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An Interdisciplinary Journal of the Language Sciences

Editor-in-Chief: Gast, Volker

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Volume 51, Issue 1


Referential dimensions of human impersonals in dialectal European Portuguese and Finnish

Pekka Posio / Maria Vilkuna
Published Online: 2013-01-05 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ling-2013-0006


This article is a contribution to recent discussion on impersonality. The focus is on speaker-inclusive and speaker-exclusive interpretation of European Portuguese (EP) and Finnish impersonal constructions where the range of potential human referents is left open and, by default, construed as human and plural. These include reflexive-based se-impersonals and the pronoun a gente in EP, impersonal passive in Finnish, and impersonal third person plurals (3PL) in both languages. By investigating these constructions in non-standard data representing a comparable genre (dialectal interviews), we obtain a detailed picture of their functions in actual use and the division of labor of the different constructions. In addition, we point at some problems in their classification. Our data suggest that both languages manifest a division of labor between speaker-inclusive and speaker-exclusive impersonals. The distinction is more entrenched in EP than in Finnish, where the productivity of the speaker-exclusive impersonal 3PL is, to a great extent, dependent on the dialect in question.

Keywords: impersonality; pronouns; Finnish; Portuguese; dialects

About the article

Department of Modern Languages, General Linguistics , P.O. Box 24, 00014 University of Helsinki, Finland

Published Online: 2013-01-05

Published in Print: 2013-01-04

Citation Information: , Volume 51, Issue 1, Pages 177–229, ISSN (Online) 1613-396X, ISSN (Print) 0024-3949, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ling-2013-0006.

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