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Variation of the active past participle in Border Karelian dialects

This study examines variation in the use of the active past participle in Border Karelian dialects. The research data are a part of the Corpus of Border Karelia and consist of 3,393 examples of singular active past participle forms used in grammatical constructions. The data were collected from 42 Karelian speakers, who come from the following Border Karelia municipalities: Salmi, Impilahti, Suistamo, Korpiselkä, Suojärvi and from the eastern parts of Ilomantsi. Before the Second World War, Border Karelia was a part of Finland. The population of the area was Karelian-speaking and used two main dialects of Karelian, namely Proper Karelian (southern dialects) and Livvi Karelian, and the Finnish language. The contacts between the two languages and dialects influenced each other for centuries and led to the large areal and individual language variation. The current research lies in the field of dialectology, corpus and contact linguistics and includes quantitative analysis of the variation.

The study focuses on the active past participle forms used in negative forms of the past tense and negative and positive forms of present and past perfect tense. The research data consists of nine variants of the active past participle. In the Finnish literary language, the morphological affix of the active past participle is nut or nyt (sanonut), but in the dialects of Karelian and Finnish several phonetically close variants exist. Each of the variants is a morphological type of the active past participle. In the Border Karelian variants of the active past participle from the Finnish dialects of Savo and Southeastern dialects, n(n)A, nUx and nt (sanonna, sanonus sitä and sanont) overlap with the forms from the Karelian dialects of Proper Karelian, n, nUn and t (sanon, sanonun and sanot) and Livvi Karelian, nUh (sanonuh). nUt and nU types are both present in Finnish and Karelian. Besides the mentioned variants there are also some local variants of the active past participle used in the Border Karelian dialects (sanoo, sanonuu, sanoh and sano). 
Variation of the participle forms is studied by quantitative methods. The research database consists of dependent and independent variables. The dependent variable is a type of participle and independent variables are morphophonological (a type of verb, the number of syllables in the stem of a verb and a type of verb stem) and syntactic variables (the polarity of the context, mood and tense of a verb). The areal and individual variation of the active past participle is also described in the research. The correlation between two categorical variables is tested by using a crosstabulation and chi-squared test. Multivariate analysis, which explores the correlation among all the variables simultaneously, was carried out with the help of a decision tree and random forest classification. The results of the statistical tests were interpreted in the context of areal language history and the contact between Finnish and Karelian. 

The research results illustrate the large areal and idiolectic variation of the active past participle in the Border Karelian dialects. The results of the decision tree and random forest analysis highlight the role of municipal differentiation, which is a sign of high data heterogeneity. In the data from Ilomantsi and Korpiselkä nUt and t types of participle are present strongly and both are used in the northern Karelian-speaking areas of Porajärvi, Repola and Rukajärvi. Distribution of essive (nnA) and the nt type of active past participle shows that the degree of the Finnish language influence on the Ilomantsi Border Karelian dialect is higher than in the rest of Border Karelia. The nUt type of participle is also presented in Suistamo and Impilahti, but together with t type, n, nUn and nUh are present in Suistamo and nUt is present together with n and nU types of participle in Impilahti. In western parishes of Border Karelia, nUt is the main type of participle, while in Suojärvi and Salmi, Karelian variants such as nUn, n and nUh are more common. The significant presence of nUt and nU in the Border Karelian dialects and both in Finnish eastern dialects and Karelian dialects is a sign of Proto-Karelian origin of the languages. 

Besides the large areal variation, the idiolectic variation of the active past participle is heterogeneous as well. Even speakers from the same village could use the different types of participle. Research data demonstrate that the variation is more stable in Salmi and Impilahti, but in other areas of Border Karelia up to nine different variants of the active past participle could be used. Both the features of older language and dialect contacts between Finnish and Karelian and indications of ongoing contacts can be seen in the data. For example, the extensive distribution of the essive participle in the speakers’ speech from Ilomantsi is a sign of settled use of the form and proof of an early language contact. Alternatively, an occasional use of some variants is a sign of unstable and ongoing language contact. 

The research results show that morphophonological linguistic variables explain the variation of participle forms better than syntactic variables where the form is used. The type of verb is the most significant variable. The research data is split by the type of verb stem and by the number of syllables in the verb stem. The research investigates the diffusion of different types of participles according to the spreading of innovations theory and lexical and morphological diffusion theory. The active past participle has the same grammatical role in Finnish and Karelian. That fact supported the mixing of the forms in the Border Karelian dialects. This research highlights the linguistic situation and brings new knowledge about the language and dialect contacts occurring among the Border Karelian dialects. This in turn supports the current state of the Karelian language and its revitalization. 

The doctoral dissertation of MA Ilia Moshnikov, entitled Variation of the active past participle in Border Karelian dialects, will be examined at the Philosophical Faculty. The Opponent in the public examination will be Professor Johanna Laakso (University of Vienna) and the Custos will be Professor Helka Riionheimo (University of Eastern Finland). The public examination will be held online in Finnish on 28th of May 2021.

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