Suomen perfektin merkityksestä keskusteluaineiston valossa

  • Eeva-Leena Seppänen
Avainsanat: keskusteluntutkimus, perfekti, tempukset


The meaning of the perfect tense in Finnish in the light of conversational data (englanti)

1/1997 (101)

Eeva-Leena Seppnen


The article takes a fresh look at existing descriptions of the meaning and use of the perfect tense in the light of analysis of data from real conversations. The starting point is Comrie's (1976) much used definition, which states that the perfect is used to indicate the continuing present relevance of a past situation. With reference to conversational data, the writer discusses the nature of the concept "current relevance" and considers what a more precise analysis of the moment of speech can contribute to earlier descriptions of the expressive power of the perfect.

Conversational data is shown to reveal uses for the Finnish perfect tense which are connected with regulating the conversation structure and participation framework. On the one hand, the perfect functions as a means by which the speaker marks her/his utterance as a justification for a previously presented statement or view, or shows that what s/he is about to say forms part of the ongoing narrative chain; on the other hand, the perfect allows the situation or event to be presented as open for discussion by other participants, or allows the strength of common ground between speakers to be explored.

The article does not seek to put forward a new, comprehensive theory of the meaning of the Finnish perfect tense; the intention is only to demonstrate the utility of changing the viewpoint in descriptions of grammatical categories. Essential to understanding the current relevance denoted by the perfect is the way in which the moment of speech is perceived. In a conversation, the present, connected to the past, is the action currently in progress, the topics and structures of the conversation. Current relevance can then be understood as the relevance of the action: using the perfect, the speaker indicates the relevance of his turn in relation to the action that is ongoing in the conversation. The type of current relevance denoted by the perfect is also determined jointly between the speaker and the hearers, and cannot be examined exclusively from the viewpoint of the speaker.

The data used in the study consists of 75 minutes of everyday conversation recorded and transliterated, in which there are altogether 62 occurrences of the perfect tense. The method used is ethnomethodological conversation analysis.

tammi 1, 1997
Seppänen, E.-L. (1997). Suomen perfektin merkityksestä keskusteluaineiston valossa. Virittäjä, 101(1), 2. Noudettu osoitteesta