Investigating the future of Finnish congruency: Focus on possessive morphology
This study examines variation and change in the Finnish possessive morphology during the past few decades focusing on colloquial Helsinki Finnish. The variation in the morphological marking of possession is considered to be one of the most drastic changes in spoken Finnish (cf. Nuolijärvi 1986b).
The prescriptive construction of possession in Finnish consists of the genitive form of a personal pronoun + suffix; however, in real usage, three possessive constructions are observed: (1) minun kirjani (pronoun + suffix) ‘my book,’ (2) kirjani (suffix-only), (3) minun kirja (pronoun-only).
The main purpose of this study is to determine whether double-marking is disappearing and is being replaced by the ‘pronoun-only’ variant, as suggested by Paunonen (1995). The data for this study were collected from an oral Discourse Completion Test questionnaire, interviews, and the media. The data were analyzed both quantitatively and qualitatively.
The results indicate that double-marking has, indeed, been decreasing over the last few decades. However, contrary to Paunonen's 1995 prediction that the ‘pronoun-only’ form would be the dominant variant in the near future, my findings indicate that the ‘suffix-only’ form is quite dominant even among young workers (aged 20–39) who favored the ‘pronoun-only’ variant almost exclusively 10–20 years ago. Paunonen (1995) also discovered that the language spoken by the same age group remained stable over periods of time. Yet my present study shows that one particular age group, namely the youth of 1990, drastically changed their choice of variants 10 years later while the language of the other age groups remained stable. This phenomenon signifies the possibility that the change toward the use of the ‘pronoun-only’ form may be no longer progressing and has become a case of ‘age grading’; alternatively, a new change toward the ‘suffix-only’ variant is beginning to take place.