live+2SG in+glass+house] ‘if one lives in a glass
house ...’. This is a recent development in Finnish, and appears to have come
about under the influence of English.

The bracketing of some of the pronouns in Figure 3-3 above serves to indi-
cate that a first or second person pronoun would only be realized in standardized
written Finnish in a marked or contrastive environment (see Helasvuo 1988: 67-
68); in spoken Finnish, the pronoun is often realized but there is some variation.
In other instances, it is typical for the pronoun to be realized unless it is presup-
posed by ellipsis, i.e. retrievable from the cotext (see Chapter 7). It should be
noted that the above division into standardized written and informal spoken does
not imply a simple dichotomy: as Halliday (1985b: 32) has pointed out, “there
are all sorts of writing and all sorts of speech, many of which display features
characteristic of the other medium”.

There are also conditional and potential inflexions in the verb. The condi-
tional has the infix -isi- e.g. mä asuisin ‘I would live’. The potential, which is
characterized by the infix -ne- (the n assimilates with the preceding consonant of
the stem in certain types), is rare and is generally confined to formal genres.
Finnish also has imperative inflections in the verb. The imperative forms of ottaa
‘(to) take’ for both spoken and written Finnish are given in Figure 3-4:


1. ) otta-kaa-mme ‘let us take’

2. ota ‘take’ otta-kaa ‘take’
3. otta-koon ‘let X-SG take’ otta-koot ‘let X-PL take’

INDEFINITE: otetta-koon ‘let (them/people in general) take/let it be taken’ (no subject)

Figure 3-4: Imperative Forms of ottaa ‘(to) take’

The first plural imperative (otta-kaa-mme ‘let us take’) is used mostly in formal
contexts, e.g. in a church service or in a toast. In most genres of Finnish, the pres-
ent tense of the indefinite form (otetaan ‘take-human participant’) in clause-ini-
tial position generally functions as an optative imperative. To some extent, this
form could be regarded as (a grammaticalization) of a 1. person plural imperative,
particularly if accompanied by high initial pitch; however, a clause-initial indefi-
nite can simply be a presentation of an action, rather than an orientation to a non-
linguistic response, e.g. tanssitaan ‘there’ll be dancing/let’s dance (see Shore
1988: 162-63.)

An important feature of Finnish verbs is that the negative element is not a

particle but a verb form which inflects for person and number. Finnish grammari-
ans generally refer to the “negative conjugation” (or inflection) or to the “nega-
tive (auxiliary) verb with an incomplete paradigm” (i.e. inter alia, there is no neg-
ative indefinite and tenses are formed paraphrastically) or to a “verb-like nega-
tive” in Finnish (e.g. L. Hakulinen 1961, 1979; Siro 1964: 91; Penttilä 1963: 250;
Hakulinen & Karlsson 1979: 268; Karlsson 1983b: 67). The negative auxiliary
combines 1) with a stem or a past participle of the lexical verb to form the present
and past tense or 2) with a stem from olla ‘be’ and a participle of the lexical verb
to form the other tenses. Thus, there is no invariant negative form like no or not
as in English: negatives in Finnish are inflected in the imperative (äl- + personal
ending), and in the indicative (e- + personal ending):


1 en ota emme ota (~ei oteta )
2 et ota ette ota
3 ei ota eivät ota

INDEFINITE: ei oteta


1 ) älkäämme ottako
2 älä ota älkää ottako
3 älköön ottako älkööt ottako

Figure 3-5: Negative Forms of ottaa ‘(to) take’

As with the positive forms in Figure 3-3 above, however, there is generally
no distinction between the singular and plural in the negative auxiliary of a third
person declarative in informal spoken Finnish, and a first person plural is formed
with the pronoun me and the indefinite form, which also has a third person nega-
tive auxiliary. With se ‘(s)he/it’, ne ‘they’, and me ‘we’, the pronoun would nor-
mally be realized in a negative clause, unless it is presupposed by ellipsis. With
the other personal forms, however, the negative is marked for number, even in a
simple response to a polar interrogative:

(1) <A> oot sä hiihtäny jo?

be+2SG you-SG skied+PTC yet/already
‘have you been skiing yet?’

<B> en [CA10:2]
‘No /I haven’t.’

3.3.3. Finnish Cases

Modern grammars of Finnish generally recognise 15 or 16 cases (i.e. case forms)

in Finnish. These include the so-called locative cases, similar to locative cases in
American Indian and Australian languages. Like English prepositions, locative
cases are not restricted to concrete expressions of location: they are also used in a
variety of non-concrete ways. Figure 3-6 lists the main case forms in Finnish.

The translations are given only as some sort of guide for those unfamiliar
with Finnish; a Finnish partitive, for example, can be glossed as ‘non-bounded’ in
contrast to a nominative, accusative or genitive, which are ‘bounded’ (see section
3.4.2) and would often be translated by a basic nominal in English (i.e. without an
article). The capital A in some of the case-endings stands for /a/ or /ä/. The capital
V in the illative indicates a lengthening of the stem vowel. Many of the case-
forms listed here have other, phonologically conditioned variants.

The examples given in Figure 3-6 are of an adjective and noun (pieni talo
‘small house’) and a pronoun (sinä ‘you’), but there is agreement or concord
amongst all the words in a nominal phrase, 1 so if a Deictic is added, it would be
in the same case-form as the Head:

(2) noissa pienissä taloissa

those+PL+INE small+PL+INE house+PL+INE
‘in those old houses’

There are, however, a handful of common adjectives that do not inflect for case or
number: for example, koko ‘whole’ (koko talossa ‘in the whole house’), viime
‘last’ (viime viikolla ‘(during) last week’), eri ‘different’ (eri paikoissa ‘in differ-
ent places’).

The term “group” is not employed in the description of Finnish in this study (see Ch. 4).


-t, -i- (-j-)

NOMINATIVE pieni talo a/the small house pienet talot (the) small houses
) sinä you te you

PARTITIVE pientä taloa (of) a/the small house pieniä taloja (of) (the) small houses
-(t)A sinua (of) you teitä (of) you

GENITIVE pienen talon of a/the small house pienten talojen of (the) small houses
-n sinun your teidän your

ACCUSATIVE ) (genitive) ) (nominative plural)

-t sinut you teidät you

ESSIVE pienenä talona as/for a/the small pieninä taloina as/for small houses
-nA house teinä as you, if I were you
sinuna as you, if I were you

TRANSLATIVE pieneksi taloksi into (a/ the) small pieniksi taloiksi into (the) small houses
-ksi house teiksi into you
sinuksi into you

INESSIVE pienessä talossa in(side) the small pienissä taloissa in(side) (the) small houses
-ssA house teissä in(side) you
sinussa in(side) you

ILLATIVE pieneen taloon into (a/ the) small pieniin taloihin into (the) small houses
-Vn house teihin to you
sinuun to you

ELATIVE pienestä talosta from in(side) the pienistä taloista from in(side) the small
-stA small house houses
sinusta from you teistä from you

ADESSIVE pienellä talolla by/on /near a/the pienillä taloilla by/on/near a/the small
-llA small house, autolla by car houses, autoilla by (more than one) car
sinulla by/on you teillä by/on you

ALLATIVE pienelle talolle to (by etc.) the pienille taloille to (by/on/near) the small
-lle small house houses
sinulle to/for you teille to/for you

ABLATIVE pieneltä talolta from (by etc.) the pieniltä taloilta from (by/on/ near) the
-ltA small house small houses
sinulta from you teiltä from you

Figure 3-6: Common Case-Forms for Nominals


The nominative, partitive, genitive and accusative are generally referred to

as the “grammatical cases”: they realize abstract (least specific) meanings. The
inessive, illative, elative, adessive, allative, and ablative as the “locative cases”,
as in concrete instances, at least, their meanings are fairly specific. The intermedi-
ate cases, the translative and the essive, are generally used in abstract ways. In the
following table, I have grouped the elative and the adessive as both intermediate
and locative, as some of their uses are more abstract. They are particularly rele-
vant in the distinction that is made between process types in Chapter 6 of this
study. However, as pointed out earlier, all of these locative cases are used in a
variety of non-concrete ways.

grammatical nominative (talo ‘house’)

partitive (taloa ‘of the/a house’)
genitive (talon ‘house’s’)
accusative (minut ‘me’)

intermediate essive (talona ‘as/for a house’)

translative (taloksi ‘into a house’)

elative (talosta ‘from/of the/a house’)

adessive (talolla ‘by a/the house’)
illative (taloon ‘(in)to the/a house’)
ablative (talolta ‘from a/the house’)
allative (talolle ‘to (by) a/the house’)
inessive (talossa ‘in the house’)

Figure 3-7: Convenient Groupings of Cases

The uses of the following cases are more restricted: i.e. they typically occur
with only certain types of stem or in certain idiomatic expressions. The abessive
and the instructive, however, are commonly used with a verb stem (see Figure 3-
10 below).

ABESSIVE rahatta (SG ) ‘without money ‘

INSTRUCTIVE jalan (SG ) ‘by foot’ käsin (PL) ‘by hand’

COMITATIVE lapsineni (SG/PL) ‘with my child/children’

meritse (SG/PL) ‘by sea/seas’;
PROLATIVE sähköpostitse (SG/PL) ‘by electronic mail’

Figure 3-8: Non-Productive or Semantically Restricted Case-Forms

Plural forms of the abessive and instructive are rare, and there is no distinction
between singular and plural in the comitative and the prolative case.

As mentioned earlier, there are a number of other non-finite verb forms in

Finnish generally referred to as infinitives. Finnish is said to have four infinitives
(see Karlsson 1983b: 155 ff.). The following are examples of non-finite forms
using olla ‘(to) be’ and mennä ‘(to) go’:

1st infinitive (basic form): olla ‘(to) be’, mennä ‘(to) go’
(longer form): ollakseen ‘(in order) to be’

2nd infinitive olle-

ollessa (INESSIVE) ‘while/in being’
ollen (INSTRUCTIVE) ‘thus/so being’

3rd infinitive olema- + case ending

menemä- (see below)

4th infinitive (rare) meneminen, menemistä ‘to go’(NOM/PAR)

Figure 3-9: Infinitives


What is called the fourth infinitive occurs in (often slightly archaic sounding)
modal type constructions: sinne ei ole menemistä ‘one must not go there’.

The longer form of the 1st infinitive as well the 2nd and 3rd infinitive al-
ways occurs with a case-ending. The following table lists the case-forms that can
occur with these infinitives and gives some examples.

TRANSLATIVE elä+ä+kse+mme Syömme elääksemme.

live +INF+TRA+POS/1PL We eat in order to live.
‘in order to live’

tietä+ä+kse+ni Tietääkseni se on valmis.

know +INF+TRA+POS/1SG As far as I know its ready.
‘as far as I know’

INESSIVE ui+ma+ssa Mika on uimassa.

swim +INF+INE Mika is swimming.
‘(in) swimming’

uid+e+ssa- (+ poss. suff.) Uidessaan meressä mies sai

swim +INF+INE sydänkohtauksen.
‘while swimming’ W hile swimming in the sea the man
had a heart attack.

ILLATIVE ui+ma+an Mika meni uimaan.

swim +INF+ILL Mika went swimming.
‘(to) swimming’

ELATIVE ui+m a+sta Mika on tullut uimasta.

swim +INF+ELA Mika has been swimming [has come
‘(from) sw imming’ from swimming].

ADESSIVE ui+m a+lla Uimalla kohoat kuntoasi.

swim +INF+ADE Swimming will make you fit. [By
‘by swimming’ swimming you’ll get fit.]

ABESSIVE sano+ma+tta Jukka seisoi sanomatta mitään.

say+INF+ADE Jukka stood (there) without saying any-
‘without saying’ thing.

INSTRUCTIVE juost+e+n Mika tuli juosten kotiin.

run+INF+INS Mika came running home.
‘(by) running’

Figure 3-10: Common Case Forms for Non-Finite Verb Stems


Some of these cases also occur with an indefinite (passive) stem (see Karlsson
1983b: 157 ff).

The so-called fourth infinitive is identical in form with a frequently used

deverbal noun (i.e. a noun derived from a verb) ending in -minen, e.g. juoksemi-
nen ‘running’, uiminen ‘swimming’, which is inflected like any other nominal.
Present and past participles also inflect like other nominals when they function
like a nominal: tulevana vuotena [coming+ESS year+ESS ] ‘during the coming
year’; kokeneelta opettajalta [experienced+ABL teacher+ABL] ‘from an experi-
enced teacher’.

3.4. Issues in the Received Description of Finnish

3.4.1. The Problem of the “Accusative”

The account that I have given above differs from some traditional accounts of
Finnish cases (e.g. Ikola 1977, Hakulinen & Karlsson 1979, Karlsson 1983b) in
respect of the accusative case. As discussed in this section, the notion of the accu-
sative in many accounts of Finnish is based on a confusion of form and function.
In the ensuing discussion, I am not, of course, suggesting that Finnish linguists
are not aware of this confusion: the accusative in the received grammatical tradi-
tion has developed as a convenience in order to explain the case-marking of what
is traditionally referred to as the object.

In Finnish, there is no special case-form for a noun that ) in traditional

terms ) is considered to be the object in a clause. It is either in the nominative,
genitive or partitive. A pronoun that refers to a human,1 on the other hand, has an
accusative ending (-t) in structures where other nominals would be either in the
nominative or genitive. Like a noun, a pronoun object can also be in the partitive.

Even though the pronoun se ‘(s)he/it’ is used to refer to humans in spoken Finnish (see
Figure 3-6 above), it does not pattern like a human pronoun but like a singular nominal.

Leaving aside the partitive for the moment, a noun (or a nominalized verb form)
that is the object in a clause is said to be in the accusative. In this view, there are
two types of “accusative” forms for nominals: a) without an ending, the
“nominative-like” accusative, and b) with an ending, the “genitive-like” accusa-
tive. In other words, if an object is in the nominative or genitive, it has been re-
ferred to as an “accusative”.


(3) Liisa osti molemmat talot.

Liisa+NOM bought+3SG both+NOM+PL houses+NOM+PL
‘Liisa bought both houses.’

(4) Osta talo maaseudulta!

buy+2SG+IMP house+NOM countryside+ABL
‘Buy a house in the countryside!”

(5) Talo myytiin eilen.

house+NOM sold+INDE yesterday.
‘The house was sold yesterday.’

(6) Liisa osti talon.

Liisa+NOM bought+3SG house+GEN
‘Liisa bought a/the house.’

As illustrated by these examples, the nominative in Finnish is best regarded

as a form without a case-ending. It should not be equated with the Latin nomina-
tive as both subject and object can occur in the nominative in Finnish:1 the nomi-
native marks an inherent participant that is “bounded”. The notion of bounded-
ness will be discussed in the next section; for the moment, the distinction between
boundedness and non-boundedness in Finnish can be seen as being roughly
equivalent to both the distinction between perfective and imperfective aspect and
the distinction between definiteness and indefiniteness in Indo-European lan-

In fact, it might be more appropriate to refer to the nominative in Finnish as an absolutive.

The genitive-like accusative occurs only in instances in which the object is

a singular nominal, the polarity of the clause is positive, and the finite verb is
neither imperative nor indefinite (passive). Moreover, the process must be
bounded; if it is not bounded, the nominal is in the partitive:

(7) Liisa osti maata maaseudulta.

Liisa+NOM bought+3SG land+PAR countryside+ABL
‘Liisa bought (some) land in the countryside.’

(8) Liisa lukee kirjaa.

Liisa+NOM read+3SG book+PAR
‘Liisa is reading a book.’

Moreover, if the polarity is negative, the object is generally in the partitive:

(9) Liisa ei ostanut taloa.

Liisa+NOM NEG+3SG buy+PTC house+PAR
‘Liisa didn’t buy a/the house.’

The genitive-like accusative illustrated in 6 above is phonologically identi-

cal to an ordinary singular genitive. However, historical linguists generally as-
sume that it has developed from a distinct form, and this historical evidence ap-
pears to be another factor in assuming that there is a genitive-like accusative in
contemporary Finnish that is distinct from an ordinary genitive. As the evidence
does not appear to be water-tight, I shall give a brief outline of the received view
in historical linguistics as well as a dissident view that has recently been put for-
ward by Décsy (1990).

It is generally assumed that the “accusative” n in the genitive-like accusative

is the result of a sound change *-m > -n. Like the genitive-like accusative in con-
temporary Finnish, this so-called m-accusative of Proto-Uralic appears to have
been restricted to singular nominals (see L. Hakulinen 1979: 98-99). This m-accu-
sative has been “preserved” in Mari, a Finno-Ugric language spoken in the middle
of Russia (Kangasmaa-Minn (1991), Hakulinen (ibid.)). The postulation of an m-
accusative in Proto-Uralic seems to be based on the assumption that a genitive-
like accusative is quite unlike an ordinary genitive. This assumption is put into

question if one takes into account the function of the genitive in modern Finnish.
As discussed more fully below, the genitive in Finnish scans a semantic contin-
uum from a somewhat concrete and tangible notion of possession (e.g. Susannan
talo ‘Susanna’s house’) to a more ineffable and abstract notion of subordination
(hypotaxis) (e.g. yllättävän lapsellinen [surprising+GEN childish] ‘surprisingly
childish’). This being the case, one could also argue that there is a subordinative
relationship between the verb and an NP in the genitive-like accusative (as illus-
trated by 6 above). The fact that only certain singular nominals are marked in this
way is no more or no less problematic than assuming that only certain objects
were marked in the accusative.

In Décsy’s (1990: 68-69,81) view, on the other hand, there was no special
accusative marking in Proto-Uralic. Décsy regards the possessive relationship as
the most basic: the m-accusative developed from a 1st person possessive ending
at a later stage. The genitive is considered by Décsy to be secondary. A first per-
son possessive in modern Finnish ends in -ni (e.g. minu+n talo+ni I+GEN
house+1SG/POS ‘my house’), but the possessive n is assumed to have developed
from an m (cf. minä ‘I’). What happened during or after the Proto-Uralic stage is
pure conjecture, but the link that Décsy sets up between the accusative and the
possessive also links the accusative with the genitive, since a possessive relation-
ship in Finnish is marked by a possessive suffix as just indicated, or by a pronoun
or noun in the genitive: minun taloni I+GEN house+1S G /P O S ‘my house’) Susan-
nan talo [Susanna +GEN house] ‘Susanna’s house’. This link between the accusa-
tive and the genitive undermines the need to have postulated a separate accusative
form in the first place.

To consider more fully the link between the genitive-like accusative and the
ordinary genitive, it may be helpful to look at ordinary genitives in Finnish. The
genitive is extensively used in modern Finnish,1 and it seems to have a consistent
grammatical function. According to Kangasmaa-Minn (1991), the genitive in

According to one statistical study (Pajunen & Palomäki 1982), the genitive is the second
most frequent case-form in Finnish.

Finnish is an indicator that the unit in question is subordinated to (i.e. dependent

on) another unit; in SF terms, the genitive is a marker of hypotaxis: the genitive
forms in (i) talon ‘house+GEN ’, (ii) meidän ‘we+GEN ’ and (iii) yllättävän ‘surpris-
ing+GEN ’, for example, indicate that there is another element on which it is de-
pendent: (i) talon takana [house+GEN behind] ‘behind the house’, talon ikkunat
[house+GEN windows] ‘the windows of the house’ or talon omistajalle
[house+GEN owner +ALL ] ‘to the owner of the house’ ; (ii) meidän talomme
[we+GEN house+POS/1PL ] ‘our house’ or hän antoi meidän mennä [(s)he gave
we+GEN go+INF ] ‘(s)he allowed us to leave’, (iii) yllättävän lapsellinen
[surprising+GEN childish] ‘surprisingly childish’ or yllättävän hitaasti [surpris-
ing+GEN slowly] ‘surprisingly slowly’. If the dependent item is in turn modified
by other items, then the dependent items agree with the sub-head in number and
case, i.e. they are all in the genitive (singular or plural): noiden vanhojen talojen
uudelle omistajalle [those+PL+GEN old +PL+GEN house+PL+GEN new +ALL
owner +ALL ] ‘to the new owner of those old houses’.

One might alternatively argue that the genitive marks a rankshifted (em-
bedded) element in Finnish. In fact, while Kangasmaa-Minn refers to the genitive
as a marker of subordination (or dependency), she attempts to throw some light
on clauses containing a constituent in the genitive by comparing them to clauses
that contain an embedded clause. A clause containing a genitive is said to be syn-
tactically complex. The clause Helsingin kaupunki sijaitsee rannikolla [Hel-
sinki+GEN city is-situated coast+ADE ] ‘The city of Helsinki is situated on the
coast’ is compared to a matrix clause Kaupunki sijaitsee rannikolla ‘The city is
situated on the coast’ and an embedded clause Kaupunki on Helsinki ‘The city is
Helsinki’. As is obvious from this example, Kangasmaa-Minn’s notion of embed-
ding is based on transformational-generative theory: the surface clause is repre-
sented in a hypothetical deep structure as a clause containing another embedded
clause. Moreover, in Kangasmaa-Minn’s analysis, the genitive itself is not em-
bedded, but the clause containing the genitive is compared to a clause in which
there is another embedded clause.

The varied environments in which there is a genitive in Finnish can be illus-

trated by the following text example, which shows how the genitive marks an-
other layer of modification within a unit ) or a layer of submodification:

(10) Telakkateollisuuden ongelmat tuntuvat

dock(yard)+industry+GEN (1) problems+NOM+PL seem+3PL

pinnallisesti katsoen koskevan vain muutamia

superficially look+INF+INS affect+PTC+GEN 1 (2) only few+PL+PAR

sellaisia satamakaupunkeja, joissa on

such+PL+PAR port+town +PL+PAR which+PL+INE be+3SG

laivanrakennustoimintaa. [HKV]
ship+GEN (3) + building+activity+PAR

‘Looked at superficially, the problems in the ship-building industry seem to affect only a
few (such) ports in which ships are being built.’

The subject ongelmat ‘problems’ is modified by telakkateollisuuden [dock +

industry + GEN ], which constitutes a layer of modification within the subject NP.
Similarly the finite verb tuntuvat ‘seems’ is modified by the participle, koskevan
‘affecting’, which in turn is extended by the NP muutamia sellaisia
satamakaupunkeja ‘a few (such) ports’. The third example of the genitive is in
the compound, laivanrakennustoiminta [ship + GEN + building + activity], where
the Head toiminta ‘activity’ is modified by rakennus ‘building’ which, in turn is
submodified by laiva ‘ship’, which is in the genitive.

The extensive use of the genitive underlines the importance of dependency

relations in Finnish. In systemic-functional descriptions of English, the main em-
phasis is generally put on constituency, and it is only in complexing that the no-
tion of dependency is employed. It would seem that in Finnish, one needs to take
into account both constituency and dependency even in the basic grammatical
organization (i.e. just not in complexing). It seems to me that a daughter-depend-
ency model, along the lines that were earlier suggested by Hudson (1987), pro-

The present participle koskevan is considered to be a “genitive-like accusative” by Finnish
grammarians (e.g. Ikola 1977: 153).

vides a more realistic view of “how language works” (Halliday 1961: 242), or, at
least, of how the Finnish language works.

As indicated earlier, it may also be valid to regard the genitive-like accusa-

tive as a marker of a bounded unit that (sub)modifies the verb. I shall not pursue
this question further as it is not central to my concerns. The point of this discus-
sion has been to show how the notion of a genitive-like accusative is used in
many grammatical descriptions of Finnish and to put into question the need to use
such a category. It is clearly based on a confusion of form and function, and while
this may be seen as a convenient way of discussing case-marking in Finnish, it
nevertheless obscures the grammatical patterning in Finnish and takes for granted
that the notion of an object (case-marked as an accusative) is crucial in the gram-
matical description of Finnish.

Chapters 4 – 7 of this study outline a functional grammar of Finnish, and, a

functional grammar needs to take into account both form and function. However,
to refer to a “genitive-like accusative” is like saying that Steve and Finnish mov-
ies in Sonja likes Steve/Finnish movies are nominative-like accusatives because
him could be regarded as an accusative in Sonja likes him. As it is no more prob-
lematic to regard a singular nominal ending in n as a genitive than it is to regard
it as a “genitive-like accusative”, I shall gloss it as a genitive in this study.1

The instructive (also ending in -n) could also be tied into the discussion of the genitive and
accusative, since it has been etymologically related to the genitive (L. Hakulinen 1979: 106).
However, in contemporary Finnish, while the singular instructive is identical with the singular
genitive, there is a plural instructive (while rarely used) that differs in form from both the
genitive plural and the nominative plural.

In contrast to nouns, there is a distinct accusative (-t) for human pronouns in

Finnish. However, this is considered to be a relatively recent development, i.e.
something that has happened during the time that Finnish has developed as a sep-
arate language. According to L. Hakulinen (1979: 98-99)) the accusative in hu-
man pronouns is (historically) a feature of the Eastern dialects; in the Western
Dialects, these pronouns had the same “accusative” ending as singular nominals
(-n): in other words, there were only genitive forms for pronouns. While there are
three possibilities in case-marking for a nominal that is the object in a clause, i.e.
nominative, genitive and partitive, with human pronouns, there is only a two-way
opposition between the accusative and the partitive. Thus, in the examples above
where the nominal in question was in the genitive or nominative (3 ) 6), a human
pronoun would be in the accusative in a similar grammatical environment.

3.4.2. Boundedness

The difference in the case-marking of nominals between the partitive, on the one
hand, and the nominative, accusative and genitive, on the other, is essentially a
difference in boundedness. To simplify things somewhat, the nominative, accusa-
tive, and genitive refer to something that is constructed as being bounded in time
or space1: either to 1) a bounded entity or an entirety or to a set of entities or to
2) a process which is bounded.2 If the entity or process is not bounded, it is real-
ized by an NP in the partitive. The following clauses illustrate some of the ways
in which this distinction is realized; the a-clauses are non-bounded, the b-clauses

The notion of space should not be understood only in concrete terms. Moreover, as
discussed in this section, a distinction between space and time is not construed in the
grammar of boundedness in Finnish.
Finnish grammarians have traditionally referred to a bounded process as a “resultative”
process. This can roughly be glossed as perfective or telic (i.e. one that moves towards a
logical conclusion (see Comrie 1976: 44-48)).

(11) a. Maalasin taloa.

paint+PAS+1SG house+PAR
‘I was painting a/the house/I painted part of the house.’

b. Maalasin talon.
paint+PAS+1SG house+GEN
‘I painted a/the house (all of it).’

(12) a. Pekka ajoi autoa.

Pekka drive+PAST+3SG car+PAR
‘Pekka drove/was driving a/the car.’

b. Pekka ajoi auton talliin.

Pekka drive+PAST+3SG car+GEN garage +ILL
‘Pekka drove a/the car into the garage.’

(13) a. Miestä ammuttiin.

man+PAR shoot+INDE+PAST
‘A/The man was shot (not fatal).’

b. Mies ammuttiin.
man+NOM shot+INDE+PAST
‘A/The man was shot (dead).’

(14) a. Häntä ammuttiin.

(s)he+PAR shoot+INDE+PAST
‘She/He was shot (not fatal).’

b. Hänet ammuttiin.
(s)he+ACC shot+INDE+PAST
‘She/He was shot (dead).’

As indicated in example 12b, a process can be bounded by an adjunct in the


A clause with negative polarity is generally non-bounded, thus the relevant

nominals in the b-clauses would be in the partitive if the clauses were negative.

(15) En maalannut taloa.

NEG+1SG paint+PAS+1SG house+PAR
‘I didn’t paint a/the house.’

(16) Pekka ei ajanut autoa talliin.

Pekka NEG+3SG drive+PTC car+PAR garage +ILL
‘Pekka didn’t drive a/the car into the garage.’

(17) Miestä ei ammuttu.

man+PAR NEG+3SG shoot+INDE+PTC
‘A/The man wasn’t shot.’

(18) Häntä ei ammuttu.

(s)he+PAR NEG+3SG shoot+INDE+PTC
‘She/He wasn’t shot.’

Thus, there is a clear link in Finnish between boundedness and non-boundedness,

on the one hand, and positive and negative polarity, on the other. If one negates a
process in Finnish, then it is construed as not being temporally or materially
bounded. However, even in a negative clause it is also possible for the object to
be in the genitive, if it is a nominal, or in the accusative, if a human pronoun. For

(19) Eikö hänet ammuttu(kin).

NEG+3SG+Q he/she+ACC shot+INDE+PTC
‘He was shot, wasn’t he? (Wasn’t it the case that he was shot.)’

The significant factor is not whether the finite verb is formally negative, but
whether the meaning is negative.

The bounded/non-bounded distinction also occurs in what have been tradition-

ally referred to as existential clauses in Finnish. (See also next section and Chap-
ter 6 for further discussion of these.)

(20) Pöydällä on lasi.

table+ADE be+3SG glass+NOM
‘There’s a glass on the table.’

(21) Pöydällä on lasia.

table+ADE be+3SG glass+PAR
‘There’s glass on the table.’

(22) Pöydällä on laseja.

table+ADE be+3SG glass+PL+PAR
‘There are glasses on the table.’

(23) Pöydällä on silmälasit.

table+ADE be+3SG eye+glass+NOM+PL
‘There are spectacles [eye+glasses-bounded] on the table.’

If the clause is negative, the nominal in the nominative in the first example above
(20) would generally be in the partitive. (See next section (3.4.3) for a discussion
of the effect of negative polarity on example 23.)

An adjective or noun complement in an intensive clause can also be

bounded or non-bounded. In intensive clauses, the boundedness of the comple-
ment depends on 1) whether the subject is bounded and 2) whether the relation-
ship between the subject and complement is bounded in space or time. As a first
rule of thumb, if the subject is regarded as realizing a bounded entity or a
bounded set, then the complement is in the nominative. Such subjects would gen-
erally include singular nominals that realize a concrete bounded entity (e.g. kirves
‘axe’) or a bounded set, which would be in the nominative plural. What is con-
strued as a bounded set in Finnish is problematic, and, in the final analysis, ineffa-
ble (see 2.4.11); however, bounded plurals would generally include, for example,
plurale tantum words (e.g. sakset ‘scissors’), parts of the body (e.g. silmät
‘eyes’), culturally defined sets of activities (e.g. häät (NOM /PL) ‘wedding’,
hautajaiset (NOM /PL) ‘funeral’, hipat ‘party (informal)’, uutiset ‘news (on televi-

(24) Kirves on tylsä.

axe+NOM be+3SG blunt+NOM
‘The axe is blunt.’

(25) Uutiset oli(vat) lyhyet.

news+NOM/PL be+PAST+3SG(3PL) short+NOM/PL
‘The (television/radio) news were short.’

In these example, kirves ‘axe’ is a concrete entity and uutiset ‘news’ construes a
set of events that is bounded in space and time.

On the other hand, if the relationship between a bounded subject and the
complement is not exhaustive, then complement would be in the partitive.

(26) Kirves on kultaa.1

axe+NOM be+3SG gold+PAR
‘The axe is (of) gold.’

With the uutiset ‘news’ example above (25), if the complement were in the plural
partitive (i.e. uutiset ovat lyhyitä) it would mean something like ‘(television or
radio) news are short (in all countries and at all times)’.

If the subject realizes a non-bounded entity, e.g. a mass or non-count noun

(puuro ‘porridge’), or an abstract noun (suru ‘sorrow’), then the complement
would generally be in the partitive.

(27) Puuro on terveellistä.

porridge+NOM be+3SG healthy+PAR
‘Porridge is healthy.’

(28) Suru on tarttuvaa.

sorrow+NOM be+3SG contagious+PAR
‘Sorrow is contagious.’

However, it is also possible for the complement to be in the nominative. This

appears to most naturally occur in contexts where both 1) the noun realizing a
non-bounded entity such as suru ‘sorrow’ is further specified by a demonstrative
or possessive deictic,2 and 2) the complement realizes an attribute that can be
regarded as all-encompassing (and thus exhaustive):

(29) Hänen surunsa oli ääretön.

(s)he+GEN grief+PO S/3 be+3SG boundless+PAR
‘Her/His grief was boundless.’

Ordinary plural subjects (e.g. pojat ‘(the) boys’) are generally non-bounded:

Cf. Kirves on kultainen ‘The axe is golden’, where there is an exhaustive relationship
between the adjective kultainen ‘golden’ and the subject kirves ‘axe’, i.e. the axe is
exhaustively characterized as being golden. In example 26, on the other hand, the substance
realized by the mass noun kulta ‘gold’ is not exhausted by the axe, and thus it is in the
partitive as illustrated.
See Halliday (1985a: 160) for a discussion of these terms with reference to English.

(30) Pojat olivat iloisia.

boy+NOM/PL be+PAS+3PL happy+PL+PAR
‘The boys were happy/glad.’

Although the partitive seems to be far more frequent, in certain instances the com-
plement can be in the nominative. Yli-Vakkuri (1969) suggests that it is most
natural for the complement to be in the nominative if the relationship between the
subject and complement is cotextually or contextually bounded. The following
example is from Yli-Vakkuri (1969: 263):

(31) Saamastaan lahjasta pojat olivat hurjan

receive+ELA+PO S/3 gift+ELA boy+NOM/PL be+PAS+3PL wild+GEN
iloiset ja pyytävät välittämään kiitoksensa.
happy+PL+PAR and ask extend their thanks

‘The boys were wildly happy about the gift and would like to extend their thanks.’

The discussion presented here is meant only as an outline. For a more com-
prehensive discussion, see, for example, Setälä (1891) or earlier or later editions,
Sadeniemi 1950, Denison 1957, Yli-Vakkuri 1969, T. Itkonen 1974a, 1979, Brig-
den 1984, Heinämäki 1984, Toivonen 1986, Larjavaara 1991 and Leino 1991; see
also Carlson 1981, Dahl 1981 and Langacker 1987 for a general discussion of
boundedness with examples from English. The notion of boundedness as realized
in Finnish can also be related to the notion of definiteness as realized in English
(see Chesterman 1991).

3.4.3. Traditionally Defined Grammatical Subject in Finnish

In this study, I reject the received notion of grammatical subject in Finnish. I con-
fine the subject in Finnish to NPs with the following characteristics:

) The subject is an NP in the nominative case.

) The subject agrees with the finite verb in number and person.1

As indicated in Figure 3-3 above, in spoken Finnish, a third person plural subject does not
always agree with the verb in number and a first person plural subject occurs with a verb form
that is not marked for number or person (see Shore 1988: 155, 164). However, in these
instances, there is agreement in standardized written (and formal spoken) Finnish.

) The subject is unaffected by the polarity of the verb, i.e. if we compare the clause in ques-
tion with an agnate clause with negative polarity, the relevant element would remain in the
nominative case.

A similar view is taken by Vilkuna (1989: 46,150). This definition of the gram-
matical subject in Finnish will be adopted in Chapters 5 and 6 of this study. Un-
like English, however, the grammatical subject in Finnish does not realize an
interpersonal function: it will be argued that it realizes an experiential function.

The received notion of subject in Finnish (see Hakulinen & Karlsson 1979:
158-172), is a mixture of grammatical and semantic properties, some of which
contradict each other. It seems to me that the reason for this is that the notion of
subject ) as it has evolved in grammatical descriptions of Finnish ) is based on
the Indo-European notion of subject. The first models for grammars of Finnish
were grammars of Latin, and, subsequently, Finnish grammarians have been in-
fluenced by grammatical descriptions of Indo-European languages, and, in recent
years, more specifically by descriptions of English.

The traditional view of subject in Finnish is derived from the logically-based

notion of a subject, which has its roots in a tradition stemming from Aristotle to
grammars of Latin, and then to Latin-based grammars of other languages. As
Halliday (1977: 36) has pointed out, in the Aristotlean tradition the (main) com-
ponents of a sentence, the subject and predicate, are logical concepts: they are the
components of a proposition, the functions in a premiss. As these logical concepts
have to be distinguished from the linguistic elements that enter into logical rela-
tions, the grammatical concepts of subject and predicate are treated as purely for-
mal items. Consequently, the subject is grammatically defined, for example, in
terms of position in the clause, case (e.g. nominative case), and/or marking on the
verb (e.g. person, number or gender agreement.) During the second half of the
nineteenth century, grammarians started to differentiate the psychological and
logical subject from the grammatical subject (see, e.g., Matthews 1981: 102;
Halliday 1985a: 33); and, more recently, Keenan (1976) has introduced the notion

of a prototypical subject, which ) not surprisingly ) more or less corresponds to

the prototypical semantic features of what is considered to be the grammatical
subject in English.

The logical basis of subject and predicate in Finnish is evident in the follow-
ing quotation from Siro (1964: 16):

There are different components in a clause, the main components being the subject and the
predicate, for example Aurinko paistaa ‘The sun shines/is shining’, in which the expression
aurinko ‘sun’ is referred to as the subject and paistaa ‘shines’ the predicate. [Translation:

Siro, however, goes on to point out that many clauses types in Finnish do not
have a subject. Some indication of the proportion of subjectless clauses in Finnish
is given in a corpus-based statistical analysis of written Finnish: 19% of all
clauses examined were subjectless (Hakulinen, Karlsson & Vilkuna 1980: 29-31).
Moreover, the notion of a “grammatical subject” in this analysis is elastic: it in-
cludes not only NPs in the nominative case that agree with the finite verb in num-
ber and person but also NPs in the genitive or partitive case that do not agree with
the verb.

A statistical analysis of written Finnish ) i.e. based on formal, written gen-

res of Finnish ) fails to capture the fact that subjectless clauses are in some sense
very basic and central clause types, characteristic of everyday spoken Finnish.
One class of subjectless clauses, which have been referred to as causatives of
feeling (see Vilkuna 1989: 45-46), for example, consists of what is typically con-
strued in Finnish as an agentless physical or mental process that is not self-engen-

(32) mua palelee

I+PAR freeze+3SG
‘I’m freezing.’

They are similar to the impersonal verb constructions in Australian languages as described,
for example, by Walsh (1987). See further Chapter 6.

(33) mua ottaa päähän.

I+PAR take+3SG head+ILL
‘I’m feel annoyed/irritated.’

Regardless of their statistical frequency in a written corpus, clauses like these are
by no means unusual in everyday interaction ) they are in some sense very fun-
damental to intimate, everyday interaction as expressions of personal drives, feel-
ings and emotions. This is reflected in the fact that they occur in child language at
a very early age (see Toivainen 1980: 126-27; 1986: 457).

Other clause-types which are generally regarded as subjectless by Finnish

grammarians include clauses that refer to temporal or meteorological states or
conditions, e.g. sataa [lit. rains] ‘it’s raining’, on tiistai [is Tuesday] ‘it’s Tues-
day’, on myöhä [is late] ‘It’s late’) and indefinite clauses (see Shore 1986, 1988),
e.g. maalla tehtiin työtä [countryside+ADE did +INDE work +PAR ] ‘country folk
worked/people in the countryside worked’, ohjelma pantiin hyllylle [pro-
gramme+NOM put+INDE+ PAST shelf +ALL ] ‘the programme was shelved’. Thus,
even in the received view, there are a significant number of subjectless clauses in

On the other hand, there are a number of other clause types that contain an
NP which has been regarded as a subject, but this subject does not meet the crite-
ria listed at the beginning of this section, i.e. that it is in the nominative case,
agrees with the verb in number and person, and it is unaffected by the polarity of
the verb. Furthermore, there are no other grammatical criteria that would link
these so-called subjects to the subject as defined in this study. Clauses with dubi-
ous subjects include existential clauses (which includes a subset of what have
been referred to as “possessive constructions”) and necessitative clauses. The
“subject” in an existential clause is in the nominative or partitive case, and the
verb (olla ‘be’ or an intransitive verb) is always in the third person singular form,
i.e. if the “existential subject” is plural, it does not agree with it in number:

(34) Pöydällä on lasi.

table+ADE be+3SG glass+NOM
‘There’s a glass on the table.’

(35) Pöydällä on lasia.

table+ADE be+3SG glass+PAR
‘There’s glass on the table.’

(36) Pöydällä on laseja.

table+ADE be+3SG glass+PL+PAR
‘There are glasses on the table.’

Whereas the subject (as defined at the beginning of this section) is always in
the nominative, an “existential subject”, on the other hand, may be in the nomina-
tive in a clause with positive polarity, but would be in the partitive in an agnate
clause in the negative. Thus, if the polarity of clause 34 above is changed, the
“existential subject” would be in the partitive:

(37) Pöydällä ei ole lasia.

table+ADE NEG+3SG be glass+PAR
‘There isn’t a glass on the table ~ There’s no glass on the table.’

The traditional notion of an existential clause in Finnish also includes

clauses in which the NP in the grammatical case is in the nominative plural, for

(38) Pöydällä on silmälasit.

table+ADE be+3SG eye+glass+NOM+PL
‘There are spectacles [eye+glasses-bounded] on the table.’

These inherently bounded NPs are not necessarily affected by the polarity of the
verb. In line with Vilkuna’s (1989: 159) suggestion, however, it seems to me that,
in instances where the NP in question is unaffected by the polarity of the verb, the
clause is not an existential clause but a normal circumstantial relational process.
Instances in which the NP would be affected by the polarity of the verb, on the
other hand, could be considered existential.

An NP in the genitive case in a so-called “necessitative clause” has also

been regarded as a subject (e.g. Hakulinen and Karlsson 1979: 172; Karlsson
1983b: 90) in spite of the fact that the verb is always in the third person singular.

(39) Minun pitää lähteä kotiin.

I+GEN must+3SG leave -INF home+ILL
‘I’ve got to/I must go home.’

The genitive NP in clauses like these can be characterized as a primary participant

and as the unmarked Theme (see Chapter 7). It clearly contrasts with clauses in
which there is a subject that agrees with the verb in number and person:

(40) Minä lähden kotiin.

I-NOM leave +1SG home+ILL
‘I’m going home.’

To summarize the main points in this section: the traditionally defined gram-
matical subject in Finnish has evolved from a logically based notion of subject
imported from the Indo-European grammatical tradition. As a consequence it
involves a confusion of form and function. It is generally in the nominative, but
sometimes in the partitive or even in the genitive. It is generally unaffected by the
polarity of the verb, but in some instances it is affected. In this study, the gram-
matical subject is defined as a formal category: an NP in the nominative that (po-
tentially) agrees with the verb in number and person. In later chapters, I shall
argue that it is one way in which the experiential function Medium is realized.
Chapter 4
Constituency and Dependency in Finnish

4.1. Overview

In the discussion of grammatical structure (or patterning) in 2.4.5 (pp. 49 ) 51), it

was pointed out that structure in SF theory is seen as a number of different types
of pattern that are conflated or mapped onto each other in the process of realiza-
tion. Thus, the term structure when applied at the rank of clause does not refer
only to constituency structure, with which this chapter will be concerned, but to
any kind of (non-random) organization that is restricted in scope to the bound-
aries of the clause. As discussed in 2.4.4 (p. 49), constituency relations are re-
garded as being primarily relevant to the experiential organization of a language.
This chapter focuses on constituency and dependency in the grammatical organi-
zation of Finnish. Sections 4.2 and 4.3 are concerned with the rank hierarchy hy-
pothesis and some of the problems that arise when this hypothesis is applied to
Finnish. Section 4.4 gives an overview of phrases in Finnish and section 4.5 dis-
cusses clause complexing in Finnish.

4.2. Ranked Constituency

The rank hierarchy hypothesis assumes that there are certain basic units, which
form a strict constituency hierarchy. While this hierarchical constituency organi-
zation might be assumed to be universal, the units themselves are language spe-
cific. If, for example, one assumes that the basic units in Finnish are the same as
in English (as, for example, Hakulinen & Karlsson (1979: 65-66) assume), then in
the basic grammatical organization of Finnish the highest ranking unit on the
constituency structure hierarchy is a clause, which consists of one or more
phrases or groups, which consist of one or more words, which consist of one or

more morphemes.1 While, as pointed out in 2.4.4 (pp. 48 ) 49), non-experiential

elements can be excluded from the rank scale, and varied amounts of singulary
branching and rank-shifting (downranking, embedding) have to be allowed for,
this model is meant to account for the basic experiential organization of Finnish.
The dynamics of grammar can then be accounted for by complexing, which is
seen in terms of (inter)dependency between units.

The term phrase (Finnish: lauseke) was introduced into grammatical de-
scriptions of Finnish by linguists influenced by transformational-generative gram-
mar. I shall use the term phrase is the SF sense, i.e. for the rank intermediate be-
tween clause and word. The term group will not be employed: while there are
differences between nominal phrases (NPs) and pre- and postpositional phrases
(PPs) in Finnish, these do not correspond to the difference between phrase and
group in English. Moreover, verbal and adverbial phrases also differ in crucial
ways from NPs and PPs. It seems to me that the use of a Premodifier with the
term phrase ) nominal, prepositional, verb(al) and adverbial ) suffices to distin-
guish between various types of phrases in Finnish. Thus the term VP as used in
this thesis is not to be confused with a VP in the transformational-generative
sense (where VP ÷ V + NP). Huddleston (1984: 112 ff.) also uses VP in the
sense that I am using it here; he suggests that the term “extended VP” is used to
refer to the transformational-generative notion of a VP.

A terminological distinction similar to the one made by Halliday (1985a: 83,

see Chapter 2, p. 46) between “sentence” (Finnish: virke) and “clause” (lause)
has traditionally been made by some Finnish grammarians (e.g. Ikola 1977: 126-
27). This distinction is sometimes lost in translations where there is a tendency to
translate Finnish lause as “sentence”. Throughout this thesis, lause and “clause”
are considered to be translation equivalents; the term “sentence” (virke) will be
used to refer to an orthographical unit, i.e. a unit of the written language bounded
by a capital letter at the beginning and a full stop at the end. A sentence (virke) is

There are often complex morphophonological changes in word stems and affixes; thus,
dividing a word into its constituent morphemes is not always a straightforward procedure.

not a grammatical unit; it may correspond to one clause or more than one clause,
it may be an elliptical clause, or even a phrase or word.

The rank scale in Finnish can be illustrated by the following example:

Clause C
Phrase C ))))))) C ))))))))))))) C ))))))))))))))))))))) C
* * * *
Word C C C C )))))))))))))))))))) C
* * * * *
Morpheme C C ))) C ))) C C )))) C C C ))) C ))) C ))))) C
* * * * * * * * * * *
(1) sä ol + i + t möki+llä viime viiko+n + loppu +na [Tel1:1]
you be+PAST+2SG cottage+ADE last week +GEN + end +ESS
‘You were at the (summer) cottage at the weekend (last weekend).’

Figure 4-1: The Rank Scale in Finnish

Where branching does not occur in the example, it would have been possible for
branching to occur (e.g. mökillä ‘at the cottage’ ÷ firman omistamalla mökillä
[firm+GEN own+INF+ADE ] ‘at the cottage owned by the firm’) or else the item is
in paradigmatic contrast with other items that would permit branching (e.g. sä
‘you’ ÷ sun ruotsalaiset ystävät ‘your Swedish friends’, with concomitant
changes in the form of the verb).

With many examples from dialogue, one needs to take into account the fact
that dialogue is collaborative, and what someone has just said is rarely repeated
but presupposed by ellipsis, as illustrated in the following example:

(2) – Oot sä konserteissa käyny? [TIIM3d]

be+2SG you concerts+PL+INE go/visit+PTC
‘Have you been to concerts?’

– no joo sillon tällön käyn aina

well yeah now & then go/visit+1SG always.
‘Well yeah now & then I always go.’

÷ – minkälaisissa konserteissa?
what-kind+PL+INE concerts+PL+INE
‘What kinds of concerts?’

The phrase/group minkälaisissa konserteissa? ‘what kinds of concerts?’ realizes

an elliptical clause: it can only be understood as minkälaisissa konserteissa sä
käyt (~ oot käyny)? ‘what kinds of concerts do you go to (have you been to)?’
Thus, even if a turn in a conversation consists of a phrase or a word, it can often
only be interpreted on the basis of or as part of a larger experiential structure.

There are, of course, many elements in a turn in a conversation or entire

turns that cannot be considered as part of the rank scale, for example, the ele-
ments no joo ‘well yeah’ in the example above. In SF theory, these are regarded
as textual phenomena that cannot be described by the same sorts of grammatical
concepts that are being employed in this study. (For a discussion of concepts rele-
vant to text, see Halliday & Hasan 1976). From a formal perspective, the syntagm
no joo can be considered a minor clause. A distinction is made in SF theory
between major and minor clauses. Major clauses are clauses with a finite verb;
they can also be elliptical, as in example 2 above. Minor clauses are complete
syntagms without a finite verb. They include greetings, newspaper and chapter
headings, and telephone openings and closings in Finnish. For example, Leea
täällä hei [Leea here+ AD E hi] ‘Hi it’s Leea’) consists of two minor clauses in
Finnish. These minor clauses, however, do not realize all of the types of meaning
discussed in this study, e.g. the option declarative vs. interrogative, and are be-
yond the scope of this study.

The rank hypothesis can be seen as capturing a kind of baseline of grammat-

ical organization as viewed from an experiential perspective. Uncomplicated
examples of the rank scale are readily found in the language of young children, in
children’s literature, and in casual conversation. While the analysis of authentic
examples is often complex and complications are bound to arise, this is only to be
expected. Given the vastness and complexity of natural language, it seems to me
that rather than see something wrong with a ranked constituency model that al-

lows singulary branching, rank-shifting, and the exclusion of certain elements

from the rank scale, there is something wrong with a neat and almost mechanical
model of the kind suggested by Matthews (1966: 109) in his early criticism of the
rank hypothesis. However, as Halliday (1966b) and McGregor (1991) suggest, we
need to be able to delimit and define the exceptions and exclusions.

While this chapter focuses on constituency ) part-to-whole ) relationships

in the clause, since this is essential to a synoptic representation of the configura-
tions of experiential functions that are realized in the clause, it may well be that
we need a model of grammatical organization for Finnish that also incorporates a
dependency relationship between the verb and its complements. A dependency
model is more feasible when we begin to look, for example, at the scope of inter-
personal elements. In other words, the combination of dependency and constitu-
ency that Halliday employs in his analysis of English groups and phrases (see
Halliday 1985a: 170 ff.) would also apply to the clause in Finnish. As Hudson
(1987: 250) points out, each approach ) constituency (part-to-whole) and depend-
ency (part-to-part) ) has virtues that the other lacks.

The constituency approach has the virtue of identifying items larger than words ) clauses and
phrases ) so that the grammar can make generalizations about these items; for instance, this
allows us to distinguish between interrogative and declarative clauses, or between relative and
adverbial clauses, without having to pretend that these properties were properties of some
particular word, such as the verb ... Systemic grammars depend crucially on being able to
assign features to higher nodes, ... so it is essential to have higher nodes, as in the constitu-
ency approach ....

On the other hand, the dependency approach has the virtue of being able easily to capture the
dependency relations between parts ...

4.3. Some Problems with the Rank Hypothesis

4.3.1. Discontinuous Constituents

There are at least two problems that immediately arise when the rank hypothesis
is applied to Finnish. The first problem arises when any kind of constituency
analysis ) ranked or otherwise ) is applied to Finnish. It concerns what are gener-
ally referred to as discontinuous constituents, as exemplified by the verbal group
ei oo menny (standardized written: ei ole mennyt) ‘hasn’t gone’ in the following

(3) ei se varmaan sinne oo tässä jumalan

NEG+3SG (s)he-NOM sure+ILL to there be this+INE god+GEN

ilmassa menny [Tel1:1]

weather+INE gone+PTC

‘(S)he certainly wouldn’t have gone there in this raging storm.’

Because word order in Finnish is flexible (for the most part it is conditioned by
textual factors), examples like this are not uncommon in either spoken and written
Finnish (for some further examples and discussion, see Vilkuna 1989: 124-127,
197 ff.). Thus, many of the constituency trees in Finnish would contain branches
that crossed over each other. However, because the mode of interpretation in SF
grammar is a functional one, and grammatical structure is explained by reference
to the meaning, there is no problem in recognizing ei oo menny ‘hasn’t gone’ as
a unit that can be interpreted as a Process.

On the other hand, it can be reasonably argued, as Sammallahti (1991) does

for Saame (Lappish), that a constituency-based tree diagram is unsuitable for rep-
resenting the relationships between the elements in the Finnish clause, and that it
would be more appropriate to represent it in terms of dependencies, using arrow
notation. While a tree diagram seems a rather crude representation and fails to
capture the dependency relationships among the elements in ei oo menny ‘hasn’t
gone’, for example, it nevertheless provides a synoptic representation of the

clause. On the other hand, the arrow notation used in dependency grammar to link
a dependent element to its Head would be more suitable for capturing the depend-
ency relationship between elements, particularly between the elements in a dis-
continuous constituent. It would be feasible to develop a representation similar to
Hudson’s (1976, 1987) in which dependency arrows are used in conjunction with
a constituency tree diagram.1

‘(S)he certainly wouldn’t have gone there in this raging storm.’

Figure 4-2: Constituency and Dependency

(The modal NP varmaan ‘for sure’ is not analysed as it is outside the experiential
structure of the clause.)

As indicated in the previous section, the synoptic representation of part-

whole relationships as an entirety as reflected in a constituency tree diagram is
essential in a functional grammar, where the parts realize functions that are inter-
preted by reference to the whole. From an experiential semantic perspective, the
parts in a clause represent different variables, i.e. different experiential semantic
functions. For example, in the material process illustrated in Figure 4-2 above
there is an Actor (se ‘(s)he’), Process (ei oo menny ‘hasn’t gone’) and two non-
inherent roles (circumstances) (sinne ‘there’ and tässä jumalan ilmassa ‘in this
raging storm’). From a synoptic perspective, the other roles form a structural con-

Halliday’s (1985a: Chapter 6) analysis of groups is based on both constituency and
dependency, although he does not develop a way of showing dependency in a tree diagram.

figuration in conjunction with the verb ei oo menny ‘hasn’t gone’. The meaning
of the process realized by the verb mennä ‘(to) go’ depends on the structural en-
tirety of which it is a part, not on the isolated verb form. In other syntagms, the
verb form mennä ‘(to) go’ can realize the process in a relational process: mä
menin ihan kalpeaksi ‘I went/ turned completely pale’.

4.3.2. Inclusion of Morphology

While this study is not concerned with an in-depth analysis of the problems in-
volved in incorporating morphology ) both inflexional and derivational morphol-
ogy ) into a lexicogrammatical description of Finnish, a few general points about
morphology need to be made. As pointed out in 2.4.9 (p. 60), the lexicogrammar
of a language is seen as a continuum in which more general meanings are realized
grammatically and more specific meanings are realized lexically. Grammatical
meanings in Finnish are realized both syntactically and morphologically, and this
presents another problem for the rank hierarchy hypothesis. For example, the
finite verb in Finnish is marked for person and the indefinite verb form contains a
morpheme that realizes an unspecified human participant. This means that an
Agent can be realized morphologically: juoksin ran+1SG ‘I ran’; juostiin
‘ran+INDE (unspecified human participant(s))’. Thus, for Finnish, one needs to
recognize that, in certain instances, the VP can realize two functional roles: the
process and an inherent participant.

