The use of partitive predicatives by Estonian learners of Finnish at different levels of L2 proficiency

Marianne Spoelman


The partitive has often been acknowledged as problematic for L2 learners of Finnish. The purpose of this study was to identify possible instances of L1 influence in Estonian learners’ use of partitive predicatives and to explore the relation between L1 influence and L2 proficiency. Research materials (85,749 words) were selected from the Estonian subcorpus of the International Corpus of Learner Finnish and evaluated according to the CEFR proficiency scales (i.e. A1–C2). A frequency-error analysis revealed instances of both positive L1 influence (e.g. a virtual lack of partitive overuse errors) and negative L1 influence (e.g. frequent use of nominative plural instead of partitive plural predicatives). The latter error type was found to ultimately decrease with increasing L2 proficiency, suggesting an inverse relation between negative L1 influence and L2 proficiency. Nonetheless, interactions between L1 influence and several other variables also reflected the extremely complex nature of the phenomenon of L1 influence.


L1 influence; learner language; corpus research; partitive; copula construction; Finnish; Estonian

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Copyright (c) 2012 Marianne Spoelman

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ISSN 1736-9290 (print)
ISSN 2228-3854 (online)