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Essive case

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Essive case

The essive or similaris case (abbreviated ESS) is one example of a grammatical case, an inflectional morphological process by which a form is altered or marked in order to indicate its grammatical function.[1] Marking of the essive case on a noun can express it as a definite period of time during which something happens or during which a continuous action was completed. The essive case can also denote a form as a temporary location, state of being, or character in which the subject was at a given time. The latter of these meanings is often referred to as the equivalent of the English phrase “as a ___”.[2]

In the Finnish language, this case is marked by adding "-na/-nä" to the stem of the noun.[3]

  Example: lapsi "child" -> lapsena "as a child", "when (I) was a child".
  Example: Veljeni on säveltäjänä “My brother is a composer.”
  säveltäjä -> säveltäjänä “state of being a composer (the given time is the present)”[4]
  Example: Sain kirjeen viime maanantaina. “I received the letter last Monday.”
  maanantai “Monday” -> maanantaina “Monday (referring to the time when the action was completed)”[5]

Use of the essive case for specifying times, days, and dates when something happens is also apparent in Finnish [6]

  Example: kuudentena joulukuuta -> "on the 6th of December".

In Finnish, the essive case is technically categorized as an old locative case, or a case which in some way indicates spatial location. However, in the present day language, the case has lost the majority of its spatial meaning. The case instead typically denotes a state that is temporary or inclined to change.[7]

Some fixed expressions do retain the essive in its ancient locative meaning however, e.g. "at home" is kotona.

  Example: Luen lehtiä kotona. "I read newspapers at home."

When marking something that in fact cannot literally change states, the essive case can implicate the presence of alternative states or even two individual, differing ‘worlds’.[8] This can been seen in the following example:

  Example: Ostin helmen aitona. ”I bought the pearl thinking it was genuine [but later found out that it was not].”[9]

The example above illustrates the process by which marking of the essive case can be seen as creating two differing ‘worlds’: one real and one illusionary. The “temporary” component of the meaning encoded by marking of the essive case on the Finnish word for ‘genuine’ (aito) makes a distinction between the perceived state of the subject as genuine at the time of purchase and the actual state of subject as not genuine as it is perceived at present or at the time of the moment of speech.[10]

If the inessive were used e.g. kodissani this would distinguish the activity from reading the papers, say, in the garage or in the garden (of the home).

  • Minulla on kylpyhuone kodissani. "I have a bathroom in my home." i.e. not in the garage or garden.

In the Estonian language, this case is marked by adding "-na" to the genitive stem.[11] Marking of this case in Estonian denotes the capacity in which the subject acts. The essive case is used for indicating "states of being", but not of "becoming", which is instead marked by either the translative case, the elative case, or the nominative case.[12]

  Example: laps "child" -> lapse "of child" -> lapsena "as a child", "when (I) was a child".
  
  Example: Ta töötab insenerina "He works as an engineer."[13]

In the Spanish language, the essive case does serve as a locative case which encodes spatial meaning. The essive case is marked by use of the adposition "en", which translates to English as "on". The Spanish essive case and its relation to two other locative cases, the allative case (encoded by Spanish adposition “a” meaning “to”) and the ablative case (encoded by Spanish adposition “de” meaning “from”), is discussed by Dein Creissels in Space in Languages: Linguistic Systems and Cognitive Categories. Creissels asserts that Spanish is just one example of a European languages in which these three cases are distinct, as opposed to other European languages which exhibit some conflation between marking of the essive case and of the allative case.[14] Below is an example of the adposition encoding the essive case in Spanish:

  Example: Los niños están en la playa "The children are on the beach"[15]

References

  1. ^ O'Grady, William, John Archibald, Mark Aronoff, and Janie Rees-Miller. "Morphology: The Analysis of Word Structure." Contemporary Linguistics: An Introduction. 6th ed. Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2010. Print.
  2. ^ Niemi, Clemens. Finnish Grammar. 3rd ed. Duluth, MN: C.H. Salminen, 1945. Print.
  3. ^ Niemi, Clemens. Finnish Grammar. 3rd ed. Duluth, MN: C.H. Salminen, 1945. Print.
  4. ^ Niemi, Clemens. Finnish Grammar. 3rd ed. Duluth, MN: C.H. Salminen, 1945. Print.
  5. ^ Niemi, Clemens. Finnish Grammar. 3rd ed. Duluth, MN: C.H. Salminen, 1945. Print.
  6. ^ Niemi, Clemens. Finnish Grammar. 3rd ed. Duluth, MN: C.H. Salminen, 1945. Print.
  7. ^ Niemi, Clemens. Finnish Grammar. 3rd ed. Duluth, MN: C.H. Salminen, 1945. Print.
  8. ^ Salminen, Taru. "Retention of abstract meaning: The essive case and grammaticalization of polyphony in Finnish." New Reflections on Grammaticalization. Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins Publishing Co., 2002. Print.
  9. ^ Salminen, Taru. "Retention of abstract meaning: The essive case and grammaticalization of polyphony in Finnish." New Reflections on Grammaticalization. Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins Publishing Co., 2002. Print.
  10. ^ Salminen, Taru. "Retention of abstract meaning: The essive case and grammaticalization of polyphony in Finnish." New Reflections on Grammaticalization. Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins Publishing Co., 2002. Print.
  11. ^ Moseley, Christopher. Colloquial Estonian: The Complete Course for Beginners. New York, NY: Routledge, 2008. Print.
  12. ^ Moseley, Christopher. Colloquial Estonian: The Complete Course for Beginners. New York, NY: Routledge, 2008. Print.
  13. ^ Moseley, Christopher. Colloquial Estonian: The Complete Course for Beginners. New York, NY: Routledge, 2008. Print.
  14. ^ Creissels, Denis. "Encoding the distinction between location, source, and destination." Space in Languages: Linguistic Systems and Cognitive Categories. Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins Publishing Co., 2006. Print.
  15. ^ Creissels, Denis. "Encoding the distinction between location, source, and destination." Space in Languages: Linguistic Systems and Cognitive Categories. Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins Publishing Co., 2006. Print.
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