Otan kalkkunaa / kalkkunan.

Discussion in 'Suomi (Finnish)' started by Gavril, Feb 27, 2014.

  1. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    Mod note: thread split from here.

    Interesting. Would you extend this pattern to other verbs besides kasvattaa? E.g,. what do you think of the form kalkkunan in sentence Juhani ja Terho söivät kalkkunan?
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 28, 2014
  2. Hakro

    Hakro Senior Member

    Helsinki, Finland
    Finnish - Finland
    Juhani ja Terho söivät kalkkunan – they ate a turkey, all of it, totally.
    Juhani ja Terho söivät kalkkunaa – they ate turkey, a part of it, or they were eating turkey.
    Note also "Juhani and Terho took turkey but I ordered beef": Juhani ja Terho ottivat kalkkunaa mutta minä tilasin pihvin.

    I'm sorry that I have difficulties to explain these differences with my poor English.
  3. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    Hi Hakro,

    There's nothing wrong with your English explanations, but I still don't understand the contrast involved here.

    The relationship between Juhani söi kalkkunan : Juhani ja Terho söivät kalkkunan seems to be exactly the same as Äiti kasvatti minut : Isoäiti ja äiti kasvatti minut. So why is Isoäiti ja äiti kasvatti minut less natural-sounding than Juhani ja Terho söivät kalkkunan?
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2014
  4. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    What is the difference between saying this and saying Juhani ja Terho ottivat kalkkunan ...?
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2014
  5. Spongiformi Senior Member

    This means Juhani and Terho were so ravenous they took the whole turkey.

    I suppose it might work, more or less, under particular circumstances:

    Liharuokamenu oli hyvin rajallinen: kalkkuna tai pihvi. Juhani ja Terho ottivat (valitsivat) kalkkunan mutta minä tilasin pihvin. (Here you could imagine it's referring to one of the choices listed.)

    It's safer to stick to kalkkunaa, though. Unless you really are voracious.
  6. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    I thought that kalkkuna and pihvi were also two items on the menu in the original sentence (J. ja T. ottivat kalkkunaa mutta minä tilasin pihvin). If ottivat kalkkunaa in that sentence means "They ordered turkey", why is kalkkuna in the partitive but not pihvi?
  7. Spongiformi Senior Member

    Pihvi, steak (forget Hakro's beef for now), is a portion of food measured to be eatable by a person and thus intended to be eaten whole. Kalkkuna is the name of the bird and, by extension, the name of its meat. However, there's no fixed portion below the whole bird. If you want to indicate such, you need to say kalkkunapihvi, turkey steak, for example. Tilasin kalkkunapihvin. Tilasin kalkkuna-annoksen. Ostin (kokonaisen) kalkkunan jouluksi.
  8. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    Returning to to your example,

    Does the form kalkkunan here imply that they ordered a whole bird, since (as you said) there is no fixed portion of kalkkuna smaller than that?

    Kiitos vielä kerran
  9. Spongiformi Senior Member

    No, in that forceful example they chose an item from a list. So, it was a question of a menu item with the contents of the item ignored. I merely wanted to create an example where accusative could be used. I guess I only ended up confusing you. You shouldn't look too deeply into it for any practical applications.
  10. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    Hmm, I'm a bit confused now. :)

    If "kalkkuna" is understood as an item on a list, then I would expect it to take the -n accusative just as pihvi does in the earlier sentence: "He ottivat kalkkunan mutta minä tilasin pihvin."

    Since each of us ordered a whole item on the menu (rather than a part of each item), then doesn't that mean that none of the objects are partial, and therefore each object should take the -n accusative form (kalkkunan : pihvin)?

    Or does the contrast have to do with the verbs, ottaa preferring a partitive object in this case (kalkkunaa) but tilata preferring a total object (kalkkunan)?
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2014
  11. Spongiformi Senior Member

    Alright, I will twist the setting a bit to illustrate what I'm trying to say:

    - Teurastamme joko kalkkunan tai naudan, ja paistamme pihvejä. Kumman valitsemme?
    - Kalkkunan / Naudan.

    I admit the original example would have worked better if we weren't stuck with two so different things. Kalkkuna isn't yet food, whereas pihvi is.

    If Hakro had written: "Juhani ja Terho ottivat kalkkunaa mutta minä tilasin härkää", we wouldn't be having this discussion at all...

    And no, I don't think the verb is the one playing the role here. I added "valitsivat" up there because I wanted to make it more clear I was talking about menu items, not food.
  12. Hakro

    Hakro Senior Member

    Helsinki, Finland
    Finnish - Finland
    I couldn't write "härkää" because I'm sure that "steak" it's the only animal that has changed its sex after death.
  13. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    I realized that I missed something about your earlier example:

    Would it be right to say that kalkkunan is used because kalkkuna was mentioned earlier in the same sentence? (I.e., if there had been no previous mention of it, then the form kalkkunaa would be used instead?)
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2014
  14. Spongiformi Senior Member

    No, there's no such rule. I ought to mention that in the example that got you so confused, it would still be more proper, I reckon, to use "kalkkunaa". Like I said, I purposefully tried to create a situation that would make the other form possible.

