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V2, V3, and the left periphery of Finnish and Estonian

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Finnish and Estonian are closely related languages in the Finnic subgroup of the Uralic family. Syntactically they are similar in many respects. Both are SVO languages with verb movement, but SOV occurs as well, and sentential word order is in general quite free. One striking difference, though, as regards sentential word order is that Estonian is, or appears to be, a Germanic-style V2 language, while Finnish is not. This suggests that the left periphery in Estonian is different from that in Finnish, and more like that in the Germanic V2 languages. A close examination of the left periphery in Finnish and Estonian reveals that they are, in fact, very similar, but the derivation of V2 order is different in Estonian from the derivation of Germanic V2. Two exceptions to V2 order turn out to reveal how V2 is derived in Estonian, in a left periphery which is almost the same as in Finnish. One is that V3 is acceptable, and common, if the subject is a weak pronoun. The other is that V2 is dispreferred if the verb has nuclear accent. This can be understood if V2 in Estonian is due to a prosodic condition affecting the spell-out of copies in movement chains. Historically, the V2 order in Estonian is almost certainly taken over from German. However, the German syntactic V2 condition has been integrated in the Finnic left-peripheral syntax by being analysed as, in part, a prosodic condition. Finnish and Estonian are closely related languages in the Finnic subgroup of the Uralic family. Syntactically they are similar in many respects. Both are SVO languages with verb movement, but SOV occurs as well, and sentential word order is in general quite free. One striking difference, though, as regards sentential word order is that Estonian is, or appears to be, a Germanic-style V2 language, while Finnish is not. This suggests that the left periphery in Estonian is different from that in Finnish, and more like that in the Germanic V2 languages. A close examination of the left periphery in Finnish and Estonian reveals that they are, in fact, very similar, but the derivation of V2 order is different in Estonian from the derivation of Germanic V2. Two exceptions to V2 order turn out to reveal how V2 is derived in Estonian, in a left periphery which is almost the same as in Finnish. One is that V3 is acceptable, and common, if the subject is a weak pronoun. The other is that V2 is dispreferred if the verb has nuclear accent. This can be understood if V2 in Estonian is due to a prosodic condition affecting the spell-out of copies in movement chains. Historically, the V2 order in Estonian is almost certainly taken over from German. However, the German syntactic V2 condition has been integrated in the Finnic left-peripheral syntax by being analysed as, in part, a prosodic condition. The word order was taken over but not the derivation.

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