Ruotsinkielisten suomenoppijoiden strategioista paikallissijojen valinnassa

Tuija Määttä


Swedish-speaking learners’ strategies for choosing Finnish local cases 

This article presents the results of research on how Swedish-speaking students learning Finnish as a foreign language choose local cases and describe their strategies to do it. The research is based on the descriptions from six students who have studied Finnish for about 1.5–2 years at the university. The goal of this study is to get more detailed information about the methods and strategies students use when they are dealing with the local cases.

The material used in this study is collected with a test containing three types of exercises: in exercise 1 the students inflect one given word in some local case, in exercise 2 each meaning contains three words inflected in different local cases and the student chooses one alternative, and in exercise 3 the student translates ten Swedish meanings to Finnish and one word in every meaning is to be inflected in a local case. In every exercise the student also describes what kind of strategy he or she uses to find the right local case. In total, the material contains 154 answers. 

The material is analyzed in two parts and with two methods. In the first part an introspective method, self-observation, is used, and in the second part error analysis. The focus in part one is on the students’ descriptions of their strategies for choosing a local case. In part two the students’ local case choices are analyzed.

The Finnish local case system is quite a complicated system because a learner must bear in mind several aspects simultaneously: the quality of the location (inside/outside) and the direction of the movement (to/at/from). The fact that there is a large number of verbs that govern a specific local case for their arguments also makes the choice of local case more difficult.

The results show that the students have difficulties explaining in writing how they really think and decide when choosing the local cases. The descriptions are short and often contain only a Swedish preposition or preposition expression. Quite often the students also describe how a Finnish expression is expressed in Swedish and then they think in a Swedish way and choose a wrong local case. This has happened in 35% of the occurrences of local cases in this material. The answers contain comments on the location and direction of movement. In exercises 1 and 2 the students comment more on the direction of movement than the location and their choice of case is based on a Swedish preposition expression. In exercise 3, on the other hand, the quality of location is commented on more frequently. A common feature for almost all answers is that the students pay very little attention to verbs and especially to the governing verbs. 


local case; introspection; self-observation; error analysis; learner Finnish; Finnish as a foreign language; Finnish; Swedish

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