    "Liharuokamenu oli hyvin rajallinen: kalkkuna tai pihvi. Juhani ja Terho ottivat kalkkunaa mutta minä tilasin pihvin." <- This is probably how most would say it, after all.

    Now that I had a look at it, obviously the verb can play a role, but I don't think that's the point here. Since if you choose a verb that requires one form or another, the debate loses its purpose.
  15. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    But then what is it about that context that makes the form kalkkunan possible?

    Earlier, you seemed to be saying that kalkkuna is conceived of (in that context) as simply an "item" on the menu, and therefore it is a total (rather than partial) object of the verb -- is that understanding correct?

    (In that case, it should be possible -- even if it's not common -- to say Juhani ja Terho ottivat kalkkunan in any context where kalkkuna is a menu item.)
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2014
  16. Määränpää

    Määränpää Senior Member

    I think you are right and kalkkunan can mean a known amount of turkey meat, just like in the example with beer:
    If a restaurant has only one kind of turkey portion in its menu, asking for some turkey (ottaisin kalkkunaa) and asking for the turkey (ottaisin kalkkunan) produces identical results, doesn't it?
  17. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    Hi Määränpää and Spongiformi,

    There's one other thing in that sentence I'm curious about: why is the first "kalkkuna" in the nominative rather than the partitive?

    Since this is the first mention of turkey in the context, and since it's not referring to a full "unit" of turkey (= a whole bird), then I would expect it to appear in the form kalkkunaa here (though I have some guesses as to why it doesn't).

    Kiitoksia paljon
  18. Hakro

    Hakro Senior Member

    Helsinki, Finland
    Finnish - Finland
    I think that here 'kalkkuna' and 'pihvi' are kind of names of the portions.
    On the othe hand, you could as well say, "Liharuokamenu oli hyvin rajallinen: kalkkunaa tai pihviä."
  19. Spongiformi Senior Member

    It's referring to the meat of turkey, or rather any food made of it, since it's a food menu. But yeah, it's okay to expect it to appear in partitive. I'm repeating myself, but like I said, I simply wanted to create a situation where it could work.

    Similar to:
    Kokkauskilpailun lihavalikoima oli hyvin suppea: kalkkunanliha tai naudanliha.

    Edit: Actually, I like Hakro's explanation better than my own.
  20. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    Thanks, Hakro and Spongiformi.

    This discussion is reminding me how strange the modern-day concept of a "product" is: nowadays, almost everything can be thought of as an abstract "item" with a price attached to it (as in "Our special tonight is turkey", where "turkey" could be either kalkkunaa or kalkkuna), rather than just a natural object ("I saw a turkey in the woods").

    I feel like this modern system of dual meanings (natural object vs. product/item) doesn't fit very naturally with the Finnish distinction between nominative/accusative and partitive, but maybe I'm reading too much into all this.
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2014
  21. akana Senior Member

    English - USA
    For some reason I thought that all menu items appear (on the menu) in the nominative. A menu I found on google proves my memory wrong, but there are still instances where items are in the nominative but I'm not sure why. Valkosipulietanat, for example. It could be that with some food items, the distinction is not very clean.

    As to the object/product distinction, I think we have the same problem in English. "I saw a turkey," without further explanation or context, could mean that you were are at the grocery store or in the woods. At the restaurant, people commonly say either, "I think I'll have turkey" or "I think I'll have the turkey" without people batting an eye. Now, if they said, "I think I'll have a turkey," that would make people sit up and take notice.
  22. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    Is this the same ambiguity as Otan kalkkunan/kalkkunaa, though? In English, the distinction is between something that has a "name" (the turkey) vs. something unnamed (turkey), rather than a unit (kalkkuna(n)) vs. a partial amount (kalkkunaa) as in Finnish.
  23. akana Senior Member

    English - USA
    I'm not really sure...it's tough to make parallels that don't start to fall apart under closer scrutiny. But if the previously cited example from sakvaka is any indicator, then the accusative does seem to behave like an English article in some cases. In other words, it distinguishes between something that has been mentioned previously and something that has not. I'll apply the same example to kalkkuna:

    Huomasin, että lautasella oli vähän kalkkunaa ja salaattia jäljellä.
    Olin todella nälkäinen, joten söin kalkkunan, mutta jätin salaatin syömättä.

