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Conference Papers Year : 2022

Correlative verb reduplication as a modal and narrative resource

La réduplication verbale corrélative – une ressource modale et narrative


Our paper investigates the reanalysis of modal meaning in the Finnish verb construction V1 ku(i)n V1=kin. This pattern includes the reduplication of a usually finite positive verb form, the comparative conjunction ku(i)n and the inclusive focus enclitic =kin which is connected to the reduplicant. The construction is used to describe events that take place despite a potentially hindering antagonist force (Talmy 1988; 2000). This opposing force can be of different types: epistemic, intersubjective, or physical, as in (1):

(1) Kerran katselin ikkunasta, kun harakka reuhtoi omen[a]puun oksassa riippuvaa isoa talipalloakaapatakseen sen itselleen kokonaan. ‘Once I watched through the window as a magpie was wrestling a huge fat ball hanging on anapple tree in order to get it all to himself.’ Ja sa-i kuin sa-i=kin se-n oksa-sta irti. [Suomi24] and get-PRT.3SG CONJ get-PRT.3SG=CLT DEM-GEN branch-ELA off ‘And (eventually) he got it off the branch.’

The paper focusses on the iconic and force dynamic motivation of this modal meaning and the semantic transformation of the pattern into a postmodal narrative marker.

Coordinating two identical items creates an asymmetry: the first V1 corresponds to the narrator's perspective, in (1) reporting the magpie’s achievement, whereas the second V1, which is focalized by the enclitic, gives rise to a perspective where two forces oppose one another, in (1) the magpie’s intention, the agonist, and resistance of the fat ball, the antagonist. The reduplicant makes relevant the two underlying virtual facets of the event, p and not-p, which are co-present in the construal of the situation. On a conceptual level, the construction thus conveys a layered structure, to which the verb reduplication is analogous and on which the modal meaning of the construction is based. Both ku(i)n and =kin, the non-verbal components of the construction, contribute to reversing an initial force relationship and relate the construction V1 ku(i)n V1=kin to other correlative constructions containing an overt modal verb. On the other hand, V1 ku(i)n V1=kin appears within narrative sequences as an intersubjective resource for highlighting tellability (Baroni 2009). In these uses, the antagonist force remains undetermined, or the event described can even be construed, to a certain extent, as aligning with it. Our claim is that the force dynamic pattern and the layered conceptual structure operate here on a narrative level. They bring to the fore the culmination of the story. The reduplicative construction (increase in linguistic material) furthermore iconically adds the intensity of the event (increase in quality) (Fischer 2011; Magni 2017). The analysis gives us insight into reduplication as a resource for modality and demodalization as a constructional change (Hilpert et al. 2021).

The data used for the analysis are collected from the text corpora of the Language Bank of Finland, from the 19th to the 21st century, and includes literary texts, folk tales and conversations from online discussion sites.


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Dates and versions

hal-03883539 , version 1 (04-01-2023)


  • HAL Id : hal-03883539 , version 1


Outi Duvallon, Rea Peltola. Correlative verb reduplication as a modal and narrative resource. La postmodalité et les cycles de vie des expressions modales / Postmodality and the life cycles of modal expressions, Jun 2022, Caen, France. ⟨hal-03883539⟩
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