• Lea Laitinen
Avainsanat: nollapersoona, persoona, pragmatiikka, semantiikka, syntaksi, yksipersoonaisuus


The zero person (englanti)

1995 (99)

Lea Laitinen (

The zero person

The article discusses the semantics and pragmatics of Finnish sentences containing a so-called generic "zero subject" or "missing person" in (see Hakulinen and Karttunen 1973; Leinonen 1983, 1985; Vilkuna 1992). In these constructions, a subject or another major constituent appears to be missing. The verb is always in the 3rd person sigular. A missing person is usually translated into English by using the generic one or you (1): its referent is always human.

(1) a. Jos pit esitelmn, saa matkakorvausta. if hold-sg3-prs lecture-sg-akk get-sg3-prs travel allowance-sg-par 'If you give a paper, you'll get a travel allowance'

b. Korvauksensa voi hakea (joutuu hakemaan) jlkikteen. allowance-3px can-sg3 get-inf1(must-sg3 get-inf3) afterwards 'You can (have to) get your allowance afterwards'

e. Siell ikvystyy. there get bored-sg3-prs 'You get bored there'

The referent of the missing subject is non-specific and arbitrary. In terms of role semantics it is an experiencer, a recipient or a patient undergoing a change of state: it carries the Proto-Patient entailment of affectedness (cf. Dowty 1991). Other typical contexts for the zero arguments are generic sentences like (2), which lack an experiencer argument in a non-nominative case.

(2) Saunan jlkeen vsytt / tuntuu hyvlt. sauna-sg-gen after make tired -sg3prs / feel-sg3prs good-sg-abl 'After sauna one feels tired / good'

In the preverbal position, these constructions have an adverbial of time, place, instrument or manner, or an object (1b, e, 2). It is the properties of this entity that "affect" the situation of the potential referent of the zero argument. These properties form the necessary or sufficient conditions for the described process. With modal verbs (1b) or in the if-then frame (1a), the zero subject can be used freely with agentive and stative verbs as well.

The zero constructions have been given a pragmatic interpretation based on the Face theory of politeness. The use of this form has been interpreted as a negative politeness strategy of avoiding explicit personal reference, especially to the speaker or to the adressee; it is seen as a Finnish way of avoiding subjectivity or personal involvement. The writer criticizes this view. On the basis of conversational data, she analyses the relation of the zero persons to the speech act pronouns, to the pronoun itse ('self'), and to the referential-indexical category of person in general. She argues that the zero person is an indexical site to be identified with.

tammi 3, 1995
Laitinen, L. (1995). Nollapersoona. Virittäjä, 99(3), 337. Noudettu osoitteesta