    Note that I added "salaatti" since without a second object, I think we would just say, "....joten söin sen." Note also that without the first sentence introducing the kalkkuna, the second sentence, whether in Finnish and English, would be ambiguous as to whether an entire turkey was eaten.

    It's a very specific situation, and a bit cobbled together, but what do you think? Maybe I'm just going around in circles with what's already been mentioned.

    It's confusing to me that I can't find similar examples in grammar texts if the accusative can indeed serve the function of distinguishing between old information and new.

    Anyhow, no idea if I'm answering your question =)
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2014
  24. Määränpää

    Määränpää Senior Member

    The way I understand it, an amount that has been partial when it has been introduced (new information) becomes a "unit" when it's talked about again (old information).

    When you say (correctly) that the accusative behaves like an English article in some cases, I think it means the cases where the verb allows a distinction between accusative and partitive objects:

    Näin lautasella vähän kalkkunaa. Söin kalkkunan.
    I saw some turkey on the plate. I ate the turkey.

    (Of course some Finnish verbs require the object to be in partitive whether it's old/new/partial/total:

    Näin lautasella vähän kalkkunaa. Tökin kalkkunaa haarukalla.
    I saw some turkey on the plate. I poked at the turkey with a fork.

    Last edited: Mar 5, 2014
  25. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    Hi Akana,

    My explanation in the last message wasn't very clear, so I'll try to rephrase it.

    Finnish distinguishes between a "unit" of something and an inexact or undefined amount of something. You expect that an inexact amount of something will be referred to in the partitive the first time it's mentioned: Ruokalistalla oli kalkkunaa.

    However, because of the modern-day language of products/items, it seems (I may be wrong) that there is a tendency to turn inexact amounts into artificial "units of sale", in which case they appear in the nominative or -n accusative even when they haven't been mentioned before: Ruokalistalla oli kalkkuna / Tilasin kalkkunan.

    Since this applies even when something is being mentioned for the first time, the distinction you refer to between partitive (first mention) and accusative (second mention) doesn't seem to come into play.

    The language of products/items may also have a disruptive effect on English grammar, but in cases like I'll order the turkey, it seems that the distinction being "disrupted" is not the distinction between a partial object and unit, but rather between something known/mentioned (definite article) and something not yet mentioned (indefinite article or no article).

  26. akana Senior Member

    English - USA
    I think I understand what you're saying. Articles certainly allow a lot of flexibility and specificity; you can apply them to subjects as well as objects, and in Finnish you always have to worry about the rules for using partitives in existential sentences. From a practical standpoint, however, I've never felt Finnish to be lacking, since there are almost always contextual clues to indicate what is partial and what is not.

    This thread is very interesting, and gets at an issue that confuses a lot of people. I feel, however, that there are a lot of overlapping questions that make it hard to pin anything down for certain. For instance, in my example above, the first sentence is an existential sentence, which has its own set of rules. (Related aside: If you haven't read Ossi Ihalainen's "Some Remarks on Word Order and Definiteness in Finnish and English," I would highly recommend it.)

    Kalkkuna is also a particularly thorny word in that it can refer to an animal, a whole frozen food product, an indefinite amount of meat or a conceptually "whole" item on a menu, regardless of its actual form.

    True story: Years ago a former boss of mine left a frozen turkey on the trunk of my car as a "thanksgiving bonus." My coworker came inside after his break and said, "Watch out when you leave, there's a turkey on top of your car." It took me a while before I figured out that he wasn't talking about a wild turkey.
  27. akana Senior Member

    English - USA
    Thanks! Funny because I had missed your post, thought of just this issue, then logged on to comment only to see you had already mentioned it. So the old/new info phenomenon appears to be essentially a coincidence.
  28. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    If we look at the minimal pair of

    1) Ruokalistalla oli kalkkunaa
    2) Ruokalistalla oli kalkkuna

    then it seems as though the difference between the two has to do with how the noun kalkkuna is being conceptualized (a unit or a partial amount), rather than being conditioned by the existential construction.

    I can't find a copy online, but I'll try to track it down. Thanks.

    But isn't this conceptual "wholeness" largely a modern invention? At least some of the constructions we use for talking about this "wholeness" (I'll have a coffee / J'ai commandé de la dinde, etc.) seem to have been developed in languages that have articles, and these constructions can interfere to some degree with the existing categories of article-free languages like Finnish.
  29. akana Senior Member

    English - USA
    You can find a copy here. The link wasn't working for me earlier, which is why I didn't post it before, but now it's working fine. It's a good read, and gets at some of the issues we've been discussing.

    That's an interesting theory about modern commodities not fitting in very well. It would be an interesting area of research.

    What do Finns think about the use of partitives on menus? Are there any set conventions?

