Word order patterns in generic ‘zero person’ constructions in Finnish: Insights from speech-act participants

Elsi Kaiser


I suggest that seemingly puzzling word-order properties of the Finnish generic zero person construction can be explained if we acknowledge the relevance of speech-act participants (speaker/addressee) for the Finnish version of the EPP. Building on work by Moltmann (2006, 2010) on generic one as well as Malamud’s work (2012) on the features of one and you, I identify two different kinds of zero person constructions in Finnish, suggest evidence that the two kinds of zeros differ in their featural properties, and propose a refinement to the topicality-based EPP in Finnish that can be used to explain unexpected word order patterns of the zero person construction. This work draws new connections between reference to speech-act participants (in particular speaker-related meaning) and word order constraints.


generic pronouns; impersonal constructions; Finnish; syntax-semantics interface; word order; speech-act participants; speaker; addressee; EPP; zero person

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.3765/plsa.v4i1.4558

Copyright (c) 2019 Elsi Kaiser

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