(4) Olin Szegedissä. (from Helasvuo 1988: 75)

be+PST+1SG Szeged+INE
Process+Participant Circumstance
‘I was in Szeged.’

Clauses like this are typical of written Finnish; in spoken Finnish, on the other
hand, it is typical for the pronoun to be realized, unless it is presupposed by ellip-
sis 1:

Ellipsis will be discussed more fully in Chapter 7.

(5) Mä olin Szegedissä.

I was+PST+1SG Szeged+INE
Participant Process Circumstance
‘I was in Szeged.’

This poses a problem for the rank hypothesis since an essential feature of the
rank hypothesis is that it facilitates the making of generalizations about paradig-
matic and syntagmatic relations:

It defines a point of origin for systems and structures, so that the assignment of any item to a
given rank, as also the assignment of the structures and systems themselves, becomes an
important step in generalization (Halliday 1966: 112).

Thus, for example, it is generally assumed that the entry condition for transitivity
(experiential structure) is the major clause and that transitivity functions (such as
Actor, Process, Goal etc.) are realized by phrases. When singulary branching
occurs, a phrase can be made up of a single word or even a single morpheme.
Thus, words consisting of a single morpheme ) Anne, poika ‘(a/the) boy’ and mä
‘I’ ) can realize transitivity functions. Singulary branching in itself is not a prob-
lem. What is problematic in instances such as example 4 above, is the fact that a
VP in Finnish can consist of morphemes that realize different transitivity func-
tions: ol+i+n ‘be (stem) + PAST + 1SG ’. In these instances, the 1. person singular
morpheme is an immediate constituent of the clause: it directly realizes a transi-
tivity function.

This means that we may have to acknowledge that upward rankshifting oc-
curs, i.e. the morpheme moves up the rank scale and functions in the way we
would expect a phrase to function. However, the instances in which upward
rankshifting could be said to occur in Finnish are clearly defined: VPs with a 1. or
2. person ending and VPs containing an indefinite morpheme. Moreover, these
exceptions are interpretable from a common sense point of view: 1. and 2. person
pronouns are so-called speech act pronouns that do not necessarily need the ex-
panded semantic potential that is afforded by the phrase. The Finnish indefinite,
on the other hand, is used to refer to (a) non-specified human participant(s), and it
would be semantically anomalous to expand it using the potential of an NP (see
Shore 1988: 160).

Similar problems arise elsewhere in the grammar of Finnish. For example, at

phrase rank in Finnish there are at least two other instances in which one would
have to acknowledge upward rankshifting: 1) with Classifiers, which always form
a compound with the Thing or Entity in an NP (see next section) and 2) with pos-
sessive suffixes, where in some instances the suffix alone realizes the function
Possessive (taloni ‘my house’), whereas in other instances it can be realized by a
pronoun in the genitive or a combination of a pronoun and a suffix (minun
vaimoni [my wife+PO S/1SG ] ‘his wife’; mun vaimo ‘my wife’.1

4.4. Phrases in Finnish

4.4.1. Nominal Phrases (NP)

Nominal Phrases are phrases that have a nominal as Head, i.e. the Head belongs
to a word class that can be inflected for case (see 3.3.3, pp. 82 ) 87) and number.
NPs have the same functions in a clause as nouns; however, as nouns in Finnish
are also inflected in the so-called locative cases, an NP in Finnish can also func-
tion as an Adjunct in a clause. The following are examples of NPs in Finnish:

(6) tuo upea, iso valkoinen

that-NOM magnificent-NOM big-NOM white-NOM
Deictic Epithet Epithet Epithet

wood+house -NOM
Classifier + Entity2

‘that magnificent, big white wooden house’

See Karlsson (1983b: 91-93) for an outline and some discussion of possessive suffixes in
standardized written Finnish; spoken Finnish is briefly discussed by Karlsson (1983b: 208).
I have substituted the term Entity for Halliday’s label Thing because it sounds less concrete
(cf. Halliday 1985a: Chapter 6).

(7) noissa upeissa, isoissa valkoisissa

that+PL+INE magnificent+PL+INE big+PL+INE white+PL+INE
Deictic Epithet Epithet Epithet

wood+house +PL+INE
Classifier + Entity

‘in those magnificent, big white wooden houses’

(8) siellä


These examples and many of the examples used in this section are not authentic,
and may even sound contrived; moreover, I doubt that NPs with a lot of modifiers
occur very frequently in actual (spoken or written) text. However, the point of the
examples is to illustrate the potential of NPs in Finnish.

In this study, an NP is defined by its Head and the type of modifiers that it
can (potentially) have, and not by its function. An NP can function in the clause
as a participant (inherent role) or as a circumstance. This can be compared to the
approach adopted by Hakulinen & Karlsson (1979: Chapters 7 ) 8), which is
influenced by transformational grammar. They refer to Noun Phrases (NPs), with
a noun as Head, and other “nominal phrases” (nominaaliset lausekkeet). Under
the heading of nominal phrases, they include Adjective Phrases, Quantifier
Phrases, Adverbial Phrases and Pre- and Postpositional Phrases. On the other
hand, they distinguish Adverb Phrases, with an adverb as Head, from Adverbial
Phrases, which function in a clause as an adverbial (i.e. a Circumstance). This
means that they postulate seven different types of Adverbial Phrase in Finnish:
Adverb Phrase (which has an adverb as Head), subordinate clauses, Noun Phrases
in which the Head is not in one of the grammatical cases (as in 7 above), P-posi-
tional Phrases, Quantifying Phrases, Adjectival Phrases, and non-finite verb con-
structions (Hakulinen & Karlsson 1979: 151-152). Thus, in Hakulinen & Karls-
son’s analysis, example 7 above, would be an NP functioning as an Adverbial

It seems to me the approach adopted in this study is clearer. It is less confus-

ing to talk about Nominal Phrases (NPs) with a nominal as Head and to consider
its function in the clause separately, e.g. as a Circumstance, Actor, Goal etc. (see
Chapter 6). Nominal Phrases (NPs) in this study are also considered to have vari-
ous subtypes. The subtypes considered in this section are roughly equivalent to
what Hakulinen & Karlsson refer to as noun, adjective and quantifier phrases.

As illustrated in the examples above, Premodifiers in an NP agree with the

Head in number and case. A Classifier, however, always forms a compound with
the Head: puutalo (puu ‘wood’ + talo ‘house’) ‘wooden house’, pikajuna (pika
‘express’ + juna ‘train’) ‘express train’. Halliday (1985a: 171) analyses an Eng-
lish NP (e.g. a magnificent ornamental eighteenth-century carved mahogany
mantelpiece) as a Head with Premodifiers. If it is also assumed that an NP in
Finnish can be analysed as a logical structure as well, then we can analyse an NP
in Finnish as follows, where Greek letters are used to mark a hypotactic (depend-
ency) relation between elements:

(9) tuohon upeaan, isoon valkoiseen puu + taloon

that+GEN magnificent+ILL big+ILL white+ILL wood house+ILL

. , * ( $ "

‘to that magnificent, old white wooden house’

However, it could be argued that the relationship amongst the constituents in

the examples given so far is not one of logical dependency. While it could be
argued that the Entity, talo ‘house’ (or the combination of Classifier and Entity,
puutalo ‘woodhouse’) is in some sense the most substantial or tangible from an
experiential semantic point of view ) it is the element in the NP that is most
clearly anchored in the world of our experience ) the grammatical evidence sug-
gests that, in Finnish, the other elements in the NP are not dependent on it. It is
significant that, as illustrated above, each element in an NP inflects independently
for case (in both standardized written and unselfconscious spoken Finnish). This
could be seen as an indication that each element has its own independent status

within the NP, i.e. that tuohon ‘(to) there’ is not subordinative to puutaloon ‘to
the wood(en)house’. This is reflected by the fact that if the Entity is omitted, un-
like English, nothing is needed in Finnish to fill its place, as illustrated by the
following dialogues:1

(10) <A> missä Kalle asuu?

which+INE Kalle live
‘Where does Kalle live?’

<B> tuossa valkoisessa talossa

that+INE white+INE house/building+INE
‘in that white house’

(11) <A> missä talossa Kalle asuu?

which+INE house/building+INE Kalle live
‘In which house does Kalle live?’

<B> tuossa valkoisessa

that+INE white+INE
‘in that white one’

<A> vai tuossa se asuu

or-Q that+INE he lives
‘So that’s where he lives [so there (in that) he lives]’

On the other hand, there are arguments that indicate that the Entity is (typi-
cally) the Head (unless it is presupposed by ellipsis). For example, Huddleston
(1984: 110) in his analysis of English, points out that when phrases combine to
form larger units, there are often restrictions that affect the Head, but not the de-
pendents. Thus, for instance, it is the Entity/Head that determines the case-form
of a Post-Modifier, as in the following example:

I have adopted Huddleston’s (1984) convenient notation of using angle brackets that enclose
letters to represent different speakers.

(12) [Professori Lagerspetz ei ole lähtenyt sotaan iskeäkseen pöytään -

‘Professor Lagerspetz has not taken up the issue [lit. gone to war] in order to establish [put
on the table]]-‘

oman suurenmoisen teoriansa ihmisen

own+GEN grandiose+GEN theory+POSS/3 person+GEN

aggressiivisuudesta. [HKV]

‘her own grandiose theory of the aggressiveness of humankind.’

If the Entity had been realized by suhtautuminen ‘relation(ship)’, for example, if

one were talking about Professor’s Lagerspetz’s relationship (the way she relates
to) aggressiveness, then the Post-Modifier would be in the illative suhtautuminen
aggressiivisuuteen ‘relation [the way in which one relates to] aggressiveness’.
However, it seems to me that Post-Modifiers are grammatically distinct from pre-
modifiers, and while it may be valid to talk of a Modifier and a Head in
postmodification, the same does not apply to the elements that precede the Entity.

As discussed in 3.4.1 (p. 89 ff.), however, it is possible for there to be a

Head-Modifier relationship in the nominal phrase, and in these instances, the
modifier is marked by the genitive in Finnish. Thus in the following example,
vanhalle omistajalle ‘to the old owner’ is modified by tuo valtavan iso talo ‘that
extremely big house’, in which iso ‘big’, in turn, is modified by valtavan ‘ex-

(13) tuon valtavan ison talon vanhalle omistajalle

that+GEN huge +GEN big+GEN house+GEN old+ALL owner+ALL
__________ ______
$ "

_________________________________________________ _____________________
$ "

‘to the old owner of that extremely big house’


The submodification of iso ‘big’ by valtava ‘huge’ in this example is not obvious
as the Sub-Head iso ‘big’ is part of another Modifier. If it were part of an inde-
pendent phrase, however, the submodification would be clear: tuo valtavan iso
talo ‘that extremely big house/building’.

Pace Huddleston (1988: 144), SF theory does recognize a phrase (or in

Halliday’s terms, a group) with an adjective as Head, i.e. an Adjectival Phrase.
However, an Adjectival Phrase is considered a subtype of nominal phrase. In
other words, the difference between the two is a matter of delicacy. I shall not
discuss Adjectival Phrases in Finnish. However, it needs to be pointed out that
while adjectives in Finnish can be distinguished from nouns in that they have
comparative and superlative forms, the distinction between nouns and adjectives
in Finnish is less clear-cut than it is in English. Both nouns and adjectives are
inflected for number and case. The use of the comparative is not restricted to ad-
jectives in Finnish. In some instances, nouns can occur in the comparative: e.g.
ranta ‘shore’, rannemmaksi [shore+comp+tra] ‘more towards the shore’; syksy
‘autumn’, syksympänä [autumn+comp+ess] ‘(during) later on in the autumn’ (see
L. Hakulinen 1978: 115-116).

There are various infinitives, gerunds and participles in Finnish (see 3.3.3, p.
85 ff.), and these can function as the Head or as a Modifier in an NP. For exam-

(14) tuossa palaneessa talossa (ei ollut ihmisiä.)

that+INE burn+PST/PTC+INE house+INE (were not people)
‘in that burnt-down house (there were no people)’

(15) hyväksytyt (saavat aloittaa ensi viikolla).

‘those accepted (can begin next week).’

Non-finite verb forms are Janus-like (double-faced) in that, on the one hand, they
function like other types of constituents in an NP, but, on the other hand, they can
occur with elements realizing Participants and Circumstances that are generally
associated with the Process in a clause. Because of this, it seems to me that it is
valid to analyse these non-finite verb forms in two ways: those instances in which

the non-finite form occurs alone can be treated like ordinary Heads or Modifiers
in an NP, whereas those instances in which the non-finite form is accompanied by
a Participant or a Circumstance can be treated as instances of embedding, i.e. it is
a non-finite clause that functions within the structure of the host NP. For example,
the participle and the circumstance that occurs with it in the following NP can be
regarded as a non-finite clause embedded within the host NP:

(16) [[ viime syksynä palaneessa ]] talossa

last autumn+ESS burn+PST/PTC+INE house+INE
‘in the house that burnt down last autumn’

Particularly in written Finnish, the various types of dependencies and

embeddings within an NP can become quite complex:

(17) monissa [[ hänen Islannin matkansa tuloksina

many+PL+INE her+GEN Iceland+GEN trip+PO S/3 result+PL+ESS

syntyneissä ]] töissään [HKV]

born+PAS/PTC+PL+INE work+PL+INE+PO S/3

‘in many of her works (of art) that came about as a result of her trip to Iceland’

In this example, there is a dependency relationship between hänen ‘her’ and

Islannin matkansa ‘Iceland trip’ and the whole NP hänen Islannin matkansa
‘her Iceland trip’ is dependent on tuloksina ‘result’. The NP hänen Islannin
matkansa tuloksina ‘the results of her Iceland trip’, in turn, is part of an embed-
ded non-finite clause hänen Islannin matkansa tuloksina syntyneissä ‘born as
the results of her Iceland trip’ in the host NP with töissään ‘in her works (of art)’
as Head.

In many NPs, it is the Entity ( ` nominal) that functions as the Head. How-
ever, as mentioned above, an adjective is the Head in an Adjectival Phrase and
there are also NPs, in which an Epithet, Numerative or Deictic is the Head. These
are generally either elliptic, i.e. the Entity can be retrieved from the preceding
(spoken or written) text, or it is dependent on the (extralinguistic) context for its

There is, however, a fairly clearly defined subtype of NP in Finnish where a

numerative or a measure is the Head. These could be referred to as Quantifying
(Nominal) Phrases: for example, many phrases that contain a numerative greater
than one (e.g. nuo kaksi upeaa valkoista taloa ‘those two magnificent white
houses’), a measure (kuppi kahvia ‘a cup of coffee’), or certain other quantifying
elements (paljon työtä ‘a lot of work’). Hakulinen & Karlsson (1979: 144 ff.)
have referred to a similar set of phrases as Quantifier Phrases (kvanttorilauseke).
However, Hakulinen and Karlsson’s Quantifier Phrases do not include phrases
with a measure as Head (kuppi kahvia ‘a cup of coffee’), since their definition of
a Quantifier Phrase is based on the logical notion of a quantifier, and a word like
kuppi ‘cup’ or litra ‘litre’ “does not have scope” (Hakulinen & Karlsson 1979:
144). The Quantifying Nominal Phrase being proposed here is one in which 1) the
Head is a quantitative expression, i.e. a word expressing an exact or inexact quan-
tity, or a measure expression (see Halliday 1985a: 163,174) and 2) the Modifier
is realized by a nominal in the partitive or elative case.

As discussed in Chapter 7, I make a distinction between non-realization, which is
contextually conditioned, and ellipsis, which is a (co)textual phenomena.

(18) puolet heistä

half-NOM/PL they+PL+ELA

Head Modifier
Numerative Entity

‘half of them’

(19) kuppi kahvia

cup-NOM coffee+PAR

Head Modifier
Measure Entity

‘a cup of coffee’

(20) kymmenen kilometriä

ten-NOM kilometre+PAR

Head Modifier
Numerative Entity

‘ten kilometres’

As illustrated by these examples, while the Measure or the Numerative is the

Head, the Modifier in the partitive realizes the Entity, which is the most salient
from an experiential semantic perspective. Thus, a Quantifier Phrase is a subtype
of NP in which the Head and Entity do not coincide. This is one of the many in-
stances in this study which illustrates how different functional structures contrib-
ute to the interpretation of linguistic phenomena (cf. Halliday’s analogy of poly-
phonic music in 1.1 (p. 3) and Firth’s analogy of the prism in 2.2.5. (p. 20)). A
similar kind of thing happens with pre- and postpositional phrases, discussed in
the next section.

4.4.2. Pre- and Postpositional Phrases (PP)

Pre- and postpositional phrases (PPs) could also be regarded as a subtype of Nom-
inal Phrase. As Finnish has both pre- and postpositions, I shall use the cover term
“p-position” and refer to pre- and postpositional phrases as PPs. A preposition
precedes the nominal (e.g. kohti Singaporea ‘towards Singapore’) whereas a
postposition follows the nominal (e.g. Singaporen jälkeen ‘after Singapore’).
Nominals that are case-marked in one of the locative cases (e.g. Singaporessa ‘in
Singapore) are NPs in Finnish.

Historically, the vast majority of pre- and postpositions in Finnish have de-
veloped from inflected nominal forms (L. Hakulinen 1979: 501), and, this is evi-
denced by a number of features in contemporary Finnish. The case-ending of a p-
position is often evident, although in some instances the cases are used with the
meanings they had at earlier stages in the development of Finnish: the translative
(-ksi) , the essive (-na/nä) and the partitive (-(t)a/(t)a) originally had locative
meanings in Finnish (see, e.g., L. Hakulinen 1979, Leino 1990). The nominal-like
nature of p-positions is also reflected in the fact that a possessive suffix can be
attached to many of them, e.g. (minun) edessä+ni [my in-front-of+PO S1 ] ‘in front
of me’, (sinun) takanasi [your(sg) behind +PO S/2SG ] ‘behind you’ (cf. nominals
with a possessive suffix (minun) talo+ni ‘my house’).

PPs in Finnish are hypotactic (Head-Modifier) structures: the p-position is

the Head and the other constituents are either in the (singular or plural) genitive
or in the partitive case. As illustrated in the next example, with some p-positions,
the grammar of Finnish requires the speaker to use a locative case-ending to spec-
ify location at a position or direction towards or away from a position.


a. tuon ison pöydän alla/ edessä

that+GEN big+GEN table+GEN under+ADE/ in front of+INE
‘under/in front of that big table’ [Cf. 13 above]

b. tuon ison pöydän alle/ eteen

that+GEN big+GEN table+GEN under+ALL to front+ILL
‘(to) under/in front of that big house’

c. tuon ison pöydän alta/ edestä

that+GEN big+GEN table+GEN under+ABL/ from front+ELA
‘from the front of/from behind that big table’

(22) noiden talojen taakse 1

that+PL+GEN house+PL+GEN to behind
‘(to) behind those houses’

(23) noita isoja taloja kohti

that+PL+PAR big+PL+PAR house+PL+PAR towards
‘towards those big houses’

As illustrated in these examples, all of the submodifying elements agree with each
other in number and case. Prepositions are not as numerous as postpositions.
While postpositions tend to occur with the genitive, prepositions tend to occur
with the partitive.2

(24) ennen toista maailmansotaa

before second+PAR World+War+PAR
‘before World War II’

(25) alle normaalipainon

below normal+weight+GEN
‘below normal weight’

takana ‘[at] behind’, takaa ‘from behind’, taakse ‘to behind’.
For a list of the most common Finnish pre- and postpositions, see Karlsson 1983b.

As stated earlier, it seems to me that the p-position is the Head in a PP: 1)

the genitive in Finnish is a clear indicator that the unit in question is subordinated
to another unit (see 3.4.1 p. 89 ff.) and 2) a possessive suffix can be added to p-
positions. However, this evidence only relates to those p-positions in which the
modifier is in the genitive. On the other hand, the criteria that Huddleston (1984:
109-111) appeals to in establishing the Head of a phrase would indicate that it is
also the p-position that is the Head when the modifier is in the partitive. For ex-
ample, it is the p-position that determines the case-form of the dependent NP: in
24 above, for example, ennen toista maailmansotaa ‘before World War II’ it is
the preposition ennen that determines that the Modifier is in the partitive. There is
nothing inherent in the NP toinen maailmansota ‘World War II’ that indicates
that it must be in the partitive; with the postposition jälkeen ‘after’ the NP would
be in the genitive.

However, there is disagreement amongst Finnish linguists as to which ele-

ment is the Head in a Finnish PP. For example, L. Hakulinen (1979: 501), regards
what he call the genitive attribute (i.e. what I have referred to as the dependent
NP in the genitive) the Head; although historically the postposition was the Head.
Hakulinen & Karlsson (1979: 153) regard PPs as exocentric constructions (see
Bloomfield 1933: 194) in which neither element is Head:1 if either element is
omitted the syntactic status of the construction is changed. As Hakulinen &
Karlsson point out, this does not apply to instances in which a possessive suffix is
attached to a p-position ((minun) edessäni [(my) front+ INE+PO S/1SG ] ‘in front of
me’); but they simply relate these instances to other constructions in which a first
person suffix occurs: (minun) koirani [(my) dog+POS/1SG ] ‘my dog’, (minä)
nukun [(I) sleep+1SG ] ‘I’m sleeping’. Simply relating these instances to other

There is a slight inconsistency in Hakulinen & Karlsson’s (1979) analysis in that on p. 107
a p-positional phrase is said to be one in which a pre- or a postposition is the Head.

similar phenomena does not explain what is a clear exception to their analysis,
moreover it involves a contradiction in that it is clear that in their analysis of NPs,
NPs such as (minun) koirani ‘my dog’ would be regarded as endocentric (Head-
Modifier constructions).

Furthermore, it is quite common for the p-position to occur alone; Hakulinen

& Karlsson (1979: 85) say that instances are plentiful (“runsaasti”) in Finnish,
and cite a number of examples, but they regard these as instances of homonymy:
if, for example, vieressä ‘beside, at the side of’ occurs without a nominal in the
genitive, it is regarded as an “adverb”. The following examples are from Hakuli-
nen & Karlsson (1979: 85):

(26) a. Koira kulkee sokean vieressä.

dog move+3SG blind+GEN side/beside+INE
‘The dog is walking beside the blind person.’

b. Koira kulkee vieressä.

dog move/go +3SG side/beside +INE

A translation has not been provided for 26b because something like “the dog is
walking beside/at the side” would be strange and unidiomatic in English. A
translation that captures the completeness of the Finnish would be “the dog is
walking nearby”, but this translation is closer to the p-position with the stem
lähe- ‘near’ in Finnish. There is nothing odd about 26b in Finnish: the entity that
the dog is walking beside is simply not specified.1 Hakulinen & Karlsson’s analy-
sis of vieressä in 26b as an adverb is the traditionally accepted analysis in Fin-
land, and it is adopted by Nykysuomen sanakirja (Contemporary Finnish Dictio-

Cf. Salmi (1990: 14), who in terms of Cognitive Grammar, regards examples like this as
instances in which the landmark is unspecified. Salmi, however, also refers to these as
This, of course, corresponds to the traditional analysis of words like before in English in the
contexts before the altar and She had never been to Finland before. The former is considered
to be a preposition, the latter an adverb.

The fact that p-positions without a modifier have been referred to as adverbs
seems to stem from the fact that word-classes or parts of speech in Finnish have
been based on traditionally recognized Indo-European parts of speech, which
were first established for Greek and Latin. In Priscian’s grammar (Robins (1967:
57-58, 64), for example, an adverb is an unchangeable form used with a verb and
a preposition is a separate word that occurs before case-inflected words. Stem-
ming from this Latinate model is the generally accepted traditional view that ad-
verbs are a word class used to qualify verbs, adjectives and other adverbs and
prepositions are a word class used together with a noun or NP (e.g. Hartmann &
Stork 1972). Thus, the class of adverbs in Finnish is made up of a heterogenous
set of forms that modify a verb or an adjective: Karlsson (1983b: 184-186), for
example, includes adverbs like hitaasti ‘slowly’ that end in -sti and have compar-
ative and superlative forms (hitaammin, hitaimmin) and focus particles (see
7.2.3) like aika ‘quite, rather’ and juuri ‘just’ as well as a number of words that I
refer to as p-positions without a modifier.

If, on the other hand, one takes the view that grammatical categories are
abstractions based on the interrelations and oppositions within a language (see
2.2.4), then there is nothing anomalous about referring to a p-position without a
modifier. A p-position is not an Indo-European preposition that can also come
after the modifying word; it constitutes a class of words in Finnish that can be
defined by certain formal and functional characteristics, and this word class con-
trasts, for example, with bound morphemes such as -ssa/ssä (e.g. talossa in the
house) and adverbs that end in -sti like hitaasti ‘slowly’. I shall take up the issue
of p-positions without modifiers again later on in this section.

In contrast to Hakulinen & Karlsson (1979), Kangasmaa-Minn (1991: 6)

refers to a postposition (with a nominal in the genitive) as the Head, but she says
that the semantic information is concentrated in the Modifier. Kangasmaa-Minn’s
analysis comes closest to the analysis that is proposed in this study. Moreover, as
I shall illustrate shortly, a functional interpretation explicates this dual interpreta-
tion of PPs. It should be clear from the discussion so far that PPs in Finnish are
reminiscent of what Halliday (1985a: 174) refers to as Facet expressions in Eng-

lish (the front of/the side of the house), which can function as complex preposi-
tions (in the front of/by the side of the house). This is obviously a reflection of
the nominal origin of many p-positions in Finnish. However, as the term Facet is
rather too concrete for many of the temporal and other non-spatial uses of p-posi-
tions, I use the term Orientation, in other words, a p-position expresses orienta-
tion towards an Entity, e.g. a physical object or a temporal event. The label Orien-
tation is based on Leino’s (1990: 133 ff.) analysis of p-positions in Finnish. Leino
employs concepts from Cognitive Grammar in his analysis. He shows how loca-
tive case-endings express spatial relations in “basic physical space”; whereas
p-positions express relations in “oriented physical space”.

With NPs in Finnish, the Entity and the Head are generally conflated;
whereas in PPs the nominal in the genitive/partitive is the Entity, and the most
salient from an experiential semantic perspective, but it is the p-position that is
the Head.

(27) ennen toista maailmansotaa

before second+PAR World+War+PAR

Orientation Numerative Entity

Head Modifier

‘before World War II’

(28) noiden talojen taakse

that+PL+GEN house+PL+GEN to behind

Deictic Entity Orientation (Facet)

, Modifier , Head

‘(to) behind those houses’

This last example (28) can be given a clause context such as the following: Vanki
juoksi noiden talojen taakse ‘The prisoner ran behind those houses’. The p-posi-
tion taakse ‘(to) behind’ has a translative ending (in this instance, an archaic -kse
and not -ksi), which expresses what in Finnish is a basic location or direction (‘to
inside (something)’). However, the destination is an abstract physical space (‘be-
hind/at the back of’), which is oriented towards something else, i.e. nuo talot
‘those houses’.

In those instances in which the p-position occurs without a modifier (e.g.

26b above Koira kulkee vieressä ‘The dog is walking beside [i.e. beside the blind
person]’), the Entity that the p-position is a facet of or the Entity that is oriented
towards is not explicated. P-positions without modifiers are reminiscent of what
Hasan (1984a) refers to as implicit semantic style in language: the interpretative
source is either in the co-text or in the situation. The Entity does not need to be
explicated because it is taken for granted that it is interpretable.

(29) [ ) Minä näin uunien luota kun raahasit Jylhän tänne. Huomasiko Taavetti?

‘From beside the furnaces I could see you dragging Jylhä here. Did Taavetti notice

) Ei.

Salin huokasi ja meni taakse. [TSM:19]

Salin sighed+PST/3SG & went+PST/3SG to behind/back
‘Salin sighed and went to the back/rear.’

This example is from a novel. It is clear from the co-text that Salin went to the
back of the storeroom where Jylhä had been taken.

As pointed out above, p-positions used alone are common in Finnish, but
they have been classed as adverbs. Thus ennen ‘before’ is classed by Nykysuo-
men sanakirja (Contemporary Finnish Dictionary) as an adverb in the context
Oli ennen ukko ja akka [was before old-man and old-woman] ‘There once was an
old man and an old woman’ but as a preposition in ennen joulua ‘before Christ-
mas’. Similarly takana ‘(at) behind/at the back of’ and edessä ‘before/in front of’
are classed as a postpositions in 30a, but are adverbs in 30b:


a. Edessämme oli satama,

before/front+INE+POS/1PL was+PST/3SG harbour

takanamme aava meri. [NS]

behind/back+ESS+POS/1PL open sea

‘Before us was the harbour, behind us the open sea.’


b. Edessä oli vihainen sonni,

before/front+INE was+PST/3SG angry bull

takana jyrkkä kallio. [NS]

behind/back+ESS steep rock/cliff
‘There was an angry bull in front, and a steep cliff behind.’

However, these unmodified p-positions are quite unlike adverbs like

nopeasti ‘quickly’ or words like heti ‘immediately’ or joskus ‘sometimes’. Apart
from the fact that they do not have a genitive or partitive Modifier, they pattern in
the same way as p-positions. As discussed earlier, many p-positions have locative
case-endings which express direction or location in basic physical space; this is
also true of unmodified p-positions. Adverbs formed from adjectives, on the other
hand, have comparative and superlative forms. Thus the adjective selvä ‘clear’
has the comparative selvempi ‘clearer’ and the superlative selvin ‘clearest’. The
adverb selvästi ‘clearly’ has the comparative selvemmin ‘more clearly’ and the
superlative selvimmin ‘most clearly’. While some unmodified p-positions also
have comparative and superlative forms, some nouns in Finnish (see footnote on
p. 119) can also occur in the comparative. Moreover, like these nouns, p-positions
in the comparative must have a locative case-ending (edempänä ‘more/further
towards the front’, kevää+mpä+nä ‘more/further into the spring’), whereas an
adverb never has a locative case-ending. As illustrated in the example above,
unmodified p-positions function in the same way in a clause as modified p-posi-
tions: they both function as Circumstances. Moreover, it would be possible to
expand the “adverb” in 30b to veljesten edessä ‘in front of the brothers’ (the ex-

ample obviously refers to an episode from the first novel written in Finnish
Seitsemän veljestä ‘The Seven Brothers’).

Like p-positions, unmodified p-positions are interpretable in terms of a refer-

ence point in time or space, i.e. in terms of what is referred to as a “landmark” in
Cognitive Grammar. Interestingly enough, a similar interpretation is implied in at
least one traditional grammar of Finnish (Ikola ed. 1977: 66), which gives
suhdesanat ‘relation words’ (or possibly ‘orientation words’) as a cover term for
postpositions and prepositions. With unmodified p-positions the point of refer-
ence is implicit: it is taken for granted that it is interpretable from the co-text or
the situation. The re-analysis of p-positions presented in this section underscores
the point that the study of language must always be based on the study of lan-
guage in context, and this applies even when the focus of study is an abstract
word class. This has always been stressed by Halliday (1978: 28-29), in whose
view any account of language must build in the situation, otherwise it will be
artificial and unrewarding (see 2.3.7, p. 34 ff.).

4.4.3. Verb Phrases (VP)

An in-depth analysis of VPs in Finnish is beyond the scope of this thesis: accord-
ing to Karlsson (1983c: 357), for example, a verb that has a regular inflection in
Finnish can have 528 finite forms. Much of the structure of the VP in Finnish is
realized in bound morphemes. From the point of view of the functional analysis
of the clause that is presented in subsequent chapters, suffice to say that a verb
phrase (VP) functions as the process in a clause. It is either a single word, a verb,
or it is expanded phrase that functions in the clause in the same way as a verb. A
VP can be illustrated by the following example:

(31) en olisi uskonut

NEG+1SG be+CON+3SG believe+PST/PTC

Polarity: Aux: Event

negative Tense: past/
Modality: conditional

‘I wouldn’t have believed (it)’

As illustrated by this example, and as discussed earlier in section 4.3.2, an inher-

ent participant can be realized as a bound morpheme in the VP.

According to Karlsson (ibid.), a verb with a regular inflection also has 324
infinitive forms and 11 000 participial forms. The vast majority of these forms do
not function in the structure of the VP but function like ordinary nominals (see
3.3.3, p. 84 ff.).

(32) a. lähden uimaan

leave +1SG swim+3INF+ILL
‘I’m going swimming.’

Cf. b. lähden kauppaan

leave +1SG shop+ILL
‘I’m going to the shop’

(33) a. tulen uimasta

come+1SG swim+3INF+ELA
‘I’ve been swimming (I’ve come from swimming).’

Cf. b. tulen kaupasta

come+1SG shop+ELA
‘I’ve been to the shop (I’ve come from the shop).’

(34) a. olin uimassa

be+PAS+1SG swim+3INF+INE
‘I was swimming.’

Cf. b. olin kaupassa

be+PAS+1SG shop+INE
‘I was at the shop’

4.4.4. Adverbial Phrases (AdvP)

An adverbial phrase has an adverb as Head. Thus an Adverbial Phrase corres-

ponds to what Hakulinen & Karlsson (1979: 83,151-152) refer to as an Adverb
Phrase (adverbilauseke), whereas for them an Adverbial Phrase (adverbiaalilau-
seke) is one that functions as an Adverbial in a clause (see p. 115 above). Accord-
ing to Hakulinen & Karlsson (1979: 83), there are two criteria by which adverbs
can be distinguished from nominals: 1) nominals can have premodifiers that agree
with it in case and number (näissä taloissa ‘in these houses’) whereas an adverb
cannot (hitaasti ‘slowly’) and 2) adverbs can be modified by what Hakulinen &
Karlsson refer to as an “ad-adjective”, i.e. an adverb like melko ‘quite’ that can-
not occur alone but only as a submodifier of another adverb (melko hitaasti ‘quite
~ fairly slowly’, melko usein ‘quite often’).

The following are examples of Adverbial Phrases in Finnish:

(35) yllättävän hitaasti

surprising+GEN slowly
‘surprisingly slowly’

(36) yllättävän usein

surprising+GEN often
‘surprisingly often/frequently’

An Adverbial Phrase functions in a clause as a Circumstance. Circumstances

in Finnish can also be realized by Pre- and Postpositional Phrases and by a Nomi-
nal Phrase in which the Head is inflected in one of the oblique cases.1

In Finnish, this means that it is not inflected in one of the grammatical cases (see Chapter
3). There is a problem in Finnish, however, with what I refer to as the (spatial or temporal)
Extent of the process (see 6.5 and 6.8), which is case-marked like an inherent role or
participant but functions more like a Circumstance.

4.4.5. A Further Note on Unmodified P-Positions

As discussed in 4.4.2, I do not consider unmodified p-positions to be adverbs.

There is another small set of words that have traditionally been regarded as ad-
verbs, but, it could be argued, are more like unmodified p-positions (“rela-
tion/orientation words”). These are forms which, like unmodified p-positions,
have limited case-inflection. The following examples are listed by Karlsson
(1983b: 156) as “adverbs of place”.

kotona ‘at home’, kotiin ‘[to] home’, and kotoa ‘from home’;
ulkona ‘outside’, ulos ‘out, [to] outside’, ulkoa ‘from outside’;
alhaalla ‘down, below’, alhaalle ‘[to] down, below’, alhaalta ‘from down, below’;
täällä ‘here’, täältä ‘(from) here’ tänne ‘[to] here’;
tuolla ‘there’, tuonne ‘[to] there’ tuolta ‘(from) there’;
siellä ‘there (unspecified place; place beyond view)’, sinne ‘[to] there’, sieltä ‘(from) there’
kaikkialla ‘everywhere’, kaikkialle ‘[to] everywhere’, kaikkialta ‘from everywhere’

It seems to me that the traditional classification of these as adverbs distorts the

grammatical organization of Finnish. The consistent three-way case-inflection
that is characteristic of the vast majority of p-positions in Finnish distinguishes
these from the other adverbs listed by Karlsson.

As suggested in 4.4.2 above, the forms above seem to have been classified
as adverbs because p-positions in Finnish have been related to prepositions in
Indo-European languages. If, on the other hand, we define p-positions language
internally as (fossilized) nominal forms with limited case-inflection which, in
concrete instances at least, locate something in physical space relative to some-
thing else, then it seems more feasible to regard these as p-positions in which the
reference point is not explicated since it is taken for granted that it is interpret-
able. Thus, it would be highly unlikely that most of the words listed above could
ever occur with a genitive or partitive Modifier: e.g. *talon ulkona [house+GEN
outside], *kaupungin kaikkialla [town+GEN everywhere].

Furthermore, if we compare the following sets of examples, then it is clear

that modified p-positions are specifically anchored (in time or space) by the modi-


kaikkialla ~ ulkona ~ alhaalla

everywhere outside down below


sillan alla ~ sillan kohdalla ~ siltaa päin 1

bridge+GEN below bridge+GEN point bridge+PAR towards

The unmodified p-positions are not anchored by a genitive, but interpreted

deictically. They are similar to what Halliday & Hasan (1975) refer to as demon-
strative reference items or what in logically oriented linguistic descriptions are
referred to as demonstrative deictics (Larjavaara 1990) or place-deictic words
(Levinson 1983 : 79 ff.). The reference point for these words is a deictic centre
that is never explicated, because it is always taken for granted. From this perspec-
tive, it no longer seems incongruous to refer to these as (unmodified) p-positions
(“orientation words”). The exception to this is kotona ‘at home’, which can be
expanded , e.g. kotonamme ‘at our home’, (hänen) vanhempiensa kotona ‘at
her/his parent’s home’. The fact that it is an exception seems natural since the
stem koto- ‘home’ is lexically more specific than the stems of the other words
listed above. It refers to something concrete, rather than to a location relative to
something else. However, the essentially deictic character of kotona ‘at home’ is
evident from the fact that the declarative Lähden kotiin ‘I’m going home’ refers
to the speaker’s home and the interrogative Lähdetkö kotiin ‘Are you going
home’ refers to the addressee’s home. In this respect it is different from other
NPs. For example, with lähdetkö autolle ‘are you going to the car’ and lähden
autolle ‘I’m going to the car’, in either instance it could be my car, your car or
someone else’s car, depending on the situation.

In other words, what I am proposing is that the “adverbs” listed above are a
subclass of p-positions not a subclass of adverbs. It also seems to me that other

Both modified and unmodified p-positions could be anchored by NP functioning as a
Circumstance of Place e.g. kaupungissa ‘in (the) town’, but this is irrelevant to the point
being made here.

traditionally recognized subtypes of the category “adverb” in Finnish need to be

reconsidered. An obvious subset that differs grammatically (morphosyntactically)
and semantically from other “adverbs” are what Iivonen et al (1987: 234) refer to
as “focus particles”, e.g. juuri ‘just, precisely’, jopa ‘even’. The textual function
of a focus particle is discussed in 7.2.3.

The discussion above does not pertain to ordinary NPs like alapuoli ‘lower
~ under side’ that have a similar directional meaning when they are inflected e.g.
alapuolella. These are generally not classified as adverbs but as nominals. They
can occur with a genitive modifier kosken alapuolella ‘(in the area) below the
falls’. They can also occur without a modifier, if so the modifier is a deictic centre
in the situation that is not realized in the linguistic structure: alapuolella ‘(in the
area) below (someone ~ something)’. On the other hand, the distinction between
this kind of nominal and a postposition is not a clear-cut one. This seems to be a
reflection of the fact that, as pointed out in 4.4.2, postpositions appear to have
developed from nominal forms.

4.5. Preliminary Analysis of Clause Complexes

4.5.1. General Comments

The complexing of clauses ) the way in which a speaker or writer combines

clauses ) straddles the area between grammatical organization and the organiza-
tion of a text. Thus we can approach the way in which clauses can be combined
from two perspectives. We can approach it from the point of view of text seman-
tics, i.e. how parts of the text are related to each other in meaningful ways. The
other approach is to build upon the constituency relationships discussed in the
previous sections of this chapter. This is the approach that will be taken here.

The organization of grammatical units in terms of a rank hierarchy serves to

define the upper limit of grammatical organization. Thus, grammatical units can
be ranked from the lowest unit on the rank scale, the morpheme, to the highest
unit, the clause. A constituency tree diagram showing the relationships between
the units on the rank scale could be drawn for the following clauses, both of
which were taken from an actual text. The first from a written text, the second
from a spoken one.

(39) hänen kesäkotinsa nimi on Leporello [HKV]

his/her+GEN summer+home+PO S/3 name-NOM is+3SG Leporello-NOM
‘the name of his/her summer home is Leporello (Restarello)’

(40) mä oon ollu niin semmonen rapakuntonen ... [Tel1: 9]

I-NOM be+1SG be+PTC so that/such kind-NOM weathered+condition-NOM

‘I’ve been in such poor shape.’

A clause, like other units on the rank scale, can be expanded into a complex.
When clauses are combined into complexes, this is done in a meaningful way. As
Halliday (1985b: 82) points out, if something is “being represented as a complex
phenomenon, or as a set of interrelated phenomena”, then this relationship also
has to be brought out.

The examples above, were, in fact, parts of a larger complex. Both were part
of a larger set of interrelated phenomena. Clause boundaries are marked by dou-
ble slashes, as follows:

(41) 2 Sanoitko, 2 että hänen kesäkotinsa nimi

say+PST+2SG+Q that his/her+GEN summer+home+PO S/3 name-NOM

on Leporello, 2 hekotin. 2 [HKV]

is+3SG Leporello-NOM laugh/chortle+PST+1SG

‘”Did you say that the name of his/her summer home is Leporello (Restarello)”, I

(42) 2 kyllä se vois olla kauheeta 2

yes/certainly it-NOM can+CON+3SG be+INF awful+PAR

mutta ku mä oon ollu niin semmonen

but as I-NOM be+1SG be+PTC so that/such kind-NOM

rapakuntonen ja huono-olonen kaiken .. kesää

weathered+condition-NOM & poor+state of being-NOM all+GEN summer+PAR

oikeastaan keväästä lähtien 2 ni mulla siinä

in fact spring+ELA leave +INF+GEN so I+ADE in it/that

on ollu joitakin asioita Û jotka on

be+3SG be+PTC some+PL+PAR matters/things+PL+PAR which-NOM/PL be+3SG

käyny mulle niinku rasitukseks. â 2 [Tel1:9]

go+PTC I+ALL like/kind of burden/strain+TRA

‘sure it could be awful but since I’ve been in such poor shape and not feeling well all sum-
mer, in fact, since spring, (so) I’ve got a few things there that have become a bit of a strain
for me.’

The notion of projection (which, for the moment can be seen as being more or
less equivalent to the notion of quoted and reported speech) as illustrated in ex-
ample 41 will be discussed in section 4.5.5 below, and relative clauses, as illus-
trated by the clause marked with square brackets in 42, will be discussed in sec-
tion 4.5.4. The following section will concentrate on the kind of interdependency
relations between the clauses marked by double slashes in example 42.

4.5.2. Interdependency: Parataxis and Hypotaxis

There are two notions needed in the analysis of complexing ) parataxis and hypo-
taxis. Parataxis refers to the linking of units of equal status at any rank, and hypo-
taxis refers to the linking of units of unequal status at any rank. As Martin (1988:
241) points out, the distinction between paratactic and hypotactic structures more
or less corresponds to Bloomfield’s (1933: 195) distinction between co-ordinative
and subordinative constructions, with the proviso that rankshifting or embedding
(to be discussed in 4.5.4) is distinct from subordination. As the Latin-based terms
co-ordination and subordination are more familiar than Halliday’s Greek-based
ones, they will be also be employed in this study. The Latin-based term “co-
ordinator” is used to refer to a conjunction in paratactic complex and the term
“subordinator” to one in a hypotactic complex. Numerals will be used to symbol-
ize co-ordination (1, 2, 3, ...), and Greek letters (", $, (, *, ...) for subordination.

The following diagram (reproduced from Halliday 1985a: 195) provides a

useful summary of the tactic relationships between clauses and the labels that are
used to refer to clauses in an tactic (interdependency) relationship with each

Primary Clause Secondary Clause

(co-ordination) 1 initiating 2 continuing

(subordination) " dominant $ dependent

Figure 4-3: Tactic Relationships in a Clause Complex

This diagram is not concerned with relativization, embedding, or projection,

which, as argued in sections 4.5.4 and 4.5.5 below, do not involve (inter)depen-
dency relationships between clauses.

Parataxis and hypotaxis can be illustrated by the following examples:


(43) <A> sit ne oliki aika railakkaat juhlat ja

then they-NOM be+3SG+TIS quite lively-NOM/PL party-NOM/PL &
‘then it was quite a lively party after all and’
1 (initiating)

<B> ne päätty neljältä [CA3:13; two speakers]

they-NOM end-(3SG/PAS) four+ABL
‘it ended at four o’clock’
2 (continuing)

(44) Sari on ollu ilmarisella töissä

Sari-NOM be+3SG be+PTC Ilmarinen+ADE work+PL+INE
‘Sari has been working for Ilmarinen’s’
1 (initiating)

tai on tietysti vielä

or be+3SG of course still
‘or still is of course’
2 (continuing)

mut on nyt -- lomalla [CA3:25]

but be+3SG now ... leave +ADE
‘but is now on leave’
3 (continuing)


(45) mä pingottaisin varmaan hillittömästi [CA3:16]

I-NOM feel nervous+CON+1SG for sure uncontrollably
‘I’d be sure to feel uncontrollably nervous’
" (dominant)

jos mun pitäis esittää ison yleisön edessä

if I+GEN have to+CON+3SG present+INF large+GEN audience+GEN front+INE
‘if I had to talk in front of a large audience’
$ (dependent)

(46) ne nukkuu [CA3:11]

they-PL sleep+3SG
‘they fall asleep’
" (dominant)

kun ne painaa yläluomen alaluomen päälle

when they-PL press+3SG top+lid+GEN bottom+lid+GEN top+ALL
‘as soon as they press their eye-lids together’
$ (dependent)

In both parataxis and hypotaxis, one clause expands on another. For English,
at least, Halliday (1985a: 202 ff.) considers that there are three basic types of
expansion. Extension, where one clause is simply added to another, is symbol-
ized by a plus sign (1 +2, " + $). Elaboration, symbolized by an equals sign (1
=2, " = $), is a relationship between clauses in which one clause restates, exem-
plifies, specifies or describes another. With enhancement, one clause adds some
kind of circumstantial qualification to another; this is symbolized by a multiplica-
tion sign (1 x2, " x$). It is beyond the scope of this study to consider whether
these types of expansion are applicable in Finnish (see Kalliokoski 1989: 128 ff.
for a discussion with reference to Finnish ja ‘and’). What I would like to briefly
consider, however, are some of the grammatical reflexes of this basic distinction
between parataxis and hypotaxis.

Before proceeding, however, it should also be noted that a distinction is

being made between a conjunction and a conjunctive (or discourse) adjunct (see
Halliday 1985a: 50-51; Halliday & Hasan 1976: 226 ff. for a discussion of this
distinction in English). A conjunctive adjunct ) for example, siksi (the translative
form of se ‘it/that’) ‘for this reason’, kuitenkin ‘nevertheless’, esimerkiksi ‘for
example’ ) functions as a Circumstance (of time, cause etc.) in the clause. Con-
junctive adjuncts often come at the beginning of the clause, but they can also
come elsewhere in the clause. If there is a conjunction in the clause, the conjunc-
tion precedes the conjunctive adjunct: ja siksi ‘and for this reason’, mutta
esimerkiksi ‘but, for example’.

Conjunctions such as ja ‘and’, mutta ‘but’, and koska ‘because’, on the

other hand, are outside the structure of the clause; they do not have a role in the
experiential semantic organization of the clause. They almost always occur at the
beginning of a clause, although Finnish kun ‘when’ is sometimes exceptional in
this respect in that it can occur after the initial nominal, as with the second kun in
example 47, which is about a ring:

(47) (i) 2 nyt ku sen panee mun sormee 2

now when it+GEN put+3SG I+GEN finger+ILL
‘now when I put it [the ring] on my finger’

÷ (ii) ni se ku on hetken siellä 2

so it-NOM when be+3SG moment there+ADE
‘and then when it’s there for a moment’

(iii) ni nousee tämmönen patti 2

so rise+3SG this kind+NOM swelling+NOM
‘then a kind of swelling occurs’

(iv) et se ei lähe pois 2 [AA1: 3].

that it+NOM NEG+3SG leave/come off
‘so that it won’t come off’

The reason for this is not apparent, and the phenomena requires further research.
(For further examples and some discussion, see also Vilkuna 1989: 27).

The distinction between paratactic and hypotactic clauses ) like all gram-
matical distinctions ) is not a clear-cut one (see 2.4.12, p. 65), but can be seen in
terms of a continuum, with clauses in a hypotactic relationship sharing certain
features and clauses in a paratactic relationship sharing other features (cf. Kytö-
mäki 1985, who implicitly takes this approach in the analysis of sillä ‘for, as’ in
Finnish). However, in discussions of parataxis and hypotaxis (or co-ordination
and subordination) and of clause complexes in general, it is often assumed apriori
that certain conjunctions are paratactic and others are classed as hypotactic, and
no attempt is made to grammatically and semantically motivate the different ways
in which we can combine clauses. In what follows, an attempt is made to ground
the distinctions that are made on a consistent grammatical and semantic basis.

In parataxis, the order of the clauses cannot be changed; whereas this is (at
least hypothetically possible) in hypotaxis. Thus the clause that starts with a para-
tactic (co-ordinative) conjunction, i.e. a co-ordinator, such as ja ‘and’, mutta
‘but’, tai ‘or’, vai ‘or’ cannot be the initiating clause in a complex:

(48) ?? ja ne päätty neljältä [reversal of 43 above]

‘and it ended at four o’clock’

(sit) ne oliki aika railakkaat juhlat

‘then it was quite a lively party after all’

This is, of course, simply a grammatical reflex of the semantic relationship be-
tween the clauses: one is initiating and the other is continuing. It would be seman-
tically anomalous to make a continuing clause an initiating clause.

However, paratactic forms can also be cohesive (see Halliday & Hasan
(1976: Chapter 5) for a discussion of the cohesive relation of conjunction).
Thus, if one looks at spoken or written text, one is bound to find orthographic
sentences or turns in conversation that start with ja ‘and’, for example. A cohe-
sive ja does not link a clause to the following clause, but links what follows to the
previous text.1 The complexing discussed here is a different kind of phenomenon,
it is a structural relationship between clauses (though these structural relations
may also hold across turns in a conversation as illustrated by 43 above).

With hypotaxis, on the other hand, it is possible to change the order in a

hypotactic clause complex and produce a grammatically acceptable complex. (As
discussed below, this change in order is purely hypothetical.) The following com-
plexes are identical in form to 45 and 46 above except that the order of the
clauses is reversed:

(49) jos mun pitäis esittää ison yleisön edessä

‘if I had to talk in front of a large audience’
$ (dependent)

mä pingottaisin varmaan hillittömästi

‘I’d be sure to feel uncontrollably nervous’
" (dominant)

See Kytömäki 1985: 52 for a discussion and some examples of cohesive ja in Finnish and,
for example, Sorjonen & Heritage 1991 for a discussion of cohesive and in English in an
informal medical encounter, where it constructs an agenda-based nextness of a question. Cf.
Halliday & Hasan (1976: 236) “it [and] often links a series of questions, meaning “the next
thing I want to know is ... “.
(50) kun ne painaa yläluomen alaluomen päälle
‘as soon as they press their eye-lids together’
$ (dependent)

ne nukkuu
‘they fall asleep’
" (dominant)

This again is simply a grammatical reflex of the semantic relationship between

the clauses: it does not matter whether a dependent clause precedes or follows the
dominant clause. A dependency relationship holds irrespective of sequence.

The distinction that is made here is an abstraction and a generalization based

on my knowledge of Finnish, and, the discussion here ) as in many other places
in this study ) reaffirms Itkonen’s view on the precedence of intuition in gram-
matical description (see 2.3.4, p. 26 ff.). The order of clauses in a hypotactic com-
plex cannot be changed in a real text, as any change in order brings about a
change in textual meaning. Moreover, the experiential meanings realized in the
clauses may make it more natural for one to precede and the other to follow.(In
other words, there may be what are sometimes referred to as “semantic con-
straints” on the ordering of clauses.)

Thus, in order to apply the distinction between hypotaxis and parataxis to

examples from a text, cohesive elements have to be ignored or changes have to be
made in order to produce an acceptable complex. For example, changes would
have to be made if there is an anaphoric element or an element presupposed by
ellipsis in the second clause in a hypotactic complex. Cohesive elements like niin
in pairs such as kun ) niin ‘when ) then’ and jos ) niin ‘if ) so’ would have to
be omitted if the order is reversed.

(51) jos sul . on viis markkaa [CA2:22]

if you(sg)+A(DE) be+3SG five -NOM mark+PAR
‘if you’ve got 5 marks’
$ (dependent)

ni sä voit avata pankkitilin

then/so you-NOM can+2SG open+INF bank+account+GEN
‘then you can open a bank account’
" (dominant)

In order to reverse the order of these clauses, we would have to omit the niin at
the beginning of the second clause:

(52) sä voit avata pankkitilin

‘you can open a bank account’
" (dominant)

jos sul . on viis markkaa [CA2:22]

‘if you’ve got 5 marks’
$ (dependent)

Another feature that distinguishes paratactic and hypotactic complexes is the

fact that there can be more than two clauses in paratactic relation to each other
(e.g. more than two clauses can be joined by ja ‘and’) but only two clauses (or
complexes) can be hypotactically related. A feature that distinguishes co-ordina-
tors from subordinators is the different ways in which they can combine with each
other. For example, in a combination of co-ordinator and subordinator, the co-
ordinator comes first: ja kun ... ‘and when ...’ (?? kun ja ‘when and’ ...); mutta
koska ... ‘but because ...’ (?? koska mutta ‘because but ...’). These are not thus
random features; the way in which these conjunctions can combine with each
other is related to their meaning. Like other meanings in language, we would not
normally expect to find semantically anomalous sequences.

Clauses in paratactic relation differ from hypotactic complexes in the way in

which mood options are available in the second clause. As illustrated by 53, the
second clause in a paratactic complex can also be realized as an interrogative.