    To me it's confusing. Once I was making some large labels for a local Finnish bake sale and I was surprised when my Finnish friend corrected my "karjalanpiirakoita" to "karjalanpiirakat." To me that makes it sound like all of the various types of karjalanpiirakat are on the table. As I mentioned earlier, I also don't understand why, for example, valkosipulietanat would be in the nominative on a menu.
  30. Määränpää

    Määränpää Senior Member

    I thought it's precisely the rules of existential construction dictating that (1) turkey meat is in the partitive and (2) one whole bird is in the nominative?

    Partitive on a menu is a sign of classiness. I've never seen "kebabia", for example.

    "Valkosipulietanoita" would seem fine to me, but maybe it's in the nominative because a snail pan always has the same number of snails (making it a unit), who knows.

    Regarding the "karjalanpiirakat" sign, if a supermarket aisle had a sign saying "juustoja" (some cheeses here, possibly more cheeses in other aisles) instead of "juustot" (all our cheeses (not all the world's cheeses)), I'd be confused.
  31. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    But if I understood Hakro and Spongiformi in posts #26-27 (perhaps I didn't quite understand them), then kalkkuna in sentence 2 doesn't necessarily refer to one whole bird: it can also simply be the specific portion the restaurant serves, treated as a unit and therefore in the nominative. Would you agree with that?
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2014
  32. Määränpää

    Määränpää Senior Member

    The sentence ends with a colon and a list. I think words behave differently in concise lists and in "real" sentences.

    Edit: Almost all examples of "ruokalistalla oli/on + [nominative]" that I found on Google were referring to salads and soups where there is no risk of confusion.
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2014
  33. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    So, is it acceptable to say Ruokalistalla oli kalkkuna [nominative] if 1) there has been no previous mention of kalkkuna in the context, and 2) kalkkuna doesn't refer to a whole turkey?

    What would you say is the difference (in terms of the meaning of kalkkuna and pihvi) between

    Ruokalista oli hyvin rajallinen: kalkkuna tai pihvi.
    Ruokalista oli hyvin rajallinen: kalkkunaa tai pihviä.

    Last edited: Mar 7, 2014
  34. Spongiformi Senior Member

    Technicalities aside, personally I don't think there's any difference. Nobody expects to be served a whole turkey when ordering food in a restaurant, unless the dish is listed on a page of foods meant for a group of people, not individuals. Nor does anybody expect a steak to be significantly smaller than they usually are (like a halved steak, unless it's specifically mentioned). However, I still wouldn't expect to see a menu like that because "kalkkuna(a)" doesn't actually mean much on a menu. It tells absolutely nothing about how the meat has been prepared or what the dish will look like.

    In my original example I added "liha" to the menu title because I hoped it would kind of mean we are talking about different meats, not only dishes.
  35. Tuuliska New Member

    Helsinki, Finland
    Finnish (suomi)
    I have to admit that just reading this thread has kind of confused my brain and I'm starting to experience a jamais vu of the word kalkkuna... But anyway.

    I get the feeling that a lot of these cases are so borderline that they might just be more stylistic than anything else. It's just about which way you prefer to think about your serving of turkey. Is it a unit or is it an indefinite amount/portion? It doesn't really matter. All it influences is how people categorize the items mentioned, it doesn't actually have any different practical meaning.

    There might be some conventions like maybe fancy menus use partitive as Määränpää said? I hadn't ever noticed that before but actually it probably is so, now that I think about it. But generally it doesn't really matter. Also, different people have different preferences too. You can't always trust a native speaker when they say something is wrong. (I know that there are phrases that I think are wrong but that I've learned to be correct.)

    The accusative can indeed imply definiteness in some cases or at least you can interpret it that way. But I don't think it's quite the point of it, it's more that the semantic fields of the English definite article and the Finnish accusative can cross over. The accusative might not actually mean that something is definite but it can imply it indirectly? Or that's one way of interpreting it at least. (Anyway, if you do need to make a distinction between definite and indefinite, you can always use pronouns for that. Demonstrative pronouns for definite and indefinite pronouns for indefinite.)

    I'm not sure if it was mentioned, though, that partitive can also imply things about the verb? "Tilasin kalkkunaa" can mean either "I ordered some turkey" or "I was ordering a/the/- turkey". On the other hand "tilasin kalkkunan" seems to always be a single event with a clear end: "I ordered (the) turkey."
    All that depends on the context, though.

    The more I think about it, the more I realize how tricky the Finnish partitive is.
  36. akana Senior Member

    English - USA
    Interesting perspective, thanks.

    I think that marketing language is also just sloppier in general, and this might come into play with menus. English is rife with bizarre marketing terms, but one example that comes to mind when distinguishing between definite and indefinite quantities is the use of "10 items or less" on signs for supermarket express checkout lanes. With countable items, it should of course be "10 items or fewer" but I'm guessing very few are bothered by the distinction.
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2014

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