The Use of Partitive Plural Predicatives by Learners of Finnish from Related and Non-related L1 Backgrounds: The same side of a slightly different coin

Marianne Spoelman

Finnish learner language, Partitive case, Use of prior linguistic knowledge, L1 influence


The use of the partitive case, a typical case characterizing Finnic languages, remains a constant struggle for learners of Finnish as a foreign language. This paper reports on a study on the (under)use of partitive plural predicatives in the writings of Estonian, German and Dutch learners of Finnish as a foreign language. The overall aim of the study reported on in this paper was to identify and address similarities and differences between the use of partitive plural predicatives by learners of Finnish as a foreign language from related and non-related L1 backgrounds (Estonian vs. German/Dutch). Research materials (Estonian learner corpus 82,749 words; German learner corpus 60,490 words; Dutch learner corpus 47,753 words) were selected from the International Corpus of Learner Finnish and aligned to the CEFR proficiency scales. As will be discussed, all learner corpora were particularly at the lower proficiency levels characterized by frequent replacement of partitive plural predicatives by nominative predicatives. However, partitive plural predicatives were in the Estonian learner corpus generally substituted by nominative plural predicatives and in the remaining learner corpora mainly by nominative singular (i.e. uninflected) predicatives, suggesting reliance on L1 morphosyntax versus simplification. It will nevertheless be argued that these seemingly different phenomena also have much in common.

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Apples - Journal of Applied Language Studies