(53) kuinka päin nää on kiinni

how-Q direction+INS these-NOM/PL be+3SG closed
‘which way are these closed/which way do you close these’
1 (initiating)

ja kuinka päin nää on auki? [CA3:4]

& how-Q direction+INS these-NOM/PL be+3SG open
‘and which way are they open/and which way do you open them?’
2 (continuing)

In a hypotactic complex, if the dominant clause is realized as an interrogative, the

dependent clause falls within the scope of this interrogative:

(54) no tuliko hyvä

well come+PAS+3SG+Q good-NOM
‘Well did it turn well’
" (dominant)

ku hän oli mukana [CA3:22]

when/as (s)he-NOM be+PAS+3SG along/with/involved
‘now that/since he was involved?’
$ (dependent)

The distinction between parataxis and hypotaxis that is being made here
does not distinguish between hypotaxis, where one clause is dependent on an-
other, i.e. the relationship is between clauses in a complex, and relativization
and embedding, which will be discussed in section 4.5.4. Before going on to dis-
cuss relativization, embedding and projection, however, I shall discuss the func-
tion of clause complexing with particular reference to spoken language, as it
sometimes seems to be assumed that clause complexing is more properly a feature
of written language.

4.5.3. The Function of a Clause Complex

As pointed out in 4.5.1, the way in which we combine clauses is meaningful.

Halliday (1985b: 82) regards a complex as representing a complex phenomenon
or as a set of interrelated phenomena. According to Halliday (1985b: 87 ff.),
while the way in which speakers exploit the resources of the clause complex in
unselfconscious conversation is different to the way in which they are exploited
in written language, both are just as complex, but they are complex in different
ways. As Halliday points out:

Of course, much conversation is fragmentary, with speakers taking very short turns; and here
the potential for creating these dynamic patterns does not get fully exploited. But the differ-
ence is not so great as it might seem, because what happens in dialogue is that the speakers
share in the production of discourse; so that although the grammar does not show the paratac-
tic and hypotactic patterns of the clause complex in the way that these appear when the same
speaker holds the floor, some of the same semantic relations may be present across turns.
(Halliday 1985b: 87.)

While some clauses may be rather loosely combined into complexes in spoken
language, there is ample evidence of complexing in spoken Finnish.

Example 47 above (repeated below as 55) is a good illustration of the intri-

cate complexity of spoken language. It is about a ring, which is introduced in the
first unfinished clause. The rest of the turn is made up of a clause complex, in
which all of the constituent clauses are part of a whole. As intonation is important
in arguing for the way in which I analyse it, the syllable in bold type is what I
perceived as being the tonic syllable.

(55) se sormus ei millään

it/that-NOM ring-NOM NEG+3SG any+ADE
‘that ring won’t in any

(i) 2 nyt ku sen panee mun sormee 2

now when it+GEN put+3SG I+GEN finger+ILL
‘now when it’s put on my finger’

(ii) ni se ku on hetken siellä 2

so it-NOM when be+3SG moment there+ADE
‘and then when it’s there for a moment’

(iii) ni nousee tämmönen patti 2

so rise+3SG this kind+NOM swelling+NOM
‘then a kind of swelling occurs

(iv) et se ei lähe pois 2 [AA1: 3].

that it+NOM NEG+3SG leave/come off
‘so it won’t come off’

The text in which this complex occurred was spoken quickly and without any
hesitation. While the example is complex, it has a characteristically spoken fla-
vour about it.

There is no doubt that complexes like this are an important resource in both
spoken and written language. This is not to deny, of course, that there are differ-
ences between spoken and written language (see Halliday 1985b, particularly 76-

101). Moreover, an in-depth analysis of complexing in spoken language would

also need to incorporate an analysis of intonational patterns in complexes.

The overall relationship in the complex could be given as follows:

(56) (i) nyt ku sen panee mun sormee $

‘now when it’s put on my finger’

(ii) ni se ku on hetken siellä " 1 $

‘and then when it’s there for a moment’

(iii) ni nousee tämmönen patti " 1 "

‘then a kind of swelling occurs

(iv) et se ei lähe pois " 2

‘so it won’t come off’

The complex begins with a dependent clause (i), which is followed by the domi-
nant clause. However, this dominant clause contains the conjunction kun ‘when’,
which indicates that it, in turn, is part of a complex. Thus, the dominant clause is,
in fact, a complex. Clause (ii) is dependent on the following clause (iii). The into-
nation does not fall at the end of the third clause: the speaker goes straight on
without pausing to the last clause (iv). The last clause realizes the effect in a
cause $ effect relationship, and the cause is realized by the previous two clauses.
The fact that the effect is realized in two clause (ii ) iii) is evidenced by the into-
nation: clause ii realizes given information and the tonic syllable comes at the end
of iii. The conjunction et(tä) ‘so’ in this kind of context is a co-ordinator, since
the order of clauses (ii ) iii) and (iv) cannot be changed.

Halliday (1985b: 87) uses a behavioural analogy to describe the way in

which clauses in spoken language form complexes: the organization of spoken
language is choreographic, like steps in a dance. Of course, the original text is
represented here in a transcribed form, and this gives us a synoptic perspective
(see 2.4.14) on the whole complex: what originally was a dynamic flow becomes
something that is static and frozen. This synoptic perspective is also important: it
allows us to attend to the text (or part of it) as a whole.

4.5.4. Relativization and Embedding

According to Halliday (1985a: 219 ff.), embedding or rankshifting occurs when

one clause functions as part of another clause. The terms “embedding” and
“rankshifting” are probably not the best terms to describe the kind of complexing
that is at issue in Finnish. Firstly, they have traditionally implied a synoptic, static
view of a complex, and when one looks at complexing in spoken Finnish, then it
is clear that an embedded clause unfolds dynamically just like any other complex.
Secondly, Halliday regards a defining relative clause in English as being embed-
ded in the host clause, whereas a non-defining relative clause is considered to be
a dependent clause in a hypotactic complex. As I shall argue below, with Finnish
relative clauses, on the other hand, there is no grammatical or prosodic distinction
that can be equated with the defining/non-defining distinction that is made in
English. However, relative clauses are different from hypotactic clauses ) the
kind of criteria invoked in section 4.5.2 above (p. 142 ff.) to distinguish clauses in
a hypotactic (subordinative) relationship from clauses in a paratactic (co-ordina-
tive) relationship does not apply to relative clauses. For example, the order of the
clauses cannot be changed, since ) to use the traditional terms ) the relative
clause cannot precede its antecedent.1

For want of a better term, I shall regard as instances of embedding both 1)

relative clauses and 2) clauses which function directly in the structure of a host
clause. The important thing is to distinguish these complexes, where the relation-
ship is not between clauses at the rank of clause, from paratactic and hypotactic

A possible exception to this is found in Finnish sayings and proverbs, where it is not unusual
for a relative clause to refer forward. The following example is from the Bible (Proverbs

Joka kuopan kaivaa, se kaatuu siihen.

who/which pit+GEN dig+3SG it/(s)he storm+GEN it+ILL
‘Whoso diggeth a pit, shall fall therein.’

In other genres, it would be more natural to have the following word order: Se, joka kaivaa
kuopan, kaatuu siihen ‘He who digs a pit will fall into it’.

complexes. Firstly, I shall briefly consider clauses that are directly embedded and
then discuss the problem of relative clauses in Finnish. By directly embedding, I
refer to a clause that is rankshifted to function in the structure of another clause
without a nominal as an intermediary. The most common type of clause that is
directly embedded in Finnish is a non-finite clause. These non-finite embedded
clauses were discussed briefly in 4.4.1 above (p. 119 ff.). It seems to be less com-
mon for finite clauses to be directly embedded in a host clause in Finnish. A like-
ly environment for this kind of embedding is a relational clause, as illustrated by
the following example, where the embedded clause is in fact a rather long clause
complex, which is italicized in the example:

(57) “Hyvä esimerkki suomalaisesta heinäkenkäasenteesta oli, kun oltiin joskus Valkeassa
festivaaleilla, ja Ian Gillan tuli meidän bussiin, nappas Herba-pullon, joi ja sanoi, että
fantastic. Me luultiin, että se tarkoitti bändiä, mutta se tarkoittikin sitä viinaa”, Sakke kertoo.
[HS 5.11.91: D10]

“A good example of a Finnish bumpkin attitude was when we were once at a festival in
Valkea and Ian Gillan came into our bus, grabbed a bottle of Herba, drank from it and said
‘fantastic’. We thought he was referring to the band, but it was the liquor that he was referring
to”, said Sakke.

From the point of view of traditional grammar, the embedded complex is the
complement of the host clause. From a functional perspective (see Chapter 6), the
embedded complex can be regarded as the Identified in a relational process.

Relative clauses, on the other hand, involve a different kind of embedding:

the clause expands on an NP in the host clause by describing or defining it. In
contrast to a clause that is directly embedded in the host clause, a relative clause
is, thus, tied to a phrase functioning in the structure of the host clause. The fol-
lowing example illustrates the kind of phenomenon that is usually understood as

(58) Monet, Û jotka vilpittömästi pitävät

many+NOM/PL who+NOM/PL sincerely hold/regard+3PL

itseään eläinystävinä â vieroksuvat kissaa

self+PAR+POS/3 animal+friend+PL+ESS shy away from/shun+3PL cat+PAR

sen oletetun petomaisuuden takia. [HKV]

it+GEN suppose+INDEF/PTC+GEN predatory nature+GEN because

‘Many who sincerely regard themselves as animal lovers shy away from cats because of
their supposed predatory nature.’

In this example the relative clause beginning with an inflected form of joka ‘who,
which’ functions as part of an NP, which is the subject of the clause. This differs
from the hypotactic (subordinative) complex illustrated in the previous section: in
a hypotactic complex the relationship is at the rank of clause and this is reflected
in the fact that the order of the clauses can be changed.

The example above (58) looks like an English defining or restrictive relative
clause. While there are clauses, like the one illustrated above, that can be trans-
lated by a defining clause in English, there are also clauses, such as the following,
that can be translated by a non-defining clause in English.

(59) Olihan seitsemällä veljekselläkin oma temppuja

be+PAS+3SG+TIS seven+ADE brothers+AD E+TIS own+NOM tricks+PL+PAR

tekevä Matti-kissa, Û jolla oli

make/do+PTC/NOM Matti-cat+NOM who+ADE be+PAS+3SG

turvattu asema perhepiirissä. â [HKV]

secure+INDE/PTC position+NOM family+circle+INE

‘After all even the Seven Brothers1 had their own trick-performing cat called Matti, who
had a secure position in the family circle.’

What is significant in Finnish is not that a clause is defining or non-defining, but

that the speaker expands an NP by adding something that is seen as being integral

The reference is to the first novel written in Finnish: Seitsemän veljestä (The Seven
Brothers) by Aleksis Kivi.

or significant. While we can translate Finnish clauses as either defining or non-

defining in English, grammatical distinctions in Finnish cannot be based on trans-
lation equivalence.

Following Helasvuo (in press), it seems to me that there is no defining vs.

non-defining distinction in Finnish, in spite of the fact that this distinction is often
made by Finnish grammarians (e.g. Hakulinen & Karlsson 1979: 125). What is
significant in Finnish is that a speaker expands on an NP by adding something
that she or he sees as being important or relevant, and whether this actually de-
fines or restricts the clause is not a grammatical or semantic feature that can be
associated with the clause itself. As Helasvuo points out, there appear to be no
recognizable intonational differences amongst joka clauses. Moreover, as Helas-
vuo points out, the orthographic conventions of standardized written Finnish ap-
pear to reflect this fact: all relative clauses are marked off with commas from the
host clause.1 The following example is instructive:

(60) Inhoan feminismiä, joka nojautuu Derridaan

loathe+1SG feminism +PAR which+NOM lean/depend+3SG Derrida+ILL

tai Lacaniin. [HSkl 22.1.92 p. 43]

or Lacan+ILL

‘I loathe feminism (that is) based on Derrida or Lacan (~ I loathe feminism, which is based
on Derrida or Lacan.)’

From the point of the defining/non-defining distinction, this example is ambigu-

ous: as indicated, it could be translated as either defining or non-defining in Eng-
lish. In this instance it can be inferred that the meaning given by the first transla-
tion is what is intended, but this is not a grammatical distinction in Finnish.

It may be necessary to point out to a Finnish reader that the use of commas to mark off a
relative clause in English is a meaningful option that reflects intonational differences between
defining and non-defining relative clauses: (a) Pilots whose minds are dull do not live long =/
(b) Pilots, whose minds are dull, do not live long. According to clause a, only certain pilots
do not live long, namely those who are not always on the alert. According to clause b, pilots
can be characterized by the fact that they have dull minds.

The claim that there is no grammatical distinction in relative clauses be-

tween defining and non-defining clauses does not deny the fact that other gram-
matical features may combine to produce a similar sort of distinction. The initial
NP in tuo mies on Aki Kaurismäki ‘that man is Aki Kaurismäki’ contains a (se-
lective) demonstrative, which indicates that the item in question (tuo mies ‘that
man’) can be identified in the environment ) in the text or the situation (see Halli-
day & Hasan 1976). If we further specify the NP by adding a relative clause ) tuo
mies, joka kävelee meitä vastaan, on Aki Kaurismäki ‘that man who is walking
towards us is Aki Kaurismäki’ ) then the relative clause presents the criteria by
which tuo mies ‘that man’ can be identified. However, as indicated above, all that
a relative clause does is add something that is constructed as being significant to
a host NP. Whether or not this serves to identify the item is not a grammatical
feature of the relative clause.

As for the grammatical status of relative clause in clause complexes, Helas-

vuo (in press) does not regard them as being embedded. However, whether or not
they are considered to be embedded in Finnish depends on what we understand
by embedding. Halliday (1985a: 219) characterizes embedding in (defining) rela-
tive clauses in English as follows:

Embedding is a mechanism whereby a clause or phrase comes to function as a constituent

WITHIN the structure of a group, which itself is a constituent of a clause. Hence there is no
direct relationship between an embedded clause and the clause within which it was embed-
ded; the relationship of an embedded clause to the ‘outer’ clause is an indirect one, with a
group as intermediary.

In this sense, relative clauses in Finnish are embedded: the link between the
clauses is not at the rank of clause, but at the rank of phrase.

Moreover, to say that a clause in Finnish is embedded does not diminish

its textual importance. When one looks at text, there are many instances where
the host clause introduces an NP, which then becomes the topical Theme of the
embedded clause. For example:
(61) se on tyttö Û joka on
(s)he/it/that-NOM be+3SG girl-NOM who-NOM be+3SG

matkustanu â [CA3:3]

‘She’s a girl who’s travelled.’

(62) Tuskin on olemassa ihmistä,

scarcely is+3SG being/existence+INE person+PAR

Û joka suhtautuu välinpitämättömästi kissaan. â [HKV]

who+NOM relate+PASS-REF+3SG indifferently cat+ILL

‘It’s rare for someone to be indifferent to cats.’

(This topic is taken up again in Chapter 7.)

As Helasvuo points out, a joka clause in spoken Finnish typically comes at

the end of the host clause. This can result in a chain of embeddings. The follow-
ing example from Helasvuo is from the Finnish pear story data (see Chafe 1980):

(63) ja sitten oli kolme poikaa

& then be+PAS+3SG three-NOM boy+PAR
‘and then there were three boys’

Û jolla yhellä oli semmonen .. pingispallo â

who+ADE one+ADE be+PAS+3SG kind of-NOM ping-pong+ball-NOM
‘one of whom had a kind of ping pong ball’

Û joka oli kiinnitetty semmoseen mailaan â

which-NOM be+PAS/3SG attach+INDE+PTC kind of+ILL racket/bat+ILL
‘which was attached to a kind of racket’

Û jota se pompotti. â
which+PAR he-NOM palpitate/bounce+PAS/3SG
‘which he bounced’

As illustrated in this example, and in all of the examples quoted by Helasvuo, the
relative pronoun joka consistently inflects for number and case. Moreover, a time
affix can also be attached to it: jolloin ‘when (at the time when)’.1 This is, of

Cf. milloin ‘when’, which is an interrogative, and silloin ‘when’ (from se ‘it, that’), which
functions as a conjunctive (discourse) adjunct.

course, clear evidence that the link between the clauses is not at the rank of
clause, but at the rank of phrase.

There is another relative pronoun mikä ‘which’, which is typically used

when the antecedent is non-human. However, unlike joka, mikä (or the partitive
form mitä) can also function as a conjunction linking clauses in paratactic rela-
tionship with each other (e.g. Hän tuli ajoissa, mitä ei ole ennen sattunut ‘(S)he
came on time, which hasn’t happened before.’ In other words, it can be used
rather like a non-defining English relative clause whose domain is the entire pre-
vious clause.

Another important relative element that figures in embedded expansions is

että ‘that’. This form also occurs in taxis and projection, but when että introduces
an embedded clause, like joka above, it expands on an NP. The kind of example
that immediately comes to mind is the construction niin ‘so’ + ADJECTIVE + että

(64) nähtävästi miehet on niin onnellisia Û et ne

apparently man-NOM/PL be+3SG so fortunate/happy that they

nukkuu kun ne painaa yläluomen alaluomen päälle â [CA3:11]

sleep when they press their lids together

‘Apparently men are so fortunate that they fall asleep as soon as they press their eye-lids

The clause beginning with et ‘that’ expands on the NP niin onnellisia ‘so

Often an embedded että clause is related to a cataphoric demonstrative, for

example, se ‘it/that’ (which can be case-inflected) or what might be termed a
characterizing demonstrative, sellainen ~ semmoinen (from se ‘it/that’) ‘the/that
kind of, such’, tällainen ~ tämmöinen (from tämä ‘this’) ‘this kind of’. Cataphor-

In fact, onnellinen ‘happy’ in Finnish is an adjective, but as pointed out in the section on
NPs, Adjectival Phrases are considered to be a subtype of NP.

ic demonstratives that are followed by an embedded että clause are typical of


(65) [The discussion is about a piggy bank (säästöpossu).]

mul. on sellane
I+(ADE) be+3SG the kind-NOM

Û et siihe pääsee avaimella â [CA2:22]

that it+ILL get to+3SG key+ADE

‘I’ve got the kind (that) you can open with a key.’

(66) sitä vartenhan ystävät ovat Û että heitä

it/that+PAR reason(PP)+TIS friends-NOM/PL be+3PL that they+PL+PAR

pyydetään auttamaan â [CA3:14]

ask+INDE help+INF+ILL

‘The reason for having friends is that you can ask them for help.’

(67) Sigfridsin kannalle Hannus päätyi kuitenkin

Sigfrids+GEN support/behind+ALL Hannus end up+PAS+3SG nevertheless

siksi, Û että tämä on kotoisin Vaasan

it+TRA that this-NOM be+3SG by home Vaasa+GEN

läänistä ... â
province+ELA [HKV]

‘Hannus ended up supporting Sigfrid because he was from the province of Vaasa ...’

Another typical environment for embedding is an attributive relational pro-

cess. The host clause realizes the Process and the Attribute (see Chapter 6), e.g.
on totta ‘ (it) is true’, and the Carrier of this Attribute is a fact realized as a finite
clause, or clause complex, as in the following example:
(68) On käsittämätöntä,
be+3SG incomprehensible+PAR

Û että joidenkin mielestä ainoa todellinen kissa on

that some+PL+GEN only real+NOM cat+NOM be+3SG

tappeluissa parkkiintunut, repalekorvainen kolli 2

fight+PL+INE toughen+PASS+PTC/NOM shred+eared+NOM tom+NOM

ja siksi he itsepintaisesti kieltäytyvät

& it/that-TRA they+NOM stubbornly refuse+PASS-REF+3SG

leikkauttamasta sitä. â [HKV]

have neutered+INF+ELA it+PAR

‘It’s incredible that in the opinion of some people the only real cat is a tomcat who has
been toughened in fights and whose ears are in shreds and for this reason they stub-
bornly refuse to have it neutered.’

This analysis may not appear to be very satisfying from a textual perspective, but
this is not a problem since, in an SF approach, different kinds of structure contrib-
ute to the total meaning. Clauses like this will be discussed from a textual per-
spective in Chapter 7.

While there is no “dummy subject” in instances exemplified by 68 in stan-

dardized written Finnish, this is not the case in spoken Finnish where the pronoun
se ‘it, that’ can function in much the same way as English it in the translation

(69) se oli vähä harmi et siit

it/that-NOM be+PAS+3SG little pity-NOM that it+ELA

piti tulla sähkösauna [CA3:19]

have to+PAS+3SG come+INF electricity+sauna-NOM

‘It’s a bit of a pity that it had to be an electric sauna.’

However, there are also many instances without a pronoun in spoken Finnish.

As pointed out earlier, however, the notion of embedding as used here is

conceived of as a dynamic resource in Finnish. This can be illustrated by the fol-
lowing rather complex examples:

(70) [Esahan on sen kerran tehny onnellisena -- nukkunu lentokoneen lähdön ohi --
‘Esa has done it once blissfully .. slept through the departure of his plane’]

÷ oli semmonen tilanne Û että Esa ensin

be+PAS/3SG such kind-NOM situation-NOM that Esa-NOM first

sano(i) et ku meiät pyydettiin illalla kylään

say(+PAS/3SG) that as we-ACC ask+INDE+PAS evening+ADE visit+ILL

ja on nii aikanen että, et ehkei hän lähde

& be+3SG so early that that perhaps+NEG/3SG he-NOM go

mut sit se sano(i) et no! kyllähän

but then he-NOM say(+PAS/3SG) that well/so for sure+TIS

mä ny herään â [CA3: 13]

I-NOM now wake+1SG

‘The situation was such that Esa first said that since we’d been asked to visit someone in
the evening and it’s so early that perhaps he wouldn’t go but then he said “what the heck!
I’m sure to wake up”.’

(71) niill . on joku tämmönen systeemi

they(+ADE) be+3SG some this kind-NOM system-NOM

Û et jos on koulumusiikkilinjalla nii pitäs pysyy

that if be+3SG school+music+stream+ADE then/so must+CON+3SG stay

siellä et ne ei mielellään päästä ihmisiä ... â

there+ADE that they-NOM NEG+3SG by preference let go of+INF person+PL+PAR

‘They’ve got a kind of system like this whereby if you’re in the music teacher stream then
you’ve got to stay put, they don’t like to let go of people ..’

In the first example the embedded complex expands on semmonen tilanne ‘such
a situation’ and in the second example there is an embedded complex expanding
on joku tämmönen systeemi ‘a kind of system like this’.

In this section, I have concentrated on joka and että. There are, of course,
other conjunctions and relative pronouns that figure in embedding, as illustrated
by kun ‘when’ and mitä ‘which, what’ in the following examples:
(72) mullaki on se
I+AD E+TIS be+3SG it/that-NOM

Û et mä yleensä virkistyn siinä vaiheessa

that I-NOM generally become alert+1SG it/that+ESS stage+INE

Û ku pitäs mennä nukkumaanâ â [CA3:10]

when must+COND+3SG go+INF sleep+INF+ILL

‘I’ve got that habit/characteristic too that I’m generally start being alert at the stage when
one/you should be going to sleep.’

(73) Kysymys filosofian tieteellisyydestä on luonnollisesti

question-NOM philosophy+GEN scientificness+ELA be+3SG naturally

suhteellinen siihen, [[ mitä tieteellä tarkoitetaan. ]] [IN]

relative-NOM it+ILL which+PAR science+ADE mean+INDE

‘The question of the status of philosophy as a science is naturally relative to the way in
which we define science.’

The analysis of these other relative pronouns and conjunctions that figure in em-
bedding needs to be incorporated into an analysis of embedded complexes in
Finnish. The analysis here also needs to be supplemented with an analysis of co-
hesive relations in Finnish so that examples such as those illustrated in 65 ) 67
are analysed from the perspective of the cohesive relations in a text.

4.5.5. Projection

The notion of projection in SF theory can be seen as being roughly equivalent to

some of the kinds of phenomena that are analysed under the heading of direct,
indirect and free indirect speech (and thought), if these traditional notions are not
understood in simplistic terms of reporting something that was said (or thought)
in another situation. Moreover, as discussed in this section, it also includes other
related phenomena. What is essential in projection is that a clause (either finite or
non-finite) ) instead of being a direct representation (or construction) of non-lin-
guistic reality ) is at a further remove from this reality (Halliday 1985a: 227 ff.).

Clause complexes involving projection can be distinguished from complexes

in a tactic relationship by the fact that the second clause (which is generally the
projected clause) can either immediately follow the finite verb in the first clause
or else the boundary between the clauses is marked by the conjunction et(tä)
‘that, so, thus’. In spoken Finnish, the projected clause is typically introduced by
et(tä) ‘that, so, thus’ even if it is a quoted locution (“direct speech”), as in exam-
ple 74:

(74) mä sanoin et mul pitäs olla

I-NOM say+PAS+1SG that I+ADE must+CON+(3SG) be+INF

täällä tili [CA2:23-24]

here+ADE account+NOM

‘I said “I should have an account here”.’

However, if the projected clause is a polar interrogative, there is no conjunction

between the clauses:

(75) mä en oikeen tiedä

I-NOM NEG+1SG really know

kuuluuks se Viherlaaksoon vai Lähderantaan. [CA3: 23]

belong+Q it+NOM Viherlaakso+ILL or Lähderanta+ILL

‘I don’t really know whether it’s part of Viherlaakso or Lähderanta’.

As is obvious from this example, the conjunction et(tä) is not necessarily the
mark of “indirect speech” in Finnish. In a projecting complex, että means some-
thing like “thus, in this way, like so” (see Kuiri 1984: 136 ff.). While examples
like 74 above are typical of spoken Finnish, one is unlikely to come across an
example like this in traditional descriptions of Finnish grammar: the analysis of
projection in Finnish is complicated by the fact that there is a distinction between
“direct and indirect speech” in standardized written Finnish that does not accord
with the way in which clauses are projected in unselfconscious, spoken Finnish.
As Kuiri (1984: 3 ff.) points out, the distinction between direct and indirect
speech has come from Latin-based models of grammar. Thus, in this received
view, the first example below illustrates direct speech and the second example
indirect speech:

(76) a. Hän sanoi: “Nyt minä menen levolle.”

(s)he said+PAS/3SG now I-NOM go+1SG rest+ALL
‘She/he said, “Now I’m going to rest.”’

b. Hän sanoi, että hän menee levolle.

(s)he said+PAS/3SG that (s)he-NOM go+3SG rest+ALL
‘She/he said that she/he’s going to rest.’

According to the conventions of standardized written Finnish, a comma is put

before the et(tä). However, in spoken Finnish, if there is a pause, it often comes
after the että: se sanoi että (pause) ... ‘(s)he said that/thus (pause)’ From the
perspective of English, this may seem strange, as in English if there is a pause, it
would most probably come before that: he said (pause) that. The pause in Finn-
ish reflects the essentially different character of et(tä) (‘thus, like so’).

While, as I shall argue below, it is not feasible to analyse projecting com-

plexes in terms of interdependency, as Halliday (1985a) does for English, there
are a number of other distinctions made by Halliday (1985a) that are useful in the
analysis of projection in Finnish. Halliday distinguishes three types of projected
clauses: 1) locutions, 2) ideas and 3) facts. In a locution, the projecting clause is
a verbal process (e.g. sanoa ‘say’), a process of externalized human conscious-
ness. Example 74 above is an example of a locution, as are the following exam-
ples, which further illustrate the use of et(tä) ‘thus, like so’ in spoken Finnish:

(77) kysyin et millä sä kuljet töihin [CA3:8]

ask+1SG that/so which+ADE you travel+2SG work+PL+ILL
‘I asked “how do you get to work?”.’

(78) mä sanoin et älä välitä [CA3:17]

I-NOM say+PAS+1SG that NEG+2SG/IMP worry
‘I said “Don’t worry”’.

In spite of the conjunction, in both of these examples the projected clause could
stand alone: millä sä kuljet töihin ‘how do you get to work?’, älä välitä ‘don’t

In what Halliday calls an idea, the projecting clause is a mental process (e.g.
tietää ‘know’), i.e. a process of internal human consciousness:

(79) mä tiedän et mun täytyy aamuyöstä nousta

I-NOM know-1SG that I+GEN must+3SG morning+night+ELA get up+INF
‘I know (that) I have to get up in the early hours of the morning.’ [CA3:10]

(80) se -- suunnitteli viimeks et se ottaa

she .. plan+PAS+3SG last+TRA that she+NOM take+3SG
kamat mukaan ja tulee suoraan [CA12:5]
thing+NOM/PL along and come+3SG directly

‘She planned to take her things with her and come here directly.’

A fact, on the other hand, is something that comes “already packaged” as

something that is a further remove from reality, so there is no projecting clause.
Facts are realized as clauses embedded within a host clause:

(81) onks nii et Irma jäi siihe, Munkkivuoreen?

be+3SG+Q so that Irma+NOM stay+PAS+3SG there+ILL Munkkivuori+ILL
‘Is it true/so that Irma stayed there in Munkkivuori?’ [CA3: 23]

Halliday also distinguishes 1) quotes (“direct speech”), reports (“indirect

speech”), and the various intermediate forms between reporting and quoting
(“free indirect speech”). A quote can be distinguished from a report in that there
is nothing in the wording that shows that it is projected: it could occur alone as a
direct representation of non-linguistic reality rather than being at a further remove
(Halliday 1985a: 228).

(82) mä sanoin et mul pitäs olla

I-NOM say+PAS+1SG that I+ADE must+CON+(3SG) be+INF
täällä tili [CA2:23-24]
here+ADE account+NOM

‘I said “I should have an account here”.’

÷ mul pitäs olla täällä tili
‘I should have an account here’

Quoted locutions are typical of natural, unselfconscious spoken Finnish, as indi-

cated above. However, whether a locution is realized as a quote or a report seems
dependent on a number of factors. The following example illustrates a typical
environment where a verbal process is followed by a report:

(83) hän tunnusti että hän oli juonut

(s)he confess+PAS/3SG that (s)he be+PAS/3SG drink+PTC

puol(i) pulloo viskiä ennen sitä [CA3: 17]

half-NOM bottle+PAR whisky+PAR before it/that+PAR

‘He confessed that he had drunk half a bottle of whisky before that [giving a paper].’

As illustrated by this example, the deictic elements in a report shift from reference
to the speech situation: personal pronouns, demonstratives and tenses change.
The choice of the verb in this example is clearly significant: tunnustaa ‘confess’
rather than sanoa ‘say’ or kysyä ‘ask’. The verb chosen by the speaker indicates
an interpretation by the speaker; she has interpreted what was said as a confes-
sion. Thus, it would be somewhat anomalous for the projected clause to be real-
ized as a quote. Of course, even with verbal processes like tunnustaa ‘confess’ or
myöntää ‘admit’, which explicitly indicate an interpretation of a saying, a quote
is possible. However, it seems to me that a quote would be more typical of a liter-
ary style.

As pointed out above, however, the distinction between quoted and reported
locutions (sayings) in Finnish is complicated by the fact that the distinction in
standardized written Finnish is based on Latinate models. This does not, however,
affect the fact that it is possible to distinguish between a quoted and a reported
locution in Finnish. However, while it can be argued that the distinction between
a quote and a report is relevant for locutions, as indicated above, this does not
imply that there is a simplistic (“transformational”) relationship between them,
i.e. that quotes and reports are interchangeable. On the other hand, when the pro-
jected clause is an idea (i.e. the projecting clause realizes a mental process), it
seems more natural for it to be a report. However, quotes are also possible: they

appear to be particularly relevant in literature and in narrative episodes in inter-

personal conversation.

(84) sit mä aattelin et kuule me ollaan karaatemiehiä [Tel2:2]

then I thought that listen we are karate+men
‘Then I thought ‘hey listen we’re karate men’‘

(85) – Tässäkö se kaikki on? mä ajattelin. [AR:50]

‘Is that all there is to it?’ I thought.

(86) – Saapa nähdä tapahtuuko nyt jotain erikoista, Muumipeikko ajatteli. [TH: 119]
“I wonder if something unusual is about to happen”, thought Moomin Troll.

Characteristic of the unselfconscious spoken Finnish of young Finns is the

quoting of an idea with the verb olla ‘(to) be’ in the projecting clause. Projection
with olla often appears to put a reaction that someone has had into words.

(87) [siellä oli yks semmone japanilainen poika -- sil oli hirmu siistit vaatteet semmone ihana
nahkatakki oikeen rahakkaan näkönen kello se oli ihan ku kultane

‘there was a sort of Japanese boy there ... he had really neat clothes, a sort of marvellous
leather jacket ) a really expensive looking watch, it was really like made of gold’]

mä olin et kyllä japanilaiset

I-NOM be+1SG that indeed/certainly Japanese-NOM/PL

on varakkaita [CA2:21]
be+3SG rich+PL+PAR

‘I’m like “Gosh Japanese people are rich”.’

The use of quotes in examples like this gives a dramatic flavour to a narrative
episode. This reinforces Halliday’s (1985a: 233) point that quoting and reporting
are not simply formal variants; they differ in meaning. According to Halliday,
quoting “is more immediate and lifelike, and this effect is enhanced by the orien-
tation of the deixis, which is that of drama not that of narrative”.

Projected clauses (both locutions and ideas) can also be embedded. In in-
stances of embedding, the embedded projection is linked to the host clause by a
nominal that is a label for a metaphenomenon (e.g. väite ‘claim’, tosiasia ‘fact’,
ajatus ‘thought’, etc.), as illustrated by the following example:

(88) Väite, Û että kissa kiintyy paikkaan,

claim+NOM that cat+NOM attach+PASS+3SG place+ILL

ei ihmisiin, â pitää paikkansa, jos .. [HKV]

NEG+3SG person+PL/ILL hold+3SG place+PO S/3

‘The claim/allegation that a cat gets attached to a place and not to people is true if ...’ (see
Appendix 1).

While embedding is relevant in projection, it seems to me that taxis is not a

relevant concept. As mentioned above, projection and expansion are two very
different phenomena and it is questionable to analyse the relationship between the
clauses in a projecting clause complex in Finnish in terms of interdependency, as
Halliday (1985a) does for English. According to Halliday (1985a), there is a para-
tactic (co-ordinative) relationship between a quoting and a quoted clause and a
hypotactic (subordinative) relationship between a reporting and a reported clause.

McGregor (MS) also criticizes Halliday’s view that projection involves

hypotaxis and parataxis. He points out a number of fundamental differences be-
tween projection and expansion in English, some of which apply to Finnish as
well. One of the criteria used to distinguish between parataxis and hypotaxis in
section 4.5.2 above was the fact that in parataxis, where one clause is initiating
and the other is continuing, the order of the clauses cannot be changed. This does
not apply to a quoted clause, which Halliday regards as paratactic: either the pro-
jected or the projecting clause can come first. While this variation in order seems
to me to be more characteristic of written Finnish, the fact that a change of order
is possible is a reflex of the fact that the relationship between the clauses in a
projected complex is different to the relationship between clauses in a paratactic
expansion. Furthermore, hypotaxis was characterized by the fact that the order of

the clauses can be changed, whereas with a reported locution or idea the project-
ing clause always precedes the projected clause. Another distinguishing factor is
that the projecting clause can be omitted in a quoted locution in spoken Finnish.
In these instances, the quote is indicated by a change in voice quality. This is not
possible with paratactic expansion. A feature, which applies to Finnish but not to
English, is the availability of mood options in the projected clause. A projected
interrogative remains in the interrogative form in both quotes and reports in Finn-
ish. With hypotaxis, on the other hand, the dependent clause cannot be in the

The analysis of clause complexes presented in this chapter is meant to serve

as an outline. Future research will need to make more delicate distinctions, and
the analysis presented here needs to be supplemented by a phonetic analysis of
complexes ) both acoustic and auditory. There are also various types of infinitive
(nominalized) forms in Finnish that need to be incorporated into an account of
projection in Finnish. (Some of these infinitive forms will be discussed briefly in
Chapter 6 with reference to mental and verbal processes.) It also needs to be
stressed that the distinctions that have been made in this chapter should not been
seen as categorial distinctions (see 2.4.12, p. 65). As Halliday (1985a: 219-220)
points out, the fact that two categories are distinct in principle does not mean that
every instance is clear-cut: there will always be anomalous and borderline cases.
Robinson (1975: 21) has expressed this idea very clearly:

For if we cannot say at what precise moment day becomes night does that mean we don’t
know day from night?

A similar and more appropriate analogy relates to a social rather than a natural
phenomenon: although we may not be able to precisely define the cut-off point
between being rich and being poor, this does not mean that there is no distinction
between the rich and the poor in the world today. 1

This analogy was used by Esa Itkonen in a lecture given at the University of Helsinki.

Chapter 5
Interactional Structure in the Finnish Clause

5.1. Preliminary Remarks

In SF theory, one of the types of meaning realized in the clause is interpersonal

meaning, one aspect of which is concerned with the interactional role of the
speaker. This chapter is concerned with interactional structures, i.e. mood struc-
tures, in the Finnish clause. Other aspects of interpersonal meaning, e.g. modality
and modulation, will not be considered except where they bear on the discussion
of mood. There are at least two reasons for this exclusion. Firstly, some modal
expressions are dependent on mood options: for example, many modality and
modulation options are not available in the imperative mood. Thus, modality and
modulation constitute more delicate options in an interpersonal network, and thus
fall beyond the scope of this study. Secondly, the interpretation and analysis of
modality options is not so much dependent on formal mood categories, but on
what Halliday (1985a: 342) refers to as rhetorical functions. For example, the
interpretation of clauses with täytyy ‘must’ (e.g. Sinun täytyy olla huolima-
ton/Sinun täytyy olla huolellinen ‘You must be careless/You must be careful’) in
terms of modalization (probability) or modulation (obligation)1 does not depend
on the mood of the clause in which it occurs (i.e. declarative, interrogative, imper-
ative), but on whether the speaker is trying to get someone to do something (i.e.
whether the clause is oriented to action) or whether it is oriented to the exchange
of information.

This chapter discusses how systemic-functional theory attempts to bridge the

gap between the vast range of rhetorical functions that a discourse, text or conver-
sational analyst might want to distinguish in spoken or written text and the small
number of grammatical categories ) mood categories ) through which these func-
tions are realized. While the analysis presented here relies heavily on the insights

The terms modalization and modulation can be seen as being roughly equivalent to the
logically based notions of epistemic and deontic modality.

of Halliday’s (1984, 1985a) analysis of mood in English, it differs from Halli-

day’s analysis in important respects. While this alternative model arose when I
started looking at mood in Finnish, it seems to me that it is also applicable to
English. As I shall argue, there are some problems inherent in Halliday’s analysis
of mood in English. On the other hand, I do not assume that what I am presenting
reflects anything universal about the organization of language. There are lan-
guages such as Gooniyandi (an Australian language spoken in the north of West-
ern Australia) that do not make the same sorts of grammatical distinctions that are
discussed here (McGregor 1990a: 382-383; see also section 5.2.3). However as
McGregor emphasises, this does not mean that speakers of Gooniyandi do not, for
example, ask questions: questions in Gooniyandi are rhetorical functions.

5.2. From Rhetorical Functions to Grammatical Categories

When speakers (or writers) refer to what someone has said (or written), they often
explicitly assess the function of the utterance in the context in which it occurred,
i.e. its rhetorical function (Halliday 1985a: 342). A rhetorical function can be
realized either as a noun (e.g. we can recognize something that someone has said
as “a threat” or “a promise”) or as a verb (e.g. “X threatened Y” or “X promised
to do something”). Nouns and verbs such as (to) threat and (to) promise are,
thus, used to construe verbal (or linguistic) processes or acts. In any language,
there are countless rhetorical functions that speakers of the language recognize.
Halliday (1985a: 342) lists over 60 such functions for English, functions such as
offering, promising, threatening, vowing, undertaking, ordering, requesting, en-
treating, urging, persuading, commanding, instructing ... and adds the proviso that
he has listed just a few. Austin (1962: 150) claimed that there were well over a
thousand expressions like this in English.1

The notion of a rhetorical function can obviously be linked to the logico-philosophical
notion of a speech act, as discussed for example, in philosophical discourse by Austin (1962)
and Searle (1969) and, from a linguistic perspective, by Levinson (1983), and to the notion
of a “speech act verb”, as discussed by philosophically oriented linguists (e.g. Verschueren
1980, Wierzbicka 1987).

Similarly, in Finnish, we can recognize a rich array of rhetorical functions,

as reflected, for example, in the following verbs:1

väittää ‘(to) claim’, huomauttaa ‘(to) point out/remind’, vastata ‘reply’, valittaa ‘com-
plain’, kannella ‘complain (to a higher authority)’, tokaista ‘to speak out brusquely/snap’,
tarjota ‘(to) offer’, tyrkyttää ‘force something upon someone’, käskeä ‘command/order/tell
someone to do something’, määrätä ‘command/order (often given by an official body)’,
painostaa ‘force/pressurize’, pakottaa ‘force (someone to do something)’, pyytää ‘request’,
vaatia ‘demand’, luvata ‘promise’, vannoa ‘swear’, sitoutua ‘undertake/bind oneself’,
haukkua ‘speak negatively about someone/abuse’, herjata ‘abuse/insult’, moittia ‘blame’,
syyttää ‘accuse’, paheksua ‘disapprove of’, arvostella ‘criticize’, pilkata ‘make fun of’,
uhata ‘threaten’, leuhkia ‘boast’, ilmoittaa ‘announce’, julistaa ‘proclaim’, paljastaa ‘re-
veal’, vakuuttaa ‘assure’, inttää ‘insistently assert or raise objections’, kysyä ‘ask’, udella
‘ask (pryingly)’, etc. etc.

A clause such as mulla on päänsärky ‘I’ve got a headache’, however, is not

grammatically marked as an instance of a particular rhetorical function. It is real-
ized as a declarative, but there is nothing that tells us whether it is, for example, a
reply (to a question), a report (to a doctor), a complaint (to a friend), or a rebuff
(to a lover). The fact that it grammatically realized as a declarative does not tell
us very much.

As Halliday (1985a: 342-343) points out, rhetorical function is made mani-

fest by a variety of factors. These include linguistic features such as intonation
and the co-text, i.e. the utterances that precede or follow the utterance in question.
Rhetorical function can also be made manifest in paralinguistic and behavioural
features (e.g. voice quality, facial expression, and gesture) and features of the
context of situation and the context of culture (e.g. the relative status of the partic-
ipants may be a significant factor in interpreting something as a command or a
request, and status is something that is culturally defined). Similar observations
are made by Hakulinen & Karlsson (1979: 261).

The translations are very approximate, focusing on one or two of what I consider to be the
most central uses. The fact that I have given a translation does not imply that there is a one-
to-one correspondence between rhetorical functions in English and Finnish or that the set of
rhetorical functions are universal.

I am not concerned with trying to establish a set of rhetorical functions for

Finnish, if indeed this is a feasible thing to do.1 What I am concerned with is the
relationship between these rhetorical functions and the grammatical categories
through which they are realized. The question I am addressing is why is it that we
can distinguish mood categories such as declarative, interrogative, and imperative
in Finnish, English and many other languages, and what is the relation between
these categories and the rich array of rhetorical functions in spoken or written
text. The following Finnish clauses, for example, could realize a number of rhe-
torical functions.


(1) Sulla on toinen. [TSM (Novel): 316]

you+ADE be+3SG other-NOM
‘You’ve got another (one).’
(2) nyt se on mun vuoro [CA6:10]
now it-NOM be+3SG my turn-NOM
‘Now it’s my turn.’
(3) sä olit mökilla viime viikonloppuna [Tel1:1]
you+2SG be+2SG cottage +ADE last weekend+ESS
‘You were at the summer cottage last weekend.’
(4) Emma! Sinne et mene! [OH: mother to toddler]
Emma! to-there NEG+2SG go
‘Emma! You’re not to go in there!’

Given that there are likely to be well over a thousand rhetorical functions in Finnish, it
seems to me that the functions that we might want to recognize depends on the type of data
that we have and the purpose for which the analysis is being proposed. Another problem is
that a rhetorical function is a textual phenomenon, and, as such, it is embedded in the flux
of “social heteroglossia” (Bakhtin 1981: 263). Thus, the interpretation of a rhetorical function
is variable: what one person regards as questioning, for example, could be interpreted by
another as prying.

(5) Et ihan totta viittis huutaa kovaa

NEG+2SG quite true+PAR bother/incline+CON yell hard/loud+PAR
meitä tuijoitetaan [AR: 126]
we+PAR stare+INDEF
‘You really don’t have to talk so loud/Do you really have to talk so loud, people are star-
ing at us.’
(5) Joensuu on Pohjois-Karjalan läänin pääkaupunki. [TB: 1]
Joensuu be+3SG North-Karelia+GEN province+GEN main+town-NOM
‘Joensuu is the capital of the province/county of North Karelia.’


(6) Olisiko Pekka tavattavissa? [typical telephone

be+CON(3SG)+Q Pekka-NOM meet+INDE+PTC+PL+INE (available) request]
‘Is Pekka available?/Could I speak to Pekka please?’
(7) juotko kahvia?
drink+2SG+Q coffee+PAR
‘Will you have some coffee?/Do you drink coffee?’
(8) tiedätsä mikä on bussi tampereeks? [Tel2: 14]
know+2SG+you what/which-NOM is+3SG bus-NOM Tampere+TRA
‘Do you know what they call a bus in Tampere (dialect)?’
(9) käviskö sulle että sä pitäisit puheen?
go+CON(3SG)+Q you(2SG)+ALL that you-NOM hold+CON+2SG speech+GEN
‘Would it be convenient for you to give/Would you give a speech?’ [Tel1: 4]
(10) mikäs ikkuna on auki?
which-NOM +TIS window-NOM is+3SG open
pitäisikö se laittaa kiinni? [OH: Teacher to students]
must+CON+3SG+Q it-NOM put+3SG closed
‘Is there a window open? Should it be closed?’


(11) Osta mulle purkki raejuustoa.1 [OH: exchange

buy+2SG/IMP I+ALL carton-NOM cottage+cheese+PAR between colleagues in
‘Would you get (buy) me a carton of cottage cheese (please)?’ a hairdressers]
(12) Susanna paa se radio auki. [OH: exchange
Susanna put+2SG/IMP it/that-NOM radio-NOM open between friends]
‘Susanna, would you turn on the radio (please)?’ (See previous footnote.)

I have translated the Finnish imperative with an interrogative in English. An imperative with
high clause-initial pitch is not blunt or impolite in Finnish. See also Shore (1991b: 244 ff.).
(13) Ota kakkua.
take+2SG/IMP cake+PAR
‘(Do) have some cake.’
(14) Sano sitten Pekalle terveisiä. [Tel3: 13]
say+2SG then Pekka+ALL regards+PL+PAR
‘(Please) give my regards to Pekka then/Say hello to Pekka for me then, won’t you?’
(15) Ole hyvin peloissasi. [Ad1 (advertisement for
Be+2SG/IMP very afraid+PL+INE+POS/2SG. Kärpänen II (The Fly II)]
‘Be very afraid.’
(16) Puhuttakoon mitä puhutaan. [Leskinen 1970: 71-72]
speak+INDE+IMP which/what+PAR speak+INDE
‘Let them/people say what they like.’
(17) Älköön kukaan julkisesti käyttäytymisellään
NEG /IMP+IMP/3 anyone/no-one publicly behaviour+ADE+POS/3
häiritkö yleistä järjestystä tai loukatko säädyllisyyttä.
disturb+IMP general order/peace or offend+IMP propriety/decency
‘Let no-one behave publicly in such a way as to disturb the public peace or offend the
proprieties.’ [Helsinki City Ordinance 3 §]

Even on the basis of these examples removed from their context, we could recog-
nize an array of rhetorical functions that may have been realized in the original
text. From a grammatical perspective, however, we can distinguish only three
mood options. This chapter is concerned with the meaning of these mood options
in Finnish.

5.2.1. The Clause as an Exchange or Interactive Event

According to Halliday (1984: 11-16; 1985a: 69), an exchange or an interactive

event involves two interactants and it can be viewed in terms of two parameters:
1) the “commodity” exchanged and 2) the role of the initiator in the exchange.
From a linguistic viewpoint, the commodity exchanged can either be a) linguistic
(i.e. information) or b) non-linguistic (i.e. “goods-&-services”). In other words,
when we interact with each other, we can either simply talk or write to another
person (i.e. we exchange language) or we can get another person to obtain some-
thing or do something (i.e. we exchange goods-&-services). The role of the initia-
tor in an exchange can either be the i) giver or ii) demander (of information or
goods and services).

Figure 5-1: Variables in an Interactive Event

On the basis of these parameters, Halliday defines four primary speech func-

STATEME NT: give language

QUESTION: demand language
OFFER: give goods-&-services
COMMAND: demand goods-&-services

Figure 5-2: Primary Speech Functions

Halliday (1985a: 70-71) refers to STATEME NTS and QUESTIONS as propositions

and to OFFERS and COMMANDS as proposals. It needs to be stressed that these are
abstract speech functions, not rhetorical functions. (To make this clear, I have
written them in capital letters.) Speech functions have been abstracted from the
rhetorical functions discussed earlier, they constitute a semantic interface between
rhetorical functions and the mood options, declarative, interrogative and impera-
tive. One of the examples cited earlier, Sulla on toinen, occurs as what might be
considered an accusation in the following text (from the novel Tavallisen
suomalainen mies by Alpo Ruuth (pp. 315-316).

[Ossi is having an affair with Suvi; he is waiting for her in her flat.]
Ossi istui koko illan tuijottamassa televisiota. Tunnelmat vaihtuivat tunneittain, hän vihasi ja
pelkäsi vuoron perään. Eniten hän pelkäsi sitä että Suvi toisi jonkin kaverin mukanaan ...
‘Ossi sat all evening with his eyes glued to the television. His feelings changed by the hour,
he felt anger and fear by turns. Most of all he was frightened that Suvi would bring someone
else home ...’
– Sulla on toinen.
‘You’ve got someone else/another (lover).’
– Ei ole.
‘No I haven’t.’
– Varmasti on.
‘You must have.’

The clause sulla on toinen ‘you’ve got another (lover)’ has the speech function
STATEMENT, not because it functions rhetorically as a statement, but because
what is being exchanged is linguistic and the initiator’s role is that of giver.

In order to consider the grammatical system, Halliday then looks at the rele-
vant grammatical options available in a particular language, which, in Halliday’s
analysis, is English. According to Halliday, the grammatical options in English
can be represented by the following (very basic and simplified) mood network:1

Figure 5-3: Mood Options in English

A similar network could be drawn for the basic mood options in Finnish. As men-
tioned in 4.2, minor clauses are those in which mood options are not available.

In the original diagram, Halliday locates ellipsis in the mood network. Although ellipsis may
be regarded as textual, it is apparently included in mood because the potential for ellipsis has
to be specified interpersonally (Martin 1981: 55). However, this part of the network need not
concern us here.

To recapitulate, contextual (or situational) options (e.g. [give: information])

realize semantic options (e.g. [ STATEMENT]), which in turn realize grammatical
options (e.g. [indicative]). In spite of the way in which this has just been phrased,
realization is not a series of steps that proceed in a certain direction, at least, this
is not so ontologically. Methodologically, however, what has happened is that the
starting point is the context of situation, and on the basis of this, the semantic
options are defined. Then, the analysis turns to the lexicogrammatical form of
English and the options that are available in English. This analytical procedure
most clearly reveals itself when one considers the category OFFER, which has not
been established on the basis of the primary mood options in English, but rather,
on the basis of the parameters described above. Halliday sees this procedure as
“shunting” (see Halliday 1961: 254, 286), i.e. moving back and forth between
linguistic levels, or, to put it in another way, linguistic analysis at one level neces-
sarily involves keeping an eye on other levels.

Thus, for Halliday, the semantic level, which is analysed from an interac-
tional perspective in terms of the abstract speech functions defined above, acts as
an interface between the context and the lexicogrammatical form of a language.
The downward pointing arrow in the following diagram is the symbol for realiza-
tion in systemic-functional theory. In the light of what was said above, a more
appropriate symbol would be a double-headed arrow (à), as pointed out in 2.4.3
(p. 44).



Figure 5-4: Semantics as an Interface

One of the problems inherent in this model is the mismatch between the
situationally defined semantic notions (or contextual semantic notions) and the

mood options in English. In order to bridge the gap, Halliday invokes the notion
of “congruency” (to be discussed in the next section).

The SF notion of a speech function should not be equated with the tradi-
tional notion of a speech function found in some grammar books (e.g. Hakulinen
and Karlsson 1979: 276-293). Traditional notions such as statement, question,
command and exclamation are semantic relabellings of grammatical categories
and are not explicitly intended to make a link with (abstractions from) interaction-
al options in the context of situation. On the other hand, Halliday’s speech func-
tion should not be confused with the way in which the notion is used in discourse
analysis. It is not a discourse notion, but a grammatical notion. A. Hakulinen (A.
Hakulinen ed. 1989: 45-46), for example, has obviously misunderstood these
speech functions to be rhetorical functions; she makes no mention of the rhetori-
cal functions listed by Halliday in the chapter concerned with phenomena that are
“beyond the clause” (1985a: 342). She criticizes Halliday for postulating the four
primary speech functions “with little or no empirical evidence”. The grammatical
evidence on which Halliday’s analysis is based are the grammatical categories
declarative, interrogative and imperative, which are also assumed in
ethnomethodological conversation analysis (see list in 1.5, p. 10). Hakulinen,
however, seems to assume that Halliday’s An Introduction to Functional Gram-
mar is discourse analysis not grammar: she says Hallidayn ongelma on kaikille
diskurssintutkijoille yhteinen ‘Halliday’s problem is common to all discourse
analysts’. Hakulinen’s criticism is ironic in that it is concerned with “precon-
ceived categories”, yet she criticizes Halliday on the basis of her own precon-
ceived categories (cf. the discussion of explicit and implicit assumptions in sec-
tion 1.5).

As can be seen from the above, Halliday’s model reflects most appropriately
face-to-face interaction, which can be regarded as the paradigm case of linguistic
interaction. This view is shared by other linguists (including Lyons 1977a: 589ff,
Fillmore 1981: 152, Levinson 1983: 54). For example, according to Fillmore:

The language of face-to-face conversation is the basic and primary use of language, all others
being best described in terms of their manner of deviation from that base.

However, Halliday’s model possibly goes a step further: the basic and primary
use of language is not simply face-to-face conversation, which, after all is primar-
ily concerned with the exchange of language (i.e. language is constitutive). The
basic and primary use of language, as reflected in Halliday’s model, is face-to-
face language-in-action: for example, the ordinary everyday exchanges of lan-
guage, action and goods-&-services that take place in the home or in the play-
ground or when people are shopping or working.

