Query: Case for ?approximate location?

Hannu Tommola Hannu.Tommola at UTA.FI
Sat Feb 7 08:03:14 UTC 2009

In Finnish, like in Hungarian, there is the directional postposition  
_päin_ /with a-Umlaut/ (derived from the noun pää 'head') that can be  
used to denote approximate location (or other kind of approximate  

It is used as a local postposition with three different case markings,  
depending on the direction meant:

_Turu-sta päin_
Turku-ELAT päin
'from the direction of Turku' or 'from somewhere around Turku'

_Turu-ssa päin_
Turku-INESS päin
'in the direction of Turku'

_Turku-un päin_
Turku-ILLAT päin
'towards / to the direction of Turku'

Notice that _directional_ notion cannot be anything else as  
approximate when applied to _location_ somewhere (the INESS use).

Examples of approximate locative uses:

_Missä sä näitkään niitä sieniä? - Ne oli jossain tuolla päin_
'Where did you see those mushrooms? - They were somewhere over there'

_Missä se Pekka asuu? - Jossain Joensuussa päin, en muista tarkkaaan missä_
'Where does (that) Pekka live? - Somewhere towards Joensuu, I don't  
remember exactly where'
(N.B. the translation of _Joensuussa päin_ as 'towards Joensuu' does  
not need to mean that the place referred to must be located between  
the speech location and Joensuu)

Examples of other approximate uses:

_se on majuri tai jotain sinne päin_
he is major or something thereto POSTP (päin)
'he is a major or something like that'

_10 tai jotain sinne päin_
10 or something thereto POSTP (päin)
'approximately 10'

Best regards,
Hannu Tommola

Quoting Edith Moravcsik <edith at UWM.EDU>:

> In Hungarian, the directional postposition 'towards' can also be used for
> approximate location. However, the location must be between the speaker's
> location and the place mentioned; so it means something like "along the way
> to". This is like English "towards".
> For example: (diacritics belong on top of the preceding vowel)
> (a) directional use:
>     Chicago fele'  megyek.
>     Chicago toward I:am:going
>    'I am going towards Chicago.'
> (b) approximate location:
>     A   beva'sa'rlo'ko:zpont Chicago fele'  van.
>     The shopping:center      Chicago toward is
>    'The shopping center is on the way to Chicago.'
> Edith Moravcsik
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Discussion List for ALT [mailto:LINGTYP at LISTSERV.LINGUISTLIST.ORG] On
> Behalf Of Gontzal Aldai
> Sent: Friday, February 06, 2009 10:41 AM
> Subject: Query: Case for ?approximate location?
> Dear typologists,
> Does anyone know of any language which has a specific case-marker or
> adposition for conveying (something like) ?approximate location?.
> Also, what kind of term is then used for referring to such a case.
> One may think that the expression of path (e.g. ?perlative? case, ?a
> case expressing ?through?, ?across? or ?along?? Blake 1994: 204) may
> be somehow related to this idea of ?approximateness?. The same may
> also apply to directionals (?towards?) (cf. Creissels 2009: 618-619),
> and/or to ?circumlocationals? (?around?). However, all the cases just
> mentioned seem to be primarily related to movement (e.g. change of
> position), whereas I am looking for a case conveying location (e.g
> position).
> But now it would seem that this type of case has some particular
> property that makes them: a) be related to the concept of
> ?approximateness? or ?roughliness? (?more-or-less-ness?), and b)
> (perhaps because of that) be readily applicable to both ?changes of
> position? and ?positions?. This may be exemplified by English
> ?towards?, which can be applied no only to movement but also to
> locative contexts such as the following: ?you can find that example
> towards the end of page five?.
> Does anybody know of any work examining the possibility that the idea
> of ?approximate change of position? may be associated with
> ?approximate position? (or the other way around). Is there any
> established path relating these two concepts? Is there any
> (uni)directionality in this putative path?
> Thanx in advance, G.A.

Hannu Tommola, Professor of Russian Language (Translation Theory and Practice)
School of Modern Languages and Translation Studies
FIN-33014 University of Tampere, Finland
Phone: +358-(0)3-3551 6102

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