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'The church is visible into the hand': Grammaticalization of the Estonian word käsi (‘hand’) and its usage with verbs of perception

The aim of this paper is to investigate the combinations of the Estonian word käsi (‘hand’) and perception verbs. The word käsi functions as a productive noun and as a grammaticalized item at the same time. The main function of the word is to refer to the body part hand, in which function it has the complete case paradigm that is persistently in use. Simultaneously with the meaning of a body part, käsi functions as a gram (=grammaticalized item, cf. Svorou 1993), which through its grammaticalization process has received a number of new functions in the Estonian language.

The gram käsi seems to combine very productively with several verbs, carrying different functions. In this survey the aim is to take a closer look at combinations of the gram käsi and perception verbs. Among various perception verbs, the ones denoting visual perception (with meanings such as 'see', 'be visible') seem to be particularly productive in that sense, followed by auditory perception verbs (meaning ‘sound’ and ‘hear’). The language queries discussed in this paper investigate the usage of those verbs and reveal remarkable variety, especially within the group of verbs of vision, suggesting that some members of this group (particularly the agentive verb ‘show’ and the non-agentive ‘be visible’) occur with käsi more productively than other verbs of perception. In this paper I am going to find out the explanation for such differences. I will also discuss the function of grammaticalized usages of käsi in such combinations.

Keywords: Estonian language, cognitive semantics, grammaticalization, fictive motion, verbs of perception

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