5.2.2. Congruent and Metaphorical Realization

Halliday relates the speech functions defined above to the grammatical options of
English by postulating what he refers to as a congruent relationship between
them. A congruent realization relationship is sometimes seen in terms of typical-
ity (e.g. Halliday 1984: 14; Halliday 1985a: 320; cf. below however): a STATE-

MENT is congruently (or typically) realized as a declarative, a QUESTION as an

interrogative and a COMMAND as an imperative. With OFFERS, there is no congru-
ent realization: they can be realized in various ways.


statement declarative
question interrogative
command imperative
offer —

Figure 5-5: Congruent Realizations of Speech Functions

It seems to me, however, that congruency cannot not be equated with typi-
cality. According to Berry (1987: 58-59), typicality can be understood either 1) as
a statistical norm or 2) as what is perceived as being typical by speakers of a lan-

guage. As Halliday (1984: 14) himself suggests, it is not entirely self-evident that
asking someone to do or get something for you is typically realized as an impera-
tive in English. (See also Levinson 1983: 264,275.) It also seems questionable to
equate congruency with typicality in the sense of what is perceived as being typi-
cal by language users. If one were to ask a speaker of English to consider a situa-
tion in which she or he were trying to get someone else to do something such as
close a door or window (i.e. demand goods-&-services), then it is unlikely that
she or he would suggest an imperative. It seems to me that, in the majority of
instances, 2. person imperatives realizing the option [demand: goods-&-services]
tend1 to be used in English if the speaker is in a position of power (e.g. parent or
teacher to child, sergeant to private). Exceptions to this include certain anony-
mous written genres (such as operating instructions and recipe books), certain
requests for a linguistic action e.g. Give my love to Nigel, and actions that are
regarded as benefiting the addressee e.g. Take a holiday.

Rather than relate congruency to typicality, it seems more appropriate to

think of congruent realization in terms of Halliday’s (1984: 14) alternative sug-
gestion as “a kind of baseline” or as a “maximally simple” way of expressing
things.2 In English, for example, this could be thought of as the way in which
young children typically express things or the way in which something would be
expressed in an emergency (e.g. Quick! Get a doctor!). The way in which a base-
line is characterized, however, is language-specific: in Finnish, for example, ask-
ing for goods-&-services from a peer or an equal is commonly realized as an
imperative if no imposition is involved, as indicated by examples 11 and 12
above (page 171), and by the following example, which was addressed to a col-
league/friend heading for the photocopying machine to take a copy of a short

See 2.3.4 and 2.4.12.
As Halliday (1985a: 329-30) points out, however, “the concept of plain and simple is very
far from being plain and simple”.

(18) Ota mullekin kopio. [OH: exchange between colleagues.]

take+IMP/2SG I+AD E+TIS copy-NOM
‘Would you (please) take a copy for me too?’

Crucial to Halliday’s analysis of mood is the idea that the notion of meta-
phor can also be extended to grammatical phenomena, (see 2.4.7 (p. 54), 2.4.13
(p. 67); Halliday 1985a: 319-345, Ravelli 1988).1 As Halliday (1985a: 320-321)
points out, the term metaphor is usually used to refer to the “non-literal” use of
words: a word is said to be used with transferred meaning, e.g. flood in the fol-
lowing example:

(19) A flood of protests poured in following the announcement.

However, instead of a form-based approach to metaphor, e.g. instead of looking

at a lexical item such as flood and analysing the ways in which it is used with
transferred meaning, it is equally valid to take a meaning-based approach to meta-
phor. Thus, the example above (19), expresses a meaning that could have been
expressed in a more simple way.2 For example:

(20) A lot of people wrote in and protested after they had heard the announcement.

If metaphor is regarded as a variation in meaning, then example 19 can be seen as

a metaphorical variation of 20. Once we move away from a form-based lexical
approach to a wider meaning-based approach, then the notion of metaphor can be
extended to apply to the meanings realized at the rank of clause: metaphorical
variation in systemic-functional theory is considered to be a grammatical as well
as a lexical phenomenon.

If the realization relationship between a speech function and a mood option

is not a congruent one (as in Figure 5-5 on p. 177 above), if, for example, a de-

See Karvonen (1991, 1992) for a discussion of grammatical metaphor in Finnish and its
application in the analysis of text.
Cf. however quote from Halliday (1985a: 321) on page 181 below.

mand for goods-&-services is not realized as an imperative but as an interroga-

tive, then the relationship is metaphorical. Both of the following examples were
demands for goods-&-services (a loan) from a close friend.

(21) Lainaa kymppi. [OH: exchange between friends]

lend+IMP/2SG ten+NOM
‘(Would you) lend me 10 marks (approx. $3 Aust.)?’

(22) Olisko liikaa pyydetty et [OH: exchange

beCON(3SG)+Q too much+PAR request +INDE+PTC that between friends]
sä heittäisit mulle yhen yksikön?
you-NOM throw+CON+2SG I+ADE one+GEN unit+GEN

‘Would it be too much to ask for you to lend me a unit.’1

Both examples express more or less the same meaning, i.e. they are both requests
for a loan. The meaning is not, of course, exactly the same, but we can recognize
that one is a variation of the other. The request is realized in the simplest possible
way in example 21: it is realized congruently as an imperative.2 In example 22,
on the other hand, the meaning is expressed in a different way: here the request
for a loan is realized metaphorically as an interrogative.

As with any metaphor (cf. fossilized lexical metaphors such as pöydän

jalka ‘the leg of the table’), a grammatical metaphor retains its literal or congru-
ent meaning — otherwise we would not be able to recognize it as a metaphorical
expression. Consequently, with grammatical metaphor, there is no anomaly in-
volved in responding to the congruent as well as the metaphorical meaning, as in
the following example from a telephone conversation:

The person addressed is about to withdraw some money from an automatic teller. The unit
referred to is 100 marks (approx. $30 Australian).
It can, of course, be even more simply realized in a minor clause, as, for example, in a bank
robbery in Finnish: rahat tänne [money+NOM/PL here] cf. “your money or your life”.
(23) – onks Pekka kotona
be+3SG+Q Pekka-NOM home+ESS
‘Is Pekka at home?’

– joo hetkinen
yes moment
‘Yes just a moment.’

Thus, something can be congruent and metaphorical at the same time, i.e., as
Levinson (1983: 269) puts it: “both readings are simultaneously available and

The example above illustrates another important point about metaphor. In

some genres, the metaphorical mode of expression has become the norm: a re-
quest for someone to come to the telephone, for example, is generally realized by
an interrogative in Finnish. But anyone who has asked a small child who has an-
swered the telephone Onks sun äiti kotona? ‘Is your mother at home?’ will be
aware that the interrogative is metaphorical. In my experience, the child generally
responds to the question, and will not automatically call for her or his mother to
come to the telephone but needs to be prompted by a follow-up such as Pyytäisit-
kö hänet puhelimeen ‘Would you ask her to come to the telephone?’.

Another general point about metaphor needs to be underscored: metaphor is

neither inherently good or bad, it is a natural semiotic (meaning-making) re-
source in language. According to Halliday (1985a: 321):

For any given semantic configuration there is (at least) one congruent realization in the
lexicogrammar. There may be others that are in some respect transferred, or METAPHORICAL.

This is not to say that the congruent realization is better, or that it is more frequent, or even
that it functions as a norm; there are many instances where a metaphorical representation has
become the norm, and this is in fact a natural process of linguistic change. Nor is it to suggest
that a set of variants of this kind will be totally synonymous; the selection of metaphor is
itself a meaningful choice, and the particular metaphor selected adds further semantic fea-
tures. But they will be systematically related in meaning, and therefore synonymous in certain

Analysing the relationship between speech functions and mood in terms of

metaphor has clear advantages over other approaches. It avoids the inherent con-
tradiction involved in a speech act approach: while it is somewhat anomalous to
regard a speech act as being both direct and indirect at the same time (cf. Levin-
son 1983: 268 ff.), something can be congruent and metaphorical at the same
time. Moreover, when contrasted with the notion of a hedge used in
ethnomethodological conversation analysis (see, e.g., A. Hakulinen ed. 1989: 118
ff.) the notion of grammatical metaphor goes linguistically a lot deeper since it
attempts to bridge the gap between grammatical categories and spoken or written
text. It also brings together related phenomena: e.g., it allows us to treat examples
such as the following example as mood metaphors:

(23) Sä tuut tähän nyt! [OH: parent to child]

you come+2SG here+ILL now/at once
‘You will come here at once.’

This was addressed by a parent to an unruly child in a tube train. I have also heard
a parent say the following in a similar situation:

(24) Tuu istumaan. [OH: parent to child]

come+2SG/IMP sit+INF+ILL
‘Come and sit down.’

Presumably neither of these would be treated as a hedge by conversation analysts,

yet its seems to me that linguistically, at least, they fall under the same general
phenomenon as examples 21 and 22 above (Lainaa mulle kymppi ‘(Would you)
lend me ten marks’ and Olisiko liikaa pyydetty et sä heittäisit mulle yhen yksi-
kön? ‘Would it be too much to ask for you to lend me a unit?’).

Treating instances like this in terms of grammatical metaphor also allows us

to treat the mood metaphors I have discussed as one facet of a wider, pervasive
meaning-making process in language: under the same general phenomenon, Halli-
day (1985a: 319-345) discusses metaphors in modality and in transitivity struc-
tures in the clause. While the notions of congruency and metaphor are problem-

atic in that they are susceptible to variable interpretation,1 so too is the notion of
a hedge. At least, a systemic-functional approach is an attempt to ground the in-
terpretation of congruency and metaphor in an explicit and linguistically moti-
vated way.

5.2.3. Problems with Halliday’s Analysis

As mentioned earlier, it seems to me that there are some problems with Halliday’s
analysis. The problems are connected with the postulation of the speech function
OFFER. Halliday (1985a: 342) regards a threat such as I’ll shoot the pianist as an
OFFER, i.e. as the giving of goods-&-services. It is not entirely clear to me that a
clause that functions rhetorically as a threat actually involves any exchange of

Halliday (1984: 19-20) comments on the fact that exchanges of goods-&-

services are problematic from a grammatical point of view. He notes that ex-
changes of information are more likely to be congruent than exchanges of goods-
&-services. This can be explained ) at least partly ) by the fact that linguistic
exchanges are essentially different from exchanges of goods-&-services: a pro-
cess or action can take place independently of language. For this reason, accord-
ing to Halliday (1984: 20), languages do not display clear-cut grammatical cate-
gories corresponding to OFFERS and COMMANDS. Halliday refers to the imperative
as a “fringe category, teetering between finite and non-finite ... having either no
distinct clause or verb form or else one that is only minimally distinguished”.

This characterization of the imperative is surprising given that Halliday’s

analysis of mood is based on language in face-to-face interaction, a central aspect
of which is language as a means of getting things done. If our analysis of mood is
based on language-in-action, then it seems incongruous to regard the imperative

As pointed out in Chapter 1, Bakhtin’s (1981: 263) notion of “social heteroglossia” pertains
not only to the phenomenon being observed, i.e. language, but also to the observer, the

as a fringe category. In fact, a “verb form ... that is only minimally distinguished”
could be regarded as the most basic and fundamental verb category. A 2. person
singular imperative, for example, is morphologically the simplest verb form in
both Finnish and English; it is also amongst the first verb forms learnt by a child
(Toivainen 1980: 32). In contrast to English, however, verbs in both standardized
Finnish and in all Finnish dialects are inflected for person and number in the im-
perative (see figures 3-4 (p. 80) and 3-5 (p. 81) in Chapter 3).

The examples of the imperative quoted earlier (page 171) and the following
examples illustrate some of the uses of the imperative in Finnish:

(25) Tulkaa tänne.

come+IMP+2SG here
‘Come on over here/(Why don’t you) Come here.’

(26) Painu helvettiin!

descend+2SG/IMP hell+ILL
‘Go to hell!’

(27) Ajattele nyt vähän.

think+2SG/IMP now a little
‘Now think about it a bit.’

(28) Älä uneksi siitä, ole sitä.1 [HS 11.8.1991 p. B1]

NEG/IMP+2SG dream it+ELA be+2SG it+PAR
‘Don’t dream (about) it, be it!’

(29) Pelkää rauhassa! Halua lisää! [Ad2]

fear+IMP/2SG peace+INE want+IMP/2SG more+PAR

Näytä tunteesi! Naura enemmän!

show+IMP/2SG feeling+POS/2SG laugh+IMP/2SG more+COM+GEN

‘Be afraid in peace! Want more! Show your feelings! Laugh more!’

This example and example 15 on p. 172 (Ole hyvin peloissasi ‘Be very afraid’), which also
has an imperative form of olla ‘be’, may be considered strange by some speakers of Finnish.
They are all, nevertheless, authentic examples; and, if the imperative in Finnish is interpreted
“orientation to a non-linguistic (action) response”, as I shall suggest, then there is nothing odd
about these examples.

It is difficult to see many of these examples in terms of an exchange of

goods-&-services. This is also true of many English imperatives:

(30) I was wearing very high heeled shoes. He said take them off.1
(31) Take a look at this.

It seems to me that what is at issue in imperatives in Finnish and English is orien-

tation to action, where action need not necessarily be understood in physical
terms but is simply a label for a response that is not information-oriented, i.e. not
directed to the exchange of information. The action may, of course, be a linguistic
action, as in Sano sitten Juhalle terveisiä or its English equivalent Say hello to
Peter for me, where “saying” can be seen as a mode of doing. (At a deeper philo-
sophical level, all language is a mode of action ) this is the point of this chapter.
The reference here to saying as a mode of doing is on a more concrete level.)

The alternative analysis that will be proposed in the next section departs
from Halliday’s analysis in that the distinction between giving and demanding is
not applied in the case of goods-&-services. This analysis of Finnish is similar to
both Fawcett’s (1980: 104 ff.) and Butler’s (1988) analysis of English. Butler
(1988: 150), for example, refers to “action-seeking acts”. Counter-arguments to
this re-analysis will be discussed in the next section. Before addressing these,
however, I shall look at another related problem with Halliday’s analysis. The
other problem with Halliday’s analysis of mood is connected with the function
Subject in an OFFER. According to Halliday, the grammatical subject in English
realizes an interpersonal function. Because the traditional definition of grammati-
cal subject (number and person agreement with the finite verb) is of limited appli-
cability in English, Halliday (1985a: 71-73) regards the subject in English as the
element that is picked up if a tag is added to a clause: you won’t give it away,
will you? In Halliday’s view, the grammatical subject in English is a meaningful
category, not simply an empty “surface” phenomena.

The example is from Edna O’Brien, Johnny I Hardly Knew You (Weidenfield & Nicolson,
London, 1977) p. 21.
The Subject is a function in the clause as an exchange. It is the element that is held responsi-
ble: in which is vested the success of the clause whatever its particular speech function.
(Halliday 1985a: 36-37.)1

The function of Subject (meaning ‘responsibility in an interactive event’) is

seen as being relevant to both propositions and proposals. According to Halliday,
with proposals (i.e. commands or offers), the meaning of “responsibility” can be
seen in fairly concrete terms:

It is perhaps easier to see this principle of responsibility in a proposal (a ‘goods-&-services’

clause), where the Subject specifies the one that is actually responsible for realizing (i.e. in
this case, for carrying out) the offer or command. For example, in I’ll open the gate, shall I?
(offer) the opening depends on me; in Stop shouting, you over there! (command) it is for
you to desist or otherwise. Hence the typical Subject of an offer is the speaker, and that of a
command is the person being addressed. (Halliday 1985a: 76.)

The problematic status of OFFER can be illustrated by the fact that in some offers
the entity actually responsible for carrying out the offer is not always the same as
the one picked up in the tag. For example, there are various grammatical realiza-
tions of offering someone a drink in English. These include:

(32) You’ll have a drink, ) Won’t you?

(33) Would you like a drink? ) (Would you?)
(34) There’s a drink on the table for you, if you want one.
(35) Do have a drink. ) (Won’t you?)
(36) What you need is a stiff drink. ) ?(Don’t you?/Isn’t it?)
(37) A stiff drink is what you need. ) ?(Isn’t it?)
(38) I could fix you a drink. ) (Could I?)

In Halliday’s discussion of English, he uses Subject (with a capital letter) to refer to both
the element that is picked up in the tag and the function that it realizes. I prefer to make a
distinction between the formal category (subject) and the functional category (Subject). The
reason for this is that Halliday’s (1985a) description is of English, a language in which it can
be argued that the grammatical subject realizes an interactional function. The notion of a
grammatical subject has also been applied to languages that do not have a mood tag, for
example, Finnish, where there is an element in the nominative case that agrees with the verb
in person and number. As argued in Chapter 6, this element realizes an experiential function
in Finnish. It is also conceivable that what has been referred to as the subject in other
languages does not realize an interactional function.

While in many of the examples the acceptability of a mood tag is debatable ) the
only example that I feel completely confident about adding a mood tag to is the
first one ) it is quite clear that to the extent that it is acceptable, it does not pick
up the speaker (I) in most of the instances above. Presumably, as Halliday (1985a:
76) puts it, “the one that is actually responsible for realizing (i.e. in this case, for
carrying out) the offer” is the same in all cases: the person who is doing the offer-

The reason why offers are not grammatically coded is obvious: as pointed
out above, while the exchange of information necessarily involves language (or
some other semiotic system), many exchanges of goods-&-services can occur
without language, particularly the giving of goods-&-services: you can give
someone a kiss or a flower without saying anything. As Halliday points out
(1984: 11-12), if language is used in the exchange of goods-&-services, then its
role is often ancillary and two distinct processes occur, i.e. 1) the exchange of
language and 2) the exchange of goods-&-services.

English and Finnish are not unusual in not having a congruent way of realiz-
ing an offer, there appears to be no language in which an offer is congruently
encoded. The appeal of the category seems to stem from the fact that it fits nicely
in the symmetrical analysis postulated by Halliday (see e.g. Martin 1981:60). The
variables postulated by Halliday (give/demand; language/goods-&-services) may
in fact be facets of a European way of viewing information. It was mentioned
earlier that in Gooniyandi (McGregor 1990a: 382-83), there are no formal distinc-
tions in the clause that can be related to the parameters giving vs. demanding and
information vs. goods-&-services, i.e. there are no mood distinctions in Gooni-
yandi corresponding to the distinction between declarative and interrogative or
between indicative and imperative. McGregor suggests that this may be a reflex
of the different way in which Aboriginal societies view (linguistic) interaction
(see also Eades 1982).

As pointed out in Chapter 2, a grammar is “an interpretation of linguistic

forms” (Halliday 1985: xx) and, thus, any semantic distinction that is set up must

be systematically reflected in the grammatical organization of language. While

Halliday’s approach provides an insightful basis for the analysis of interactional
options in the clause, the semantic categories it establishes are not based on
lexicogrammatical patterns. If it were, 1) the option [offer] would not have been
postulated and, moreover, 2) the grammatical option [imperative] would not be
considered as the realization of the option [demand: goods-&-services], as I have
argued above. If speech functions are established on the basis of grammatical
patterning of options related to the clause as an interactive event, we would end
up with a different set of speech functions. The approach that I am advocating is
presumably similar to the approach advocated by Martin (1981: 52) when he says
we should “let the grammar of English decide” ) or the grammar of Finnish, as
the case may be.

5.2.4. Alternative Analysis

Halliday analyses a typical interactive event in terms of a symmetrical system:



GIVE statement offer

DEMAND question command

Figure 5-6: Halliday’s Symmetrical Model

As indicated above, from a linguistic point of view, it is questionable to assume

this kind of symmetry. The alternative analysis that I have proposed for English
and Finnish is asymmetrical:


GIVE statement
DEMAND question

Figure 5-7: Alternative Model

There are at least two possible counter-arguments to the above re-analysis

that need to be addressed before proceeding to a more detailed discussion of
mood in Finnish. Halliday’s (1985a: 235-237, 334-342) analyses of modality and
projection (see 4.5.5, p. 159 ff.) could be used as evidence for the grammatical
realization of the semantic category of offer since both analyses are based on a
basic division between propositions (statements and questions) and proposals
(commands and offers). One of the relevant points in Halliday’s (1985a: 334 ff.)
analysis of modality, for example, is that the type of modality involved in a clause
will depend on its underlying speech function: modalization (expressions of prob-
ability and usuality) is relevant for statements and questions, and modulation (ex-
pressions of inclination and obligation)1 is relevant for offers and commands, as
reflected in the following examples from Halliday:
(39) Mary will probably know.
(40) Fred should tell them.

The first example is a modalized statement and the second a modulated command
(i.e. demand for goods-&-services). However, there is nothing in Halliday’s anal-
ysis which gives support to an independent speech function of “offer”. The differ-

The distinction between modalization and modulation is comparable to the distinction
between epistemic and deontic modality made in philosophical semantics, except that
assessments of usuality or frequency (e.g. Mary usually knows the answer) are included under
modalization and assessments of inclination (e.g. I felt like going) under modulation.
However, SF theory is not based on truth-conditional semantics, and, thus, modality and
modulation refer to the semantic space between positive (“yes”, “it is so”, “do it”) and
negative (“no”, “it isn’t so”, “don’t do it”). See further, Halliday 1985a: 85 ff., 324 ff.;
Halliday in Kress (ed.) 1976: 189 ff.

ences could just as well be explained by a semantic distinction between orienta-

tion to a linguistic exchange and orientation to action.

Secondly, according to Halliday (1985a: 235-37), propositions (STATE-

ME NTS and QUESTIONS) and proposals (COMMANDS and OFFERS) are projected in
different ways. For example, to simplify things somewhat, the reported clause in
a reported proposition is generally finite, e.g. Mary told Tom that she was happy
(reported clause: I’m happy) whereas with proposals, it can also be non-finite,
e.g. He told me to take off my shoes (reported clause, e.g. Take them off). How-
ever, once again there is nothing in this analysis that presupposes a distinction
between COMMANDS and OFFERS. Halliday’s analysis is based simply on the ba-
sic distinction between propositions and proposals, which in the alternative analy-
sis that is being put forward here corresponds to the difference between orienta-
tion to a linguistic exchange and orientation to action. Moreover, as Halliday
points out, reported proposals like He told me to take off my shoes shade into
structures of a causative kind (He got me to take off my shoes); with this alterna-
tive analysis, it is perhaps easier to understand the fuzzy area between reported
proposals and causatives. It seems to me that a continuum that moves from an
action-orientated exchange that is being reported to a causative structure is more
natural that a continuum that moves from the demanding of goods-&-services to
a causative. Furthermore, there are clauses like I’ll shoot the pianist, which, as
mentioned above, are difficult to see in terms of the exchange of goods-&-ser-
vices; yet they are projected like proposals (cf. He threatened to shoot the pia-
nist): the relevant semantic factor can be glossed as “orientation to action”.

5.3. Interactional Options in Finnish

From an interactional perspective, the primary grammatical options in Finnish are

indicative and imperative. This is reflected by the fact that the indicative and im-
perative are distinguished by different inflections in the finite verb (see Chapter 3
for examples of these inflections). Moreover, there are various tense and modality
distinctions available in the indicative that are not available in the imperative.
However, the term “indicative” as it is being used here is somewhat misleading,
as its use here differs from the way the term is used in traditional, formal gram-
mars of Finnish (e.g. Ikola 1977:54-55; Karlsson 1983b: 138), where the indica-
tive contrasts with conditional and potential inflections in the verb. In this analy-
sis, the term indicative says nothing about options in modality (i.e. declarative vs.
conditional or potential).

As discussed in 5.1, modality and modulation will not be considered in this

study. Another important system related to the system of Mood but beyond the
scope of this study is that of Key (see Halliday 1967c; 1985a: 281 ff.; Matthies-
sen & Halliday (forthcoming)). The term “key”,1 which has been borrowed from
music terminology, refers to the meanings associated with melodic contours in
the tone group. Earlier (footnote 1, page 171) it was suggested that an imperative
clause that is realized as a tone group characterized by high initial pitch is gener-
ally not impolite in Finnish (when directed at a peer); but an imperative can also
be realized by low initial pitch. These falls and rises in the tone group are mean-
ingful, and are significant in the determination of rhetorical function.2

Finnish: sävy.
The only research that has been done on the tone system of Finnish is Hirvonen (1970).
Unlike Halliday (1967c), however, Hirvonen does not base his analysis on naturally occurring
conversation but on constructed dialogues read by informants. Hirvonen’s analysis focuses
on the unmarked tones of mood options in Finnish (cf. Halliday 1985a: 284).

The indicative, in turn, is realized by declarative or interrogative. Interroga-

tive clauses are of two main types: polar and content interrogatives. Polar inter-
rogatives ask for information about the polarity of the clause. In standardized
Finnish, a polar interrogative is realized by the interrogative suffix, -ko/-kö,
which is added to the finite verb in clause-initial position.

(41) onko sulla hirvee(n) kiire [Tel1:1]

is+3SG+Q you+ADE terrible+GEN busy
‘Are you terribly busy?’

(42) ootko hyvin kiireinen [Tel3:1]

is+2SG+Q very busy
‘Are you terribly busy?’

A typical phonological variant of this in informal (spoken) genres of Finnish is -

ks (sometimes simply -k):

(43) soittaaks muut sun kaverit [SIIIM3b:6]

play+3SG+Q others+NOM/PL you+GEN mates/pals+NOM/PL
‘Do your other mates play [the guitar]?’

Another variant of a polar interrogative in informal (spoken) Finnish is a

change in word order so that the finite verb precedes the subject. This is confined
to clauses where the subject is a second person singular pronoun:

(44) käyt sä siellä usein [SIIIM3b:3]

go/visit+2SG you(SG)-NOM there+ADE often
‘Do you go there often?’

Whether examples like this are indicative of stable variation or whether they are
indicative of language change remains to be seen. While the patterning here is
similar to an English or Swedish polar interrogative, its use is more restricted: it
occurs only in informal genres of (spoken) Finnish in interrogatives where there is
a second person singular pronoun and only in instances where this pronoun is the

grammatical subject. 1 In the following example, there is a second person singular

pronoun (sul(la) [you-ade] ‘at/by you’) in the first clause below, but it is not the
subject. Unlike the previous variant (example 44), there is always an interrogative
suffix attached to the finite verb in examples where the second person pronoun is
not in the nominative:

(45) onks sul uus? [CA3:1]

is+3SG+Q you+ADE new-NOM
‘Have you got a new one?’

It is important to note, however, that variation in the way that an interrogative is

realized in Finnish ) either in the examples illustrated above or, even in dialectal
variation, ) is not, in principle, a problem in SF theory. As pointed out in Chapter
2 (p. 23, 53), a language is seen as a system of meanings in SF theory, as a system
of paradigmatic options, not as a monolithic formal structure. Thus, in the gram-
matical description of Finnish, it is assumed that there is a grammatical distinc-
tion between interrogative and declarative. This distinction holds regardless of
whether it is realized in formal written or informal spoken genres of Finnish, as
spoken in Turku, Helsinki or in the far north of Finland.

A content interrogative is a request for information concerning a participant

or circumstance. It is realized by an interrogative pronoun, kuka ‘who’, mikä
‘which, what’, kumpi ‘which (of two)’ and millainen/minkälainen ‘what kind of’
(inflected for number and case, see, for example, Karlsson 1983b: 123-24), in
clause-initial position.

(46) mistä sä sait niitä? [SIIN3c:23]

which/what+ELA you(SG)+NOM get+PAS+2SG they+PAR
‘Where did you get them from?’

A similar phenomena occurs in a small number of common expressions such as: paljo(n)
kello on? (many/much clock is) ‘What’s the time?’. (In written Finnish, paljon would be
followed by the interrogative suffix: Paljonko kello on?). Unlike the examples with second
person singular pronoun subjects, however, the subject (kello ‘clock’) and finite verb (on ‘is’)
are not crucially involved in the forming of the interrogative.

(47) minkälaisia ihmisiä siellä käy? [SIIIM3b:3]

which+GEN+kind/sort person+PL+PAR there+ADE go/visit+3SG
‘What kind of people go there?’

Content interrogatives also include adverbials, which are not inflected, for exam-
ple, koska/milloin ‘when, kauan(ko) ‘how long [with reference to time]’, kuinka
‘how’ (for example, kuinka usein/pitkä ‘how often/long’) and paljon(ko) ‘how

The third type of interrogative is a content check interrogative. In Finnish,

this is realized by the interrogative suffix -ko/-kö (-ks/-k) attached to the word
being checked.

(48) <A> – Iisalmessaks se muuten asuu? [CA2:18]

Iisalmi+INE+Q she by the way live+3SG
‘Was it in Iisalmi that she by the way lives ?’1

<B> – mm, kyllä.

mm, yes.

(49) <A> – miss on se paperijuttu [CA7:1]

what+INE is+3SG the/that paper-thing
‘Where’s that paper thing?’

<B> – on tääl paperi

is+3SG here paper
‘There’s paper here.’

ai nii sitä ohjepaperia,

oh yea the/that instruction-paper,
‘oh yea the instruction paper (paper with instructions on it),’

÷÷ sitäksä tarkoitit?
that+PAR+Q+you(2SG) mean+PAS+2SG
‘Is that what you meant?’

A variant of the content check ko/kö-interrogative is the particle vai, whose

use is mostly confined to spoken genres of Finnish. The difference between these
variants is difficult to ascertain, and any interpretation based on only a limited

Alternatively, this could be translated as a declarative with rising (tone 2) intonation: She
lives in Iisalmi?. It is difficult to say which is the most appropriate; and, needless to say, the
options available in Finnish cannot be equated with the those available in English (see 2.2.4).

number of examples may be skewed by the particular tone contour of the utter-
ance. A tentative interpretation is that the vai-interrogative is less direct than the
ko/kö content check. Rather than being a direct content check, it seems to serve as
an offer of something to comment on (cf. Eades 1982):

(50) <A> – hän on asunu kans Espoossa [CA3:24]

she has lived+3SG too Espoo+INE
‘she’s lived in Espoo too’

<B> – kerrostalossa vai

apartment-house+INE Q
‘in a unit/flat?’

<A> – ei vaan rivitalossa

NEG+3SG but row+house+INE
‘no in a terraced house (row house)’

This interrogative vai is clearly related to the conjunction vai ‘or’, which typi-
cally occurs in interrogative clauses e.g. Otatko kahvia vai teetä? ‘Will you have
coffee or tea?’1 The vai at the end of a turn is like asking someone for a possible
alternative or contradiction: “or?”.

Thus, a characteristic context for vai is following the finite verb, where it
functions as what might be referred to as a forward channel, i.e. a back channel
that gives the turn back to the first speaker.

(51) <A> – mä olin Toron tykö tiistai

I+NOM be+PAS+1SG Toro+GEN place Tuesday
‘I was at Toro’s place Tuesday.’

<B> – olit vai

be+PAS+2SG Q
‘you were?’

<A> – joo [TP1:11]


The variant tai ‘or’ typically occurs in declarative clauses. One could answer by saying
kahvi tai tee, ihan sama ‘coffee or tea, it’s all the same to me’.

The grammatical choices at a primary level of delicacy in Finnish can be

summarized in the following simplified network:1

Figure 5-8: Mood Options in Finnish

The X in the network refers to the item being checked or the item that is picked
up and offered back as something to be commented on. Particularly in the case of
vai, the notion of a check interrogative should not be taken too literally. As seen
in the examples above, it is a means of taking the conversation forward. This is
also true of the ko/kö-check: e.g. niinkö [so + kö] ‘really?’. Nevertheless, it is
clearly an interrogative in the sense outlined above: it is oriented to the exchange
of language and the speaker’s role is that of “demander”.

See Appendix 6 for system network conventions. This network ) as with any network in SF
theory ) indicates the options that are available. It does not imply that the options are equi-
probable. I have included the check question although this option is typically available only
in a non-initial move in a conversation.

5.4. Interactional Functions in Finnish

5.4.1. Finite, Mood Marker, and Residue

As pointed out in 2.4.5 (p. 51), interpersonal structure is generally characterized

as either prosodic or scopal. McGregor (1988) suggests, that an element with a
scopal relation holds the entire clause in its scope, i.e. the scope is clause-internal
(or extended and restricted to the boundaries of the clause). According to
McGregor, the scopal element can be compared to a logical operator like | (|(P)
‘it is asserted that P’). McGregor’s approach is reminiscent of Searle’s (1969:31)
analysis of illocutionary acts and illocutionary force indicating devices:

The general forms of (very many kinds of) illocutionary acts is F(p), where the variable “F”
takes illocutionary force indicating devices as values and “p” takes expressions for proposi-
tions. We can then symbolize different kinds of illocutionary acts in the form, e.g.,

| (p) for assertions ! (p) for requests

Pr (p) for promises W (p) for warnings ? (p) for yes-no questions

And so on.

There are, however, important differences. Searle is a philosopher, not a gram-

marian: he is taking a logico-philosophical perspective on what would be consid-
ered to be rhetorical functions in SF theory (see 5.2, p. 168). This is apparent in
his discussion of promises, particularly when he states that they are not realized
grammatically and need not necessarily be accompanied by an explicit illocution-
ary force indicating devices (such as the projecting clause I promise) (Searle

A declarative could be considered analogous to Searle’s |(p); Searle’s excla-

mation mark in the formulation !(p) could be appropriated for imperatives and
question mark for interrogatives ?(p). However, this logical or quasi-logical anal-
ogy cannot be pushed too far. With content interrogatives, for example, the scope
of the interrogative ) if the notion of scope is used in its logical sense (see, e.g.,
Allwood, Andersson & Dahl (1980: 57,78)) ) is not the entire clause, but part of
it. From the point of view that is presented in this chapter, what is common to all
interrogative clauses, at least when used congruently, is that the clause as a whole

is oriented to the seeking of information, and it is this interactional and interper-

sonal orientation rather than a strict logical notion of scope that is significant in
the analysis of the clause as an exchange.

As illustrated by the discussion in this chapter, the finite verb and/or what
could be termed a “mood marker” ) an imperative ending, an interrogative suffix,
particle or pronoun ) holds the rest of the clause in its “scope”. Thus, it is the
Finite and/or a Mood Marker that “carries the burden of the clause as an interac-
tive event” (Halliday 1985a: 77). The rest of the clause can be referred to as the

(52) onko sulla hirvee(n) kiire [Tel1:1]

is+3SG+Q you+ADE terrible+GEN busy
Finite+Mood Marker Residue ------------------------->
‘Are you terribly busy?’

The residue is described by Halliday (1985a: 74) as what is left over, “the remain-
der of the clause”. In his analysis, Halliday (1985a: 78) nevertheless analyses the
Residue in terms of the “functional elements”, Predicator, Complement and Ad-
junct. Why these elements should be given functional status in a mood analysis is
unclear. A possible response for the analysis of Complement and Adjunct is that
they are defined in terms of their potential to become Subject in English: a Com-
plement has the potential of being Subject, an Adjunct does not have this poten-
tial (Halliday 1985: 79).1 However, it would seem to me that the basis for this
potential is textual rather than interactional. At any rate, the argument would not
apply to Finnish, in which the subject is not an interactional function and word-
order is extremely flexible, mostly conditioned by textual factors (see Vilkuna
1989 and Chapter 7).

An anomaly acknowledged by Halliday in his analysis is the fact that an Attribute in a
relational clause is regarded as the Complement in spite of the fact that it does not have this
potential. While the conflation of Attribute and Theme may be quite marked in English, to
the extent that it is possible, it is not picked up in a tag and it does not agree with the finite
verb in number and person: Happy/A poet am I, (am I not)? Here the pronoun I remains the

According to Halliday (1985a: 75), the Finite relates what is being said to
the context of the interactive event, i.e. ties it to the “here and now”. As its name
implies, the Finite has the function of making the proposition finite. That is to
say, it circumscribes it; it brings it down to earth, so that it is something that can
be argued about. A good way to make something arguable is to give it a point of
reference in the here and now; and this is what the finite does. It relates the propo-
sition to its context in the speech event. Halliday (1985a: 75) sees the
contextualization of the Finite in English is in terms of 1) primary tense and 2)
modality. Here the term “modality” also subsumes polarity: both are regarded by
Halliday as interpersonal. Expressions of modality and modulation are seen as
realizing meanings intermediate between positive and negative polarity (see
Halliday 1985a: 75,86,335); and polarity is interpersonal in that it represents
whether or not the speaker denies or affirms a proposition or proposal (Matthies-
sen 1988: 161).

There is a problem, however, with assuming that modality and modulation

(as opposed to polarity) are subsumed under the interactive function Finite, i.e.
that they are involved in relating the proposition to its context in the speech
event. As in English, modality in Finnish ) the speaker’s assessment of the proba-
bilities or the obligations involved in what she or he is saying (or, in a question, a
request for the listener’s opinion) ) can be realized in the finite verb, but it can
also be realized by a modal adjunct. This creates a problem: while on the one
hand, finiteness is said to be realized by a temporal or modal verbal operator
which, combined with the specification of polarity, constitutes the verbal compo-
nent in the mood element (Halliday 1985a: 75-76), finiteness can also be ex-
pressed in a range of modal adjuncts, which need not necessarily be tied to the
verbal component, e.g. to my mind, as expected (see Halliday 1985a: 50).

The problem seems to stem from the fact that primary tense and modality are
related to the here and now of the speech event in different ways. In the philo-
sophical linguistic tradition, for example, links between language and the speech
situation are covered by deixis, which roughly corresponds to areas of both inter-

personal and textual meaning in SF theory. Temporal deixis (realized by primary

tense) and demonstrative and personal deixis have traditionally been included in
deixis, but modality has not (see e.g. Lyons 1977b: 636-37; cf. Fawcett (1980:
29-30), who distinguishes between interactional meanings, on the one hand, and
affective and modal meanings, on the other).

Grammatically, the contextualization of the Finite in Finnish ) the way it

relates the utterance to its spatiotemporal context ) is done in terms of 1) primary
tense, 2) polarity, and 3) personal reference (as illustrated in Chapter 3 the finite
verb in Finnish incorporates a personal ending). Thus, in this study, polarity is
regarded as an essential concomitant of finiteness, but modality is not. While,
following Halliday (1985a: 75,86,335) polarity and modality can both be re-
garded as aspects of interpersonal meaning, there are grammatical reasons for
excluding modality from a role in the contextualization of the Finite.

Firstly, polarity features can be linked more clearly than modality features to
the here and now, to the spatiotemporal context of the utterance. While SF theory
is not concerned with truth from the point of view of truth-conditional semantics
(see 2.3.5 p. 30 ff.), polarity features can be linked to (a commitment on the part
of the speaker) as to whether or not a state of affairs holds. Through polarity fea-
tures a speaker makes a commitment as to the truth, or otherwise, of what she or
he is saying. Thus, for example, if we consider a situation in which someone says
Mari ei ollut kotona ‘Mari was not at home’ (or Mari oli kotona ‘Mari was at
home’), then the speaker is making a commitment to the truth of what (s)he is
saying. If, in fact, the statement were not true, then the speaker could, depending
on the circumstances, be accused of telling a lie or a white lie or giving false evi-
dence in a court of law. If, on the other hand, the speaker had said Mari olisi voi-
nut olla kotona ‘Mari could have been at home’, with the verb in the conditional
(-isi-) for example, then the same sort of commitment is not involved, as re-
flected by the fact that it would hardly count as evidence in a court of law. Thus,
the notion of truth, as it is being used here, is far from the notion of truth as it is
understood in truth-conditional semantics, where truth is seen in terms of a simple

one-to-one correspondence between sentences and the way things are in the real
world ) or any possible world (cf. Harris 1987b: 157ff.). Moreover, to regard
polarity as an essential concomitant of finiteness is of particular relevance in
Finnish, where the negative element is not a particle but a verb form which in-
flects for person and number (see Figure 3-5, p. 81).

5.4.2. The Grammatical Subject

As I shall argue in Chapter 6, the grammatical subject in Finnish realizes the ex-
periential macro-role of MEDIUM . The question that arises from an interactional
perspective is whether the grammatical subject also realizes the interactional
function of Subject, i.e. whether MEDIUM and Subject are necessarily conflated in

As discussed in 3.4.3 (p. 99 ff.), there is a significant number of subjectless

clause-types in Finnish. For example:

(53) a. yleensä tanssipaikoille on ikärajoja [TIIIN3c:4]

generally dance+place+PL+ALL be+3SG age+limit+PL+PAR
‘Generally dance places have age limits/there are age limits to dance places.’

(54) a. mua nukuttaa

I+PAR sleep+3SG
‘I feel/I’m feeling sleepy.’

(55) a. Ulkona sataa.

outside+ESS rain+3SG
‘It’s raining outside.’

(56) a. Hänet todettiin kuolleeksi.

he/she+ACC proclaim/pronounce+INDE dead+TRA
‘She/he was pronounced dead.’

With all of the subjectless clause-types the option [INTERROGATIVE] is available:


(53) b. onko yleensä tanssipaikoille ikärajoja

be+3SG+Q generally dance+place+PL+ALL age+limit+PL+PAR
‘Are there generally age limits to dance places/Do dance places generally have age lim-

(54) b. nukuttaako sua

sleep+3SG+Q you+PAR
‘Are you feeling/Do you feel sleepy?’

(55) b. Sataako ulkona.

rain+3SG+Q outside+ESS
‘Is it raining outside?’

(56) b. Todettiinko hänet jo silloin kuolleeksi.

proclaim/pronounce+INDE+Q she/he+ACC already then dead+TRA
‘Was she/he pronounced dead (already) at that time?’

The fact that a QUESTION can be realized by a clause without a subject is a clear
indication that the subject in Finnish is not crucially involved in the clause as an
interactive event.

Of relevance to the discussion of the mood organization of the clause is the

fact that the verb can occur alone in Finnish. The following are variants of 54a
and 54b above:

(57) nukuttaa
‘Feeling sleepy. (I’m feeling sleepy.)’

(58) nukuttaako
‘Feel sleepy? (Are you feeling sleepy?)’

As I shall discuss more fully in 7.4.2, the participant that is not realized in the
linguistic structure is the speaker in a STATEMENT and the addressee in a QU ES-
TION . Thus, this participant ) which, for convenience, could be referred to as the
“primary inherent participant (or role)” ) need not be realized if it is the speaker
or addressee.

While one might want to argue that this primary inherent participant is cru-
cially involved in the clause as interactive event, the fact remains that there is no

single grammatical realization of this participant: it can be realized (i) as the sub-
ject (i.e. it is in the nominative and agrees with the verb in number and person) or
(ii) as what has traditionally been referred to as the object, as in 54a and 54b
above, where it is in the partitive and the verb is always in the third person singu-
lar, or (iii) in the adessive in a possessive clause, where the verb is always in the
third person singular or (iv) in the elative in what is generally referred to as a
resultative clause. In these resultative clauses, the verb ) once again ) is always
in the third person singular. These can be illustrated with the following examples
from A. Hakulinen (1983: 246), who also argues that the subject is not central in
the grammatical organization of Finnish. Among the evidence cited by Hakulinen
is the fact that a possessive or reflexive suffix is not “controlled” by the subject.
In the terminology used here, a possessive or reflexive suffix is co-referential with
the primary inherent participant (which is not necessarily the subject).

(59) Harri tuntee itsensä. (subject)

Harri-NOM know+3SG self+PO S/3
‘Harry knows himself.’

(60) Harrilla on vain itsensä. (adessive, verb: 3sg)

Harri+ADE be+3SG only self+PO S/3
‘Harry has only got himself.’

(61) Harri ei pärjää lastensa kanssa. (subject)

Harri-NOM NEG/3SG cope child+PL/GEN +PO S/3 with
‘Harry can’t cope with his children.’

(62) Harrista ei ole lastensa vartijaksi. (elative,

Harri+ELA NEG/3SG be child+PL/GEN +PO S/3 keeper+TRA verb: 3sg)
‘Harry won’t do as the custodian of his children.’

(63) Harria harmittaa epäonnistumisensa. (partitive,

Harri-PAR vex+3SG non+success+PO S/3 verb: 3sg)
‘Harry is vexed by his failure.’

While this primary inherent participant is important in the grammatical organiza-

tion of Finnish, there is no evidence to suggest that it is particularly relevant in
the realization of mood.

A third factor in the consideration of the modal status of the subject is the
mood tag. Like many other languages, Finnish does not have a mood tag that
picks up the Subject and Finite as in English. Possible tags in Finnish are eikö

vaan ~ eikö niin (eiks niin)? [not so?] ‘isn’t that so’, which refer to the whole
proposition and do not pick up the subject:

(64) hän on matemaatikko eikö vaan

she/he-NOM is+3SG mathematician NEG+3SG+Q so
‘She/he is a mathematician, isn’t she/he [isn’t that so]?’

The subject here is hän ‘she/he’, which is not picked up in the tag. Furthermore,
only the finite verb need be repeated in a confirmation or a denial:

(65) <A> Meneks tää bussi keskustaan?

go+3SG+Q this-NOM bus-NOM centre+ILL
‘Does this bus go to the centre?’

<B> Menee.
‘Yes, it does.’

(66) Sulla on toinen. [TSM (Novel): 316]

you+ADE be+3SG other-NOM
‘You’ve got someone else/another (lover).’
– Ei ole.
NEG+3SG be
‘No I haven’t.’
– Varmasti on.
surely be+3SG
‘You must have.’

On the other hand, the subjectless clauses exemplified earlier (53 ) 56), do
not occur in the imperative, or at least not in the 2nd person imperative: *nukuta!
‘feel sleepy!’. This may be seen as an indication that the grammatical subject is in
some way tied in with the interactional options in the clause. However, as argued
above, the imperative mood involves orientation to action, and an important fea-
ture of a proposal (in Halliday’s terms a command or an offer) is a participant that
makes the action or process possible, i.e. the Medium. This would again indicate,
as will be argued in the next chapter, that the subject in Finnish realizes an experi-
ential function.

Chapter 6
Experiential Structures in the Finnish Clause

6.1. Preliminary Considerations

6.1.1. General Remarks

This chapter focuses on experiential structures in the Finnish clause, i.e. those
meanings that are concerned with the way in which language serves as a model of
reality, with the way in which it is used to represent and construct the world in
which we live. Since the description presented is based on SF theory, reference is
made, in particular, to the writings of Halliday. Halliday’s (1985a) description of
English makes no claims about the experiential organization of Finnish, and, thus,
in referring to Halliday, I am taking those aspects of his description of English
that appear to be relevant in the application of SF theory to Finnish.

Throughout this chapter, reference is also made to Hakulinen & Karlsson’s

(1979: Ch. 6, 301 ff.) analysis of basic and marginal clause types in Finnish.
Hakulinen & Karlsson’s analysis is based on Lyons’ (1977: 469ff.) analysis of
“kernel-sentences”, which distinguishes intransitive, transitive, equative, ascrip-
tive, locative and possessive sentences. The description presented here and
Hakulinen & Karlsson’s analysis are done for different purposes and within dif-
ferent theoretical frameworks, and, thus, they could be regarded as incommensu-
rable. I refer to Hakulinen & Karlsson’s analysis for two reasons. Firstly, their
analysis is the only general description that has been done of clause types in Finn-
ish. Secondly, their typology of clause types is widely known in Finland, and thus
I can engage in a dialogue with Finnish linguists by relating my own description
to an analysis that is familiar to a Finnish linguist and focus on what I see as the
advantages of a theory-based grammar that is metafunctionally organized. How-
ever, as is obvious from the discussion, I rely heavily on the insights of Hakulinen
& Karlsson, and their insights, in turn, rely on the insights of other Finnish gram-

As pointed out in 2.4.7 (p. 54 ff.) and 2.4.11 (p. 63 ff.), while grammatical
analysis in SF theory is based on meaning, these meanings must be related to
distinctions that are reflected in some way in the organization of the clause. Thus,
the analysis addresses two questions simultaneously:
1) What grammatical meanings are realized in a particular clause type?
2) How are these meanings construed in the organization of the clause?
In this respect, systemic-functional grammar differs from other grammars, for
example, case-role analysis as developed by Fillmore (1968) and Anderson (1971,
1977). While Fillmore originally based his case analysis on grammatical distinc-
tions in English, the cases that he postulated are generally assumed to be univer-
sally applicable. Hakulinen & Karlsson (1979: 101 ff.) have applied these case-
roles to Finnish. In their analysis, for example, the following underlined nominals
are assigned different roles, since an agentive is animate whereas an instrument is

(1) Mies joi. AGENTIVE

man-NOM drink+PAS/3SG
‘The man drank.’

(2) Traktori perkasi ojan. INSTRUMENTAL

tractor-NOM clear/dig+PAS/3SG ditch+GEN
‘A/The tractor dug the ditch.’

On the other hand, if traktori ‘tractor’ in this last example is replaced by mies
‘a/the man’, then the subject would undoubtedly be regarded as an Agentive:

(3) Mies perkasi ojan. AGENTIVE

man-NOM clear/dig+PAS/3SG ditch+GEN
‘A/The man dug the ditch.’

The grammatical pattern in clause 2 and 3, however, is the same:

X verb Y+GEN .
In the approach adopted in this study, the underlined NP in each of these clauses
realizes an Agent or Actor and the clause-final NP in 2 and 3 realizes the Goal.
The clauses differ in meaning, of course, but this because of different lexical

Thus, the meanings that are being focused on in this chapter ) and in this
study ) are those that are construed in the clause. Meaning-making is not, of
course, restricted to lexical items or clauses. There are meanings, such as censure
or irony, for example, that cannot be related to specific lexicogrammatical fea-
tures. Following Lemke (1988, 1989, 1990) I make a methodological distinction
between grammatical meaning and meanings that are made in a text. While gram-
mar and text are seen to be in a dialectic and symbiotic relationship in SF theory
and text semantics is regarded as subsuming grammatical meaning, in order to
have some principled way of analysing the way in which we make meaning, we
need to be able to separate out those meanings that are realized

To illustrate what I mean by this distinction, I shall briefly discuss what is

sometimes informally referred to as a “censorious passive” in Finnish (e.g. Laiti-
nen 1988). Laitinen uses this term in an analysis of letters to the editor in Helsin-
gin Sanomat (the leading newspaper in Finland); the letters were part of a debate
about the role of working mothers vs. mothers who are not employed outside the
home. Laitinen (1988: 164-165) does not make a distinction between grammatical
meaning and text semantics, and thus the status of what she refers to a “censori-
ous passive” (“moittimispassiivi”)1 is unclear in her analysis. As Laitinen herself
is no doubt aware, there is no form or clause type in Finnish that can be referred
to as a “censorious passive”. In the following example from Laitinen, this “cen-
sorious passive” (glossed INDE ) is in cursive script:

(4) Nyt ei kotiäitiys ole muodissa.

now NEG+3SG home+motherhood-NOM be+PTC fashion+INE
‘It’s no longer fashionable for mothers to stay at home.’

Nyt luodaan uraa, toteutetaan itseään ja

now create+INDE career+PAR fulfil+INDE self+PAR+3POS &

equal+status ~ opportunity +FREQUENTATIVE VERBAL AFFIX + INDE

‘These days you forge a career, fulfil yourself and you equalize your opportunities.’

The inverted commas are Laitinen’s: it is clear that she is using the term informally.

The censure that can be read (or read into) this example is not a grammatical fea-
ture of Finnish: taken by itself nyt luodaan uraa, for example, is not necessarily
censorious. While, as Laitinen points out, the frequentative verb tasa-arvoilla
‘(to) equalize your opportunities’ is not established in usage in Finnish and has a
slightly mocking effect in this context, it is not the frequentative or the indefinite
(passive) per se, but a combination of features that gives this bit of text a mock-
ing effect. (This can be compared to the indefinite use of “they” in English, which
is sometimes used in contexts expressing disapproval e.g. That’s what happened
when they let buses go up St James’s Street [Graham Green (1978), The Human
Factor, p. 34].)

Censure is not a grammatical phenomenon: its interpretation can depend on

a wide range of factors, both intratextual features (such as the combination of
indefinite, present tense, frequentative, the repetition of the clause-initial
continuative-like nyt ‘now’ etc.) and factors such as who is reading the text and
whom the reader is siding with in the debate. The following example of the Finn-
ish indefinite is taken from the first paragraph of the actual text of Laitinen’s arti-

(5) Puhuttiin naisten rooleista ... [Laitinen 1988: 159]

speak+INDE woman+PL+GEN role+PL+ELA
‘The discussion was concerned with the roles of women ..’

It would be difficult to detect any note of censure in the paragraph in which this
indefinite occurred, i.e. as part of an academic text in a collection of articles pub-
lished by a group interested in women’s studies and feminist issues in Finland. If
this clause had occurred in a text written, for example, by a man who was known
to be a misogynist and anti-feminist, it would be read in a different way, it could
even be interpreted as being censorious.

This study is concerned with grammar and grammatical meaning. These

form the basis for the exchange and the negotiation of meanings when people
engage in the process of semiosis. Without this basis, without a shared grammati-
cal system, it would be extremely difficult to exchange meanings and negotiate
about them.

Experiential structures at the rank of clause are generally referred to as tran-

sitivity structures in SF theory. The use of the term “transitivity” in this sense is
an extension of its traditional meaning. Traditionally, verbs are divided into tran-
sitive and intransitive according to whether an action or a process is seen as 1)
being limited to one participant or 2) extending from one participant to another.
In most modern linguistic theories, transitivity is seen as a feature of the clause.
Moreover, the notion of extension on which it is based is essentially an experien-
tial semantic notion (i.e. it relates features of the clause with features of the
extralinguistic world). Thus, the term transitivity when applied to the clause in SF
theory is used to refer to the experiential semantic structure of the clause in its
entirety (Halliday in Kress ed. 1976: 159). Consequently, in SF theory, the transi-
tivity structure of a clause such as “The lion chased the tourist” refers not to the
notion of the extension of a process from one participant to another, but to the
configuration of experiential semantic functions that are realized in the clause: for
example, Actor, Process, and Goal.

Thus, while transitivity in SF theory can be seen as being somewhat similar

to the case role analysis of a Fillmorean case grammar, as well as to the semantic
level of Dik’s (1978, 1980, 1987) functional grammar, and to the semantic struc-
ture analysis of Foley and van Valin’s (1984: 27-74) functional grammar, as indi-
cated above, there are important differences. SF theory is not concerned with es-
tablishing a universal experiential semantic characterization of the clause at the
specific level of case roles. Any grammatical category that is established in the SF
description of a language is, of necessity, language-specific, since it is an abstrac-
tion based on the interrelations and oppositions found in the grammatical organi-
zation of the language being described, and the grammatical organization of no
two languages can be regarded as equivalent: the sorts of grammatical distinctions
and oppositions that are made in any language are unique to that language (Hasan
1971). While a transitivity function such as Actor, for example, may typically
refer to the “doer of an action” in a number of languages, functions are not
referentially but linguistically defined in terms of grammatical contrasts and
oppositions. A label such as Actor can be best thought of as a mnemonic device
capturing a grammatical generalization; the label is often an attempt to cap-

ture the meaning of central or concrete instances, but the meaning of the category
as a whole is ineffable (see Chapter 2).

Moreover, as discussed in 2.4.8 (p. 56 ff. and elsewhere in Chapter 2), while
grammatical description in SF theory is organized on the basis of meaning, expe-
riential meaning is only one type of meaning realized in the clause: a number of
different types of meaning are simultaneously realized and conflated in the
clause. In contrast with these other grammars, SF theory does not restrict seman-
tics to experiential semantics.

The aim of this chapter is to analyse the way in which experiential meaning
is realized at the rank of clause. It will be concerned with grammatically and se-
mantically motivating basic clause types in Finnish ) clause types that are de-
fined experientially. Only basic options will be dealt with; the analysis needs to
be extended in delicacy for each clause type. I shall, however, analyse one partic-
ular process type ) relational intensive processes ) at a somewhat greater degree
of delicacy than the other process types in order to illustrate how the analysis

6.1.2. Processes

The term “process” is used in two senses in SF theory and throughout this study :
1) in its narrow sense, it refers to the function that is typically realized by a verb
in a language and 2), in its wider sense, it can be seen as the SF equivalent of the
term “state of affairs”, if a state of affairs is understood as being a linguistic con-
struct and not a logical notion. A process in this wider sense (i.e. a linguistically
construed state of affairs) could also be referred to as a “representation”.

A process ) as a representation or a linguistically construed state of affairs )

consists potentially of three components: 1) the process itself, 2) the inherent or
core roles involved in the process, i.e. what Halliday (e.g. 1985a) refers to as the
participants, and 3) the non-inherent or peripheral roles associated with the pro-

cess, i.e. what Halliday refers to as the circumstances. These experiential seman-
tic functions provide a basic framework for organizing and interpreting the world
of our experience, whether real or imagined. They can be subclassified into more
specific functions such as Actor, Goal, Source etc.

6.1.3. Inherent and Non-Inherent Roles

A broad distinction is generally made between inherent and non-inherent experi-

ential functions (other than the Process) or between participants and circum-
stances in SF grammars. A similar distinction is made in other grammars: for ex-
ample, dependency grammar distinguishes between actants and circumstances
(Tarvainen 1977: 21), Foley & Van Valin (1984: 77) refer to core and peripheral
arguments and Dik (e.g. 1978, 1987) to nuclear and satellite arguments. Within
SF theory, McGregor (1990a), for example, distinguishes between inherent and
non-inherent roles in his analysis of Gooniyandi, and then makes further subdivi-
sions within non-inherent roles. He defines inherent roles as those that are inher-
ent in the structure of the clause: they define minimal clauses (McGregor 1990a:
329), or, perhaps it would be more to the point to say that inherent roles and mini-
mal clause types are mutually defining since the minimal clauses have been clas-
sified on the basis of inherent roles. In other words, inherent roles are those that
can be used to characterize a particular process type. Similarly, Fawcett (1980:
155) distinguishes between inherent and circumstantial roles.

Thus, what is essential in the analysis of experiential structures in the clause

is the determination of the experiential functions that can be used to classify and
define process types. As Halliday (in Kress (ed.) 1976: 159) puts it: “in most
types of process it is possible to bring in participants 1 other than those that are
essential to the process; and conversely one of those that are essential to it may
not actually be expressed in the structure”. This means that we need to determine

Halliday’s use of the term “participant” in this quotation corresponds to the what I am
referring to as a “role”. He says, for example, that you are required by the regulations to pay
the full fee to the examining board “involves four participants”.

a minimal configuration of functions associated with each process type, the pro-
cess itself and the other inherent or core functions associated with it. As E. Itko-
nen (1990: 354) points out (see 2.3.4), this can only be done on the basis of our
linguistic intuitions, i.e. on the basis our knowledge of what counts as a minimal
- yet complete - structure, since minimal configurations are unlikely to occur fre-
quently in actual texts. A non-inherent or peripheral function can be determined
on the basis of a deletion test: if it is omitted, a complete structure remains.

I shall follow McGregor’s (1990a) terminology and refer to inherent and

non-inherent roles in Finnish. The term experiential function will be used as a
cover term for processes and roles. As pointed out in 4.3.2 (pp. 112-114), an in-
herent role in Finnish can be realized as a bound morpheme. For example:

(6) Ol + i + n Szegedissä.
be + PAS + 1SG Szeged+INE
‘I was in Szeged.’

(7) Käv + i + t + kö Szegedissä.

go/visit + PAS + 2SG + Q Szeged+INE
‘Did you visit Szeged?’

The fact that an experiential function can be realized as a morpheme that is part of
the verb is an indicator par excellence of its status as inherent role. Its inherent-
ness is evidenced by the fact that it realized by a morpheme that is actually part of
the finite verb. The representation of a first or second person participant as a sepa-
rate pronoun is textually conditioned in Finnish. Matthiessen & Halliday (forth-
coming, section 3.3.4) suggest that in instances like this, the pronoun has only
textual value and does not have a function in the transitivity structure of the
clause. In the glosses in this chapter, where there is both a 1st or 2nd person pro-
noun and a 1st or 2nd person morpheme (“personal ending”) in the linguistic
structure this is indicated by a subscript: e.g. mä lähde+n ‘I’m leaving’ would be
glossed as: Actori Process+Actor i.

6.2. Process Types in Finnish: An Overview

The major process types in Finnish are: relational, material, and mental processes
(following Matthiessen’s (1989) description of English, I shall use mental as a
cover term for mental, perceptive, reactive, verbal etc.). Once again, it needs to be
stressed that while I use roughly the same labels that are used in SF descriptions
of English, this does not mean that Finnish and English categories are equivalent
(see 6.1 and Chapter 2). The macrofunctions that I postulate for Finnish, Medium
and Domain, will be discussed in section 6.7.

In line with the theory of prototypes (see 2.4.12, p. 65), these major process
types are not seen as discrete and absolute categories, but rather as overlapping



Figure 6-1: Major Process Types

Within each process type there are a number of subtypes, which can be grammati-
cally and semantically linked with each other. These subtypes are also analysed in
terms of being more or less representative of the subtype.

6.3. Relational Processes

Relational processes in Finnish are either intensive (X is (like) Y)1 or circumstan-

tial (at X is Y, Y is at X). Within intensive processes a further distinction can gen-
erally be made between identifying and attributive processes. A peculiarity of
Finnish, when compared to English as least, are ambient processes (at X is Y-like
~ like Y). These are distinct from circumstantial processes, which are concerned
with the location of something in space or time. An important subtype of circum-
stantial process in Finnish is a possessive process (at Y is X = ‘Y is in the posses-
sion of X’).

6.3.1. Intensive Relational Processes

Intensive processes are realized by a clause which encodes a relationship of same-

ness or similarity between two constituents. Halliday (1985a:xx ff.) makes a fur-
ther distinction in his description of English between attributive and identifying
intensive processes. If two constituents in a clause are designated “X” and “Y”,
then in the attributive mode, Y functions as a qualitative attribute of X or X is a
member of the class Y; whereas in the identifying mode, Y serves to define the
identity of X, i.e. a relation of identity is set up between X and Y. (See Appendix
4 for glosses.)

(8) a. Sarah is wise. ATTRIBUTIVE

Car Pro:int Att

b. Tim is a dancer.
Car Pro:int Attribute

(9) Steve is the tall one. IDENTIFYING

Id/Tk Pro:int Ir/Vl

Halliday (1985a: 124) points out that the distinction between attribution and
identification is not clear-cut in English. This distinction, however, is grammati-

The use of these English translations is simply a convenience. It is not meant to imply that
there is a universal set of meanings.

cally realized by the fact that if the positions of the nominal constituents in an
identifying process are reversed (e.g. The tall one is Steve), the functions are also
reversed: the tall one is the Identified, i.e. the one to be identified. Whereas in an
attributive process in English, reversing the positions of the nominal constituents
is generally highly marked, but when it does occur (e.g. in proverbs) the functions
are not reversed:

(10) Faithful are the wounds of a friend;

Att Pro:int Car

but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. (From The Bible.)

Car Pro: int Att

The distinction between attributive and identifying that is made in SF gram-

mar is somewhat different to a distinction that has been made in descriptions of
Finnish between attributive and equative clauses (e.g. Hakulinen & Karlsson
1979: 94-95), which is based on a truth-conditional approach to semantics: an
equative clause is one in which two NPs have an identical referent in the logical
sense (see 2.3.5 p. 30 ff.). From an SF perspective, on the other hand, language is
used to reflect or create a relationship of similarity in the attributive mode and a
relationship of equality, identity or sameness in the identifying mode. As illus-
trated below, this alternative approach has repercussions for what counts as an
attributive or identifying clause.

6.3.1.(i) Attributive Intensive Processes

The most common type of intensive process in Finnish is the attributive. Attribu-
tive intensive processes can generally be analysed as a configuration of the fol-
lowing functions:
Carrier @ Process:intensive @ Attribute
The raised stop ( @ ) indicates that the functions are not necessarily realized in this
order, since word order in Finnish is textually conditioned. However, to the extent
to which word-order variation is possible, as in English, what is significant about

attributive processes in Finnish is that the experiential functions are unaffected by

changes in word order (cf. identifying processes below).

The following are examples of intensive attributive processes in Finnish.

The abbreviation (NR) stands for a non-inherent role. A discontinuous constituent
(e.g. on ollut ‘has been’ in on÷ viime aikoina ²ollut ‘has in recent times been’)
is marked with an arrow.

(11) Akira Kurosawa -- on japanilainen elokuvaohjaaja. [W5:3374]

Akira Kurosawa+NOM be+3SG Japanese movie+director-NOM
Car Pro:int Att
‘Akira Kurosawa is a Japanese motion picture director.’

(12) [mul ois ens viikon torstaihin aikaa kirjoittaa se puhtaaksi, ] [Tel2:13]
‘I’ve got until next Thursday to type up a final copy’

joka on mulle helvetin hidasta hommaa

which-NOM be+3SG I+ALL hell+GEN slow+PAR work+PAR
Car Pro:int (NR) Att
‘which is hellishly/damned slow work for me’

(13) ootko hyvin kiireinen [Tel3:1]

is+2SG+Q very busy-NOM
‘Are you terribly busy?’

(14) Aurinkoenergian tutkimus on÷ viime aikoina

sun+energy+GEN research-NOM be+3SG÷ recent time+PL+ESS
Car Pro:int÷ (NR)

²ollut erittäin vilkasta. [T3/83:14]

²be+PTC extremely vigorous+PAR
²Pro Att

‘Research on solar energy has been extremely vigorous in recent times.’

As illustrated in these examples, an attributive process in Finnish is typically real-

ized by the verb olla ‘(to) be’ (but see section 6.3.1.(iii) below). The Attribute is
realized by an NP, with either a noun (11 ) 12) or an adjective (13 ) 14) as Head.
The Head of the NP realizing the Attribute can either be in the nominative or in
the partitive, and this is true whether it is a noun or adjective. The choice between
nominative and partitive is basically dependent on boundedness, some details of
which are presented in section 3.4.2 (pp. 94 ) 99). The Carrier is realized by an
NP in the nominative (11 ) 14 or by a bound morpheme (example 13).

Another important grammatical feature of intensive attributive processes in

Finnish is the fact that the NPs realizing the Attribute and Carrier agree with each
other in number. In examples 11 ) 14 above, the Carrier is realized by an NP in
the singular or by a bound morpheme that is singular. In agnate clauses in which
the Carrier is plural, the Attribute would also be plural:

(15) He ovat japanilaisia elokuvaohjaajia. [cf. 11 above]

they-NOM/PL be+3PL Japanese+PL+PAR movie+director+PL+PAR
Car Pro:int Att
‘They are Japanese motion picture directors.’

(16) ootteko ~ oletteko1 hyvin kiireisiä [cf. 13 above]

is+2PL+Q very busy+PL+PAR
Pro:int+Car Att
‘Are you [plural] terribly busy?’

This agreement is consistent in both written and spoken Finnish. Agreement be-
tween the NP realizing the Carrier and the finite verb is more complex. The NP
agrees with the verb in person, i.e. it is what I have referred to as the grammatical
subject in Chapter 3. However, while in standardized Finnish, the Carrier NP
would also agree with the verb in number, this is not the case in spoken Finnish
(see 3.3.2 p. 78). The spoken Finnish variant of 15 above is as follows:

(17) ne on japanilaisia elokuvaohjaajia.

they-NOM/PL be+3SG Japanese+PL+PAR movie+director+PL+PAR
Car Pro:int Att
‘They’re Japanese motion picture directors.’

As indicated in 17, however, number agreement between Carrier and Attribute is

consistent even in spoken Finnish. This number agreement between the NPs in an
intensive process is an important feature of Finnish intensive processes in general,
and it will be mentioned again in the discussion of other subtypes of intensive
process in this section.

The former is the spoken, the latter the written Finnish variant.

As pointed out above, the experiential functions in an attributive process (as

opposed to an identifying process) are unaffected by changes in word order.
Of course, claims about the possibility of changing word order have to be quali-
fied when examples are taken from a text, since any change in word order has an
effect on textual meaning. Moreover, with actual text examples there are more
obvious constraints, e.g., it is highly unlikely that an anaphoric pronoun could be
moved to the end of a clause and a clause embedded 1 in the structure of an Attrib-
ute would be unlikely to be found at the beginning of a clause. A common varia-
tion of the word order in an attributive clause is one in which the Attribute pre-
cedes the Carrier (Attribute ^ Carrier ^ Process): example 18b, thus, is a likely
variant of example 18a, an example taken from a text:

(18) a. mähän oisin -- pelkkä nukke sielä [Tel2:9]

I-NOM +TIS be+CON+1SG mere doll-NOM there
Cari Pro:int+Cari Att (NR)
‘I’d be nothing but a doll there.’

(18) b. pelkkä nukke mä oisin sielä

mere doll I would be there
Att Cari Pro:int+Cari (NR)
‘A mere doll is what I’d be there.’

In this particular instance, actual reversal of the positions of the inherent roles is
unlikely because the pronoun mä ‘I’ is unstressed, and, moreover, since it is a
deictic element, it is typically Given, and thus is most likely to occur at the begin-
ning of a tone group (see 7.2.2). If the pronoun occurs after the verb, i.e. pelkkä
nukke olisin minä siellä ‘A mere doll would I be there’, the resulting clause
sounds biblical in Finnish. Reversal is more likely with other NPs:

(19) Varmaa on vain muutos. [TT6/91: 1]

certain+PAR be+3SG only change -NOM
Att Pro:int Car
‘The only thing that is certain is change.’

See 4.5.5 (p. 149 ff.) for a discussion of embedding.
(20) Tapa! Kaunis on sota. [From a poster]
kill! beautiful-NOM be+3SG war-NOM
Att Pro:int Car
‘Kill! War is beautiful.’

However, the point that is being made here is that regardless of word order, the
functions of the Attribute and Carrier do not change.

The use of this criterion ) i.e. the effect of a change in word order on the
experiential functions ) may be questionable to some grammarians, who may ask
“What kind of evidence is this and what evidence is there that the roles have or
have not changed?” In a functional grammar, however, one does not pretend that
one can make judgments about grammaticality that are independent of meaning.
This criterion is no less or no more questionable than a traditional grammarian
saying that häntä ‘(s)he+PAR ’ is the object in both of the following clauses, which
vary only in word order:

(21) Minä rakastan häntä.

I-NOM love+ISG (s)he+PAR
‘I love her/him.’

(22) Häntä minä rakastan.

(s)he+PAR I-NOM love+ISG
‘It’s her/him I love.’

In SF terms, a speaker of Finnish knows that häntä ‘(s)he+PAR ’ has the same ex-
periential function because she or he has an understanding of both clauses.

6.3.1.(ii) Identifying Intensive Processes

Identifying intensive processes, on the other hand, are distinguished by the rever-
sal test mentioned above: if the positions of the nominal constituents in an inten-
sive process are reversed, the functions are also reversed. The following text is
taken from a review of a play by the eighteenth-century French playwright Pierre
de Marivaux, who ) it can be assumed ) would be unknown to many Finnish
theatre-goers. After a long introduction to Marivaux and his work, the reviewer

compares Marivaux’s plays to Mozart’s music and then introduces the leading
female role using an identifying process:

(23) [Harhatunteissa ne aariat keskeisesti laulaa vasta leskeksi jäänyt nuori kaunis Markiisitar...
‘In La Seconde Surprise de l’Amour these arias are centrally sung by the young, beauti-
ful marchioness, who has just become a widow ....’]

Kansallisteatterin Markiisitar on Eeva-Kaarina

national+theatre +GEN marchioness-NOM be+3SG Eeva-Kaarina-NOM


‘The National Theatre’s marchioness is Eeva-Kaarina Volanen,’

[meikäläisittäin suvereeni komedienne, jonka häikäisevä henkilökohtainen panos tekee

Harhatunteista esityksellisen juhlan.] [HKV: 57]

‘by our standards a sovereign/outstanding comedienne, whose dazzling personal input makes
La Seconde Surprise de l’Amour a performance festival.’

In this example, the two NPs realize functions that are equated: the first is lexi-
cally realized by the character in the play, Kansallisteatterin Markiisitar ‘the
National Theatre’s marchioness’, the second by the proper noun that refers to the
actress Eeva-Kaarina Volanen.

One of the sets of inherent roles that Halliday (1985a: 115 ff.) postulates for
intensive processes in English is Identified and Identifier. According to Halliday
(1985a: 118), as a general rule, the Identified in the experiential structure of the
clause conflates with the Given element in the information structure and the Iden-
tifier conflates with the New element. I assume that this is also true for Finnish.
Hence, in the example above, Kansallisteatterin Markiisitar ‘the National Thea-
tre’s marchioness’ realizes the Given element in the context above, i.e. it is the
information that is presented by the writer as recoverable, it is not news (Halliday
1985a: 277; see also Chapter 7). It is also the Identified, i.e. the element to be
identified. The New element is the element that is presented as non-recoverable:
it is the newsworthy bit of the clause. In the clause above, it is Eeva-Kaarina
Volanen. This element also realizes the Identifier.
(24) Kansallisteatterin Markiisitar on Eeva-Kaarina Volanen.
Identified (Given) Pro:int Identifier (New)
‘The National Theatre’s marchioness is Eeva-Kaarina Volanen ...’

Another test for determining which element realizes the Identifier is that if, on the
basis of an identifying clause we formulate an implied content interrogative
(Kuka/mikä on X? ‘who/which is X?’), then the interrogative pronoun (or the
answer to the question) refers to the Identifier. In the example above, the implied
question would be: Kuka Kansallisteatterin Markiisitar on? (Or: Kuka on
Kansallisteatterin Markiisitar?) ‘Who is the National Theatre’s Marchioness?’;
and the response, i.e. the Identifier, would be Eeva-Kaarina Volanen.1

As mentioned above, however, the distinguishing feature of an identifying

process is that if we reverse the positions of the NPs we also reverse the func-
tions. In principle, the following clause is possible:

(25) Eeva-Kaarina Volanen on Kansallisteatterin Markiisitar.

Identified (Given) Pro:int Identifier (New)
‘Eeva-Kaarina Volanen is the National Theatre’s marchioness.’

In an example like this, Eeva-Kaarina Volanen would be treated as recoverable

by virtue of the fact that she is known to Finnish theatre-goers. In this instance,
she is the Identified, i.e. the one to be identified by her role in the play being re-
viewed. In fact, in the same review, three of the five other actors are identified in
just this way.

A problem that ensues from this discussion is whether Identified and Identifier are
redundant functions that can be replaced by Given and New (cf. Halliday (1985a: 118), who
maintains that this is not the case in English). In other words, can we simply say that in a
Finnish identifying clause Given and New are equated? Since Given and New are assumed
to be prosodically realized (see Chapter 7), this question is beyond the scope of this study.
(26) Marjukka Halttunen on ilakoivan ketterä,
Marjukka Halttunen is light-hearted+GEN agile
* Id (G) * Pro:int * Ir (N)

teräväpäinen kamarineitsyt Lisette,

sharp-witted lady’s maid Lisette, *

‘Marjukka Halttunen is the light-heartedly agile and sharp-witted lady’s maid Lisette,’

(27) Heikki Nousiainen irtonaisesti hyväntyylinen kamaripalvelija Lubin,

Heikki Nousiainen loosely good-humoured valet Lubin,
* Id (G) * Id (N) *

‘Heikki Nousiainen the loosely good-humoured valet Lubin,

(28) Esa Saario arvovaltaisesti yksivakainen,

Esa Saario authoritatively grave
* Id (G) * Ir (N) ÷

nenästä vedettäväksi syntynyt Kreivi.

nose+ELA pull+INDE+PTC+TRA born Count

‘Esa Saario the authoritatively grave born-to-be-duped Count.’ [HKV:57]

The last two examples are elliptical: the finite verb on ‘is’ is retrievable from the
first clause in the complex (26).

Thus, a clause realizing an identifying process sets up an identity relation

between two NPs, and if the positions of the NPs is reversed, the roles are re-
versed. Of course, the category of process being discussed here is called identify-
ing because it so happens that this is the meaning construed by the
lexicogrammatical pattern: mnemonically the label “identifying” serves a pur-
pose. However, in using this label, there is no implication that whenever there is
identification, the linguistic pattern necessarily counts as an identifying process.
As pointed in 2.4.10 (p. 63) and at the beginning of this chapter, the categories in
a functional grammar are not recognized simply on the basis of meaning. In other
words, it is not enough to define an identifying process simply on the basis of
meaning. The response to the question Kuka on Eeva-Kaarina Volanen? ‘Who
is Eeva-Kaarina Volanen?’ could be realized as a material process, e.g. Siinä hän
kävelee Pentti Siimeksen kanssa kadun toisella puolella ‘She’s walking over
there with Pentti Siimes on the other side of the street’. Even attributive processes

can be used to identify someone: if Eeva-Kaarina Volanen were amongst a small

crowd of people, she could be identified by saying Hän on pieni ja tummatukkai-
nen ‘She’s small and dark-haired’.

A clear example of an identifying clause being used to identify is in the fol-

lowing fragment of text. The example is from a telephone call from a person who
was familiar to me but whose name I did not know:

(29) Hei Mirja Niemi täällä

hi Mirja Niemi here
‘Hi this is Mirja Niemi,’

÷ mä olen se, [[ joka kysyi sulta

I be+1SG it-NOM which/that-NOM ask+PAS/3SG you+ADE
Ir Pro:rel:int Id

eilen siitä Hallidayn modaalisuudesta ]].

yesterday it+ELA Halliday+GEN modality+ELA

‘I’m the one who asked you yesterday about Halliday’s (notion) of modality.’

Here the NP se ‘it/that’ + embedded relative clause serves to identify the caller
mä ‘I’.

Identifying processes also include processes in which the function of one NP

is to define, exemplify or name the other. Thus, identifying processes in this
study include examples like the following, which from a logical perspective is
rejected by Kelomäki (1988: 38)1 as identifying:

It should be noted that while the approach taken by Kelomäki (1988) is logico-philosophi-
cal, one of Kelomäki’s central themes is the inadequacy of a strictly logical approach to the
analysis of language.
(30) Eräs ongelmien syntyyn vaikuttanut tekijä
certain-NOM problem+PL+GEN birth+ILL influence+PTC factor-NOM

on se, [[ että suomalaiset laivanvarustajat ovat osoittaneet

be+3SG it/that-NOM [[ that Finnish ship owners have displayed
Pro:int Ir ÷

“isänmaallisuuttaan” tilaamalla aluksensa ulkomailta]]. [HKV]

their “patriotism” by ordering their ships from overseas]].

‘One of the factors (/A certain factor) that has caused problems is the fact that Finnish ship
owners have displayed their “patriotism” by ordering their ships from overseas.’

This example is from an article in which the writer first discusses the crisis that is
facing Finnish dockyards. In this particular clause, the writer identifies one of the
factors that has contributed to the crisis. The Identifier (realized by the NP with a
clause embedded in it) could be seen as a response to the implicit question “What
factors have/What has contributed to the birth of these problems?”. In the context
of the article, it is not feasible to reverse the positions of the NPs, but, in princi-
ple, this is possible. In which case the NP that has been translated as ‘the fact that
Finnish ship owners have displayed their “patriotism” by ordering their ships
from overseas’ would be the Identified (Given) and ‘one of the factors that has
caused problems (in the dockyards)’ would be the Identifier. The reason the ex-
ample is rejected by Kelomäki is that the indefinite pronoun eräs ‘a certain’ ex-
plicitly indicates that there are other factors involved. While this is true, it is irrel-
evant from the point of view of identification as it is understood in this study.
What is relevant is that one of the factors is being identified. (See Halliday (1968:
190) for his analysis of a similar type of clause in English: Gladstone would be
an example).

With a first or second person subject, the Identified (Given) may be realized
by a bound morpheme:

(31) Olen Henna Partanen. [PL 1]

be+1SG Henna Partanen-NOM
Pro:int + Id Ir
‘I’m Henna Partanen.’

The morpheme -n (referring to the speaker) realizes the Identified (Given). This is
recoverable because a speaker and an addressee are assumed in an interactive
situation. Examples such as this can be referred to as “naming (identifying)

Thus, in naming clauses, the Identifier NP is lexically realized by a name )

a linguistic tag ) by which the speaker can be identified. This resource is often
employed in dialogues with children learning to speak or in dialogues with adults
learning a foreign language. The following examples are from a textbook for
Finnish as a second language. The first example is accompanied by a picture of a
black cat to which the hand is pointing.

(32) Mikä tuo L on?

what/which that-NOM be-3SG
Ir [/Interrogative] Id Pro:int
‘What’s that?’

Se on musta kissa. [SS1:17]

it-NOM be-3SG black-NOM cat-NOM
Id Pro:int Ir
‘It’s a black cat.’

(33) – Anteeksi, mikä katu tämä on?

excuse me what/which-NOM street-NOM this-NOM be-3SG
Ir Id Pro:int
‘Excuse me, what is (the name of) this street?’

– Tämä on Puistokatu. [SS1:28]

this-NOM be-3SG park+street-NOM
Id Pro:int Ir
‘This is Park Street.’

Halliday postulates another set of functions for identifying clauses in Eng-

lish, Token and Value, with Token conflating with either Identifier and Identi-
fied. These functions are also relevant for Finnish, and are a reflection of the fact
that, if we have two roles X and Y, then Y can identify X in two ways: “either by
specifying its form, how it is recognized, or by specifying its function, how it is
valued” (Halliday 1985a: 115). Thus, one NP realizes the Token, i.e. the outward
sign, the name, the form, the holder, or the occupant, to which is given a Value,

i.e. a meaning, a referent, a function, a status, or a role (Halliday 1985a: 115).

However, as Halliday (1985a: 123), points out, intensive processes involve a
great deal of multivalence and ambiguity, and, thus, it is not always completely
obvious which is the Token and which is the Value. The theatre example above
(23), repeated below as 34, is a fairly clear-cut example: the Identified
Kansallisteatterin Markiisitar ‘the National Theatre’s marchioness’ is the Value,
the function or role, and Eeva-Kaarina Volanen is the Token, the occupant of
this role:

(34) Kansallisteatterin Markiisitar on Eeva-Kaarina Volanen.

National Theatre’s marchioness is Eeva-Kaarina Volanen
Id/Value Pro:int Identifier/Token
‘The National Theatre’s marchioness is Eeva-Kaarina Volanen.’

Indisputable examples of identifying processes are more difficult to find

than examples of attributive processes, and indeed the distinction between identi-
fication and attribution in both Finnish and English (see 6.3.1, p. 214) is not a
clear-cut one. While identifying clauses occur far less frequently than attributive
clauses, this study is not based on frequency of occurrence, but on the grammati-
cal options that are available in Finnish. As in English, identifying processes in
Finnish are an important semiotic resource in scientific discourse, where the expe-
riential world is ordered and classified by setting up a system of technical terms
that are related to each other and to the subject matter or the data that is being
studied (see Eggins, Martin, & Wignell 1987 and Martin 1991 for an analysis of
how this is done in geography and history textbooks). Scientific statements relat-
ing phenomena or metaphenomena to each other are often realized by verbal pro-
cesses (e.g. “X is called/referred to as Y”) but identifying processes are also com-
mon (“X is Y” or “X is an example of Y”).

(35) Tärkeimmät puhe-elimet ovat keuhkot,

important+SUP+NOM/PL speech-organs+NOM/PL are+3PL lungs+NOM/PL,
Id/Vl Pro:int Ir/Tk

kurkunpää, kitapurje, kieli ja huulet. [FP: 12]

larynx+NOM soft palate+NOM , tongue+NOM and lips+NOM/PL

‘The most important speech organs are the lungs, the larynx, the soft palate, the tongue
and the lips.’

The following are from the entries for Oidipus ‘Oedipus’ and Laatokka ‘(Lake)
Ladoga’ in a Finnish encyclopaedia:

(36) Oidipus (‘Paksujalka’) on kreikkalaisessa mytologiassa

Oedipus+NOM (‘fat/thickfoot’) is+3SG Greek+INE mythology+INE
Id/Tk Pro:int (NR)

thebalaisen taruston päähenkilö. [OSE: 6/4825]

Theban+GEN set of tales/legends+GEN main character+NOM

‘Oedipus (‘Thickfoot’) is the main character of the Theban legends in Greek mythology.’

(37) Laatokka (ven. Ladožkoje ozero) on Euroopan suurin

Ladoga +NOM (Russ. Ladožkoje ozero)is+3SG Europe+GEN largest+SUP+NOM
Id/Tk Pro:int Ir/Vl

ja Neuvostoliiton neljänneksi suurin järvi. [OSE: 5/3478]

& Soviet Union+GEN fourth+TRA large+SUP+NOM lake+NOM

‘Lake Ladoga (Russian name: Ladožkoje ozero) is the largest lake in Europe and the
fourth largest lake in the Soviet Union.’

In the examples so far, both the Identifier and the Identified have been real-
ized by an NP in the nominative case. It is relevant to ask whether this is a neces-
sary requirement. According to Hakulinen and Karlsson (1979: 95) and Kelomäki
(1988: 2), this is indeed the case. In fact, where Kelomäki is concerned the re-
quirement is self-evidently logical, so much so that in his view any statement
explicitly asserting that both NPs in an equative clause must both be in the nomi-
native is superfluous. The logical reasoning behind this assumption is as follows.
An equative clause is defined in terms of co-extension. It follows that the two
terms to be equated in an equative clause must have the same extension. Two NPs
cannot not have the same extension if one of the NPs is in the nominative, which
realizes a bounded entity or a bounded set (see Chapter 3), and the other is in the
partitive, since that partitive indicates that the NP is unbounded. The acceptance
of this argument raises problems in the description of many naming and exempli-
fying clauses in Finnish. The following example is taken from a section of an
introductory linguistics textbook in which bound morphemes (affixes) are classi-
fied and named:

(38) [Affiksit voidaan ryhmittää kolmia sen mukaan miten ne sijoittuvat suhteessa vartaloon.
‘Affixes can be divided into three groups according to where they are placed in relation to
the stem.’]

÷ Vartaloon eteen sijoittuvat affiksit

stem+ILL front+ILL place+REF/PAS+PTC+NOM/PL affixes+NOM/PL

ovat prefiksejä. [JYK:124]

be+3PL prefixes+PL+PAR
Pro:int Ir/Tk

‘Affixes that come before the stem are prefixes.’

... Vartalon sisään sijoittuvia affikseja sanotaan infikseiksi ... Vartalon jälkeistä affikseista
käytetään termiä suffiksi.

‘... Affixes that are placed inside the stem are called infixes ... For affixes that come after
the stem we use the term suffix.’

From the point of view of their semantics, clauses of this type are like other iden-
tifying clauses, since it is clear to any Finn reading the text that the set of prefixes
is exhausted by the set of affixes that come before the stem and that the set of
affixes that come before the stem exhausts the set of prefixes. The second NP,
however, is in the partitive, which, as Kelomäki points out, generally means that
the NP is unbounded.

The example above, however, could be seen as carrying the crucial property
of an identifying structure as defined in this section, but in a covert form. It is
possible to construct an agnate clause in which the position and function of the
two NPs is reversed, such that the original clause and the agnate clauses are syn-
onymous (from an experiential perspective):

(39) (a = b)

a. Vartaloon eteen sijoittuvat affiksit ovat prefiksejä.

stem+ILL front+ILL situated+NOM/PL affixes+NOM/PL be+3PL prefix+PL+PAR
‘Affixes that come before the stem are prefixes.’

b. Prefiksit ovat vartaloon eteen sijoittuvia affikseja.

Prefix+NOM/PL be+3PL stem+ILL front+ILL situated+PL+PAR affixes+PL+PAR
‘Prefixes are affixes that come before the stem.’

Here 39a is from the original text (JYK:124), while 39b displays reversal of the
NPs. If simply on the basis of the different case-forms of the two NPs (i.e. nomi-
native and partitive), we were to exclude such clauses from the category of identi-
fying clause, then it would be necessary to argue that this criterion by itself car-
ries more weight than the criterion of reversibilty of function together with the
semantics of identification, which a speaker of Finnish responds to so readily. For
these reasons, it is suggested that clauses of the type exemplified by 39 above fall
into the class of identifying process.

Grammatically and semantically there is a kind of symmetry between 39a

and 39b. The permutation illustrated here is reminiscent of what logicians refer to
as a symmetrical relation. With attributive clauses, on the other hand, symmetri-
cal clauses are not synonymous:1

(40) (a =/ b)
a. Suomalaiset ovat [geeniensä perusteella
Finns+NOM/PL be+3PL genes+PL+GEN+POS/3 basis+ADE
Car Pro:int (NR)

selvästi] europpalaisia.
clearly European+PL+PAR
(NR) Att [T 8-9/85: 41]

‘[On the basis of their genes, it is clear that] Finns are Europeans.

b. Eurooppalaiset ovat suomalaisia.

Europeans+NOM/PL be+3PL Finns
‘Europeans are Finns.’

To demonstrate this, one often needs to construct an agnate clause in which the Token and
Value are in the plural.

A similar kind of symmetry is also found in another subtype of identifying

processes, which I shall refer to as an exemplifying identifying process. The fol-
lowing is an example of an exemplifying process:

(41) a. [Julkisia tiedotuksia esitetään radiossa, televisiossa ja lehdissä.

‘Public/official bulletins/reports are given on radio and television and in newspapers.’]

Ne voivat olla esimerkiksi säätiedotuksia,

they+NOM/PL can+3PL be+INF example+TRA weather+reports+PL+PAR
Id/Tk Pro: int (NR) Ir/Vl

jäätiedotuksia, tiedotuksia merenkulkijoille,

ice+reports+PL+PAR reports+PL+PAR seafarer+PL+PAR

poliisitiedotuksia, henkilökohtaisia tiedotuksia. [ÄA 3-4: 45]

police+bulletin+PL+PAR personal+PL+PAR bulletins+PL+PAR

‘They can be, for example, weather reports, bulletins on ice conditions, maritime/seafaring
reports, police bulletins, and missing persons announcements.’

As with the examples above there is a kind of symmetry if the positions and func-
tions are reversed:

(41) b. Esimerkiksisäätiedotukset ja poliisitiedotukset

example+TRA weather+reports+PL+PAR & police+bulletin+PL+PAR

ovat julkisia tiedotuksia.

be+3PL public+PL+PAR bulletin+PL+PAR

‘For example, weather reports and police bulletins are public bulletins.’

This distinguishes them from attributive processes. However, as with any gram-
matical phenomena, there is bound to be a fuzzy boundary between the two.

6.3.1.(iii) Other Intensive Processes

Intensive clauses include a number of subtypes, whose lexicogrammatical charac-

teristics differ from those outlined in the previous section. I shall briefly discuss
three fairly obvious and important subtypes. I first discuss resultative clauses.
These are what are generally referred to as “resultative constructions”
(tulosrakenne) in Finnish. This is followed by a discussion of what I refer to as “a
temporary intensive clause”. In the final part of this subsection, I discuss what I
have labelled “sensory intensive processes”.

Whereas intensive clauses encode or construct a relationship of sameness or

similarity, resultative clauses encode or construct a change which results in a
relationship of sameness or similarity. The process in a resultative clause is typi-
cally realized by the verb tulla ‘(to) come’,1 which is always in the third person
singular. The one that has undergone a change (or a change in status or has ac-
quired a new Attribute etc.) is realized by an NP in the elative case. The result of
the change is realized by an NP in the nominative or partitive.

(42) [Vladimir Jashtshenko, (18) ei varmaankaan aavistanut, mitä tapahtuu jos hyppää
ensimmäisenä maailmassa 233 senttiä korkeutta. ‘There’s no doubt that Vladimir
Yashtshenko, 18, had little idea of what would happen when one is the first in the world to
clear the 2.33 metre high jump.’]

a. Hullunmyllyhän siitä tulee.

mad+mill+NOM +TIS it+ELA comes+3SG
Att Car Pro:int:res
‘Pandemonium is what results.’

[Hypättyään Richmondissa tuon 233

‘Having jumped that 2.33 at Richmond,’]

Another verb that can occur in a resultative clause is kasvaa ‘grow, develop, mature’.

b. Vladimirista tuli kesän kiinnostavin

Vladimir+ELA come+PAS+3SG summer+GEN interest+PTC+SUP+NOM
Tk/Id Pro:int:res Vl/Ir

urheilija. [HKV: HS 26.8.77]


‘Vladimir became this summer’s most interesting sportsman.’

(43) Pekasta tulee opettaja. [IL 3.10.91:24]

Pekka+ELA come+3SG teacher+NOM
Car Pro:int:res Att
‘Pekka is going to be a teacher.’

As indicated in these examples, a resultative process can either be attributive

(examples 42a, 43) or identifying (example 42b). However, it is highly unlikely
for the roles in an resultative process to be actually reversed. The typical word
order is Carrier ^ Process: resultative ^ Attribute, and the most common variation
of this word order is that exemplified by 42a: Attribute ^ Carrier ^ Process. The
sequence of Carrier ^ Process in a resultative clause is one of the few instances in
which word order appears to be fairly fixed in Finnish. This poses a problem in
distinguishing identifying from attributive resultative clauses in Finnish.1 The
only recourse is to compare a resultative clause with an agnate intensive clause
that is not resultative.

In section 6.3.1.(i) above, it was pointed out that a crucial feature of almost
all intensive processes is the fact that the NPs agree in number. This is the gram-
matical link between resultative clauses and other intensive clauses. Thus, exam-
ple 43 contrasts with the following example, in which both NPs are in the plural:

(44) Heistä tulee opettajia. [IL 3.10.91:24]

they+PL+ELA come+3SG teacher+PL+PAR
Car Pro:int:res Att
‘They are going to be teachers.’

The same problem exists in English with clauses like Vladimir became this summer’s most
interesting sportsman.

A feature that distinguishes resultative clauses from other intensive pro-

cesses is the fact that they are affected by the polarity of the clause. If the polarity
is negative, the second inherent role is in the partitive. The following clause with
negative polarity contrasts with the second clause in example 42 above:

(45) Vladimirista ei tullut urheilijaa.

Vladimir+ELA NEG+3SG come+PTC sportsperson+PAR
Car Pro:int:res Att
‘Vladimir didn’t become/turn out to be a sportsman.’

The effect of negative polarity is a feature that resultative clauses share with ma-
terial processes and some mental and verbal processes.

There are other intensive processes in which one of the inherent roles is in
one of the other intermediate cases (see Chapter 2), i.e. the translative or the
essive. These will be referred to as “temporary intensive processes” (abbreviated:
Pro:int:temp). These correspond to some of the clause types in which there is
what has been traditionally referred to as a “complement adverbial”
(predikatiiviadverbiaali) (see, e.g. Hakulinen & Karlsson 1979: 211 ff.). The
process in a temporary intensive process is typically realized by verbs such as
olla ‘(to) be’, tulla ‘to (come)’, jäädä ‘(to) remain’, toimia ‘(to) act/function [as
something]’, pysyä ‘to stay’ etc. .

(46) Silloin tosin jäivät työn tulokset heikoiksi.

then to be sure remain+3PL work+GEN result+NOM/PL weak+PL+TRA
(NR) (Modal) Pro:int:temp Car Att [HKV]
‘Then to be sure work results remained meagre.’

(47) a. Fagerholm tuli 1926 Arbetarbladetin toimittajaksi

Fagerholm came 1926 Arbetarbladet+GEN journalist
Car & Tk/Id Pro:int:temp (NR) Att

b. ja oli 1934-37 lehden päätoimittajana. [HKV]

& be+3SG 1934-37 paper+GEN head+journalist+ESS
Pro:int:temp (NR) Vl/Ir

‘Fagerholm became a journalist for Arbetarbladet in 1926 and was editor-in-chief from
1934 to 1937.’
(48) miksi ihmiset ovat äkkiä tulleet
why person+NOM/PL be+3PL all of a sudden come+PTC+NOM/PL
(NR) Car Pro:int:temp-> (NR) <-Pro

aggressiivisiksi [HKV]

‘Why have people become aggressive all of a sudden?’

As with resultative processes, a temporary intensive process can either be attribu-

tive (examples 46, 47a, 48) or identifying (example 47b).

Temporary intensive processes are grammatically linked to other intensive

clauses by the fact that the NPs agree with each other in number, as illustrated by
examples 46 and 48, where the translative forms of the adjectives heikoiksi
‘weak’ and aggressiivisiksi ‘aggressive’ are in the plural, agreeing with the sub-
ject in number. However, there is some variation in Finnish in this respect: if the
NP realizing the Carrier is plural, the NP realizing the Attribute can either be sin-
gular or plural. This seems to be particularly true of an Attribute realized by an
NP in the essive.

Like other intensive processes, processes of this type typically construe a

relationship in which a participant is assigned a certain quality (e.g. being weak
or happy) or a certain (social) role (e.g. being a journalist or a teacher). Tempo-
rary processes can be generally characterized by the fact that the Attribute or
Identifier is explicitly marked as something that is not a permanent or an inherent
feature of the Carrier or Identified: the Attribute or Identifier is seen as a tempo-
rary feature or the result of a particular circumstance or set of circumstances (cf.
Kelomäki 1988: 144).

However, the label “temporary” is slightly misleading in the case of some

clauses in which the second NP is in the translative (-ksi), since, in some in-
stances the NP in the translative refers to a permanent feature of the Carrier. For
example, it would have been possible to continue after the first clause in 47 above
by saying ‘and worked as a journalist for the rest of his life’. If we contrast a tem-

porary clause (NP + tulla ‘come’ + NP-translative) to a resultative clause (NP-

elative + tulla ‘come’ + NP), the focus in a temporary clause is on the transition
rather than on the result. Thus, the label “temporary” includes both temporariness
and transition. When the second NP in a temporary clause is in the essive
(-na/nä), on the other hand, the focus is typically on temporariness of the rela-
tionship between the NPs. However, the essive can also be used, for example,
when the focus is on role or function rather than on the assignment of an Attrib-

(49) Pekka on opettaja.

Pekka-NOM be+3SG teacher+NOM
Car Pro:int Att
‘Pekka is a teacher.’

(50) Pekka on opettajana Turussa.

Pekka-NOM be+3SG teacher+ESS Turku+INE
Car Pro:int:temp Att Circ
‘Pekka is (working as) a teacher in Turku.’

Example 50 focuses on the capacity in which Pekka is functioning, rather than on

the assignment of the Attribute ‘teacher’ to Pekka as in 49.

The fact that intensive clauses with an NP in the essive typically realize
temporariness is reflected in a comment made by Hakulinen & Karlsson (1979:
213). In their view, if the lexical meaning of an Attribute includes temporariness,
then the essive is not possible. For example, epävakainen ‘unsettled’ is an attrib-
ute that is not a permanent or inherent feature of something:

(51) a. Sää on epävakainen. (Example from Hakulinen &

weather-NOM is-3SG unsettled-NOM Karlsson 1979: 213.)
‘The weather is unsettled’

b. ?? Sää on epävakaisena.
weather-NOM is-3SG unsettled-ESS
‘The weather is being unsettled.’

To the extent that this is true, it can be explained by the fact that it is unnecessary
to explicitly encode a clause as a temporary process if it is something that is al-
ready understood as being temporary.

The third type of relational intensive process to be discussed in this section

is what I refer to as a sensory process. Sensory processes are always attributive.
The significant thing about these processes is that the attribute is realized by an
NP (typically with an adjective as the Head) in the ablative (or, less frequently,
the allative). The process is realized by one of a small set of verbs that refer to
sense perception or impression, e.g., maistuu ‘taste’, näyttää ‘looks/seems/-
appears’, vaikuttaa ‘seems’, haista/haiskahtaa/tuoksua ‘smell’, kuulostaa
‘sound’, tuntua ‘feel’.

(52) Se kuulosti niin ihanalta. [Tel1:5]

it+NOM sound+PAS+3SG so wonderful+ABL
Car Pro:int:sen Att
‘It sounded so wonderful.’

(53) Maallikon silmään juttu näyttää

layperson+GEN eye +ILL matter/affair+NOM seem+3SG
(NR) Car Pro:int:sen

hullulta. [HKV]
‘In the eyes of a layperson, the affair seems idiotic.’

Again, with attributive sensory processes as with other intensive processes,

the NPs realizing the Carrier and Attribute agree with each other in number:

(54) Ne vaikutti(vat) tyytyväisiltä.

they+NOM/PL appear/seem+PAS+3(PL) content/satisfied+PL+ABL
Car Pro:int:sen Att
‘They seemed satisfied.’

(55) [Puiston pyöreisiin lyhtyihin syttyi oranssinväriset valot.

‘The round lamps in the park were lit by orange-coloured lights.’]

Ne näytti valtavilta appelsiineilta. [AR: 25]

they-NOM/PL appear/look-3SG enormous+PL+ABL orange+PL+ABL
Car Pro:int:sen Att
‘They looked like enormous oranges.’

This agreement is consistent in both spoken and written Finnish.


6.3.2. Inclusive Processes

As pointed in each of the sections above, an important feature of intensive pro-

cesses is the fact that there is number agreement between the NPs. Intensive pro-
cesses are semantically characterized by the fact that they set up a relation of
sameness or similarity: ‘X is (like) Y’. On these grounds, what Hakulinen &
Karlsson (1979: 98) refer to as inclusive clauses constitute a distinct process type
in Finnish. In an inclusive clause in Finnish the relationship that is set up is one of
inclusion: X belongs to the set Y:

(56) Paita on ihmiskunnan vanhimpia

shirt-NOM/SG be-3SG humankind+GEN oldest+PL+PAR

vaatekappaleita. [HKV]

‘The/A shirt is amongst the oldest clothing items of humankind.’

(57) vain murto-osa on valkoisia [WALTARI]

only break/fraction+part-NOM/SG be-3SG white+PL+PAR
‘only a fraction are white’

In this particular type of inclusive clause, one of the nominals is in the singular
nominative and the other is in the plural partitive.

In the other type of inclusive clause discussed by Hakulinen & Karlsson

(1979: 98), one of the nominals is in the nominative and the other is in the parti-
tive. In Hakulinen & Karlsson’s examples, both nominals are in the singular:

(58) Tämä kylä on Hämettä.

this-NOM village-NOM be+3SG Häme+PAR/SG
‘This village is part of Häme.’

(59) Tämä on sitä uutta

this-NOM be+3SG it+PAR/SG new+PAR/SG
reindeer+GEN+cheese +PAR/SG

‘This is that new Reindeer Cheese.’


Based on Sadeniemi (1970), Hakulinen & Karlsson define inclusive clauses as

those in which the complement (i.e. the Attribute) realizes the original function of
the partitive, i.e. ‘part of something’. According to Hakulinen & Karlsson, the
relationship between the NPs above could be seen in terms of set theory:
tämä kylä ‘this village’ 0 Häme (a province in Finland)
tämä ‘this’ 0 uutta poronjuustoa ‘new Reindeer Cheese’.
Similarly, with 56 above:
paita ‘shirt’ 0 ihmiskunnan vanhimpia vaatekappaleita
‘oldest clothing items of humankind’

However, if we simply use this kind of criteria, then it is difficult to distin-

guish inclusive processes from other attributive processes, for example 12 above,
repeated below as 60:

(60) [mul ois ens viikon torstaihin aikaa kirjoittaa se puhtaaksi, [Tel2:13]
‘I’ve got until next Thursday to type up a final copy’

joka on mulle helvetin hidasta hommaa

which-NOM be+3SG I+ALL hell+GEN slow+PAR work+PAR
Car Pro:int (NR) Att
‘which is hellishly/damned slow work for me’

One could equally argue that tämä (homma) ‘this job’ belongs to the set of slow
jobs (i.e. tämä (homma) ‘this (job)’ 0 helvetin hidasta hommaa ‘hellishly slow

What links Hakulinen & Karlsson’s examples (58 ) 59) to the other exam-
ples above (56 ) 57) is the lack of agreement between the NPs realizing the Car-
rier and Attribute. Thus, if 58 above, for example, is changed so that the initial
NP is plural, the NP at the end of the clause remains in the singular:

(61) Nämä kylät ovat [~ spoken: on] Hämettä.

these-NOM village-NOM/PL be+3PL be+3PL Häme+PAR/SG
‘These villages are part of Häme.’

Hakulinen and Karlsson (1979: 98) regard inclusive clauses as a separate

clause type but relate them to what are traditionally called “complement clauses”,
i.e. clauses with a subject and complement. On the basis of some grammatical
features, these are like attributive processes: the process is realized by olla ‘be’,
the NPs are in the nominative or partitive, the functions are unaffected by word-
order changes. However, it seems to me that they are semantically and grammati-
cally distinct from attributive processes, and, thus, in line with Hakulinen &
Karlsson, I shall regard them as a separate type of relational process. Grammati-
cally inclusive clauses can be distinguished by the lack of agreement between the
NPs; semantically they are distinguished by the fact that the labels Carrier and
Attribute are clearly inappropriate. More appropriate functional labels would ei-
ther be Member and Set or Part and Entirety.

It should be noted that an example such as 62 below is an ordinary attribu-

tive process in Finnish. There appears to be no clear grammatical distinction be-
tween examples 62 and other attributive processes in Finnish.

(62) Suomalaiset ovat geeniensä perusteella

Finns+NOM/PL be+3PL genes+PL+GEN+POS/3 basis+ADE
Car Pro:int (NR)

selvästi europpalaisia.
clearly European+PL+PAR
(NR) Att [T 8-9/85: 41]

‘On the basis of their genes, it is clear that Finns are Europeans.’

Thus, what are referred to as inclusive processes are distinct from what could be
seen as a classifying attributive process. While on semantic grounds, one could
argue that in example 62 that suomalaiset ‘Finns’ belongs to the class of Europe-
ans, this clause is grammatically similar to the clause Suomalaiset ovat vaaleita
‘Finns are blonde’.

6.3.3. Ambient Processes

This section deals with what could be considered a subtype of intensive process.
What I refer to as an “ambient process” in Finnish corresponds to some of the
clauses in English that have a “dummy subject”, for example, it was cold on Sun-
day, it was late, it’s Thursday today. The translation equivalents of these in
Finnish would correspond to “on Sunday was cold” and “was late” and “on this
day (today) is Thursday”. Thus, Finnish is one of those languages in which one
says “In London is cold” rather than “London is cold” (although “London is cold”
is also possible) (see Lyons 1977b: 476).

An ambient process characterizes or assigns an Attribute to a spatial or tem-

poral situation. The process is typically realized by the verb olla ‘be’ and one of
the inherent roles is realized by an NP in the nominative or partitive. These fea-
tures relate ambient processes to intensive processes. The other participant is gen-
erally in one of the locative cases and it realizes a Circumstance of time or place.
The circumstantial element is not obligatory:

(63) sunnuntaina oli sit niin hienoa [TEL1:1]

Sunday+ESS be+PAS+3SG then so wonderful/fine
Circ Pro:int:amb (NR) Att
‘Sunday was then so wonderful.’

(64) Jossakin täytyy olla parempaa ja väljempää. [HKV]

somewhere+INE must be+INF better+PAR & spacious+COMP+PAR
Circ (Mod) Pro:int:amb Att Att
‘There must be somewhere where it is better and more spacious [“somewhere must be
better and more spacious”]’

(65) meillä on rauhatonta [HKV]

we+ADE (at our place) be+3SG restless+PAR
Circ Pro:int:amb Att
‘It’s restless (noisy, rowdy) at our place/Our place is restless.’

(66) (Ulkona) on kylmä. (from Hakulinen & Karlsson 1979: 301)

outside+ESS be-3SG cold-NOM
Circ Pro:int:amb Att
‘It’s cold (outside).’

(67) (Nyt) on myöhä ~ yö. (Hakulinen & Karlsson 1979: 93)

(now) is late ~ night
Circ Pro:int:amb Att
‘It’s (now) late ~ night (night-time).’

Hakulinen & Karlsson (1979: 93,301) refer to clauses like this as ‘situation
clauses’ (Finnish: tilalause). According to them, a situation clause is expressed
by the structure (A) V or (A) V C (where ‘A’ stands for Adverbial, V for Verb and
C for Complement). By this criterion, they also regard the following as a situation

(68) (Nyt ~ täällä) sataa. (Hakulinen & Karlsson 1979: 93)

(now ~ here+ADE) rain+3SG
‘It’s raining now ~ here.’

Thus, what appear to be two distinct grammatical structures are subsumed

by Hakulinen and Karlsson under the one general clause type. What is common to
the two is the fact that there is no grammatical subject and the initial Adverbial is
optional. However, there are also crucial differences between an example such as
68 and ambient processes. For these reasons, example 68 is considered to be a
subtype of material process referred to as a meteorological process in this study
(for further discussion of material and meteorological processes, see 6.4 and

As defined in this study, ambient processes are a subtype of relational pro-

cess: they set up a relation between X and Y. They differ from intensive processes
in that an Attribute is assigned to a Circumstance rather than to an Entity (i.e. the
Circumstance is the Carrier). A clause such as 68, on the other hand, constructs a
material change. Unlike the verb olla ‘be’, the verb in 68 can be qualified by an
adverb of manner, e.g. satoi rankasti ‘it rained hard’. If an NP is added to 68, its
function is different to the function of an NP in an ambient process:

(69) Täällä sataa lunta.

here+ADE) rain+3SG snow+PAR
‘It’s snowing (raining snow) here.’

The final NP lunta ‘snow’ does not assign an attribute to the Circumstance täällä
‘here’; it qualifies the process of raining. One can also say in Finnish: sataa vettä
‘it’s raining water’.

Hakulinen & Karlsson’s motivation for subsuming ambient and meteoro-

logical processes under the one general clause type rests on two factors. Firstly,
these clauses are subjectless: there is nothing corresponding to a “dummy sub-
ject” in Finnish (cf. English It’s cold, It’s raining). Secondly, if something is
added to the beginning of the clause, it would be a Circumstance. Without any
co-text to indicate otherwise, if someone says to me on kylmä “is cold” or sataa
“rains”, I would generally assume that they mean that it is cold or it is raining
‘now ~ at the moment ~ here ~ outside etc.’. In other words, the Attribute ‘cold’
qualifies the temporal or spatial domain of discourse, similarly the process of ‘rain-
ing’ is located in the temporal or spatial domain of discourse. This is, of course,
also valid for the English translation equivalents. What is different about Finnish
is that the unmarked place for the Circumstance is at the beginning of the clause.
Moreover, in the case of ambient processes as defined in this study, it is this Cir-
cumstance that is being assigned an Attribute.

The optionality of the initial Circumstance is a textual feature. Process types

as defined in this study are not based on textual variation, as textual variation is a
realization of the textual metafunction. However, to regard the variation that is at
issue here as textual means re-assessing what is meant by textual. For some, tex-
tual phenomena seems to be restricted to considerations of the way in which lan-
guage make links with itself, i.e. to the co-text. Equally important, however, is the
way in which language makes links with the situations in which it is used, i.e. the
context. In SF theory, the textual metafunction also encompasses those features
that are related to the way in which language makes links with the situations in
which it is used. This is what is at issue in ambient and meteorological processes.

Hakulinen & Karlsson seem to treat this variation as syntactic. Their analy-
sis is partly inspired by transformational-generative grammar. Given the assump-
tion that S ÷ NP + VP in transformational-generative theory, the absence of an
NP is problematic. A further problem ensues from the fact that if an NP is added
to the clauses in Finnish, the NP is not the subject. Although not actually made
explicit, this appears to be the reasoning in Hakulinen & Karlsson’s analysis.
From a Finnish perspective, of course, the original assumption (S ÷ NP + VP) is

By treating the optionality of the initial Circumstance as a syntactic feature,

Hakulinen & Karlsson’s analysis obscures the textual patterning in Finnish. This
can be illustrated by one of Hakulinen & Karlsson’s examples:

(70) (Täällä ~ Hämeessä) on kylmä. (Hakulinen & Karlsson 1979: 93)

here+ADE here+ADE be-3SG cold-NOM
‘It’s cold (here ~ in Häme).’[Häme is a province in Finland.]

It seems to me that this example is misleading: I would argue that the initial ad-
verbial is not optional in the clause Hämeessä on kylmä. It can only be omitted if
it is presupposed by ellipsis, i.e. there has to be some reference to Häme in the
preceding text. Thus, the relationship between on kylmä [is cold] and täällä
[here] is different to the relationship between on kylmä and Hämeessä [in Häme].
As indicated earlier, without any co-text to indicate otherwise, on kylmä ‘it’s
cold’ would be interpreted as täällä on kylmä ‘it’s cold here’ or ulkona on kylmä
‘it’s cold outside’, i.e. if Pekka says to Jussi “on kylmä”, the interpretative source
is in the here and now of the speech situation. If on the other hand, Pekka is tell-
ing Jussi about his trip to Häme, and says oli kylmä [was cold], then it would be
interpreted as Hämeessä oli kylmä [in Häme was cold], i.e. the interpretative
source is in the co-text.

Ambient processes like on kylmä [is cold] are part of a wider, general phe-
nomenon in Finnish: there are other declarative clauses in Finnish that begin with
the verb. If something is added to a verb-initial declarative, it would be a Circum-
stance and its unmarked place would be at the beginning of the clause. Clauses
like this include example 5 from the beginning of this chapter: Puhuttiin naisten
rooleista ‘The discussion was concerned with the roles of women’ and examples
such as Syttyi sota [break out +PAS+3 SG war-NOM ] ‘There was a war/A war broke
out’. As discussed in Chapter 7, these clauses too are about the temporal or spatial
domain of discourse.

6.3.4. Circumstantial (Relational) Processes

6.3.4.(i) Introductory Comments

Circumstantial relational processes also set up a relation but the relation is be-
tween an Entity and a Circumstance: something is located somewhere in space or
time. The space in which something is located can also be abstract, for example,
a physical or mental state or an activity. This type of circumstantial process will
be referred to as a general circumstantial process. A subtype of circumstantial
process in Finnish is a possessive process.

6.3.4.(ii) General Circumstantial Processes

General circumstantial processes can be grammatically characterized as processes

in which one of the inherent roles (X) is realized by an NP in either the nomina-
tive or partitive, the verb is typically realized by olla ‘(to) be’, and the other role
(Y) is realized by an NP in a locative case-form or by a PP. Thus role X is located
in space or time at Y. I shall refer to role X as the Positioned (Posit:ed): it realizes
the entity that is given a location or positioned in some (set of) circumstances.
Role Y will be referred to as the Circumstance (Circ). In the following examples,
I shall only distinguish between circumstances of place and time; in a more deli-
cate analysis, different types of Circumstances would need to be distinguished.

(71) sä olit mökillä viikonloppuna [TEL1:1]

you(SG)-NOM be+PAS+2SG cottage+ADE weekend+ESS
Posit:edi Pro:rel + Posit:edi Circ:place Circ:time
‘You were at the (summer) cottage at the weekend.’

(72) a. Ritvahan on naimisissa

Ritva+TIS be+3SG marriage +INE
Posit:ed Pro:rel Circ
‘Ritva’s married of course’

b. -- Ritva on ollut ilmarisella töissä

Ritva+NOM be+3SG be+PTC Ilmarinen+ADE work+PL+INE
Posit:ed Pro:rel Circ Circ
‘Ritva has been at Ilmarinen’s (a firm)/has been working for Ilmarinen’
c. -- mut on nyt lomalla
but be+3SG now leave/holiday+ADE
Pro:rel (NR) Circ
‘but is now on leave.’

d. -- Jussi on -- jossain pankissa [CA3:24-25]

Jussi be+3SG some bank+INE
Posit:ed Pro:rel Circ
‘Jussi is at some bank/working for some bank.’

(73) me olemme lakossa [CA8:5]

we+NOM be+1PL strike+INE
Posit:edi Pro:rel+Posit:edi Circ
‘We’re on strike.’

(74) hän on myös samalla

he+NOM is+3SG also same+ADE
Posit:ed Pro:rel (NR) Circ
irtisanottujen listalla [CA8: 5]
sack/give notice+INDE+PL+GEN list+ADE
‘He is also on the same list of retrenchments.’

(75) siinä sä oot perkeleen oikeassa

there+ESS you-SG be+2SG devil+GEN right+INE
* (NR) * Posit:edi * Pro:rel + Posit:edi * Circ *
‘You’re damn right there.’ [AR:160]

As illustrated by the examples, the positioning need not be concrete or spatial: X

on naimisissa ‘X is married [in (the institution of) marriage]’, X on lakossa ‘X is
on strike’, X on listalla ‘X is on the list’. They all have a similar grammatical
patterning in Finnish. They differ in meaning, of course, but these differences are
handled at a greater degree of delicacy in the approach adopted here.

In the examples above, the Positioned is the Theme of the clause, but it is
also possible for the Circumstance to be the Theme:
(76) [From an encyclopaedia entry on Erik XIV of Sweden and Finland.]

Veljesten välinen riita leimahti ilmiliekkiin 1563, jolloin alkoi ns. pohjoismainen
seitsenvuotinen sota lähinnä Baltian kauppaetujen vuoksi.

‘The conflict between the brothers [i.e. Erik & his brother] broke out in full flame in 1563
with the start of the so-called seven-year Nordic War, which was waged mostly for trade
rights in the Baltic region.’

Eerikiä vastassa olivat Lyypekki,

Erik+PAR against/opposition+INE be+PAS+3PL Lübeck+NOM ,
* Circ * Pro:rel * Posit:ed

Puola ja Tanska [HKV]

Poland+NOM & Denmark+NOM

‘Opposing Erik [in opposition to Erik] were Lübeck, Poland and Denmark.’

The basic difference between example 76 and examples 71 ) 75 above is textual.

With Circumstantial relational processes in Finnish, a problem is posed by

clauses in which there is a nominalized verb form, the so-called 3rd infinitive (see
Figure 3-9 (p. 85)):

(77) Anna on uimassa.

Anna is swim+INF+INE
‘Anna is swimming’

A clause like this could be a response to the question ‘Where is Anna?’. Simi-
larly, one could have Anna on kävelemässä ‘Anna is walking’ from the verb
kävellä ‘(to) walk’, Anna on nukkumassa ‘Anna is sleeping’ from the verb nuk-
kua ‘(to) sleep’, Anna on syömässä ‘Anna is eating (having lunch)’ from the verb
syödä ‘(to) eat’.

Clause 77 differs from its English translation equivalent in that it patterns

more like a circumstantial relational clause than a material clause. Example 77
has a similar structure to Anna on Suomessa ‘Anna is in Finland’, except that the
Circumstance uimassa has a stem (ui-) that is derived from the verb uida. The
form uimassa consists of a verb stem followed by a nominalizing affix, the so-
called 3rd infinitive, and the inessive case-ending. It could, in fact, be translated
as something like ‘in the process/activity of swimming’. Following Leino et al.

(1990),1 I regard a form like this as being analogous to a concrete spatial circum-

(78) Anna on uimassa.

Anna is swim+INF+INE
Posit:ed Pro:rel Circ
‘Anna is swimming’

In clauses like this, the Circumstance construes an activity or a state in which an

entity is located. However, in Finnish, the activity cannot be modified by some-
thing like hyvin ‘well’. This can be compared with English where the modifier
“well” is possible: Anna is swimming well, as said, for example, by Anna’s coach
watching Anna as she trains for the Olympics.

The difference between these Finnish clauses and their English translation
equivalents can be also illustrated by the following example:

(79) Jumala on olemassa.

God is be+INF+INE
Posit:ed Pro:rel Circ
‘God exists.’

The verb (to) exist can only be translated into Finnish by this kind of structure,
which corresponds to something like “is in the state of being”.

The analysis, however, is complicated by the fact that the process realized
by the stem of the nominal realizing the Circumstance can be extended to a Goal:

(80) Anna on maalaamassa taloa.

Anna is paint+INF+INE house+PAR
Posit:ed Pro:rel Circ Goal
‘Anna is painting a/the house.’

Leino et al. (1990) is an analysis of Finnish locative cases based on Jackendoff’s (1983)
conceptual semantics.

This is a reflection of the fact that the stem of the Circumstance is indeed a verb
and not a noun.

In the examples given so far, the process in a circumstantial process is real-

ized by olla ‘be’. There are doubtless other verbs that can realize a circumstantial
relational process. An obvious example is sijaita ‘to be situated/ located’:

(81) Hasanniemen kesäteatteri sijaitsee

Hasanniemi+GEN summer+theatre+NOM situate+3SG
Loc:ed Pro:rel

Pyhäselän rannalla. [TB: 9]

Pyhäselkä+GEN shore+ADE

‘The Hasanniemi summer (open-air) theatre is situated on the shores of Lake Pyhäselkä.’

(82) Puheen perustana olevat hermomekanismit sijaitsevat vasemmassa aivopuoliskossa.


‘The nerve mechanisms that form the basis of speech are located in the left hemisphere of
the brain.’

The verb sijaita ‘be situated/located’ could be regarded as a stylistic variant of

olla ‘be’.

The category of circumstantial process that is recognized here partly in-

cludes what traditional grammars of Finnish have referred to as existential clauses
(eksistentiaalilause). The following examples would be regarded by many Finn-
ish linguists as existential clauses.

(83) tääl on autoja [CA2:28]

here(+ADE) be+3SG car+PL+PAR
Circ Pro:rel Posit:ed
‘There are cars here.’

(84) torstaina oli ihan hirveän kova myrsky [O]

Thursday+ESS be+PAS+3SG really terrible+GEN severe+NOM storm+NOM
Circ:time Pro:rel Posit:ed
‘There was a (really) terribly severe storm on Thursday.’

As indicated by the function glosses, examples like this are considered to be cir-
cumstantial processes in this study, since they construct a relation whereby some-
thing is located somewhere in space or time. As I see it, the grammatical and se-

mantic features associated with the Finnish eksistentiaalilause constitute simulta-

neous sets of options cutting across the various process types. These features will
be discussed more fully in section 6.7.

6.3.4.(iii) Possessive Circumstantial Processes

While possessive processes can be regarded as a subtype of circumstantial pro-

cesses in Finnish, the analysis presented here is rather lengthy. This is because it
is generally assumed that there are possessive clauses in Finnish, but there seem
to be various ways of defining and delineating them. Thus this section will com-
ment fairly extensively on other views of what constitutes a possessive clause in

In his analysis of English, Halliday (1985a: 121-123) regards possessive

processes as realizing a relation of ownership: in concrete instances, at least, one
entity possesses another. The Possessor is typically human. Following Halliday, I
shall label the functions in a possessive process as Possessor (Poss:er) and Pos-
sessed (Poss:ed). Thus, the first example below is a circumstantial process while
the second example is a possessive one.

(85) Kadulla on useampia autoja.

street+ADE be+3SG several+PL+PAR car+PL+PAR
Circ Pro:rel Positioned
‘There are several cars in the street.’

(86) Elviksellä on useampia autoja.

Elvis+ADE be+3SG several+PL+PAR car+PL+PAR
Poss:er Pro:rel Poss:ed
‘Elvis has several cars.’

While a possessive process in Finnish is structurally similar to a circumstantial

process, a grammatical feature that distinguishes it from circumstantial processes
is the fact that the sequence is typically fixed: Possessor ^ Process: relational ^
Possessed. Semantically, possessives differs in that the relationship between the
entities need not be one of location or positioning in a concrete sense: in 86
above, the cars in question are not necessarily located near or in the vicinity of
Elvis. Elvis could be in Europe, while his cars could be in America. With 85, the

cars are necessarily in the street. This appears to be a reflection of the fact that a
possessive relationship is conventionalized in Finnish. Thus, the structure NOMI-
NAL ADESSIVE + olla ‘be + NOM INAL exemplified by 86, where the first nominal
refers to a human and the second to an Entity, is generally interpreted in terms of
possession rather than location.

As indicated in example 86, the Possessor in a possessive process in Finnish

is realized by an NP in the adessive: Elvikse+llä ‘at/on/by Elvis’. The finite verb
is always a third person singular form of the verb olla ‘be’; if the Possessor is
plural, the verb is still in the singular.

(87) Filmitähdillä on useampia autoja.

film+star+PL+ADE be+3SG several+PL+PAR car+PL+PAR
Poss:er Pro:rel Poss:ed
‘Film stars have several cars.’

Possessive processes have features that are typically associated with what Finnish
linguists call existential clauses. It is possible for one of the inherent participants,1
in this instance, the Possessed, to be in the partitive. A feature peculiar to posses-
sive processes is that while a singular, bounded entity in a clause with positive
polarity is in the nominative singular (e.g. Minulla on uusi auto ‘I’ve got a new
car’), a personal pronoun is in the accusative: Minulla on sinut [I+ADE is
you(SG)+ACC ] ‘I’ve got you’.

The following is a text example of possessive processes in Finnish. It is ap-

parent from the co-text that the object referred to (the uus ‘new (one)’) is a (radio-
)cassette player, which could be regarded as a typical possession in western soci-

This is generally referred to as the “subject” of an existential clause by Finnish grammarians
(e.g. T. Itkonen (1979)).
(88) a. <A> onks sul uus
be+3SG+Q you(SG)+ADE new-NOM
Pro:rel Poss:er Poss:ed
‘Have you got a new one

b. vai onks toi meiän?

or be+3SG+Q that-NOM our+GEN
Pro:rel Tk/Id Vl/Ir (possessor)
‘or is that ours?’

<B> .. ei tää on tämmönen laina homma ..

‘no this is a kind of borrowed thing ..’

Halliday regards clauses such as The piano is Peter’s as a possessive identifying

clause in English, and thus the translation equivalent given for 88b would be re-
garded as a possessive identifying clause. I shall not pursue arguments for or
against analysing clauses like The piano is Peter’s in this way in English. In
Finnish, on the other hand, it is clear that clauses 88a and 88b are grammatically
very different from each other. Example 88b represents a subtype of intensive
identifying processes in Finnish: the Token/Identified is in the nominative case
(the partitive is not possible) and it agrees with the finite verb in number and per-

The label “possessive process” is problematic in that examples of possessive

clauses in actual text appear to be seldom concerned with ownership, as sug-
gested by Halliday, or with a “permanent possessive relationship”, as suggested
by Kangasmaa-Minn (1971: 258). As is clear from Halliday’s writing and from
the context in which Kangasmaa-Minn refers to a permanent possessive relation-
ship (in contrast to a temporary circumstantial one), the problem inheres in using
language “turned back on itself” (Firth 1957: 190) and in labelling linguistic cate-
gories that are, in fact, ineffable (see 2.4.11 (p. 63) and Halliday 1988). Although,
as indicated by the co-text of example 88a above, ownership can be at issue in a
possessive process, the meaning of a possessive process is more ineffable, and, in
the final analysis, it can only be defined by the oppositions between it and other
process types. Sometimes the relationship is a socially defined “belonging” or
“being in possession of”, as in the following examples:
(89) onhan mulla mies [CA8:5]
be-3SG+TIS I+ADE man/husband+NOM
Pro:rel Poss:er Poss:ed
‘After all I’ve got a husband.’

(90) kenellä on eniten seiskoja? [CA6:5 (children playing cards)]

who+ADE be+3SG most seven+PL+PAR
Poss:er Pro:rel (NR) Poss:ed
‘Who’s got the most sevens?’

minulla, mull on ainakin seittemäntoista seiskaa

I+ADE I+ADE be+3SG at least seventeen+NOM seven+PAR
Poss:er Poss:er Pro:rel Poss:ed
‘I have, I’ve got at least seventeen sevens.’

There are, of course, many other, more abstract relationships between the Pos-
sessor and the Possessed, as in the following example:

(91) heill on ... ihan omat kuvionsa [CA3:4]

they+ADE be+3SG entirely own+NOM/PL figure/pattern+PO S/3
Poss:er Pro:rel Poss:ed

‘They’ve got their own life styles [Finnish kuviot [pattern-NOM/PL] refers here to a more
or less fixed set of things that one does and set of people that one meets].’

In example 91, the meaning is more like ‘X pertains to Y’ or ‘Y is associated with


A number of bodily states can also be realized as possessive processes. For


(92) M(in)ulla on jano ~ kylmä ~ päänsärky.

I+ADE be+3SG thirst-NOM cold-NOM headache -NOM
Poss:er Pro:rel Poss:ed
‘I’m thirsty/I’m cold/I’ve got a headache.’

(93) Mulla on paha olo [AR:159]

I+ADE be+3SG bad-NOM feeling-NOM
Poss:er Pro:rel Poss:ed
‘I feel bad/I feel sick.’

(94) Hänellä on syöpä.

(s)he+ADE be+3SG cancer-NOM
Poss:er Pro:rel Poss:ed
‘She/he’s got cancer.’

These can be contrasted with material processes, such as minua janottaa

[me+PAR thirsts +3SG ] ‘I feel thirsty’; päätäni särkee [my head aches] ‘I’ve got a
headache’ (see 6.4.3.(ii) below).

The claim that instances like 92 ) 94 are possessive processes rests on the
fact that the initial nominal is not interpreted as a location. Example 94 above can
be contrasted with the following example, where the initial nominal is in the in-
essive case:

(95) Hänessä on syöpä. (Cf. 94 above.)

(s)he+INE be+3SG cancer
‘She’s/he’s got cancer’.

This can be regarded as a circumstantial clause ‘in X is Y’. Example 95 focuses

on the fact that ) in some sense ) the disease “is contained” in the person; where-
as the possessive clause (94) sets up a relation that associates the disease with the
person. Of relevance here is Leino’s (1990: 129-130) analysis of the way in
which Finnish cases realize basic spatial relations. According to Leino, the rela-
tionship between what he refers to as the trajector and the landmark ) which in
this context can be translated as the relationship between the Circumstance and
the Positioned ) is one of inclusion when the Circumstance is in the inessive
(pullo+ssa ‘in(side) the bottle; stuck (fast) to ~ intimately attached to the bottle’),
but one of association when it is in the adessive (pöydä+llä ‘on/at/near/in the
vicinity of the table’). It seems to me that this distinction also applies to these
more abstract instances.

While there is a fuzzy line between possessive processes and general cir-
cumstantial processes, i.e. a clause of the form X:llä on Y [X-adessive is Y] can
mean ‘at X is Y’ or ‘X has Y’, there seems to be a more clear-cut line between
possessives, on the one hand, and some other clause types which some Finnish
linguists have regarded as possessive. Hakulinen and Karlsson (1979: 96-97, 209)
refer to clauses such as the following as inanimate possessives constructions:

(96) Veneessä on kaksi mastoa. [Hakulinen & Karlsson 1979: 97]

boat+INE be+3SG two-NOM mast+PAR
‘There are two masts on the boat/The boat has two masts.’

The possessive translation in English has the advantage of retaining the textual
structure of the Finnish clause, but translating a Finnish clause by an English pos-
sessive does not make it a possessive in Finnish: the meanings that are made in
Finnish are dependent on the interrelations and oppositions that are available in
Finnish, they are not based on English meanings.

As suggested by Leino (1989: 196) there is a fairly clear distinction between

these clauses and possessive clauses in the grammatical organization of Finnish,
and this is reflected in the different case-endings: X:ssä on Y ‘in/at X is Y’ and
X:llä on Y ‘X has Y’. It is generally only when the first role is in the adessive that
it is natural to attach a possessive suffix to the second role:

(97) a. Laivalla on kapteeninsa.

ship+ADE be+3SG captain+POS/3
‘A/the ship has her captain.’

b. ?? Laivassa on kapteeninsa.
ship+INE be+3SG captain+PO S/3
‘On the ship is her captain.’

The inessive example (97b) is from Nikanne (1990: 82), whose analysis is based
on Jackendoff’s theory of conceptual semantics and attempts to assess the limits
of grammaticality in language. I have put question marks in front of the example,
because it is problematic. Nikanne finds the example acceptable, and, moreover,
his translation differs from mine. He translates this as ‘the ship has her captain’
and claims that a circumstantial interpretation is not possible.

Since Nikanne’s example (97b) is problematic, I asked others whether they

thought it was acceptable Finnish. Many of my informants rejected it and said
that laiva ‘ship’ should be in the adessive. This reflects the intuition that if a pos-
sessive suffix is attached to the second nominal, one expects a possessive rela-
tionship, and if there is a possessive relationship the first nominal should be in the
adessive. However, Nikanne is correct in that a possessive suffix can be attached
to what I have called the Positioned. Hakanen (1972: 48) cites a number of exam-
ples taken from novels. Pace Nikanne, however, it seems to me that if a posses-
sive suffix is attached to a Positioned, the interpretation is circumstantial, i.e.

something is located somewhere or is an integral part of something. This is evi-

denced by Hakanen’s examples:

(98) miehessä on muutakin kuin ulkopuolensa.

man+INE be+3SG more+PAR+TIS than exterior+PO S/3
‘There is more to a man than his exterior.’

(99) Ja keltaisessa postivaunussa oli oma miehistönsä.

& yellow+INE post+van+INE be+PAS+3SG own+NOM crew+PO S/3
‘And in the yellow mail van was its own crew.’

There is another argument that has been appealed to in claiming that exam-
ples like 96 above (repeated below as 100) are possessive.

(100) Veneessä on kaksi mastoa. [Hakulinen & Karlsson 1979: 97]

boat+INE be+3SG two-NOM mast+PAR
‘There are two masts on the boat/The boat has two masts.’

The argument rests on the fact that vene ‘boat’ can occur as a genitive modifier in
an NP:

(101) veneen kaksi mastoa

boat+GEN two-NOM mast+PAR
‘the two masts on/of the boat/the boat’s two masts’

The view has been put forward by Vähämäki (1980: 38; 1984: 310-330). As dis-
cussed in Chapter 3, however, the genitive is extensively used in Finnish (to mark
a dependent element) and it cannot be equated with a possessive (see 3.4.1 p. 89
ff.). Moreover, if we accept this argument then by the same token the following
clause is possessive.

(102) Helsingissä on kaksi katolista kirkkoa.

Helsinki+INE be-3SG two-NOM Catholic+PAR church+PAR
‘There are two Catholic churches in Helsinki.’

By Vähämäki’s criterion this is possessive because we can say Helsingin kaksi

katolista kirkkoa ‘Helsinki’s two Catholic churches/The two Catholic churches in

6.3.5. Summary

The process types discussed in section 6.3 under the heading of relational pro-
cesses have all been concerned with the setting up of a relationship: a relationship
between two entities, between an entity and a circumstance or between an entity
and a attribute. Intensive relational processes set up a relation of the kind ‘X is
(like) Y’. Inclusive relational processes set up an inclusive relationship ‘X 0 Y’.
Ambient relational processes set up a relation in which a temporal or spatial Cir-
cumstance is characterized: ‘at X is like Y’.
Finally, in circumstantial processes something is located in space or time: ‘X is at
Y’ or ‘at Y is X’, and, on this basis, circumstantial processes are considered to
belong to the superordinate category of relational processes. Possessive processes
are a subtype of circumstantial process in Finnish.

6.4. Material Processes

6.4.1. Introductory Comments

While a relational process constructs a relation, a material process1 constructs “a

happening” or “a doing”, which typically realize some kind of material change,
transition, or activity in the external world or in the world of our imagination. The
set of verbs capable of realizing material processes are far more varied and com-
plex than those that realize a relational process. I shall indicate only a few fairly
clear-cut subtypes that have been discussed in other descriptions of Finnish.

Material processes approximately subsume what other grammars have re-

ferred to as transitive and intransitive clauses. Hakulinen & Karlsson (1979: 93-
94) regard transitive and intransitive clauses as separate clause types in Finnish.
The transitive-intransitive dichotomy that is made by Hakulinen & Karlsson and
in many other grammars of Finnish stems from an ancient tradition that goes back

Material processes were earlier referred to by Halliday (in Kress (ed.) 1976:161) as action
processes; this earlier term has been retained by Fawcett (1980:138).

to Apollonius (Robins 1967: 37). However, the validity of making this primary
division in clause types is not ensured by this long history. As Hakulinen &
Karlsson (1979: 94) themselves point out, the distinction is not clear-cut, and they
suggest that transitive and intransitive clauses could be combined into one basic
clause type (see also Leino 1991: 21 ff.). This suggestion will be adopted in this
study: transitive and intransitive clauses are conflated under the general category
of material process. However, despite this general agreement with Hakulinen &
Karlsson’s suggestion, there is a crucial difference between the description pro-
posed here and that suggested by Hakulinen and Karlsson. For them, a clause
such as Lapset ovat puistossa ‘The children are in the park’ is an intransitive
clause. As discussed in section 6.3.4, this is considered to be a circumstantial
relational clause in this study, and the transitive/intransitive distinction cannot be
applied to it. Moreover, processes related to human consciousness ) mental and
verbal processes (to be discussed in section 6.5) ) are distinguished from material

6.4.2. General Features of Material Processes

A (transitive or intransitive) material process in Finnish is minimally realized by

the following configuration of functions:

Actor @ Process:material (@ Goal)

The round brackets indicate that the Goal is optional. The Actor is an inherent
(and obligatory) role in all material process except in meteorological and
experiencer process (which will be discussed below). Material processes typically
construe a doing or a happening. They can be probed by the questions mitä
tapahtui? ‘what happened’, mitä X teki (Y:lle) ‘what did X do (to Y)?’.

Before considering some of the grammatical features that clauses with mate-
rial processes have in common, it is important to note that material processes are
also defined in contrast to the other major process types. The over-riding feature
common to material processes is the fact that they differ from the relational pro-
cesses discussed in 6.3 and they differ from the mental and verbal processes that
are discussed in 6.5. Thus, for example, if there are two NPs in a material process,
the NPs would not agree in number, as is the case with intensive relational pro-
cesses. A feature that is shared by many mental processes is the fact that they
project: tiedän, että Eija lähtee ‘I know that Eija is leaving’. Projection is not a
typical feature of a material process.

The following clauses exemplify a material process without a Goal.

(103) juoksin .. hullun lailla [CA12:4]

run+PAS+1SG .. mad+GEN like/way+ADE
Pro:mat+Ac (NR)
‘I ran like a madman/like crazy.’

(104) Nainen ... kuoli välittömästi. [HS 11.10.91:A9]

woman+NOM die+PAS+3SG immediately
Ac Pro:mat (NR)
‘The woman died immediately.’

(105) kone lähtee kello seittemältä [CA3:13]

plane+NOM leave +3SG clock-NOM seven+ABL
Ac Pro:mat Circ
‘The plane leaves at 7 o’clock.’

(106) mä en bussil oo kertaakaa(n) menny [CA3:8]

I-NOM NEG+1SG buss+A(DE) be+PTC time+TIS go+PTC
Aci Pro:÷+Aci (NR) ²Pro:÷ (NR) ²Pro:mat
‘Not once have I gone by bus.’

Clauses 103 ) 106 exemplify the structure Actor @ Process:material, in spite

of the fact that none of the examples above are actually realized as a minimal
configuration. As discussed in 6.1.3, a minimal configuration cannot be deter-
mined on the basis of text examples. However, one can think of situations in
which a minimal configuration is possible with the material process exemplified

in 103 ) 106, and it is only on the basis of our knowledge of what can count as a
minimal configuration that we can define a process type. For example:

(107) Mitä tapahtui?

‘What happened?’

Hän kuoli. [Cf. 104 above.]

‘She died.’

(108) Äkkiä. Kone lähtee. [Cf. 105 above.]

‘Quick. The plane is leaving/about to leave.’

In some instances, nevertheless, a minimal configuration may seem far-fetched.

The following exemplify a material process with a Goal:

(109) mä avasin ulko-oven [AR:10]

I-NOM open+1SG outside+door+GEN
Aci Pro:mat + Aci Go
‘I opened the outside door.’

(110) mä sain yhen tosi surkee[n]

I+NOM receive/get+PAS+1SG one+GEN real sad/wretched[GEN]
Aci Pro:mat+Aci Go

kuntosen rolfin [CA6:3]


‘I got a Rolf (apparently a toy of some kind) in really appalling condition.’

(111) kaikki vois tuoda vähä safkaa mukana

all-NOM can+CON+3SG bring+INF some grub+PAR along
Ac [Modality] Pro:mat Go (NR)
‘Everyone could bring some grub (food) along.’ [Tel2:4]

(112) me ... rakennettiin lumilinnoja [SIIN3c:21]

we build+INDE+PAS snow+castle+PL+PAR
‘we built snow castles (castles in the snow)’

(113) firma tekee kymmenien miljoonien

firm+NOM make/do+3SG ten+PL+GEN million+PL+GEN
Ac Pro:mat Go

tappiot [HS 19.11.89: A32]


‘The/A firm makes losses running into tens of millions.’


As indicated in these examples, if the Goal is realized by a nominal (or NP), it is

in the genitive (109, 110), partitive (111, 112) or nominative (113). The nomina-
tive and genitive refer to something that is bounded in space or time,
whereas with the partitive, it is non-bounded (for a fuller discussion, see
3.4.2 (pp. 94 ) 99)). A human pronoun is either in the accusative (bounded) or
partitive (non-bounded):

(114) sä voit vaikka tappaa mut

you-NOM can++2SG even kill I+ACC
Aci [Modality]+Aci Pro:mat Go
‘you can even kill me’

tapa mut joku päivä [AR:53]

kill-2SG/IMP I+ACC some+NOM day+NOM
Pro:mat Go Circ
‘kill me some day’

The distinctions in boundedness outlined above are an important feature

shared by material processes. These boundedness distinctions are available in
material processes because they construct change, activity or transition. As indi-
cated above, the distinctions are realized in the case-marking of the NP realizing
the Goal, i.e. what is traditionally referred to as the object. Clauses with a mental
process are also considered to have an object, and, similarly the object can be in
the genitive nominative, partitive and accusative. However, as I shall argue in the
section on mental processes, the same semantic options are not available.

Another feature that is characteristic of almost all clauses realizing material

processes in Finnish ) whether transitive or intransitive ) is also related to the
semantics of change and activity. A clause with a material process can be ex-
tended by an NP that realizes spatial or temporal Extent. The NP realizing the
Extent patterns in a similar way to a Goal in Finnish, i.e. it is similar to an object:
(115) Yön kuningatar kukkii
night+GEN queen+NOM blossom+3SG
Ac Pro:mat

yhden yön. [Example from Penttilä 1963:600]

one+GEN night+GEN
Ex: temp

‘The midnight lily [a plant] blooms for one night.’

(116) (mä ..) juoksin vielä loppumatkan [TP1:1]

(I+NOM ..) ran+1SG still/yet/besides end+trip/way+GEN
Ac Pro:mat (NR) Ex: spat
‘and what’s more I ran the rest of the way’

In example 115, the process of ‘blooming’ is given a temporal extent (‘one night’)
and in example 116 the process of ‘running’ a spatial extent (‘the rest of the

The NP exemplified by the underlined constituent in 115 and 116 is either

referred to as an “object-like modifier” (Finnish: objektin sukuinen määrite
(Penttilä 1963: 660; Siro 1964: 24; Ikola 1977: 142) or as “an adverbial of quan-
tity case-marked like an object” (objektinsijainen määrän adverbiaali) (see e.g.
Hakulinen & Karlsson 1979: 179, 216ff., Leino 1991: 181ff.). This is commonly
abbreviated as “OSMA” (from the Finnish (objektinsijainen määrän adver-
biaali). As indicated above and as pointed out by Leino (1991: 181), an OSMA
has a similar kind of case-marking (or variation in case-marking) as an object. For
example, a characteristic feature of an object in Finnish is that it is affected by the
polarity of the verb: if the polarity is negative, the object is typically in the parti-
tive (see 3.4.2, pp. 95 ) 96). This is also true of an OSMA:

(117) mä juoksin loppumatkan

I+NOM ran+1SG end+trip/way+GEN
Ac Pro:mat Ex: spat
‘I ran the rest of the way’

(118) mä en juossut loppumatkaa

I+NOM NEG+1SG run+PTC end+trip/way+PAR
Ac Pro:mat Ex: spat
‘I didn’t run the rest of the way’

While there are some differences between the case-marking of objects and
OSMAs, the similarities are striking, and this point is often emphasised by Finn-
ish linguists (Leino 1991: 181).

Because of these similarities, the term OSMA (where the “A” at the end
stands for “adverbial”) is misleading in that an OSMA in Finnish is not really a
subtype of adverbial, but more like an object. In traditional Latin-based grammars
of Indo-European languages, the object is seen as the entity to which an action is
“passed over” or extended (see e.g. Robins 1967: 37). An “object-like modifier”
also realizes an extension of the action ) its extension in space or time. The fact
that an NP realizing the Extent of the process is related to the NP realizing the
Goal (i.e. the object in a material process) is also evidenced by the fact that there
is a fuzzy line between the two. This is particularly true of NPs realizing the spa-
tial Extent of a process. The Extent in example 117 is similar the underlined NP is
the following example, which could be considered a Goal:

(119) se on kolunnu ton kaukoidän

(s)he+NOM be+3SG go through/over+PTC that+GEN Far-East+GEN
Ac Pro:mat Go

aika hyvin [CA3:3]

quite well

‘She has gone over (travelled through) the Far-East quite well’

The fact that both Extent and Goal can be realized in the one clause is an
indication that they are separate functions:

(120) mä oon mussuttanu noita dominokeksejä

I+NOM be+1SG overeat/stuff+PTC those+PL+PAR domino+biscuit+PL+PAR
Ac Pro:mat Goal

täs koko kesän ja syksyn [Tel2:6]

here/this+INE whole (UF) summer+GEN & autumn+GEN
(NR) Extent

‘I’ve been scoffing those domino biscuits here all summer & autumn.’

Hakulinen & Karlsson (1979: 179) make a similar point: based on Siro (1964),
they argue that OSMAs and objects are distinct.

The function Extent can also be realized in a relational or mental process,

but in these instances, the process can only be extended temporally.1 The same
kind of case variation occurs. For example:

(121) a. Jussi oli siellä yhden yön.

Jussi-NOM be+3SG/PAS there+ADE one+GEN night+GEN
‘Jussi was there for a night/Jussi spent a night there.’

b. Jussi ei ollut siellä yhtäkään yötä.

Jussi-NOM NEG/3SG be+PTC there+ADE one+PAR+TIS night+PAR
‘Jussi wasn’t there for even a night.’

(122) Anna on ollut opettajana neljä vuotta.

Anna-NOM be-3SG be+PTC teacher+ESS four-NOM year+PAR
‘Anna has been a teacher for four years.’

Thus, I am not claiming that a temporal Extent is specific to a material process,

but the notion of temporal extension is typical of a material process. When a tem-
poral Extent is added to a relational processes, the relation is construed as some-
thing with a temporal dimension.

Another feature shared by the majority of material processes is that they can
take a -sti adverb of manner that modifies the temporal dimension of the process:

X lähti/meni/tuli/käveli/kävi kiireisesti/nopeasti.
X left/went/came/walked/visited hurriedly/quickly

X kuoli/söi hitaasti
X died/ate slowly

These adverbs are of course possible with a relational process that constructs a
change, i.e. a resultative process such as meistä tulee nopeasti kuuluisia ‘we

If a spatial Extent occurs with a verb that is typically associated with a relational or mental
process, I would argue that a material process is being construed.

shall quickly become famous’, but it is certainly not typical of a stative intensive
process such as he ovat kuuluisia ‘they’re famous’. Mental processes, on the
other hand, commonly occur with a -sti adverb and this is a reflection of the fact
that many mental processes have a material aspect to them.

A final feature to be discussed concerns the use of the so-called 3rd infini-
tive in the inessive. The stem of a verb that typically realizes a material process
can occur with a nominal affix in the inessive in response to the question Missä X
on? ‘Where is X?’:

(123) Joku / jokin on X+ma+ssa

someone / something is VERB STEM + NOM. + INESSIVE
‘Someone/something is X:ing’

As mentioned in 6.3.4.(ii), a structure such as this realizes a circumstantial rela-

tional processes, and the meaning can generally be glossed as ‘some-
one/something is in the process of doing something’. For example, X on
ui+ma+ssa ~ juokse+ma+ssa jne. ‘X is [in the process of] swimming ~ running
etc.’ With transitive verbs, the process realized by the verb stem can be extended
by a Goal.

(124) Joku / jokin on X+ma+ssa Y + (t)a

someone / something is VERB STEM + NOM. + INESSIVE noun + PAR
‘Someone/something is X:ing someone/something.’

For example, X on maalaa+ma+ssa taulua ~ rakenta+ma+ssa taloa ~ os-

ta+ma+ssa autoa ‘X is [in the process of] painting a picture/building a
house/buying a car’ etc.

The structures given in 123 and 124 are unlikely if the stem is a mental pro-
cess: Missä X on? ‘Where is X?’ ) ??X on ajattelemassa ‘X is [in the process of]
thinking’, ??X on tykkäämässä Sailasta ‘X is [in the process of] liking Saila’, or
??X on vihaamassa Sailaa ‘X is [in the process of] hating Saila’. There are, of

course, mental verbs like pohtia ‘ponder’ that can be construed as a material
process: He ovat pohtimassa asiaa ‘They’re deliberating over the matter’.1

The meaning of the clause type exemplified in 123 above is also dependent
on the meaning of 1) the verb stem, 2) other derivational affixes attached to the
verb and 3) the subject. In SF terms ) where lexicogrammar is seen as a contin-
uum from highly abstract to more specific meanings ) the clause-type 123 above
can be given a general and abstract meaning, as indicated above, but more deli-
cate morphological and lexical choices determine its more precise meaning. Thus,
for example, with Pommi on räjähtämässä 2 ‘The bomb is [in the process of]
exploding (i.e. it is about to explode)’ which realizes a material processes in
which the verb is an “achievement” verb ) in the sense of Dowty (1979) (based
on Vendler (1967)) ) i.e. it refers to something that happens instantaneously, the
clause refers to a process that is about to happen. (For further discussion, see
Heinämäki 1981, Brigden 1984: 193 ff., Maamies 1990: 85 ff.)

6.4.3. Subtypes of Material Process

I shall not attempt an exhaustive analysis of the various subtypes of material pro-
cesses. However, I shall consider in some detail a number of basic subtypes of
material process, which I shall refer to as (i) meteorological, (ii) experiencer, and
(iii) behavioural processes. These particular subtypes are not more important or
more frequent that other subtypes of material processes, but (a) meteorological
and experiencer processes represent clause types that have been discussed by
Finnish linguists and (b) experiencer and behavioural processes represent a fuzzy
area between material and mental processes. Both meteorological and experiencer
processes differ from other material processes in that an Actor is not obligatory.

On the other hand, I would consider a verb like mietiskellä ‘to meditate’ to be a material
process. While it refers to a mental activity, the emphasis is on the activity, and for this
reason, it is construed like a material process.
Although this example has been used by Finnish linguists, it is perhaps more natural to say
Pommi on räjähtämäisillään ‘The bomb is about to explode’.

6.4.3.(i) Meteorological Processes

The verb in a meteorological process is always in the third person singular. There
is no Actor in the clause, and, thus, a meteorological process can be minimally
realized by the Process alone:

(125) Sataa.
‘It’s raining.’

However, like other material processes, they can be modified by a -sti adverb,
(e.g. sataa rankasti ‘It’s raining hard’) and they can be given a temporal Extent
(e.g. satoi koko viikon ‘It rained all week’).

It is also possible for a clause realizing a meteorological process to be ex-

tended by an NP, which is generally in the partitive (e.g. sataa lunta ‘rains
snow’). This NP has traditionally been referred to as the object. However, it dif-
fers from other Goals in material processes. According to Halliday (1985a: 104),
there are two types of material process with a Goal. One type is the dispositive,
i.e. something is done to another entity (as in sä voit vaikka tappaa mut ‘you can
even kill me’). The other type is the creative, i.e. the other entity is brought into
being by the process (e.g. me rakennettiin lumilinnoja ‘we built snow castles’).
The NP in a meteorological clause is neither an entity that something is done to
(dispositive) nor an entity created by the process (creative). It further specifies the
process: sataa ‘it’s raining’, sataa vettä ‘it’s raining (water), sataa lunta ‘it’s
snowing [snow is falling]’, sataa rakeita ‘it’s hailing [hail is falling]’, sataa rän-
tää ‘it’s sleeting [sleet is falling]’. I shall refer to them as Specifiers (of the pro-

(126) (Ulkona) sataa (lunta/vettä).

outside+ESS rain+3SG snow+PAR /water+PAR
Circ Pro:mat:met Specifier
‘It’s raining/snowing outside.’
(127) Tuulee (kovasti). [NS]
wind+3SG hard/strong
Pro:mat:met Circ:manner
‘It’s windy/There’s a strong wind.’

(128) On pyryttänyt jo kolme päivää. [NS]

be+3SG snowstorm+PTC already three day+PAR
Pro:mat:met (NR) Ext
‘There’s been a snowstorm for three days now.’

These meteorological processes contrast with ambient processes discussed

in 6.3.3 (e.g. (Merellä) oli tuulista [(at sea) was windy] ‘It was windy at sea’).
Arguments against the conflation of ambient and meteorological processes were
presented in 6.3.3 and need not be repeated here.

6.4.3.(ii) Experiencer Processes

What I refer to as experiencer processes are also referred to as “causatives of feel-

ing” by Finnish linguists (e.g. Vilkuna 1989: 45). The finite verb in an experien-
cer clause is always in the third person, either singular or plural. The NP realizing
the Experiencer typically refers to a human being or to a part of the human body.
This NP is always in the partitive, and does not agree with the finite verb in num-
ber or person. In traditional Finnish linguistics, it is referred to as the object.

(129) mua ärsytti [TP1:35]

I+PAR annoy+PAS+3SG
Experiencer Pro:mat:exp
I’m felt irritated/I felt annoyed.’

(130) a. polvea särkee, ...

knee+PAR hurt+3SG
Experiencer Pro:mat:exp
‘My knee hurts/aches’

b. päänahkaa kutittaa [HS 27.11.90:D10]

scalp+PAR itch+3SG
Experiencer Pro:mat:exp
‘My scalp itches/is itching.’

The NP realizing the Experiencer often (though by no means always) precedes the

In spite of the fact that the finite verb often contains a causative affix
(-tta/ttä-) ) as in 129 and 130 above ) there is no Instigator in the clause, i.e.
nothing in the clause to indicate what is bringing about the process (of being an-
noyed, itching etc.) in the clauses above. However it is possible to add one, in
which case it has traditionally been referred to as the grammatical subject:

(131) mua uuvutti jo ajatuskin [AR:12]

I+PAR exhaust/wear out+3SG already/even thought-NOM +TIS
Exp Pro:mat:exp Instigator

‘Just thinking about it wore me out/I was worn out by the thought of it.’

(132) mua ihmetyttää presidentti Koiviston käyttäytyminen

I+PAR wonder+3SG president+NOM Koivisto+GEN behaviour+NOM
Exp Pro:mat:exp Instigator
‘I wonder at/I’m surprised by President Koivisto’s behaviour.’ [S3/91: 61]

The fact that the final NP is the grammatical subject is evidenced by the fact that
in standardized written Finnish, there is agreement between a plural NP and the
finite verb.

(133) Minua ihmetyttävät monenlaiset asiat

I+PAR wonder+3PL many+GEN +kind+NOM/PL thing+NOM/PL
Exp Pro:mat:exp Instigator

tässä maassa.
this+INE country+INE

‘I wonder at/I’m surprised by many things in this country.’

Experiencer processes are on the borderline between mental and material

processes. Many of the verbs that realize an experiencer process refer to human
feelings and responses, as indicated in the previous example. Other examples
include: (m(in)ua ‘I-PARTITIVE ’) oudoksuttaa ‘to be astonished’, vituttaa ‘to be
pissed off’, huvittaa ‘to be amused’, hävettää ‘to be ashamed’ etc. Thus, expe-
riencer processes have some grammatical features of mental processes, as dis-
cussed in 6.5 below (i.e. variation in the case-marking of the NP realizing the
Experiencer is not possible) and it could be argued that they are a subtype of men-
tal process. However, I have grouped them with material processes as they are

construed like internal activities, as evidenced by the fact that the finite verb often
contains a causative affix.

In the examples given so far, the NP realizing the Experiencer has preceded
the verb. It is also possible for it to follow the verb, e.g. Presidentti Koiviston
käyttäytyminen ihmetytti Moskovaa ‘President Koivisto’s behaviour surprised
Moscow’. This brings in the question of whether experiencer processes are simply
textual variants of material processes. While it may be valid to argue along these
lines, it seems to me that they can be regarded as a distinct sub-type on the basis
of the fact that the realization of an Instigator is not textually conditioned. The
fact that this process can be realized with only one inherent role is an inherent
characteristic of an experiencer process.

Hakulinen & Karlsson (1979: 98-99), in their analysis of what they also
refer to as “experiencer clauses” (Finnish: kokijalause), include not only causa-
tives of feeling, but also a number of subtypes that are grammatically quite differ-
ent from each other, but linked by the fact that the initial constituent is seen as
some kind of experiencer. Firstly, their analysis refers to the following as an
experiencer clause.

(134) Minulla on jano. [Hakulinen & Karlsson 1979: 98]

I+ADE be+3SG thirst+NOM .
Poss:er Pro:rel Poss:ed
‘I’m thirsty [I’ve got a thirst]’.

In this study, clauses of this type are considered to be relational processes (pos-
sessive processes) (see 6.3.4.(iii)). Secondly, they include a number of fossilized,
idiom-like clause-types. In these the initial nominal is in the genitive and the verb
is always in the third person singular:

(135) Minun käy sääliksi häntä.

I+GEN go+3SG pity+TRA him/her+PAR
‘I feel (I’m inclined to feel) sorry for him/her.’

(136) Minun tekee mieli (syödä) jäätelöä ~ lähteä

I+GEN do+3SG mind-NOM (eat+INF ) icecream+PAR leave +INF
‘I feel like (eating) some icecream ~ leaving.’

The analysis of the these clauses with the initial nominal in the genitive is
problematic. As Hakulinen & Karlsson point out in a footnote, it is also possible
to regard some modal constructions in Finnish as experiencer clauses. In a partic-
ular type of modal clause referred to as a “necessitative construction” in tradi-
tional grammars of Finnish, the initial nominal is also in the genitive and the verb
is always in the third person singular:

(137) Minun täytyy aivastaa. [Hakulinen & Karlsson 1979: 99]

I+GEN must+3SG sneeze+INF
‘I’ve got to sneeze.’

(138) Meidän täytyy kirjoittaa raportti.

we+GEN must+3SG write+INF report+NOM
‘We’ve got to write a/the report.’

Hakulinen & Karlsson regard modal/necessitative constructions as having a

“genitive subject”. However, they point out that from the perspective of tradi-
tional grammar the initial NP could be analysed as a dative adverbial: it realizes
the entity at which the “having to” is directed.

In some respects, the genitive NP is like an Experiencer since, as Laitinen

(1988: 162-163) points out, it is not in control of the situation. However, this gen-
itive NP differs from the NP realizing the function Experiencer in at least two res-
pects. First of all, the case-marking is different: one is always in the partitive, the
other is always in the genitive. Secondly, the NP realizing the Experiencer is tra-
ditionally referred to as the object, and, as indicated above, a subject can be added
to the clause. A genitive NP, on the other hand, is not like an object; clauses with

a genitive NP commonly contain an object, as illustrated by 135, 136 and 138


Examples such as 135 ) 137 are construed as non-volitional events that af-
fect the genitive participant. The participant is “controlled” by force of circum-
stance or by an automatic or instinctive response. The clauses contrast with the
following clauses:2

(139) (Minä) säälin häntä.

I+NOM pity+1SG him/her+PAR
‘I pity him/her.’

(140) (Minä) syön jäätelöä.

I+NOM eat+1SG icecream+PAR
‘I’ll eat icecream ~ I’ll have icecream’.

(141) (Me) kirjoitamme raportin.

we+NOM write+1PL report+GEN
‘We’ll write a/the report.’

Rather than regard examples such as 135 and 136 as another subtype of experien-
cer clause, they can be regarded as expressions of modality in Finnish, if modality
is understood in the sense that it is used by Halliday (1985a: 85 ff., 334 ff; Halli-
day in Kress (ed.) 1976: 189-213) to refer to the semantics of personal participa-
tion. Halliday sees modality in terms of a number of scales: probability, usuality,
obligation and inclination. Of these scales, usuality and obligation are not usually
included in logically based analyses of modality (e.g. Lyons 1977b: 787 ff.).
Halliday’s scale of inclination appears to be particularly relevant to the grammar
of personal participation as realized in the examples above, although the scale
itself and its application would have to be re-thought for Finnish. Both examples
135 and 136 above could be seen in terms of inclination.

The case-marking of an object in a clause in which there is a genitive NP differs from
“ordinary” clauses with a grammatical subject. As illustrated by 102 above, the object is in
the nominative rather than in the genitive.
This comparison is not meant to imply some kind of simple transformation. Moreover, there
are certain meanings that are generally always construed as non-volitional e.g. m(in)un täytyy
aivastaa ‘I’ve got to sneeze’.

In Hakulinen & Karlsson’s view, experiencer clauses also include the clause
type Minun on jano ‘I’m thirsty’, a slightly archaic variant of the possessive
clause in which the initial nominal is in the genitive. There are a number of other
common expressions like this which do not have an archaic flavour about them,
for example, M(in)un on hyvä olla ‘I feel good’, Mikä Leilan on? [what/which
Leila +GEN be-3SG ] ‘What’s up with Leila?’. These do not display the same kind
of variation indicated above (minä) lähden ‘I’m leaving’ ~ Minun täytyy lähteä
‘I’ve got to leave’ and can be considered variants of possessive processes (see

6.4.3.(iii) Behavioural Processes

A sub-category of material process is a behavioural process, a doing or a happen-

ing that is a typically human activity, for example, puhua ‘to speak’, surra ‘to
grieve’, hymyillä ‘(to) smile’ or pelata ‘(to) play [a game]’, soittaa ‘(to) play (a
musical instrument)’, leikkiä ‘to play [in the sense of children’s play]’. Like
experiencer processes, behavioural processes can be regarded as being on the
borderline between mental and material processes.

The NP that is traditionally regarded as an object, however, is unlike a Goal

in an ordinary material process: if one says, for example, Anne puhui suomea
‘Anne spoke Finnish’ or Anne pelasi tennistä ‘Anne played/was playing tennis’,
then while it could be argued that Anne did something, the final NP is not some-
thing that is acted upon or created by the process. Halliday (1985a: 134 ff.) postu-
lates the function Range for English: “the Range is the element that specifies the
range or scope of the process”. As Halliday puts it, the Range defines the co-ordi-
nates of the process, so to speak. Thus, in the clause Anne pelasi tennistä ‘Anne
played tennis’, it is not a question of what Anne did to tennis, but what is indi-
cated is the scope or range of her playing. The following are examples of behav-
ioural processes in Finnish:
(142) sä soitat kitaraa [SIIIM3b:5]
you(SG) play+2SG guitar+PAR
Ac Pro:mat:beh Range
‘You play the guitar.’

(143) mut kyl seki oli semmosta et -- asiakas tuli puhuun mulle ruotsia [TIIN3b:8]
‘but then it was like -- a customer would come and speak to me in Swedish’

mä puhuin suomea
I-NOM speak+PAS+1SG Finnish+PAR
Ac Pro:mat:beh Range
‘I spoke (in) Finnish.’

hän puhui ruotsia takas [SIIN3c:19]

(s)he-NOM speak+PAS+3SG Swedish+PAR back
Ac Pro:mat:beh Range (NR)
‘(S)he’d speak back in Swedish.’

Behavioural processes are more like material processes in that they construe
activities in the external world, and like other material activities, they can be
probed by mitä X teki? ‘What did X do?’. In example 143 above, it would have
been possible to respond to asiakas tuli puhuun mulle ruotsia ‘a customer would
come and speak to me in Swedish’ by asking mitä sä sitten teit? ‘what did you do
then?’. Behavioural processes can be modified by an adverb of manner like
nopeasti ‘quickly’ or hitaasti ‘slowly’: puhua nopeasti ‘speak quickly’, soittaa
nopeasti ‘play [an instrument] quickly’ and it is not unusual for the verb stem to
occur in the inessive hän on puhumassa Annen kanssa ‘(s)he’s speaking with

On the other hand, behavioural processes have some features in common

with mental processes. As discussed in section 6.4.2, material processes display
distinctions in boundedness that are realized by the case-marking of the NP real-
izing the Goal. In the next section on mental processes (6.5), I shall argue that the
same options are not available in mental processes. This is also true of many
behavioural processes: the NP is typically in the partitive and, thus, there is no
variation in case-marking to distinguish between bounded and non-bounded
events: puhua suomea ‘to speak Finnish’, pelata tennistä ‘to play tennis’, surra
kuollutta ystävää ‘to grieve for one’s dead friend’ etc.

6.5. Mental Processes

6.5.1. Internal and External, Verbalized Consciousness

Mental processes are concerned with the internal world of human consciousness,
and, in fact, another possible label for this process type is “processes of human
consciousness”. From a more philosophical perspective, of course, all of language
can be seen as being intimately linked with human consciousness. This section,
however, is concerned with the way in which human consciousness is realized in
language, with the way in which processes of saying, thinking, sensing, feeling,
perceiving, and reacting are construed in Finnish. Mental processes in this study
constitute a superordinate category that covers processes concerned with both the
internal consciousness of the human mind and external verbalized consciousness.
A similar superordinate category appears in Matthiessen’s (1989) description of
English. At a greater degree of delicacy, one would need to distinguish various
subtypes. For example, Matthiessen (1989) distinguishes mental, perceptive, reac-
tive and verbal processes in English.

As stressed throughout this study, however, the setting up of a category,

such as a mental process, means that we need to be able to distinguish it gram-
matically. At first sight, mental processes may seem to comprise a completely
heterogeneous set of process types that have nothing in common grammatically,
which puts into question the postulation of a superordinate process type. The fol-
lowing are examples of what I consider to be mental processes in Finnish. In the
glosses, I make only a broad distinction between verbal, on the one hand, and
mental, reactive and perceptive, on the other. The inherent (human) role is re-
ferred to as a Sayer in a verbal process and a Senser in a mental process. Since
mental processes construe human consciousness, the Senser or Sayer is typically
realized by an NP that refers to a conscious being. Following Halliday’s (1985a)
analysis of English, the role of the NP that refers to what is said will be labelled
the Verbiage and the role of the NP that realizes what is sensed, perceived or re-
acted to will be referred to as the Phenomenon.
(144) kuulet satakielen laulun pihapuusta
hear+2SG nightingale+GEN song+GEN yard/garden+tree+ELA
* Pro:men + Sen * Phen *

‘you can hear the song of a nightingale in (/coming from) a tree in the garden’

ja näet ikkunasta hirviperheen uivan

see+2SG window+ELA elk+family+GEN swim+GEN
& * Pro:men + Sen * Circ * Phen

lahden poikki [HKV]

bay/inlet+GEN across

‘and from your window you can see a family of elk swimming across the inlet.’

(145) Mä rakastan sua. [AR:38]

I-NOM love+1SG you(sg)+PAR
Seni Pro:men + Seni Phen
‘I love you.’

(146) en mäkä(än) semmosia taloja

NEG+1SG I-NOM +TIS such kind+PL+PAR house+PL+PAR
Pro÷ + Seni * Seni * Phen *

ole nähny [TP1:14]

be+PTC see+PTC
²Pro÷ ²Pro:men

‘I haven’t seen houses like that either.’

(147) mä tykkään Haikaran pesästä [TIIIN3d:7]

I+NOM like+1SG Stork+GEN Nest+ELA
Seni Pro:men + Seni Phen

‘I like Stork’s Nest (a restaurant).’

(148) ja sit mä sanoin ** kui monelt

and then I-NOM say+PAS+1SG how many+ABL
Sayi Pro:men + Sayi ** Projection

mä pääsen [TP1:12]
I-NOM get out/into+1SG
(Material process)

‘and then I said when (at what time) I’d be getting out/finishing’

6.5.2. Defined by Differences

The grammatical features shared by mental processes could be regarded as being

more covert than the grammatical features that are shared by the other major pro-
cess types ) even if we still work with the notion of a prototype. However, recent
discussions of randomness and order in chaos theory have made us aware that
order and organization can not be seen in simplistic terms. As Butt (1988) points
out, chaos theory has sensitized us to the subtlety of possible orders. What links
many of the processes that I refer to here as mental processes is the fact they are
grammatically different from material processes.

Hakulinen & Karlsson (1979: 94) refer to a set of “semi-transitive verbs” in

Finnish. These are verbs that realize a process in which the second inherent role,
unlike the Goal discussed above, is not realized by an NP in the nominative, par-
titive or genitive, but in one of the locative cases (see Figure 3-7, p. 84). Some of
the verbs mentioned by Hakulinen & Karlsson realize what are being referred to
here as mental processes:

(i) pitää ‘(to) like’ + jostakin ‘someone/something+ELA’

varmistua ‘be certain of’ + jostakin ‘someone/something+ELA’

(ii) kyllästyä ‘get/be fed up’ + johonkin ‘someone/something+ILL’

rakastua ‘fall in love with’ + johonkin ‘someone/something+ILL’

(iii) säästyä ‘be spared’ + joltakin ‘someone/something+ABL’

välttyä ‘avoid, get out of’ + joltakin ‘someone/something+ABL’

These semi-transitive verbs can be characterized by the fact that they are different
from transitive verbs: in traditional terms, they do not take an object:

(149) mä pidän Elviksestä

I-NOM like+1SG Elvis+ELA
Seni Pro:men + Seni Phen
‘I like Elvis’

(150) mä rakastuin Elvikseen

I-NOM love+PAS/AUT+1SG Elvis+ILL
Seni Pro:men + Seni Phen
‘I fell in love with Elvis’

Thus, the choice between the partitive and the other grammatical cases is not
available and distinctions in boundedness cannot be made. The fact that these
verbs do not take an object seems highly significant: mental processes are not
constructed as processes that involve a change or an activity in the external, ma-
terial world.1

However, there are many verbs that refer to saying, thinking, sensing, feel-
ing, perceiving, and reacting in Finnish, and yet they “take an object”. These in-
clude verbs like tietää ‘(to) know [a fact]’, tuntea ‘(to) know [a person]’, rakas-
taa ‘(to) love’, nähdä ‘(to) see’, ajatella ‘(to) think’, unohtaa ‘(to) forget’, muis-
taa ‘(to) remember’, haluta ‘(to) want’ etc. Many of these differ from material
processes in much the same way as these processes in which there is a “semi-tran-
sitive” verb. The Phenomenon in these instances is typically (and often almost
invariably) either in the partitive or in the nominative/genitive/accusative:

(151) Mä ajattelen Elvistä

I-NOM think+1SG Elvis+PAR
Seni Pro:men + Seni Phen
‘I’m thinking about Elvis

(152) Mä muistan Elviksen / hänet.

I-NOM remember+1SG Elvis+GEN / he+ACC
Seni Pro:men + Seni Phen
‘I remember Elvis/him’.

Nevertheless, there are other verbs that have features of both mental and
material processes in Finnish. The verb rakastaa ‘(to) love’, for example, typi-
cally construes a non-bounded process: the Phenomenon is almost always real-
ized by an NP in the partitive.

While many reactive verbs (e.g. rakastua ‘to fall in love’, kyllästyä ‘get/be fed up’) can be
regarded as involving a change in the state of the person undergoing the process, they are not
construed as material changes in the external world, i.e. changes to which aspectual
distinctions and distinctions in total and partial quantity can normally be applied.
(153) Mä rakastan sua. [AR:38]
I-NOM love+1SG you(sg)+PAR
Sen Pro:men + Sen Phen
‘I love you.’

However, the verb rakastaa ‘(to) love’ can also realize a material process in the
following ) rather unusual ) type of context:

(154) rakastan sinut kuoliaaksi

love+1SG you(sg)+ACC to death
‘I love you to death’ (the name of an American film)

(155) rakastin sinut rappiolle

love+1SG you(sg)+ACC destruction+ALL
‘I loved you to destruction’ (from the Finnish poet Eino Leino).

Thus mental processes can be distinguished by the fact that the Phenomenon
or Verbiage is not case-marked like an object in a material process: either the NP
does not display the same kind of variation in case-marking as an NP realizing the
Goal in a material process or it is realized by an NP in one of the locative cases.
Mental process can also be negatively defined with respect to some features of
material processes: for example, the stem of a verb that typically realizes a mental
process is unlikely to occur in the syntagm Hän on ___ massa/mässä ‘(S)he is
(in the process of) ___ ing’ in response to the question Mitä hän tekee ‘What is
(s)he doing?’. Another significant feature associated with mental processes,
which distinguishes them from material processes, is that they can project. Projec-
tion will be discussed in the next section.

6.5.4. Human Consciousness and Projection

As discussed in 4.5.5 (p. 159 ff.), projection in SF theory does not only refer to
what is traditionally labelled direct and indirect speech. It refers to the fact that a
clause or a non-finite clause ) instead of being a direct representation of reality )
is at a further remove from the reality. It seems natural that a category of mental
processes ) processes of human consciousness ) allow us to reflect on reality
through the resources of projection.

From the point of view of distinguishing mental processes as a superordinate

category, it is not so much the distinction between Quotes and Reports or be-
tween Ideas and Locutions that is important in Finnish, since this kind of projec-
tion is only part of the picture. The discussion on projection in Chapter 4 focused
on projection as a relationship between clauses, but another important notion that
was also introduced in Chapter 4 is the notion of embedding, where one clause
functions in the structure of a host clause. Thus projection can either be a relation-
ship between clauses at the rank of clause, or it can involve a relationship, where-
by one clause functions in the structure of another clause.

Before discussing embedded projection in Finnish, a set of distinctions use-

ful in the analysis of mental processes will be discussed. Matthiessen (1989: 85)
distinguishes various types of Phenomena in mental processes: a simple phenom-
enon, a macrophenomenon and a metaphenomenon. These different classes of
realizing units will be exemplified in turn. A simple Phenomenon is an NP, as in
the first clause of example 144 and in 147 above:


kuulet satakielen laulun (See example 144 above.)

Pro:men+Sen Phen
‘you can hear the song of a nightingale’

mä tykkään Haikaran pesästä (See example 147 above.)

Seni Pro:men+Seni Phen
‘I like Stork’s Nest’

A macrophenomenon (or a composite phenomenon) is non-finite clause function-

ing as phenomenon. This is illustrated by the second clause in 144 above:


näet hirviperheen uivan lahden poikki

see+2SG elk+family+GEN swim+GEN bay/inlet+GEN across
Pro:men+Sen Phen
‘you can see a family of elk swimming across the inlet’

These macrophenomena are important in Finnish and correspond to what Finnish

linguists refer to as “clause equivalents” (lauseenvastike). They will be discussed
more fully below.

By contrast, a metaphenomenon is a projected clause. With metaphenomena,

the clause can either be 1) part of a clause complex where the mental process is
realized in the projecting clause and the projected clause realizes the phenome-
non, or else 2) the clause is embedded. The first instance can be illustrated by the
following examples:


(156) mä tiedän et mun täytyy

I+NOM know+1SG that I+GEN must+3SG
Seni Pro:men+Seni Phen

aamuyöstä nousta [CA3:10]

morning+night+ELA rise/get up+INF

‘I know I have to get up in the early hours of the morning.’

(157) mä sanoin sille sano mun

I-NOM say+1SG (s)he/it+ALL say+IMP+2SG I+GEN
Sayer Pro: verbal Receiver Pro:verbal Ver


sanoneen, sulta loppuu pohjavedet [OH]

say+PTC+GEN you+ABL finish/end+3SG ground+water+NOM/PL
2 2

‘I told him “Remember my saying [say that I’ve told you] ‘your ground water will dry up
on you’”.

This last example is further complicated by the fact that the second clause con-
tains a nonfinite clause, a macrophenomenon, mun sanoneen ‘my saying’, which
contains a non-finite form of the verbal process sano- ‘say’, which, in turn, pro-
jects another clause, sulta loppuu pohjavedet ‘your ground water will dry up on

As mentioned above, a projected clause can also be embedded. This is an

important resource in Finnish, and here the embedded clause is often part of an
NP that realizes a Fact (see 4.5.5, p. 161 ff.).

(158) mä ... unohdin [... interpolation ...] [Tel3:9]

I-NOM forget+PAS+1SG
Senser Pro:men

sen Û että mun piti tuoda se puhelinkone sinne â

it/that+GEN that I was supposed to take the telephone receiver there
Phen (Fact)

‘I forgot that I was supposed to take the telephone receiver there.’

(159) mä oon ajatellu just sitä et se

I-NOM be+1SG think+PTC precisely it+PAR that it+NOM
Senser Pro:men Phen (fact)

ois kauheeta kun nukkus ohi [CA3:12]

be+CON(3SG) awful+PAR when sleep+CON(3SG) past

‘I’ve thought precisely that ) that it would be awful to sleep in’ (The context here is: it
would be awful to sleep in if you had to go on a trip.)

The English translations of these obscure the fact that the Phenomenon is realized
by a pronoun followed by an embedded clause.

As mentioned above, so-called clause equivalents are a significant feature of

mental processes in Finnish. The Phenomenon (or Verbiage) is realized as a
macrophenomenon, a composite phenomenon with a non-finite verb form as
Head. One type of macrophenomena is realized by what Ikola (1974) has referred

to as a “reporting clause [or sentence] equivalent” (referatiivinen lauseenvas-

tike).1 The following are example of macrophenomena in Finnish:

(160) sano mun sanoneen .. [see 157 above]

Pro:Ver Verbiage (macrophenomenon ` non-finite clause)
‘Remember my saying .. ‘

(161) jos yhä vain pelkää kuntonsa rapistuvan

if evermore frighten+3SG condition+PO S/3 deteriorate+PTC+GEN
Pro:men Phen (macrophenomenon ` non-finite clause)

‘if you’re increasingly afraid that your condition is deteriorating (that you’re not getting
into better shape)’

kannattaa mennä kalliomaastoon sieneen. [HKV]

it’s worth your while to go picking mushrooms in rocky terrain.’

(162) he kokevat olevansa täällä

they+NOM/PL experience+3PL be+PTC+GEN here+ADE
Sen Pro:men Phen (macrophenomenon ` non-finite clause)

vähän parempia kuin muut [HKV]

a bit good+COMP+PL+PAR than rest+NOM/PL

‘Here (in Finland) they feel that they’re better than the rest [they experience a feeling of
being better than the rest].’

(163) Telegin huomasi heti törmänneensä

Telegin+NOM notice+PAS+3SG immediately bump into+PTC+G EN+POS/3
Sen Pro:men (NR) Phen (macrophenomenon `
lahjakkuuteen. [HKV]
non-finite clause)

‘Telegin immediately realized that he had bumped into an exceptionally gifted person.’

These “clause equivalents” are also referred to as “participial constructions”,

which is a more appropriate label.

These macrophenomena also include impersonal projections (i.e. where the

Senser is not explicated):

This is a somewhat misleading term, as many of the verbs that occur in the “matrix clause”
are difficult to imagine in terms of a report or a quote.

(164) ohjelmaa tuntuu aina olevan niin paljon [CA3:5]

programme+PAR seem+3SG always be+PTC+GEN so much
Phen ÷ Pro:men ²Phen (macrophenomenon ` non-finite clause)
‘There always seem to be so many things to do (too much on one’s agenda).’

The finite verb here tuntua ‘to seem/feel’ was one of the verbs included among
sensory attributive processes. Like näyttää ‘look/seem/appear’ and vaikuttaa
‘seem’, which were also included among sensory attributive processes, it often
realizes a mental process. In fact, it could be argued that the sensory processes
outlined in 6.3.1.(iii) are, in some respects, like relational processes and in other
respects like mental processes.

As examples 160 ) 163 illustrate, the projecting verb includes not only
verbs of saying and thinking, but also other verbs related to human experience,
e.g. kokea ‘to experience’, pelätä ‘to be afraid’. It need not necessarily refer to
what “someone has said or thought”; as pointed out in 4.5.5 (p. 159), projection
in general should not be understood in simplistic terms as referring to what
“someone has said or thought”. The following verbs occurred with a participial
construction in the HKV corpus (see appendix 2):

ajatella ‘to think’, arvata ‘to guess’, arvioida ‘to guess/estimate’, haluta ‘to want’, huoma-
ta ‘to notice’, ilmoittaa ‘to announce’, julistaa ‘to proclaim’, katsoa ‘to see/regard’, kertoa
‘to tell/relate’, kiistää ‘to deny/argue against’, korostaa ‘to stress’, kuvitella ‘to imagine’,
luulla ‘to think/feel’, kokea ‘to experience’, kuulla ‘to hear’, muistaa ‘to remember’, myön-
tää ‘admit/concede’, naureksia ‘to laugh’, nähdä ‘to see’, odottaa ‘to expect’, olettaa ‘to
assume’, osoittaa ‘to indicate’, otaksua ‘to assume, suppose’, painottaa ‘to stress’, pelätä
‘to be afraid’, povata ‘to forecast’, sanoa ‘to say’, sopia ‘to agree’, suunnitella ‘to plan’,
tietää ‘to know’, todeta ‘to confirm, verify’, todistaa ‘to prove’, tulkita ‘to interpret’,
tunnustaa ‘to confess’, tuntea ‘to feel’, uskoa ‘to believe’, väittää ‘to claim’.

I am not suggesting that these are the only verbs that realize mental processes, nor
that these verbs always realize a mental process. This list is simply to give some
indication of the kind of verb that is likely to realize a mental process.

6.6. Experiential Metaphors

The major process types outlined above present the bare outlines of experiential
structures in the Finnish clause: each process type needs to be analysed in much
greater delicacy. However, the outline given above provides some indication of
the experiential meaning potential at clause rank in Finnish. While the
lexicogrammatical resources of a language enable us to make certain meanings,
language as a system is not a static reservoir of pre-determined meanings. A per-
vasive semiotic resource in language is metaphor.

Metaphor in experiential structures can either be lexical or grammatical. The

notion of lexical metaphor is familiar from literary studies. Grammatical meta-
phor, on the other hand, is a far more subtle form of metaphor, which has only
recently begun to be noticed and described. As argued in Chapter 5, it is based on
the notion of a “baseline”, a baseline for realizing interpersonal and experiential
functions. With experiential functions, this means inter alia that processes (and
relations) at clause-rank are realized by verbs or VPs and that inherent and non-
inherent roles (participants and circumstances) are realized by NPs, PPs or AdvPs
in Finnish. These baseline realizations are referred to as congruent realizations.

Like lexical metaphors, grammatical metaphors gradually lose their meta-

phorical force, and become unmarked forms of encoding in a language. Even if
metaphorical encodings are unmarked, if congruent forms exist in the language,
then the choice between a congruent and a metaphorical realization represents
another set of options in the language in question. Examples of fairly unmarked
grammatical metaphor in Finnish are found when verbs like käydä ‘(to) go, func-
tion etc.’ and käyttää ‘(to) use’ occur with a Range that refers to a verbal act: e.g.
käydä neuvotteluja [verb + negotiation+PL+PAR] ‘to negotiate, to have negotia-
tions’; käyttää puheenvuoro [verb + speech+turn] ‘to speak (publicly on a
topic)’. As Halliday points out (1985a: 327), in expressions like these, the “verb
simply expresses the fact that some process takes place, and carries the verbal

categories of tense, polarity and so on, while the process itself is encoded as a
nominal group functioning as a Range”.

Often grammatical metaphor is tied up with the textual “packaging” of infor-


(165) Opiskelija Jussi Virtanen, 21, katosi lauantaina vastaisena yönä 7. syyskuuta Viking
Linen risteilijä Mariellalta.

Jussi Virtanen, a student, 21, disappeared during the early hours of Saturday morning,
7. September, on the Viking Line cruiser Mariella.

÷ Katoamisen on arvioitu tapahtuneen

disappearance-GEN estimate-PER/INDEF happen+PTC+GEN

kello kolmen ja neljän välillä. [HS 11.9.91:A9]

between three and four o’clock.

‘It is estimated that the disappearance happened between three and four o’clock.’

This example is further complicated by an embedded projection: there is a fact

projected by the verb arvioida ‘to estimate’. In an agnate finite clause, the fact
would have been katoaminen tapahtui kello kolmen ja neljän välillä ‘the dis-
appearance happened between three and four o’clock’. In unselfconscious spoken
Finnish, if someone has disappeared, it is highly unlikely that one would say
katoaminen tapahtui kello kolmen ja neljän välillä ‘the disappearance happened
between three and four o’clock’. A more congruent way of saying this would be,
for example: (Ne arvioi että,) Jussi katos kolmen ja neljän välillä ‘(They esti-
mate that) Jussi disappeared between three and four o’clock’. However, the above
text appears to be from a police report, and police reports are not concerned with
particular people but with events such as murders, disappearances and robberies.

Grammatical metaphor also has the effect of objectifying and distancing the
author from the event (cf. Eggins et al. 1987, Martin 1991). Something like a
murder or a disappearance, which in the extralinguistic world is a process )
something that happens in time rather than a concrete entity ) is constructed or

packaged as a nominal. For this reason, grammatical metaphor is common in sci-

entific texts: in the western understanding of science, at least, in order to study
something, one has to objectify and reify it (cf. Keller 1985). The above example
of metaphor is rather complex since it also involves a projected fact. The follow-
ing examples of grammatical metaphor in Finnish illustrate how metaphorical
expressions need not be grammatically complex. Example 166 (a ) c) is a frag-
ment of text from a newspaper article:

(166) a. Konservatiivisten voimien vaikutus NL:n

conservative+PL+GEN force+PL+GEN influence USSR+GEN
* Ac

talouselämässä heikkenee
economy+life+INE weaken+3SG
* Pro:mat *

‘The influence of conservative forces in economic circles in the USSR is weakening’

b. ja reformiajattelu voimistuu.
& reform+thinking+NOM strengthen+3SG
Ac * Pro:mat *

‘and revisionist thinking is gaining ground.’

c. Murrosvaiheen kivikot ovat kuitenkin

crisis/transition+stage+GEN stony patch+NOM/PL be+3PL nevertheless
Positioned Pro:rel (NR)

vielä edessä [[ talousuudistuksen tietä

still in front+INE economy+renewal+GEN road+PAR
(NR) Circ:temp (NR)

kuljettaessa. ]]
[HS 1.9.91:A2]

‘The roughest patches in the transitional stage are, nevertheless, still ahead as they
travel along the road to economic reform (~ the road to economic reform is travelled
(167) Antropologian ja naistutkimuksen välinen
anthropology+GEN & female+research+GEN intermediary+NOM
* Ac

luova jännite syntyy molempien

create+PTC/NOM tension+NOM be born+3SG both+PL+GEN
* Pro:mat * Circ

kiinostuksesta toisaalta erilaisuutta,

interest+ELA the one side+ABL differentness+PAR

toisaalta samanlaisuutta kohtaan. [Y 14/91:9]

the other side+ABL sameness/similarity+PAR toward

‘The creative tension between anthropology and feminist studies is created by an interest
in both disciplines in sameness (similarity), on the one hand, and differentness (differ-
ence), on the other hand.’

Examples 166a, 166b and 167 have a fairly uncomplicated grammatical pattern in
which the finite verb realizes a material process. Yet, to unpackage the metaphors
and put them in a more congruent form that could be understood by a child would
be quite a feat. The second sentence in example 166 (clause c) continues in the
same metaphorical vein; however, it is not an example of grammatical metaphor
but of lexical metaphor. It is slightly more complicated in that it includes an em-
bedded non-finite clause.

Grammatical metaphor as illustrated here is, of course, typical of written

language. As Halliday (1987: 149) has pointed out, written language gives us
another perspective on experience: a synoptic one. According to Halliday (1987:

Writing puts language in chains; it freezes it, so that it becomes a thing to be reflected on.
Hence it changes the ways that language is used for meaning with.

Writing allows us to package information concisely, and this is important in the

accumulation and development of knowledge. Crucial in packaging are
nominalization and grammatical metaphor. As Halliday puts it:

Until information can be organized and packaged in this way ) so that only the initiate under-
stands it ) knowledge cannot accumulate, since there is no way one discourse can start where
the other ones left off. When I can say

the random fluctuations in the spin components of one of the two particles

I am packaging the knowledge that has developed over a long series of preceding arguments
and presenting it as “to be taken for granted ) now we can proceed to the next step”. If I
cannot do this, but have to say every time that particles spin, that they spin in three dimen-
sions, that a pair of particles can spin in association with one another, that each one of the pair
fluctuates randomly as it is spinning, and so on, then it is clear that I will never get very far.

Nominalization and grammatical metaphor are resources that allow us to take

information for granted, so that we can build on the knowledge that has already
been accumulated. As Halliday (1987: 151) says, this “shuts the layman out”.
Shutting the layman out is a necessary part of specialist discourse.1

6.7. Macro-Roles in Finnish

6.7.1. Medium and Domain

Halliday (1985a: 144 ff.) discusses English in terms of the generalized functions
(or macro-roles) Medium and Agent. The macro-roles that I postulate for Finnish
are Medium and Domain. I use cursive script to underscore the fact that these
macro-roles are at a higher level of abstraction than the roles discussed earlier in
this chapter. Thus both Medium and Domain can be seen as generalized catego-
ries that are further specified in a particular lexicogrammatical environment. The
Medium in Finnish subsumes the Carrier or Identified in an intensive relational
process, the Located in a circumstantial relational process, the Actor in a material

However, when complex grammatical metaphor occurs in a text that is meant for the non-
initiate, then it is self-defeating, if this is used as the principal means of initiation into a
subject (see, for example, Karvonen’s (1991, 1992) analysis of Finnish textbooks for school-

process, and the Sayer or Senser in a mental process. The realization of the Me-
dium is complex in Finnish, and will be discussed more fully in Chapter 7. Suf-
fice to say here that it can be realized by what has traditionally been referred to as
the grammatical subject or by a bound morpheme (personal ending) attached to
the verb. For example:

(168) Akira Kurosawa -- on japanilainen elokuvaohjaaja. [W5:3374]

Akira Kurosawa-NOM be+3SG Japanese movie+director-NOM
Car (Medium) Pro:int Att
‘Akira Kurosawa is a Japanese motion picture director.’

(169) Olen Henna Partanen.1 [PL 1]

be+1SG Henna Partanen-NOM
Pro:int + Id (Medium) Ir
‘I’m Henna Partanen.’

(170) Ritvahan on naimisissa

Ritva+TIS be+3SG marriage +INE
Posit:ed (Medium) Pro:rel Circ
‘Ritva’s married of course’

(171) juoksin .. hullun lailla [CA12:4]

run+PAS + 1SG .. mad+GEN like/way+ADE
Pro:mat + Ac (Medium) (NR)
‘I ran like a madman/like crazy.’

(172) mä tykkään Haikaran pesästä [TIIIN3d:7]

I+NOM like + 1SG Stork+GEN Nest+ELA
Seni (Medium)Pro:men + Seni (Medium) Phen
‘I like Stork’s Nest (a restaurant).’

(173) syötkö hernekeittoa [CA2:27]

eat+2SG+Q pea+soup +PAR
Pro:mat + Ac (Medium) Range
‘Do you eat pea soup?’

According to Halliday (1985a: 146) in his analysis of English, the Medium

is the “participant that is the key figure in that process; .. the one through which
the process is actualized, and without which there would be no process at all”. In

In an identifying clause where both NPs are in the nominative (e.g. Kansallisteatterin
Markiisitar on Eeva-Kaarina Volanen ‘The National Theatre’s marchioness is Eeva-Kaarina
Volanen’) there are no grammatical criteria that can be appealed to in determining which NP
is the subject. On the other hand the question of which NP is the subject (and thus which NP
realizes the Medium is immaterial in such a clause since the point of the clause is to equate
the NPs. Cf. Kelomäki (1988: 67 ff.).

English, the Medium is realized either by the grammatical subject of an intransi-

tive verb or by the object. As discussed below, this kind of division is not central
in the grammatical organization of Finnish. If we apply Halliday’s characteriza-
tion of Medium to Finnish, then the most likely candidate would be the experien-
tial function that is realized by the grammatical subject or by a bound morpheme
(personal ending) on the finite verb. If the Medium in Finnish is characterized as
“the participant that is a key figure .. without which there would be no process at
all”, then there is no better grammatical evidence for this function than the fact
that it can either be realized by a morpheme that is part of the finite verb or else it
is cross-referenced on the verb: mä tykkää+n ‘I like’, kone lähte+e ‘the plane is
leaving’, vieraat lähte+e/lähte+vät ‘the guests are leaving’.

As discussed in 3.4.3 (pp. 99 ) 100), the grammatical subject as defined in

this study is the NP that agrees with the verb in person (and generally also in
number). What I am proposing, thus, is that the grammatical subject is one real-
ization of the function Medium. The Medium can be realized by a grammatical
subject (m(in)ä ‘I’, kone ‘plane’, vieraat ‘guests’) or it can be realized as an affix
(personal ending) attached to the verb stem: -n (1sg), -t (2sg), -mme (1pl), -tte
(2pl). These first and second person morphemes are not subjects. In fact, the
grammatical subject is not a particularly central category in Finnish. As discussed
in 5.4.2, there are many subjectless clause types in Finnish and grammatical fea-
tures that are associated with the grammatical subject in English at least (e.g.
control of a reflexive suffix) are not confined to the subject in Finnish (see A.
Hakulinen 1983).

The other macro-role that is proposed for Finnish will be referred to as the
Domain.1 The Domain subsumes the Goal in a material process, the Experiencer
in an experiencer process, the Range in a behavioural process, the Qualifier of the
process in a meteorological process, the Phenomenon in a mental process, and the
Verbiage in a verbal process:

Finnish: ‘piiri, ulottuvuus’.

(174) syötkö hernekeittoa [CA2:27]

eat+2SG+Q pea+soup +PAR
Pro:mat + Ac Goal
Process + Medium Domain
‘Do you eat pea soup?/Are you eating pea soup?’

(175) mua ärsytti [TP1:35]

I+PAR annoy+PAS+3SG
Experiencer Pro:mat:exp
Domain Process
‘I felt irritated/I felt annoyed.’

(176) Mää1 ymmärrän sua. [AR:188]

I-NOM understand+1SG you+PAR
Seni Pro:men + Seni Phen
Medium Process + Medium Domain
‘I understand you.’

The Domain refers to the sphere of influence of the process: the entity that is
affected by the process or the entity to which the process is extended. The NP
realizing the Domain does not agree with the verb in number or person. It is in
one of the grammatical cases (see Figure 3-7, p. 84): the nominative, genitive or
partitive case. Human pronouns are either accusative or partitive.

The Domain as outlined so far covers what is traditionally referred to as the

object. It could also be argued that what is traditionally referred to as the “exis-
tential subject” in Finnish also realizes the Domain of the process. While this
“existential subject” is referred to as a subject, it patterns more like an object.
This point is discussed in greater detail in the following section.

This form of mä ‘I’ is Häme dialect.

6.7.2. The Problem of the “Existential Subject”

The discussion in this section is based on an extended debate on what Finnish

linguists have referred to as existential clauses in Finnish (eksistentiaalilause)
(see e.g. Ikola 1954; Siro 1964: 49 ff.; Hakanen 1972, 1973; Karlsson 1978b;
Hakulinen & Karlsson 1979; T. Itkonen 1974a, 1979, 1980; Toivainen 1986;
Chesterman 1977, 1991). On the outset, it once again needs to be stressed that the
term existential, as used in grammatical descriptions of Finnish, should not be
equated with the way in which it is used in English and other European lan-
guages. The term “existential clause (or sentence)” was first used by Jespersen
(1924: 155) to refer to “sentences corresponding to English sentences with there
is or there are, in which the existence of something is asserted or denied”. In
Halliday’s view (1985a: 130-131), existential processes in English are those that
represent that “something exists or happens”.

The Finnish term eksistentiaalilause has obviously been borrowed from

Jespersen, but ) with the exception of Hakulinen & Karlsson’s (1979) analysis )
it is generally used to refer to a different set of grammatical phenomena. Hakuli-
nen & Karlsson (1979: 95-96) look at an eksistentiaalilause from the perspective
of English, Swedish and French existential clauses. For them, a “prototypical
existential clause”1 in Finnish (e.g. Autotallissa oli vettä [garage+INE be+PAS+3 SG
water+PAR ] corresponds to an existential (or presentative) clause in Indo-Euro-
pean languages: Det fanns vatten i bilstallet, There was water in the garage, Il
y avait d’eau dans la garage.)

While it may be possible to treat existential clauses in Finnish as a separate

process type along with the other process types mentioned earlier in this chapter,
it seems to me that it is more revealing to treat the grammatical features of an
existential clause as a set of parallel options. The options that are relevant to the

It appears to be prototypical in the sense that it corresponds to an existential clause in
English, Swedish and French.

existential clause in Finnish are concerned with 1) the information (Given-New)

structure of the clause, and 2) notions of boundedness. As pointed out in Chapter
3, boundedness in Finnish is realized by the distinction between the partitive and
the other grammatical cases (nominative, accusative, genitive). While bounded-
ness can be connected with the notion of definiteness in English (see Chesterman
1991), the two cannot be equated. For instance, in Hakulinen & Karlsson’s exam-
ple of a prototypical existential Autotallissa oli vettä ‘There was water in the ga-
rage’, the nominal vettä ‘water +PAR ’ is non-bounded and new information, and
from this it can be inferred that it is indefinite. However, as Chesterman (1991:
132) points out, the fact that “it is possible to infer” should not be confused with
realization, i.e. distinctions in definiteness are not grammatically realized in Finn-

In what follows, I shall briefly outline some of the features of those clauses
that are generally referred to as existential clauses by Finnish linguists. I shall
then discuss the features that existential subjects and objects have in common.
The “subject” of this existential clause is unlike the constituent that has been re-
ferred to as the grammatical subject in this study. The grammatical subject is al-
ways in the nominative case and it (generally) agrees with the verb in number and
person. The “existential subject”, on the other hand, can be in the nominative but
it can also be in the partitive. The following existential clauses are reminiscent of
English existential clauses. I have underlined the “existential subject”.

(177) ai ai tuoll on poliisi [CA3:5]

that(+ADE) be+3SG police+NOM
‘Oh dear, there’s a policeman over there.’

(178) tääl on autoja [CA2:28]

here(+ADE) be+3SG car+PL+PAR
‘There are cars here.’

Chesterman uses the term “expression”. The SF term realization (2.4.7) is more appropriate
in that it means that there cannot be “what is being expressed” without “expression” (cf.
Saussure’s signifiant and signifié). If, for example, in a fictitious world where English and
the English-speaking world were replaced by languages in which there were no definite and
indefinite articles, then it would be unlikely that definiteness would be an issue in Finnish

While the grammatical subject in a non-existential clause is unaffected by the

polarity of the verb, if the clause is existential, the so-called subject is always in
the partitive if the polarity is negative:

(179) tuolla ei ole poliisia (Cf. example 177)

that(+ADE) NEG+3SG be police+PAR
‘There isn’t a policeman over there.’

In the examples above, the existential subject is a noun. However, as posses-

sive clauses in Finnish are considered to be existential, it is also possible for the
existential subject to be a human pronoun in the accusative case. As discussed in
6.3.4.(iii), possessives in Finnish are characterized by the fact that a human pro-
noun realizing a Possessed is in the accusative case.

(180) Niin kauan kuin minulla on sinut [From T. Itkonen 1979: 83.]
as long as I+ADE is+3SG you+ACC
‘As long as I’ve got you,

tunnen itseni onnelliseksi.

‘I feel happy.’

As in other existential clauses, the pronoun would be in the partitive if the polar-
ity is negative.

However, existential clauses in Finnish comprise a far more heterogeneous

set. Firstly, the verb need not necessarily be the verb olla ‘to be’, as in examples
177 ) 180 above. There is a wide range of verbs that typically realize a material
process that can occur in an existential clause. The most typical seem to be verbs
expressing movement or change (of state) (cf. T. Itkonen 1979: 81):

(181) nyt kun tähän on muuttanu uusii ihmisii

now that here+ILL be+3SG move+PTC new+PL+PAR people+PL+PAR

tähän taloon aika paljon, [niin nepä juttelee]

here+ILL house+ILL quite a lot, [then/so they+NOM /PL+TIS chat+3SG]

‘Now that there have been quite a few new people who’ve moved into this (apartment)
house, well they certainly chat with me.’ [CA8:12]

(182) aina tulee masennuksii [CA8:12]

always come+3SG depressions+PL+PAR
‘there are always bound to be periods of depression’

Other verbs can also occur in an existential clause and the existential subject can
also come at the beginning of the clause:

(183) Sienimyrkytyksiä sattuu meillä harvoin.

mushroom+poisoning+PL+PAR happen+3SG we+ADE rarely
‘Mushroom poisonings seldom occur in Finland/There are few mushroom poisonings
in Finland.’

(184) [Jugoslavian armeija moukaroi Dubrovnikia kolmelta suunnalta.

‘The Yugoslavian army bombarded Dubrovnik from three directions’]

Useita kuoli ja kymmeniä loukaantui [HS 3.10.91: C1]

several+PL+PAR die+PAS+3SG & ten+PL+PAR hurt+REF/PAS+3SG
‘Several (people) died and dozens were injured/There were several deaths and dozens of
injured people .’

(185) poikia oli kiivennyt istutusten puihin

boy+PL+PAR be-3SG climb+PTC(SG) planted area+GEN/PL tree+PL+ILL
‘boys had climbed into the trees that lined the road (? there were boys who had climbed
into the trees)’ [SE: 412]

In the following example from Hakanen (1972), the verb is even modified by a -
sti adverb:

(186) Uudisraiviolle kasvoi nopeasti orasta. [Hakanen 1972: 54]

new+cleared land +ALL grow+PAS+3SG quickly sprout/shoot+PAR
‘On the newly cleared land crops quickly sprouted up.’

Existential clauses in English are sometimes seen in terms of the information

structure (Given ) New structure) of the clause (e.g. Quirk et al. (1985: 1402 ff.).
As the following examples illustrate an existential subject in Finnish is not neces-
sarily New, i.e. an existential clause is not simply a means of introducing a new
element into a text:
(187) a. aina tulee masennuksii
always come+3SG depressions+PL+PAR
‘there are always bound to be periods of depression’

÷ b. mutta niitä on terveilläkin ihmisillä [CA8:12]

but they+PL+PAR be+3SG healthy+PL+ADE+TIS person+PL+ADE
‘but healthy people have them (periods of being depressed) too [they’re had by
healthy people too]’

(188) [Keskiasteen oppilaitoksia ei ole tarpeeksi. ‘There are not enough upper secondary and
vocational schools.’]

÷ Niitä ei ole siellä,

they+PAR NEG+3SG be+PTC there+ADE

missä niitä eniten tarvittaisiin.

[[where+INE they+PAR most need+CON+INDEF ]]

‘They are not where they are needed the most.’

Example 188 is from a newspaper and is taken from an article by Karlsson (1978:
297). In both examples, 187 and 188, the pronoun niitä ‘they-(PARTITIVE)’ is an
“existential subject”. It is, however, anaphoric in both examples: in example 187
it is co-referential with masennuksii ‘(periods) of depression’ and in example it is
co-referential with keskiasteen oppilaitoksia ‘middle-stage schools’. Thus, the
existential subject cannot necessarily be equated with the New element in the

A significant feature of an existential clause is that it cannot have an object.

Thus existential clauses do not include transitive material processes. This is sig-
nificant because, as indicated at the end of section 6.7.1, it appears that both ob-
jects and “existential subjects” realize the macrorole Domain. They both indicate
the domain or the sphere of influence of the process. The clause lapsi söi ome-
nan/ omenaa [child eat apple+G EN /PAR ] ‘The child ate the apple/was eating the
apple ~ ate some of the apple’ construes a material process (‘eating’) and indi-
cates the sphere of influence or the domain of the eating: omena ‘apple’. The
case-marking of the Goal indicates whether or not this was completed in space or

Moreover, the functions Given and New are not only applicable to existential clauses, but
to all clauses.

time. The clause Puistossa on/leikkii lapsia [park +IN E be+3SG /play+3SG
child +PL+PAR ‘In the park (there are) children/ children playing’ indicate con-
strues a relational process (on ‘be’) or a material process (leikkii ‘plays’), and the
entity which is included in the domain of this process (lapsia ‘children’).

This link between objects and existential subjects is supported by an analy-

sis of formal case-marking patterns in Finnish by T. Itkonen (1979). 1 Itkonen
discusses Finnish in terms of the traditional notion of ergativity (i.e. ergativity as
a formal case-marking feature of languages). According to Itkonen, while the
case-marking in Finnish resembles a classical ergative system, the crucial distinc-
tion in Finnish is not between 1) a transitive subject and 2) an intransitive subject
and an object, as in an idealized ergative system. In other words, to use English as
a metalanguage, the distinction is not between subjects illustrated by The child
kicked the toy, on the one hand, and subjects like The child is sleeping and ob-
jects like The child kicked the toy, on the other hand. According to Itkonen:

The crucial border in Finnish ... is one separating the subject of “non-existential” or “normal”
sentences from both the subject of “existential” sentences and the object, with concomitant
differences in the form of the finite verb (T. Itkonen 1979: 79-80).

To use English as a metalanguage, again, the distinction in Finnish is between

The child kicked the toy, on the one hand, and objects like The child kicked the
toy and “existential subjects” like In the cupboard (there) are toys ~ There are
toys in the cupboard.

Itkonen cites a number of grammatical criteria that relate objects in Finnish

with “existential subjects”: 1) they can both be in the partitive, 2) they are both
generally in the partitive if the finite verb is negative, 3) a human pronoun is in
the accusative in both instances (if it is not in the partitive), and 4) neither triggers
agreement with the verb. This all points to the fact that, from a highly generalized

Itkonen’s analysis seems to have been inspired by Comrie (1975). As Comrie’s analysis is
less developed and overlooks some features of Finnish, I shall refer only to Itkonen’s analysis.

semantic viewpoint, what is traditionally referred to as the subject of an existen-

tial clause and the object of a transitive verb are realizations of the one function.
The function Domain seems to be the most appropriate label for this macro-role,
since in these existential clauses, it also refers to the entity to which the process
(of being, becoming, dying, finding, etc.) is extended, as illustrated by the exam-
ples above.1

In order to understand what is happening in an existential clause, the NP

realizing the Domain in an existential clause needs to be contrasted to the NP
realizing the Medium in an agnate non-existential clause. Thus example 185
above (poikia oli kiivennyt puihin ‘boys had climbed into the trees’) can be com-
pared with pojat olivat kiivenneet puihin ‘(The) boys had climbed into the trees’,
where the NP in question is in the nominative and agrees with the verb in person
and number. The example above occurs in a context in which there is no previous
mention of the boys:

(189) At the beginning of a new section of a chapter of the novel Sinuhe, egyptiläinen (Sinuhe
the Egyptian) by Mika Waltari:

Niin laskematon on ihmisen mieli ja siinä määrin oli faraon totuus sokaissut minut, etten
aavistanut mitään pahaa, vaikka paahtavassa päivässä viipyi yhä kytevien raunioiden sau-
hua ja virrasta nousi ruumiiden haju. Sillä oinasten valtatie oli liputettu kirjavin viirein ja
ihmisjoukot reunustivat sitä määrättöminä nähdäkseen faraon ja -
‘So incalculable is the human mind and the Pharaoh’s truth had blinded me to such an
extent that I had no premonition that all is not well, although in the heat of the day there
still lingered the smoke from smouldering ruins and the smell of corpses rose from the
river. Since the Road of the Rams was decked with colourful flags and crowds of people
lined the road in order to see the Pharaoh and’

Itkonen does not consider what is referred to as the complement (predikatiivi) in traditional
grammar, although it too has some of the features of a Domain. Like an object and an
existential subject, the complement can be in the nominative, partitive or genitive and it does
not trigger agreement with the verb. The complement, however, is unaffected by the polarity
of the verb, and a human pronoun is the grammatical subject in instances such as Se olet sinä
‘It’s you’.

÷ poikia oli kiivennyt istutusten puihin

boy+PL+PAR be-3SG climb+PTC(SG) planted area+GEN/PL tree+PL+ILL
‘boys had climbed into the trees that lined the road (? there were boys who had climbed
into the trees)’

ja Pepitaton oli varannut lukemattomia kukkakoreja -- [SE: 412]

‘and Pepitaton had ordered countless baskets of flowers’

As pointed out earlier, the existential subject cannot simply be equated with New.
In the clause ihmisjoukot reunustivat sitä ‘crowds of people lined it (the road)’
from this example (189) the NP ihmisjoukot ‘crowds of people’ is New; there had
been no mention of ihmisjoukot ‘crowds of people’ earlier in the passage. Yet this
NP is not an “existential subject”, but an ordinary subject: it is in the nominative
and agrees with the verb in person and number.

Finnish grammarians usually explain the meaning of the existential subject

by saying that its “existence is not presupposed”. According to T. Itkonen (1979:
81), for example:

Existential sentence is a label for intransitive sentences which, without foregoing presup-
positions, express the existence of the subject, its coming into existence, its cessation of
existence, or an essential change in state ) usually from the standpoint of location in its wid-
est sense. [Emphasis added.]

The characterization in terms of the existence or change of existence applies to

some of the examples above but is not applicable to all instances: it is difficult to
see how poikia oli kiivennyt puihin ‘boys had climbed into the trees’ (185), for
example, expresses the “existence of the subject” or an essential change in state.
It seems to me that it is not so much a question of the existence of an entity, but
of its presence in the situation and whether or not this can be assumed. If we
return to the situation created by the novelist in this example (185), then the scene
that is depicted is of a celebration in the street, and thus one can expect that there
will be crowds of people: oinasten valtatie oli liputettu kirjavin viirein ja
ihmisjoukot reunustivat sitä määrättöminä nähdäkseen faraon ‘the Road of the
Rams was decked with colourful flags and crowds of people lined the road in

order to see the Pharaoh’. In the clause poikia oli kiivennyt puihin ‘boys had
climbed into the trees’, the existential subject poikia ‘boys’, on the other hand, is
construed as something whose presence is not assumed. Thus the partitive NP in
an existential clause construes an entity (or entities) whose presence is not as-

As suggested earlier, it seems to me that a better understanding of what is

involved in existential clauses in Finnish is gained by analysing the different
meanings that are conflated separately; to use Firth’s metaphor (see 2.2.5. p. 20),
we need to disperse or split up the meanings, rather like a prism can be used to
disperse white light. The notion of an existential clause is problematic in that it
involves both notions to do with the information structure of the clause (Given-
New) and notions to do with boundedness. If we disperse the meanings, then the
final NPs in examples 190a and 190b below are both nonbounded and New,
whereas the final NPs in examples 191a and 191b are both bounded and New:1

(190) a. Autotallissa oli vettä

garage +INE be+3SG water+PAR
‘There was water in the garage’

b. tääl on autoja [example 178 above]

‘There are cars here.’

(191) a. tuoll on poliisi [example 177 above]

‘There’s a policeman over there.’

b. Hänellä on kauniit silmät.

(s)he+ADE be+3SG beautiful+NOM/PL eye +NOM/PL
‘She/he’s got beautiful eyes.’

Example 191b illustrates one of the differences between boundedness in Finnish

and definiteness in English. Parts of the body (a particular person’s body) are
bounded in Finnish.

Here I am assuming that the New element normally comes at the end of the tone group in
Finnish (see Chapter 7).

In the following examples, the initial NP is unbounded but Given:

(192) mutta niitä on terveilläkin ihmisillä [Example 187 above]

‘but healthy people have them (periods of depression) too [they’re had by healthy peo-
ple too]’

(193) Meistä ei ole miljonääreiksi. Me emme kestä rahaa.

‘We’re not the millionaire type. We can’t handle money.’

÷ Kun sitä tuli

when it+PAR come+PAS/3SG
‘when it/some came our way’

se pantiin samaan tien menemään. [Example from Karlsson 1978b: 297]

‘it was spent immediately.’

To summarize, it seems to me that the realization of boundedness in Finnish

should be regarded as a distinct option that can be conflated with other options in
the clause. NPs in which distinctions in boundedness can be made are referred to
as the Domain in this study. The Domain is realized by what has traditionally
been referred to as the object and the existential subject. The Medium ) the entity
that the “key figure in a process .. without which there would be no process at all”
is realized by the subject or by a bound morpheme (personal ending) attached to
the verb.

6.7.3. A Note on Derivational Affixes and External Causation

In his analysis of English, Halliday points out that:

Either the process is represented as self-engendering, in which case there is no separate

Agent; or it is represented as engendered from the outside, in which case, there is another
participant functioning as Agent. Thus the clauses the glass broke, the baby sat up, the boy
ran are all structured as Medium + Process. In the real world, there may well have been some
external agency involved in the breaking of the glass; but in the semantics of English it is
represented as having been self-caused. For that matter there may have been some external
agency also in the baby’s sitting up, and even in the boy’s running .. We may choose to put
the Agent in, as in the heat broke the glass, Jane sat the baby up, the lion chased the boy
(Halliday 1985a: 147.)

Halliday (1985a: 151) distinguishes between middle clauses (the glass broke, the
baby sat up, the boy ran) and effective clauses, which have the feature ‘agency’.
Effective clauses are either active (the heat broke the glass, Jane sat the baby
up, the lion chased the boy) or passive (the glass was broken (by the cat)). The
kinds of distinctions that Halliday is referring to here are realized in Finnish by
derivational affixes in the verb, although the distinctions that are made in the
grammar of Finnish are, of course, different from those made in English.

A verb in Finnish can contain one or more of a number of derivational af-

fixes. The affix -u-/-y-, for example, is generally referred to as a passive affix in
grammatical descriptions of Finnish; Kulonen-Korhonen (1985)1 refers to it as an
automative, since it refers to a process that does not involve an external agent:

(194) Kaad + u + i + n kadulla.

Pro:mat + Ac Circ
‘I fell over in the street.’

This automative affix -u-/-y- construes a process that is self-engendered. The

verb kaatua ‘to fall over, to spill’ in (194) contrasts with kaataa ‘to pour, to fell
[e.g.] a tree’. An appropriate probe for a clause like 194 is Mitä tapahtui X:lle?
‘What happened to X?’ (rather than ‘What did X do?’ or ‘What happened?’). The
affix -u-/-y- makes the inherent participant more like an undergoer than an Actor.
Other examples include: kukka kuihtui ‘the flower wilted’, Kyllästyin esitykseen
‘I got fed up with the performance’, Lapsi nukkuu ‘The child is sleeping’, Sulta
loppuu pohjavedet [from/on you will end your ground water] (example 157)
‘Your ground water will dry up on you’, Punastuin (from puna- ‘red’) ‘I
blushed’, Sää muuttui kirkkaammaksi ‘The weather became clearer’, where the
verb is muuttua ‘to change, to move’, Lasi särkyi ‘The glass broke’, Hän suuttui
minuun ‘(S)he got angry with me’ (suuttua ‘to get angry’) etc. As indicated in the
quote from Halliday above, there may well have been some external agency in-
volved in the wilting of the flower, the breaking of the glass, in the child going to

See also Kulonen 1989: 29 ff.

sleep etc. One can say kukka kuihtui ‘the flower wilted’ even if this happened
because the speaker did not water it. Processes with an automative affix are con-
strued in the semantics of Finnish as having been self-engendered.

An automative process in Finnish is different to what Halliday refers to as a

middle clause in English (e.g. the boy ran, the glass broke). A Finnish automa-
tive process is something that happens by itself or it is, in some sense, inexorable.
In Finnish, the process of ‘running’ is not something that happens by itself, and,
thus, in the clause poika juoksi ‘the boy ran’ the verb juosta ‘run’ is not morpho-
logically marked as an automative. There are other similar processes that are
morphologically unmarked in Finnish: laulaa ‘to sing’, kuolla ‘to die’, lukea ‘to
read’ etc. These processes are not self-engendered in Finnish, but neither are they
morphologically marked as being engendered by an external Agent.

Corresponding to Halliday’s (1985a: 151) “effective” are clauses in which

the process is realized by a verb that has a causative affix. Finnish has a number
of causative-type affixes that construe a process that is not self-engendered, and
in these the Actor is more like an agent. The following are examples of the most
common causative affix (-tta-/-ttä-): Aurinko sulatti lumen ‘The sun melted the
ice’ (sulattaa ‘to melt’, cf. sulaa ‘to melt’), Hän pelotti minua ‘(S)he frightened
me’ (pelottaa ‘to frighten’, cf. pelätä ‘to be afraid ~ to fear’), Ilona muutti maal-
le ‘Ilona moved to the countryside’ (muuttaa ‘to move, change’, cf. muuttua ‘to
change, become’), Hän kirjoittaa väitöskirjaa ‘(S)he is writing a doctoral disserta-
tion’ (kirjoittaa ‘to write’) etc.

Causative affixes are common in experiencer process (see 6.4.3.(ii)), e.g.

mua ihmetyttää ~ suututtaa ~ janottaa ‘I am surprised ~ feel angry ~ feel thirsty’
etc. They can also occur in some meteorological processes (see 6.4.3.(i)), e.g.
pyryttää ‘to snowstorm’. Similar so-called impersonal clauses are common in
Australian languages (see Walsh 1987). Both experiencer and meteorological
processes in Finnish can be characterized by the fact they can occur without an
Actor, and so, at first sight, they appear to be problematic: they incorporate a

causative affix, yet there is no external causation. As Halliday points out in the
quotation above (p. 301), from the perspective of English, either a process is self-
engendering, and occurs without an Agent, or it is engendered from the outside,
in which case there is an external agent. Experiencer processes in Finnish are a
clear indication of the ambivalence of many basic physical and emotional human
processes: on the one hand, emotions are construed as not being self-engendered
and, on the other hand, they need not necessarily be caused by an external Agent.
In other words, the Experiencer in an experiencer process is affected by a process
that can take place without a specific instigator. As pointed out in 6.4.3.(ii), how-
ever, an Instigator can be added to an experiencer clause.

Halliday makes a distinction between the active and passive in effective

clauses in English. What is referred to as the passive in grammars of Finnish is
referred to as an indefinite in this study. The indefinite is problematic, and one
cannot make a distinction between indefinite clauses and other clauses based on
the assumption that an indefinite clause has the feature ‘agency’. While the indef-
inite (passive) has been etymologically linked to the causative (Lehtinen 1984), in
contemporary Finnish not only transitive verbs but also intransitive verbs, modal
verbs and the verb olla ‘to be’ can be in the indefinite. It can often be translated
by ‘they’, ‘we’, ‘you’ or ‘people in general’:

(195) Genevessä ollaan ymmärtäväisempiä. [HSkl 1/84: 44]

Geneva +INE be+INDE understanding+COMP+PL+PAR
‘They’re more understanding in Geneva.’

(196) Puhutaan suomalaisen muotoilun kriisistä. [SK 14.1.83]

speak+INDE Finnish+GEN design +GEN crisis+GEN
‘People are talking about the crisis in Finnish design.’

Within the framework presented here, it could be argued that the indefinite (pas-
sive) morpheme realizes an unspecified human Medium (see Shore 1986, 1988).
Thus, an indefinite clause is not necessarily effective in Finnish. It typically con-
strues a process that involves unspecified participants, and these participants must

be human.1 Of course, an indefinite clause can have the feature of ‘agency’ ) and
many indefinite clauses do have this feature ) but this is not a mandatory feature
of an indefinite clause. The indefinite as a means of introducing a feature of exter-
nal human agency is clearest in those process types that are inherently agentless,
for example, resultative intensive processes. As discussed in 6.3.1.(iii), a resulta-
tive clause has the structure X+ ELAT IVE tulla ‘come’ Y in Finnish, e.g. Minusta
tulee taitelija ‘I’m going to be an artist’. If the intransitive verb tulla ‘come’ is
replaced by an effective indefinite verb, an additional feature of external human
agency is added to the clause:

(197) Lars-Gunnar Nordströmistä tehtiin vuoden

Lars-Gunnar Nordström+ELA make+INDE year+GEN
Car Pro:int:res Att
+ Agent (human, unspecified)
taitelija. [HSkl 1/84: 52]

‘Lars-Gunnar Nordström was made artist of the year.’

Similarly, in the following example, the resultative process X+ ELAT IVE tulla
‘come’ Y is construed as being brought about by human forces:

(198) [Koulussa mä joskus leuhkin poikakavereista, mutta paskat ei mulla semmoista ole.
‘At school I sometimes brag about my boyfriends, but shit I haven’t got any.’]

Mustahan rakennetaan kitkerän katkeraa vanhapiikaa,

I+ELA+TIS build+INDE bitter+GEN bitter+PAR spinster+PAR
Car Pro:int:res + Agent Att
‘I’m being made into a really embittered spinster

joka kiljuu pihalla leikkiville lapsille. [HS 28.1.84: 21]

who yells at children playing in the yard.’

As this brief discussion indicates, the distinctions made in the morphology

of the verb are complex in Finnish. There is not a simple two-way distinction
between middle and effective in Finnish, and the active/passive distinction in

Thus, the English clauses The glass was broken by the cat and The tree was blown down by
the wind would not be translated by an indefinite in Finnish.

English does not correspond to the distinction between indefinite and non-indefi-
nite clauses in Finnish. There are also other derivational affixes that need to be
considered in a more delicate description, e.g. the reflexive (-utu-/-yty-,
kirjoi+tta+utu+a ‘to write oneself, i.e. to register’, cf. kirjoittaa ‘to write’). Re-
cent discussions by Finnish linguists of automative, causative and reflexive
derivational affixes include Koivisto 1991, Kulonen-Korhonen 1985, Kytömäki
1989 and Räisänen 1988.

6.8. Concluding Remarks

This chapter has been concerned with the experiential meanings that are con-
strued at the rank of clause in Finnish. Finnish process types were grouped under
three superordinate process types: relational, material and mental (where mental
refers to processes of human consciousness). The process types were not seen as
discrete and absolute, but as overlapping, and an attempt was made to show the
prototypical grammatical and semantic features shared by each process type. The
notion of grammatical metaphor was also discussed and applied to experiential
meanings at clause rank. The macro-roles Medium and Domain were postulated
on the basis of grammatical criteria that has been put forward by T. Itkonen. In
the final section, some indication was given of how the semantics of the engen-
dering of a process is construed through derivational affixes in Finnish. What is
referred to as the passive in Finnish, on the other hand, does not construe distinc-
tions relating to whether the process is self-engendered or externally engendered,
but is seen as a parallel option realizing an unspecified, human Medium.

Chapter 7
Textual Structures in the Finnish Clause

7.1. Overview

The chapter is concerned with the organization of the clause as a message, with
the way in which textual meanings are realized in the clause. According to
Matthiessen & Halliday (forthcoming, section 2.1):

The role of the textual metafunction is an enabling one. It serves to enable the presentation of
ideational and interpersonal meaning as text in context. While the ideational and interpersonal
metafunctions orient towards first-order reality ) reality that exists independently of language
) the textual metafunction orients towards the reality brought into existence by language
itself, viz. second-order, symbolic reality.

As Matthiessen & Halliday emphasise, however, this does not mean that the tex-
tual metafunction comes into operation only after ideational and interpersonal
meanings have been created. These different strands of meaning are simulta-
neously realized in the clause.

SF theory assumes that there are two kinds of textual meaning that are real-
ized in any language: Given-New and Theme-Rheme. These two kinds of mean-
ing are independently variable: although Given and Theme may be conflated,
they need not necessarily be conflated. Given and New are functions in the infor-
mation unit, which Halliday (1967c, 1985a) assumes is realized in the tone group.
While a detailed analysis of information structure in Finnish is beyond the scope
of this study, since this would entail a comprehensive phonetic and phonological
analysis of Finnish, there will be some preliminary discussion of Given and New
in the next section (7.2) since in the interest of clarity, it is worthwhile making
explicit what is meant by these terms since the discussion of Theme-Rheme struc-
tures presupposes some familiarity with the way in which Given and New is de-
fined in SF theory. The section on Given and New includes a short section (7.2.3)

on the way in which segmental elements ) e.g. word order, focusing particles etc.
) serve as indicators of information structure in Finnish.

Section 7.3 discusses the Theme-Rheme organization of the clause in Finn-

ish with particular emphasis on the topical Theme. This analysis is illustrated
with a complete text (the “cat text”) reproduced in Appendix 1. Theme-Rheme
structures in Finnish (as in English) are realized by the sequencing of constitu-
ents, although, in Finnish, where word-order is far more flexible than it is in Eng-
lish, the situation is more complex. I shall not be concerned with the non-struc-
tural cohesive resources that can cut across clause (or clause complex) boundaries
(see Halliday 1985a: Chapter 9; Halliday & Hasan 1976; Halliday & Hasan 1985:
Chapter 5.), except where they bear on the discussion of Theme.

Section 7.4 looks at the textual structure of clause complexes complement-

ing the analysis of clause complexes presented in Chapter 4. Section 7.5 discusses
some other central topics in the textual organization of the Finnish clause. Section
7.5.1 discusses the non-realization (or “ellipsis”) of inherent participants in Finn-
ish. Section 7.5.2 deals with the realization of the grammatical subject in Finnish,
and the problems that it poses for the recognition of topical Theme. The final
section 7.5.3 is concerned with clause types proposed by Finnish linguists but
ignored in Chapter 6 of this study since the patterning in these clauses is consid-
ered to be textual.

7.2. Given and New

7.2.1. Brown and Yule’s Approach to Given and New

As discussed in 2.4.10, and elsewhere in Chapter 2, in SF theory, one does not

assume that there are meanings that simply exist, i.e. that they are independent of
a semiotic system in which they are realized. In much of the literature on Given
and New, linguists adopt this alternative approach to meaning. Brown & Yule

(1983: 182), for example, define Given information as “whatever knowledge

speakers and hearers share”. Knowledge that is or is not shared then becomes the
starting point for looking at what is Given and what is New, or alternative terms
with intermediate categories, such as in Prince’s (1981) taxonomy of information
status, which is discussed by Brown and Yule. Prince’s taxonomy ranges from
entities that are “brand new” to entities that are either situationally or textually
“evoked”, i.e. entities that are salient in the context (such as ‘I’ and ‘you’) or enti-
ties which have already been introduced into the discourse. In-between are enti-
ties that are inferable, i.e. entities that can be inferred from some other entity that
has already been introduced into the discourse (e.g. mention of a car, in traffic at
least, would permit the inference of a driver).

Brown and Yule then apply the categories of information status thus defined
to the analysis of data and look at how, for example, a brand new entity is real-
ized linguistically. Their data is drawn from artificial experiments (see Yule
1981) in which participant A has a drawing (of lines, squares, circles etc.), which
participant B cannot see. Participant B has a paper and a red and black pen, and
through interaction with A, B is expected to reproduce the drawing. Since in an
artificial situation like this ) which is rarely, if ever, repeated in real life ) one
can, to a large extent, determine the information status of entities, one can then
look at how these categories of entity are expressed linguistically. Brown and
Yule correlate the information status of these entities with 1) linguistic features
associated with the phrase in English (definite or indefinite article, pronominal
reference, ellipsis) and 2) phonological prominence.

Since Given is defined by Brown and Yule as shared knowledge, a problem

arises in their experiments with inferable entities such as the corner (of a square).
In spite of the fact that participant A (the speaker) knows that both the square and
the corner are physically present in the context since they have just been drawn
by participant B (the hearer), these inferables are referred to by expressions that
are phonologically prominent. This leads Brown & Yule (1983: 187.) to the fol-
lowing conclusion:
If the speaker has no reason to believe that the hearer is paying attention to these particular
entities or properties of entities [e.g. to the corner of a square], he mentions them with phono-
logical prominence.

Another problem that Brown and Yule (1983: 187) illustrate with another text, a
recipe, is that “brand new” entities can be expressed by a nominal with either an
indefinite or a definite article:

(1) a. Slice the onion finely, brown in the butter and then place in a small dish
b. ... add to the fat in the pan
c. ... and boil for twenty minutes with the lid on the pan.

Even if these were to be treated as inferable rather than brand new entities, ac-
cording to Brown and Yule, the problem remains that they are not treated in the
same way. They conclude that the only way of assessing the information status
attributed by a writer or speaker is in the form of the expression produced.

The problem with Brown & Yule’s analysis is that they postulate meanings
associated with information status that are independent of language. These pre-
determined meanings are expressed by definite or indefinite NPs (a/the square),
pronominal reference and ellipsis (it, 0/ ), and phonological prominence. When one
begins to look at the formal distinctions that are made in a language, then prob-
lems begin to arise, as in the case of the definite and indefinite articles above.
Either one assumes that speakers or writers are inconsistent in the way in which
they express these predetermined meanings, which is the only recourse that
Brown and Yule have, or one abandons the approach that leads to these inconsis-

7.2.2. Halliday’s Approach

Ironically an alternative non-objectivist approach taken by Halliday (1967c,

1985a: 59, 271-286, 346-365) is criticized and rejected by Brown & Yule. How-
ever, Halliday’s approach is later appealed to again when their own objectivist
position begins to break down: citing Halliday, Brown and Yule (1983: 189) con-

clude that information status is determined by the speaker. In Halliday’s

approach, meanings do not exist independently of language but are realized, or in
Halliday’s (1967c) earlier terminology, expounded in language: meanings such as
‘definiteness’ or ‘newness’ are construed by the lexicogrammatical and phonolog-
ical resources of a language. The meanings associated with the English articles in
the recipe example above are to do with definiteness, what is “knowable” (cf.
Chafe’s (1987: 50) “identifiable”): the article the, for example, can be glossed as
indicating that the speaker expects the listener to know what she or he is talking
about: 1) it is something that can be taken for granted either in the universe or
some culturally defined part of it (e.g. the sun, the government, the doorman, the
cat) or 2) it has already been mentioned in a (spoken or written) text or it is com-
ing up in the text (structural cataphora). The meaning of definiteness in English,
however, is inseparable from the article system that realizes it, and, thus, in the
final analysis, its meaning is ineffable.

As for Given and New, Halliday does not assume we can come up with a
“rigorous definition”, as Yule (1981: 42) seems to assume, or that they can be
defined extralinguistically in terms of shared knowledge. For Halliday (1985a:
275), Given and New, and the meanings of Given and New, are inextricably tied
up with prosodic features of the tone group in English. In each tone group there is
a foot or syllable that carries the main pitch movement (rise or fall or change in
direction). This foot or syllable is referred to as the tonic element, and this
prosodic feature (i.e. pitch movement) is referred to as tonic prominence. The
tonic element is said to carry the information focus. In Halliday’s view, it marks
where the New element ends.1

(2) a. // 4 v in / this job / Anne we’re // 1 working with / silver / v //

b. // 1 v now / silver / needs to have / love / v // (Halliday 1985a: 283)

(3) // 4 v well they could / make the / credit mark fi / fifty // (Halliday 1967: 49.)

For notational conventions, see Appendix 5. The numbers refer to the tones of English
distinguished by Halliday: tone 1 is a falling tone, the unmarked statement tone, and tone 4
is a falling-rising tone, often associated with contrasts, reservations or conditions.

The meaning of Given is “this is not news”, and the meaning of New is “attend to
this, this is news” (Halliday 1985a: 277). This is in accord with Brown & Yule’s
(1983: 164) characterization: “phonological prominence has a general Watch this!

Thus, in Halliday’s approach, Given and New cannot be glossed as “previ-

ously mentioned” (or shared information) and “not previously mentioned”. Given
information is “not New”: it is information that is assigned by the speaker as
something (s)he assumes that the listener can take for granted. According to
Halliday (1985a: 277), what is treated as Given may be something that has been
mentioned before or it may be something that is in the situation, such as I and
you; it can be something that is taken for granted or is “in the air”, or something
that is not around at all but is presented as Given for rhetorical purposes. What is
presented as New, may be something that has not been mentioned before, but it
may be something that has been mentioned before, but the speaker wants the lis-
tener to attend to it. The text in example 2 above is taken from the speech of a
manageress initiating a new salesgirl, Anne, to a silverware department in a large
department store. The demonstrative this in in this job is New because it is
contrastive (i.e. in this job as opposed to other jobs). As for silver in we’re work-
ing with silver, it is evoked in Prince’s sense since Anne and the manageress are
in a silverware department: Anne knows perfectly well that they are working with
silver. However, it is prominent because this is what Anne is being asked to at-
tend to. The Newness of love in now silver needs to have love (in the second
tone group of example 2) as well as fifty in example 3 (well they could make the
credit mark fi fifty) can be related to the fact that they have not been mentioned

I shall not go further into Halliday’s analysis of English (see Halliday

1967c, 1985a: 59, 271-286, 346-365; Kress (ed.) Chapter 14; see also Tench
1991). The discussion above is simply to illustrate that meanings such as Given
and New in English are tied in with the form of the language, with formal phono-
logical distinctions. The investigation of tone groups in Finnish and the way in
which they realize Given-New structures in Finnish would require a comprehen-

sive phonetic and phonological analysis of conversational Finnish, along the lines
suggested by Halliday (1967c). While, as already mentioned, such a phonetic
analysis is beyond the scope of this study, I shall make a few preliminary com-
ments and observations.

There are basic prosodic differences between Finnish and English. In terms
of the broad ) and somewhat over-simplified ) division made between syllable-
timed and foot-timed (or stress-timed) languages, Finnish has traditionally been
regarded as having syllable-timed rhythm (Hackman 1978, Nevalainen 1990:
238). The tones in Finnish are also bound to be different. For example, the un-
marked realization of a polar interrogative (functioning as a question) in English
is a rising tone (tone 2; see Halliday 1985a: 284), whereas, in Finnish, a polar
interrogative (functioning as a question) is generally realized with a higher initial
pitch level than a corresponding declarative (functioning as a statement) (see
Hirvonen 1970; Iivonen et al. 1987: 239 ff.).

On the other hand, while Halliday (1985a) makes no claims about the uni-
versality of the way in which Given-New structures are realized in the tone group
in his analysis of English, very similar kinds of comments concerning the func-
tion of tonic prominence in Finnish have been made by Finnish phoneticians, e.g.
Iivonen et al. (1987: 229 ff.), Nevalainen (1990). In a study that contrasts English
and Finnish prosody, Nevalainen (1990: 243) states:

We can distinguish three kinds of information focus that are signalled by prosodic means:
focus for new information, focus for contrast and focus for emphasis. In both languages, a
new information focus is usually placed on the last lexical item of the intonation unit, and
contains what in British literature is called the nuclear or tonic syllable. Contrastive and em-
phatic focus may vary positionally, and show more extreme prosodic contrasts in both lan-

However, rather than talk about variation in pitch, Finnish phoneticians generally
refer to stress or accentuation, i.e. a combination of higher than normal pitch,
increased intensity, extended duration and clearer articulation, not all of which
need necessarily be present (Iivonen 1976: 39; Iivonen et al. 1987: 229 ff.;
Nevalainen 1990). Moreover, in accordance with traditional terminology, they

refer to sentence (or clause) stress (lausepaino), which ) from a systemic-func-

tional perspective ) confuses grammatical and prosodic phenomena.

In Halliday’s approach, the three kinds of information focus mentioned by

Nevalainen can be subsumed under a general attend to this (this is news)! ~
watch this! function. However, rather than confine the focus of a New informa-
tion focus to the word that is realized with a syllable carrying tonic prominence,
Halliday (1985a: 275) regards the tonic foot as defining “the culmination of what
is New”. If this comes at the end of the tone group, then what this means is that )
on phonological grounds ) we cannot tell whether the first part of the tone group
is also New or whether it is Given.1 Taken out of context, example 2b above re-
peated below as 4, indicates that at least love is New, but we cannot tell where the
New element begins: whether the whole clause is New or whether silver or silver
needs is Given.

(4) // .. silver / needs to have / love // (Halliday 1985a: 276, 283, 346)
(i) -----------------------------------> New
(ii) Given --------------------------> New
(iii) Given -----------> * --------> New

However, it is usually only in linguistics and philosophy that one comes across
bits of text out of context; in real life, there is other evidence for determining the
information structure. In the context of this example (see 2 above), we know that
silver is Given as it had just been mentioned.

Thus, according to Halliday (1985a: 276-277), the unmarked position for the
New element is at the end of the information unit. It is possible, however, for
New material to come at the beginning of the information unit, in which case it is
contrastive. It seems to me that these comments are also valid for Finnish, al-
though the position of a contrastive focus seems to be more variable in Finnish.
This is reflected in the fact that the focusing particle -kin (see next section) can
occur in various positions in the tone group. Another point made by Halliday that

Cf. however, Halliday (1985a: 276) who shows how the pre-tonic and variation in rhythm
in English can be an index of the Given-New structure before the tonic element.

is also important in the analysis of Finnish is that there are a number of elements
in language that are typically Given: 1) anaphoric elements, i.e. those that refer to
things previously mentioned and 2) deictic elements, i.e. those that refer to the
here and now of the speech situation. Thus items like I, you, here and tomorrow
would only carry information focus if contrastive. In example 2a, repeated below
as 5, the demonstrative this is focused because it is contrastive:

(5) // 4 v in / this job / Anne we’re // 1 working with / silver / v //

The tonic prominence on this implies a contrast with other jobs.

The discussion of Given and New, so far, has been confined to their realiza-
tion in the tone group. A tone group is not the same thing as a clause. A clause,
being a unit of lexicogrammar, consists of phrases, words and morphemes, while
a tone group, a phonological unit, consists of feet and syllables. These categories
represent different orders of abstraction. However, there are many instances in
which a clause realized in spoken text conflates with a tone group, and this pro-
vides us with a link between grammatical structures in the clause and Given-New
structures in the tone group. The conflation ) or near conflation1 ) of clause and
tone group can, thus, be regarded as unmarked (Halliday 1985a: 59), i.e. as dis-
cussed in Chapter 5, this can be regarded as “a baseline”.

7.2.3. Segmental Markers of Information Structure in Finnish

If we assume that the tone group conflates with a clause in unmarked instances,
then the unmarked order in the tone group also serves as a base for the unmarked
order in a written text. Given Nevalainen’s (1990: 243) observation quoted on
page 313 above about the similarity between Finnish and English, then we would

Even in instances where clause and tone group more or less correspond to each other, the
boundaries do not always exactly match because a tone group, as defined by Halliday, begins
with a salient beat (or a silent one).

normally expect New material to come at the end of a clause in a written text in
both languages. Without any indication to the contrary, we would expect the New
element to come at the end in the following example.

(6) Mä lähen lenkille

I-NOM leave +1SG jog+ALL
-----------------------> New
‘I’m going jogging’

If this were part of a script for a play, we would assume that the tonic prominence
falls on the last word: mä lähen lenkille. This would be the unmarked “reading”
of the information structure of this written fragment.

However, there may be indications in a written text that point to a marked

information focus. Halliday (1985a: 59-61) discusses how predicated Theme
structures (referred to as “cleft sentences” in formal grammars) serve both the
Theme and information structure of English. Predicated themes of the type se oli
Diana joka ... ‘It was Diana who’ are considered rather marginal in Finnish and
they are not used in standardized written Finnish.1 One indication of marked in-
formation focus in written Finnish is the presence of what is aptly referred to by
Iivonen et al. (1987: 234) as a focus particle: these include the enclitic particle -
kin ‘too, also, even’(or -kaan/kään in a negative context) and a number of other
particles that are traditionally referred to as adverbs: myös ‘too, as well’, jopa
‘even’, edes ‘even (in a negative context)’, juuri ‘precisely’, and vain ‘only’. A
focus particle usually precedes or follows the element that it focuses on. As Iivo-
nen et al. (1987: 234) point out that these focus particles are associated with
contrastive stress; however, no phonetic analyses of natural conversation have
been carried out. Whether the item to which a focus particle such as -kin is at-
tached is actually stressed is debatable; it seems nearer to the truth to say that it
is attached to a word containing an element with tonic prominence (pitch varia-
tion). Example 6, above, can be contrasted with the following transcribed exam-

Iivonen et al. (1987: 233), however, claim that they are “common” in spoken Finnish.

(7) <A> - mä oon lähös(sä) lenk(ille) [Tel2: 1]

I+NOM be+1SG leave +INE jog+ALL
‘I’m going for a jog’

<B> - no mäkin lähen lenkille

well I+NOM +kin leave +1SG jog+ALL
‘well I’ll go jogging too.’

In this example, the first syllable of the word to which -kin was attached was
marked as being stressed or prominent by the transcriber, which, as noted above
(p. 313) can refer to any or all of a number of features (pitch, intensity, duration,
clearer articulation) in the Finnish tradition. I did not perceive the syllables in
question as stressed, but I did perceive pitch variation. In Speaker B’s turn in this
example, lähen lenkille is Given since it repeats what Speaker A has said. The
first person pronoun is deictic, and, therefore typically Given, but it is contrastive,
it is what the listener is being asked to attend to: “you’re going for a jog and so
am I”.

Like other focus particles, the suffix -kin directs us to “read” the information
structure in a certain way. Thus if the clause mäkin lähen lenkille had occurred in
a written text, the suffix -kin would have directed us to “read” the information
structure in the way indicated in 7 above. The suffix -kin is particularly important
in written Finnish ) in the “cat text” analysed in Appendix 1, for example, there
are 83 orthographical sentences and 16 occurrences of -kin or -kaan.1 Because
Finnish linguists and phoneticians generally talk about stress, rather than tonic
prominence, the suffix -kin is not always associated with prosodic features of the
tone group. For example, Vilppula (1984: 58) in an otherwise insightful discus-
sion of -kin assumes that the examples he discusses (all of which are in written or
transcribed form) are with “normal sentence stress”. However, it is difficult to
imagine any of his examples without tonic prominence (at least, some kind of
pitch variation that distinguishes it from the rest of the tone group). The following

There are also many instances where -kin is not a focus particle but an inseparable part of
a word, e.g. kuitenkin ‘nevertheless’, tuskin ‘scarcely’. These were not counted.

example from Vilppula is taken from a poem that is about two crows sitting on a
fence. One of the crows opens the conversation with the following words:

(8) Kurkikin jo lähti. (Lauri Pohjanpää, Syksy (Autumn).)

crane+NOM+kin already left+3SG/PAS
‘even the crane has left already [or, if read, the crane has left already].’

It seems to me that it would be almost impossible to read this with the tonic
prominence coming at the end of the tone group, i.e. with the same kind of into-
nation contour as Pekka lähti Turkuun ‘Pekka left for Turku’.

Another important indication of marked information focus in Finnish is vari-

ation in word order. Word order variation is also apparent in a written text and it
also directs the reader to read the information structure in a particular way. The
word order in the following example, from a published collection of radio plays
(quoted by Vilkuna 1989: 104), indicates that the first constituent would have a
marked (contrastive) information focus if read aloud:

(9) [ – Mennään katsomaan mitä sille papan huoneelle tehdään.

‘Let’s go and see what has to be done to Grandpa’s room.’
– Tietää tuon katsomattakin.
‘That’s obvious without looking.’]

Remontti siinä on tehtävä.

renovation/repairs-NOM it/that-ESS be-3SG do/make-INDEF+PTC
‘Repairs are what’s needed/A renovation is what must be done’

The unmarked word order would be: Siinä on tehtävä remontti ‘It needs to be
renovated’ and the tonic prominence would come at the end of the tone group if
the clause were spoken. If example 9 were read aloud, the tonic prominence
would fall on remontti ‘renovations’.

7.3. Theme and Rheme

7.3.1. Introductory Remarks

The analysis of Theme and Rheme presented here is illustrated by a text, which is
analysed and reproduced in full in Appendix 1. Since the text is about cats, for
convenience I shall refer to it as the “cat text”. This text was chosen because it
illustrates a number of problems that have to be addressed in the analysis of the
Theme-Rheme structure of Finnish. The textual resources used by the writer are
varied, yet the text is, nevertheless, a fairly simple text and it is relatively easy to
ascertain what the text as a whole is about: it is a text about cats and people’s
attitudes to cats. While the majority of my examples come from this particular
text, the generalizations that I make are based on my knowledge of Finnish and
are intended ) unless otherwise stated ) to be applicable to the central genres of
spoken and written Finnish. Where necessary, I shall quote other, isolated exam-
ples and bits of text.

According to Halliday (1985a: 38), the Theme is the element that “serves as
the point of departure of the message; it is that with which the clause is con-
cerned”. The Rheme is the remainder of the message. The Theme in English is
realized by initial position. However, Halliday sees the Theme as having an inter-
nal metafunctional structure of its own: a clause can have a number of themes.
The experiential Theme is referred to by Halliday as the topical Theme. The
topical Theme basically corresponds to what is regarded as the theme or topic in
other models. This section will concentrate on the topical Theme in Finnish and
some of the problems associated with determining which clause-initial constituent
realizes the topical Theme.

7.3.2. Topical Theme (Topic) in Finnish

The topical Theme is an experiential notion; it is characterized either as “a point

of departure” or it is “what the clause is about”. It seems to me that a point of
departure seen from an experiential perspective can only be seen in terms of what
the clause is about, otherwise the definition of topical Theme is confused with
notions that are related to its realization. In other words, if an experiential point of
departure does not mean “what the clause is about”, then it can only mean the
experiential element that comes first in the temporal unfolding of the clause. The
conflation of definition and recognition criteria would mean that the definition of
topical Theme in any language is tied to the way in which it is realized in Eng-

If the topical Theme is “what the clause is about”, then the question that
needs to be addressed is: what is meant by “aboutness”. From an experiential
perspective, aboutness is concerned with the things that we talk about, and the
things that we talk about, the topics of our conversations, are phenomena that
have been construed as entities. The following example is from a conversation
between two women. They are discussing the fact that the daughter of one of
them (speaker A) is abroad. Speaker B comments on what a marvellous opportu-
nity it is for a young person to go abroad. Speaker A replies that it is, and contin-

(10) vaikka kamalasti se siellä itki

although terribly she+NOM there+ADE cry+PAS/3SG

kun pari enimmäistä kertaa soitin [Tel1: 5]

when couple first+PAR time+PAR ring+PAS+1SG

‘Although she cried terribly the first few times I rang.’

It seems unlikely that vaikka ‘although’ or kamalasti ‘terribly’ would be regarded

as the topical Theme of this clause. Similarly, in the following example from the

cat text (from Appendix 1), it is unlikely that kummallisen sitkeästi ‘strangely
persistently’ would be regarded as the topical Theme.1

(11) Kummallisen sitkeästi elää käsitys,

strangely persistently live view

että kissa saattaa repiä silmät päästä

that cat might scratch eyes from head

‘How strangely persistent is the view that a cat might scratch a person’s eyes out ..’ [4]

The circumstances of manner at the beginning of 10 and 11 have a function in the

experiential structure of the clause, but they are not construed as something that
might be an experiential point of departure in any other sense than in the sense
that they come first. The constituents kamalasti ‘terribly’ and kummallisen
sitkeästi ‘strangely persistently’ are not “topic-worthy”, to borrow and extend on
Vilkuna’s (1989: 47) notion of the “T-worthiness” of a constituent. For Vilkuna,
a T is defined positionally as the slot immediately before the verb and it appears
to be most closely related to the textual function of topic.

The finite verb in the following example can also be discounted as what the
clause is about.

(12) Olihan seitsemällä veljekselläkin oma temppuja

had after all seven brothers even own tricks

tekevä Matti-kissa ..
performing Matti-cat

‘After all even the Seven Brothers had their own trick-performing cat called Matti ...’ [9]

Examples given in this chapter do not include form glosses. The glosses given in this
chapter are intended to make it easier for a non-Finnish reader to read the examples and
concentrate on the ordering of the constituents. Form glosses for the cat text are given in the
gloss of the complete text in Appendix 1. The number of the (orthographical) sentence from
which the example is taken is given in square brackets after the English translation.

The finite verb does not construct an entity but a process (or a relation between
entities). Thus it cannot be regarded as a topical Theme. A topical Theme ) as
Downing (1991: 126) points out ) is typically an “entity”, and, thus, for a process
to be a topical Theme it has to reified, i.e. it is realized by a nominal or nominal-
ized verb form.

The notion of a topic entity should not be taken too literally. What is at issue
is some kind of reification. The reification that is necessarily involved in making
something a topic can be illustrated by the actual English text of this study. In
order to problematize the notion of what the clause is about and focus on the
“about”, which is a preposition, I had to use a noun that is not common in Eng-
lish: “aboutness”. While we can talk about all sorts of experiential phenomena
construed as nouns, verbs, p-positions etc., in order to make something into a
topic we need to reify it. Topic-worthiness can roughly be ascertained by how
naturally an experiential function can figure as a response to the question “What
is this clause about?/Mistä tämä lause kertoo?”. If we ask this question in relation
to examples 10 or 12 above, then it seems to me that it is highly unlikely that
anyone would reply “It’s about ‘terribly’” or even “It’s about ‘having’”. Defined
in terms of aboutness, a topic can also refer to the previous text:

(13) Sama koskee myös pientä ja siroa burmaa, ..

same affects also small & elegant Burmese
‘The same goes for the small and elegant Burmese ..’ [73]

In this example, the topic sama ‘the same’ refers to the previous text.

Examples like 10, 11 and 12 above, where an adverb or a finite verb is the
first experiential element in the clause, are not particularly frequent in the cat text,
but they have been introduced into the discussion at this point in order to
problematize the notion of aboutness. In many of the clauses in the cat text it is
relatively easy to determine what the clauses is about. In the following example,
it is clear that the first clause is about kissan ystävät ‘people who like cats’ and

the second clause is about he ‘they’, which anaphorically refers to kissan ystävät
‘people who like cats’.

(14) Kissan ystävät ovat suurpiirteisempiä,

cat’s friends are more tolerant

he hyväksyvät helpommin toisen yksilöllisyyden.

they accept more easily another’s individuality

‘People who like cats are more tolerant, they more readily accept the individuality of

As for the realization of topical Theme in Finnish, it is clear that ) in the

majority of instances ) the position immediately preceding the finite verb appears
to be the most relevant. According to Hakulinen & Karlsson (1979: 298) the
theme of the clause is realized by the constituent in the pre-verb slot. Similarly,
Vilkuna (1989) postulates a word-order schema for Finnish in which there is a
syntactic slot (referred to as T) that immediately precedes the verb. Vilkuna’s
schema can be illustrated with an example from the cat text:

(15) Omakotitalossa kissa oppii pysymään omassa pihapiirissä ..

in detached+house cat learn to stay in own yard
K T V-field

‘In a detached house a cat learns to stay within the confines of its own yard ..’ [28]

As mentioned above (p. 321), Vilkuna’s T-position appears to be most closely

related to the textual function of topic. The K-position in Vilkuna’s word-order
schema often (though not always) appears to be most clearly related to what
would be considered a contrastive New element in the approach adopted here.
(See also Shore 1990, for a discussion of Vilkuna 1989.)

In order to make the exposition clearer, I shall oversimplify and maintain as

a first rule of thumb that the topical Theme in a declarative clause in Finnish is
realized by the constituent immediately preceding the finite verb ) with the pro-
viso that this constituent also realizes a function in the experiential structure of
the clause. Thus a modal element preceding the verb is discounted as a topical
Theme. This recognition criterion for topical Theme means that in the temporal
unfolding of the clause the finite verb marks the beginning of the Rheme, or, in

the light of what is said later on in this chapter, the finite verb, in fact, marks the
end of the Theme. There are many instances in the cat text to support the claim
that the topical Theme is the experiential element preceding the finite verb. In the
following fragment of text, the topical Theme (marked by double underlining)
can be tracked in this way.

(16) (a) Kissasta ei ole seuraa kävelyretkille,

of cat is not company walking trips

(b) mutta toisaalta sitä ei myöskään tarvitse kuljettaa ulos.

but on the other hand it not also need take out

‘A cat is no company on a walk but, on the other hand, it does not need to be taken out ei-
ther.’ [24]

It should be noted that both of these examples (16a and 16b) are subjectless, and,
thus, the topical Theme cannot be equated with subject in Finnish. In traditional
grammars, clause 16a is considered to have an “existential subject” seuraa ‘com-
pany. In 16b, the verb is in the third person singular and there is no subject in the
clause: this corresponds to English ‘one need not take it out’. However, if there is
a subject in the clause, it is often the topical Theme, as in clauses 17b ) f in the
following fragment, where, once again, the topical Theme can be tracked by its
position immediately preceding the verb:

(17) (a) Kaikenlaista ikävää onkin aikojen saatossa sattunut

all kind of sad (things) have during time happened
÷ (b) mutta myös koirat ovat purreet,
but also dogs have bitten
÷ (c) hevoset potkineet
horses kicked
÷ (d) ja pässit pökkineet.
& rams butted
÷ (e) Silti koira on ihmisen paras ystävä,
nevertheless dog is person’s best friend
÷ (e) hevonen jalo eläin
horse noble animal
(f) ja pässistäkin voi keksiä mukavaa sanottavaa.
& about ram even can think of nice to be said

‘All kinds of distressing things have in fact occurred during the course of time, but it’s also
true that dogs have bitten, horses have kicked and rams have butted people. Nevertheless a
dog is a man’s best friend, a horse (is) a noble animal, and one can even think of something
nice to say about a ram too.’[5 ) 6]

I shall have little to say about what can be considered marked and what can
be considered unmarked in the Theme-Rheme structure, as it seems to me that
generalizations about what is textually marked in Finnish need to be based on a
detailed and comprehensive analysis of number of texts representing various gen-
res, and, moreover, more research needs to be done on information structure in
Finnish in order to ascertain the interaction of Given-New and Theme-Rheme
structures. In 17, for example, there are segmental indicators that information
structure is marked: in 17a the word order is marked and the focusing particle -kin
is attached to the finite verb and in 17f the topical Theme pässistä ‘about a ram’
is marked by the particle -kin. On the basis of these two examples, however, it
would be wrong to draw the conclusion that if the topical Theme is not realized as
the grammatical subject it is marked, the non-subject themes in the previous ex-
ample (16) are in no sense textually marked.

Given the discussion of information structure in the previous section, in the

approach taken here it is possible for the same element to simultaneously realize
both Theme and (contrastive) New. Thus, if Vilkuna’s K and T are given the
value of contrastive New and topical Theme respectively, then in some instances
K and T are conflated. Thus example 17f above, could be analysed as follows:

(18) ja pässistäkin voi keksiä mukavaa sanottavaa.

& about ram even can think of nice to be said

Theme Rheme

In this example, the topical Theme and contrastive New element (Focus) are con-
flated; in Vilkuna’s terms, this position could be labelled K/T, where the slash
indicates a conflation. Thus, in the SF approach, both the Given-New structure
and Theme-Rheme structure vary independently and can be conflated in different
ways. They combine with experiential and interpersonal structures to create an
integrated ‘polyphonic’ grammatical structure.

An adjective can be the topical Theme in Finnish. In some respects, adjec-

tives in Finnish are grammatically more like nouns: for example, they inflect for
case and number and an adjective can be the Head in a phrase where English, for
example, typically requires a substitution element like one. Thus, the English
clause I’ll take the red one can only be translated into Finnish as Otan punaisen
‘I’ll take the red’. Because an adjective is more “substantive” in Finnish, if it oc-
curs in the pre-verb position is clearly the topical Theme in Finnish:

(19) Tärkeintä on, Û että kiellettyjä asioita ei ole niin monta,

most important is that forbidden things not be so many

Û että kissaa täytyy jatkuvasti komennella. â â

that cat must be continually ordered about

‘It’s important that (/what is important is that) there are not so many no-nos that you have to
be continually ordering a cat about.’

In this particular example, the Rheme is an embedded clause; however, this is not
necessarily the case, as in the following example:

(20) Varmaa on vain muutos. [TT6/91:1]

certain is only change
‘The only thing that is certain is change.’

In the following sections, I shall consider some of the problems associated

with the recognition criterion for Theme stated above and examine some more
contentious cases. The discussion that follows rests on the claim that the finite
verb, in fact, marks the end of the Theme, and that other experiential elements
may precede the topical Theme. Some of the observations presented are only ten-
tative ) further research needs to be done on the analysis of running text and spo-
ken discourse.

7.3.3. Subsidiary Topical Themes

If the topical Theme in Finnish is realized by the pre-verb position, then a prob-
lem arises with other experiential elements that come at the beginning of the
clause. In this section, I shall argue that it is necessary to recognize what might be
called a “subsidiary topical Theme”. Subsidiary topical Themes in Finnish may
further need to be classified into various subtypes along the lines suggested by
Downing (1991) for English.

The most common category of experiential element that precedes the topical
Theme in Finnish is a Circumstances of time and place, as illustrated by the fol-
lowing example from the cat text:

(21) Omakotitalossa kissa oppii pysymään omassa pihapiirissä,

in detached house cat learns to stay in its own yard

jos se on pienestä pitäen tottunut siihen --

if it has from when small accustomed to the fact that

‘In a detached house, on the other hand, a cat learns to stay within the confines of the yard,
if, from the time that it is small, it is used to the fact that --‘ [28]

In the English translation I have added “on the other hand” which could be seen
as corresponding to Finnish toisaalta (or taas), which does not appear in the
Finnish text.

Since word order in Finnish is textually conditioned, the ordering of ele-

ments is textually relevant in Finnish. A Circumstance of place or time occurring
before the topical Theme in a clause has a cohesive function: it functions in much
the same way as a cohesive conjunctive such as on the other hand, however, etc.
in English. In Halliday & Hasan’s analysis of cohesive relations in English, the
conjunctive elements “presuppose the presence of other components in the dis-
course” (1976: 226). Of course, any element presupposes the presence of other
components in the discourse, but Halliday & Hasan’s point is that a conjunctive
element explicitly marks a stretch of text as being related to another stretch of

text. There are cohesive conjuncts in Finnish, as illustrated by the silti ‘neverthe-
less’ in example 17 above, part of which is repeated as 22 below:

(22) (e) Silti koira on ihmisen paras ystävä,

nevertheless dog is person’s best friend

(e) hevonen jalo eläin

horse noble animal

(f) ja pässistäkin voi keksiä mukavaa sanottavaa.

& about ram even can think of nice to be said

‘Nevertheless a dog is a man’s best friend, a horse (is) a noble animal, and one can even think
of something nice to say about a ram too.’[6]

In this example, the conjunct silti ‘nevertheless’ creates a cohesive tie with the
preceding text. It is my general impression that cohesive conjuncts are not as fre-
quent in a Finnish text as they are in English. If this is true, part of the reason for
this is the fact that these initial Circumstances of time and place function like
cohesive conjuncts in that they too “reach out into the preceding or following
text” (Halliday & Hasan 1976: 226).

In order to illustrate how the clause-initial Circumstantial omakotitalossa

‘in a detached house’ in example 21 above functions cohesively, one needs to
look at the preceding context, which was about looking after a cat in an apartment
house. When the constituent kaupunkiasunnossa ‘apartment house’ is introduced,
it is preceded by a focusing particle jopa ‘even’: ‘Its [a cat’s] need for exercise
gets to be satisfied even in an apartment house’. This ‘sets the stage’ for the con-
trast that is later made with taking care of a cat in a detached house:

Liikunnantarpeensa se saa tyydytetyksi jopa kaupunkiasunnossa, tarpeensa se suorittaa

lehtisilpulla tai muoviritilällä pohjustettuun vatiin. Kun hoito tapahtuu omassa kodissa, ei
lemmikkinsä takia joudu kiistaan muiden kanssa. Se onkin aikamoinen helpotus, kun tietää
kuinka usein koirantaluttajat saavat ulkopuolisten kiukut niskoilleen. Omakotitalossa kissa
oppii pysymään omassa pihapiirissä, jos se on pienestä pitäen tottunut siihen .. [25 ) 28]
‘Its [a cat’s] need for exercise gets to be satisfied even in an apartment house, its business can
be done in a basin lined with paper shreds or with a piece of perforated plastic at the base.
When things are taken care of in your own home, then you’re unlikely to get into a quarrel
with others because of your pet. This is quite a relief when you know how often people out
walking dogs are subject to the abuse of outsiders. In a detached house, on the other hand, a
cat learns to stay within the confines of the yard, if, from the time that it is small, it is used to
the fact that --‘

The constituent omakotitalossa ‘in a detached house’, however, is not simply a

textual element like silti ‘nevertheless’, which does not have a function in the
experiential structure of the clause. It functions both as a Circumstance of place
in the experiential structure of the clause and it functions cohesively. For this
reason, it seems clear that we need to recognize two themes in Finnish: a subsid-
iary topical Theme (Th: sub, with single underlining) and the main topical Theme
(Th: top, with double underlining).

(23) Omakotitalossa kissa oppii pysymään omassa pihapiirissä,

in detached house cat learns to stay in its own yard
Th: sub Th: top

‘In a detached house, on the other hand, a cat learns to stay within the confines of its own
yard --‘ [28]

The subsidiary Theme brings in another tier of experiential meaning into the
Theme in Finnish. Downing (1991) makes similar claims for English, and, based
on Chafe (1976), refers to this extra tier of experiential meaning as a “frame-
work”, and distinguishes different kinds of framework for English.

Another example of the cohesive function of a clause-initial Circumstance is

in the following extract from an advertisement that was commissioned by the
Finnish Work Union (Kotimaisen Työn Liitto). The initial Circumstances are
(24) a. Viime vuosikymmenellä me suomalaiset kulutimme ennätysmäärän
during the last decade we Finns consumed record quantity
Th: sub Th: top

ulkomaisia tuotteita ja palveluja ....

foreign products & services

‘During the last decade we Finns consumed a record quantity of foreign products and
services ...’

b. Tänään ulkomainen nettovelkamme jokaiselle suomalaiselle jaettuna

today our nett foreign debt divided for each Finn
Th: sub Th: top

on 25.239 markkaa ....

is 25 239 marks

‘Today our net foreign debt divided amongst all Finns (i.e. per capita) is 25 239

c. Samaan aikaan suomalaisten tuotteiden ja palvelujen kysyntä

at the same time the demand for Finnish products & services
Th: sub Th: top

on laskemassa ...
is falling

‘At the same time the demand for Finnish products and services is falling.’

d. Nyt suuntaa pitää muuttaa .... [HS 4.11.91 p. B16]

now direction must change
Th: sub Th: top
‘The direction/trend must now be changed.’

The advertisement is obviously intended to encourage people to buy Finnish pro-

ducts, and thus the topical Themes in the sentences are related to the topic of the
paragraph: “Finns”, “our net debt per capita”, “the demand for Finnish products
and services” and “(future) directions”. The circumstances of time that I have
translated as “the last decade”, “today”, “the same time” and “now” have both a
textual function ) they “reach out into the preceding or following text” ) and a
function in the experiential structure of the clause. Finnish nyt ‘now’ in the last
sentence does not simply mark a step in the argument, it also means ‘at this time’.

There are also experiential elements preceding the topical Theme that are
not circumstances of time or place. In the following example, the first constituent
in both clauses is a Goal and this is followed by an Actor.

(25) Liikunnantarpeensa se saa tyydytetyksi jopa kaupunkiasunnossa,

its need for exercise it gets satisfied even in city house
Th: sub Th: top

tarpeensa se suorittaa lehtisilpulla tai muoviritilällä pohjustettuun vatiin.

its needs it carries out paper shreds or plastic grill based basin
Th: sub Th: top

‘Its need for exercise gets to be satisfied even in an apartment house, its business can be done
in a basin lined with paper shreds or with a piece of perforated plastic at the base.’ [25]

Here the subsidiary Theme does not introduce a temporal or spatial frame for the
topic, but highlights some aspect of it, and this is reinforced ) in this particular
instance ) by the possessive suffix (-nsa ‘its’) attached to the subsidiary Theme.
This kind of subsidiary Theme approximates what Downing (1991) refers to as an
“individual framework”.

In example 25 above, there is a contrast between liikunnantarpeensa ‘its

need for exercise’ and tarpeensa ‘its needs’ and this creates a cohesive tie be-
tween the clauses. This is reinforced by the lexical repetition of tarpeensa ‘it
needs’. However, it seems to me that a subsidiary Theme in Finnish is not neces-
sarily cohesive. There are instances where an initial experiential element is more
like an “individual framework” that highlights some aspect of the topical Theme,
and in these instances the element need not have a cohesive function. It appar-
ently occurs in initial position because it presents contrastive New information:

(26) Sen turkista irtoava karva on niin näkymätöntä,

its from coat falling hair is so invisible
Th: top

÷ että ylimääräistä siivoustyötä se ei juurikaan aiheuta.

that extra cleaning work it not hardly+FOC cause
Th: sub Th: top

‘The hair that falls off its coat is so invisible that it scarcely causes any extra cleaning
work at all.’ [75]

The word order in the second clause together with the focusing particle -kaan
(negative of -kin) suggests a marked information structure. The first constituent
ylimääräistä siivoustyötä ‘extra cleaning work’ (realizing the Goal in the experi-
ential structure) is information that is being focused on, information that the
reader is being asked to attend to. It is followed by the topical Theme se ‘it’,
which is Given since it anaphorically refers back to the topical Theme of the pre-
vious clause (‘the falling hair’). The initial position of the Goal (ylimääräistä
siivoustyötä ‘extra cleaning work’) can possibly be explained by the fact that it is
‘in the air’, as Halliday (1985a: 277) puts it, or, it is in some sense evoked (in
Prince’s (1981) terminology). If there is hair falling from a pet that is kept inside
then the notion of ‘extra cleaning work’ would certainly be ‘in the air’ in a Finn-
ish context. Of course, in an implicit sense, a response to something that is
evoked by the previous text could be seen as cohesive, but it is not as explicitly
cohesive as the use of a conjunctive adjunct or the use of the temporal or spatial
subsidiary Themes discussed above.

There are another two similar instances in the cat text where a subsidiary
Theme is not explicitly cohesive, but in initial position because it presents
contrastive New information: they occur in sentences 29 and 31. In both in-
stances, the word order and the use of a focusing element indicate a marked infor-
mation structure. Sentence 31 will not be discussed at this point, as it brings in a
problem that will be addressed in section 7.3.4. In sentence 29, the topical Theme
of the first clause tämä ‘this’ refers to the previous sentence, which is about a cat
learning to keep within the confines of its own yard.

(27) Jos tämä ei onnistu, voi aluksi rakentaa ulkoilutarhan,

if this doesn’t succeed can first build outdoor+cage

÷ niin vieraalta kuin ajatus voi tuntuakin.

as strange as thought can seem+FOC
Th: sub Th: top

‘If this doesn’t succeed, (then) in the beginning you can build an outdoor cage as strange as
the idea may in fact seem.’ [29]

The topical Theme in the second clause ajatus ‘thought’ refers back to the build-
ing of an outdoor cage. The subsidiary Theme focuses on an aspect of the topical
Theme: an adverse reaction to ‘this thought’.

In the instances discussed, the subsidiary Theme is either cohesive or fo-

cused in the information structure1. Elements that are focused are clearly different
from clause-initial Circumstances that have a cohesive function. More research on
these elements may indicate that we may need to distinguish two (or more) sub-
types of subsidiary Theme, or that we are dealing with two distinct phenomena
that should not be subsumed under the one function “subsidiary Theme”. It is
clear that the research needs to be based on the analysis of running text. If we
simply look at isolated sentences then it is difficult to make any kind of claim
concerning ‘what the clause is about’ or the kind of framework that is being set
up by an initial experiential element. Only by looking at a running text can we
relate the textual structure in the clause to the overall thematic development in the

The discussion of subsidiary Themes that are focused in the information

structure should not be seen as implying that the topical Theme in Finnish is nec-
essarily Given, and that (contrastive) New and topical Theme cannot be conflated
in Finnish. An example of a topical Theme conflating with New was given in 18
above: ja pässistäkin voi keksiä mukavaa sanottavaa, which following the con-
stituent order in Finnish would be: “and even about a ram (one) can think of nice
things to say”. There is no subject in Finnish that corresponds to the English
“one”; the constituent pässistäkin ‘even about a ram’ has a focusing particle at-
tached to it. Other examples were given in section 7.2.3 at the beginning of this
chapter, for example, mäkin lähen lenkille ‘I’ll go for a jog too’ (p. 317), Kurki-
kin jo lähti ‘Even the crane has left’ (p. 318).

One cannot discount the possibility that it could be both cohesive and focused.

7.3.4. Topical Themes in Post-Verbal Position

In a polar interrogative, the topical Theme follows the finite verb. As pointed out
in 4.5.4, a projected interrogative remains in the interrogative in both quotes and
reports in Finnish:

(28) Kissa vaistoaa erittäin herkästi,

cat feels instinctively extremely sensitively

2 onko se kodissa todella hyväksytty. 2

is++QUES it in home really accepted

‘A cat has an extremely sensitive instinct concerning whether or not it is really accepted in a
home.’ [56]

The finite verb and the interrogative suffix (-ko) can be considered interpersonal
points of departure. These, and other interpersonal elements at the beginning of
the clause will be discussed more fully in section 7.3.6 below.

More problematic are those instances in which the topical Theme follows
the finite verb in a declarative clause. There are a number of instances in the cat
text where the finite verb precedes other experiential elements in the clause. As it
is more usual for the finite verb to follow an experiential element, this verb-initial
word order is marked in Finnish. It is clearly tied in with the system of key (al-
though the information structure may also play a part). A finite verb in clause-
initial position in a declarative clause in Finnish has the feature ‘assertive’: it
either asserts or repudiates something that has been said, one’s own expectations,
or an implicit assumption (cf. Hakulinen 1989: 59).

(29) Mutta eipä silti, eivät kaikki suomalaiset ole aina

but not nevertheless not (3pl) all Finns have always

ajatelleet, että kissan paikka on vain ulkorakennuksissa hiirenpyynnissä.

thought that cat’s place is only in outbuildings in mouse catching

‘But on the other hand (for all that), not all Finns have always thought that the only place for
a cat is in outbuildings catching mice.’ [8]
(30) Olihan seitsemällä veljekselläkin oma temppuja
had seven brothers own tricks

tekevä Matti-kissa, jolla oli turvattu asema perhepiirissä.

performing Matti-cat who had a secure position in the family circle

‘After all even the Seven Brothers had their own trick-performing cat called Matti, who
had a secure position in the family circle.’ [9]

Both these sentences come at the beginning of the cat text, where the writer dis-
cusses people’s negative attitudes to cats. She then goes on, first, to disclaim in
part what she herself has written in example 29, and then assert a counterclaim in
30 ) the reference to the ‘seven brothers’ is to the first novel written in Finnish:
“The Seven Brothers” by Aleksis Kivi, which can assumed to be Given in a Finn-
ish cultural context. The counterclaim is, thus, that even people as significant in
Finnish culture as the seven brothers had a cat.

There are also instances in the cat text where there is an experiential element
at the beginning of the clause and this is followed by the verb. However, the finite
and predicator are split by another experiential element. In these instances, the
marked word order seems to be the result of a marked information structure.

(31) Erityisesti pikkulintujen lentoharjoitusten aikaan on kissan liikkumista

especially during small birds flying practice time is cat’s movements

to be restricted

‘When small birds are learning to fly is one particular time when a cat’s movements need
to be restricted .’ [31]

The constituent that I consider to be the topical Theme, kissan liikkumista ‘a cat’s
movements’ comes between the finite element and a participle. From the point of
view of the thematic development of the text, it is clear that kissan liikkumista ‘a
cat’s movements’ is the topical Theme: the previous sentences were about a cat’s
need for exercise and its movements in general. Moreover, the Rheme is realized
by the participle rajoitettava ‘to be restricted’, and this, in fact, follows the
Theme. There is a marked information focus on erityisesti pikkulintujen

lentoharjoitusten aikaan ‘especially when small birds are learning to fly’ (which
is an NP in Finnish) and, this appears to be the reason why the topical Theme gets
shifted to a position between the finite and the predicator.

The following example is in some respects reminiscent of an English struc-

ture where an element is introduced by as for or as regards and, in other respects,
it is like a predicated Theme structure in English (see Halliday 1985a: 60ff.):

(34) Leikkaamattomien kollikissojen hajumerkit eivät nekään

uncastrated tomcats’ scent marks not (3pl) they + focusing particle
Th:subi Th: topi

edistä naapurisopua.
promote neighbour+harmony

‘The scent marks of uncastrated tomcats do not promote neighbourly love ~ As for the
scent marks of uncastrated tomcats they do not promote neighbourly love.’

The preceding sentence is about a cat’s sexual instinct and the fact that its wailing
at night is not the most pleasant thing to listen to. In this context, the first constit-
uent is a New element and it is picked up in an equative-like structure by a co-
referential pronoun that follows the finite verb. It seems to me that a structure
such as this is marked in Finnish, and, moreover, it seems to be restricted to cer-
tain genres. Unlike the English as regards structure, structures such as 34 are
more characteristic of informal registers, and would be unlikely to occur in offi-
cial or scientific prose.

7.3.5. Theme and Topic-Worthiness

Unlike English, Finnish does not employ “dummy elements” like it and there in
clauses like It’s easy to run out of money or There’s a glass on the table. The
Finnish translation equivalents to these could be literally glossed as “Easily hap-
pens thus that money runs out” and “On the table is a glass”:
(32) Helposti käy niin, että rahat loppuvat kesken.
easily happens so that money ends in the middle
‘It’s only too easy to run out of money.’

(33) Pöydällä on lasi.

on table is glass
‘On the table is a glass ~ There’s a glass on the table.’

This means that a circumstantial element can occur in the pre-verb slot in spite of
the fact that it may not be significant for the thematic progression of text. It be-
comes the Theme by “default”, since its position at the beginning is tied to the
information structure of the clause rather than to thematic progression.

However, not all “default Themes” are topic-worthy. The most likely candi-
dates for topic-worthiness are circumstances of time or place (such as pöydällä
‘on the table’ in 33), since times and places constitute things that we talk about.
The following clauses could be glossed as