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  5. "Pesettekö te koiraa?"

"Pesettekö te koiraa?"

Translation:Are you washing the dog?

July 7, 2020



I realize it is tedious at this point, but if the object is one dog, presumably the entirety if the dog, is that really a partitive case? If it were not in the partitive, would a Finn think that we were washing the category of dog or maybe washing every dog currently alive?


Partitive case is required because the action is atelic (as opposed to telic). A telic action is an action that 1) can in some sense achieve a state of completion and 2) either has been completed or will be completed. Otherwise accusative case is required. That would turn the sentence into "Pesettekö te koiran", which in English is more like "are you going to wash the dog?", while the suggested translation is about whether dog-washers are currently in the process of washing the dog (and may or may not keep doing that until it's completely clean).


I certainly don't doubt that this is the way it is used in Finnish, and I think I could use it properly, if called upon to do so, because it seems to act a lot like verbal aspect in Slavic languages, but when I wash a dog, I have a definite telos in mind. I can definitely clean it (unless it would require the insides to be clean as well), and I darn well intend to complete the act. Comparing it with verbal aspect, though, I can see that if it is truly going on right now, then it is not that it will be completed, but that it is not yet completed.

I wonder, actually, since this distinction is not found in Hungarian, whether this isn't an influence of Russian. I wish there were a Finnic language that was not influence by Russian one could compare it to. Does this use of partitive exist in the Sami (Lappic) languages?


But it isn't about whether you CAN clean the whole dog. It's about whether you are still in the middle of doing so. In this sentence, the action is still in progress. If the sentence were "Pesettekö te koiran" it would imply a completed action so would be asking about that time in the future when you've finished doing so: "Are you going to [completely] wash the dog?" The sentence "Pesettekö te koiraa?" does not imply a completed action. It is still ongoing. "Are you [still in the process of] washing the dog?"


Right, it's not atelic, but simply imperfect in aspect.


In English descriptions of Finnish linguistics the distinction often is referred to as a distinction between telic/atelic. The important thing to remember is that this distinction is not applied to the verb itself. We are not talking about the whole concept of dog-washing (or the whole concept of any verb in particular) as being telic or atelic. So it's not about "atelic versus telic verbs" or "perfect versus imperfect verbs" or "when I wash a dog, I have a telos in mind". We are talking about the state of the dog-washing in a particular sentence: is the focus of this sentence on the complete action or on an incomplete action? And then the distinction is marked on the noun, rather than on the verb.

The link that KeZhiXin1987 posted below (and his question and the examples in my answer to it) might be relevant. I gave some different examples of what an incompletely-washed dog might consist of. This site, from the link KeZhiXin1987 posted, also gives some good examples (the most useful part is the starred list below each chart, not just the charts themselves): https://uusikielemme.fi/finnish-grammar/grammatical-cases/object-sentence-examples-luen-kirjaa-kirjan-kirjat/


Could this sentence translate as "do you wash the dog?"


No, because "koiraa" is in the partitive case and here that indicates that the action is happening right now (it's unfinished). This unfinished process might mean that part of the dog has been washed and part of the dog is still dirty. Or, it might mean that the whole dog is covered right now with soap suds and I need to wash it off; part of the process of dog-washing is complete but the entire process is not yet complete.

"Do you wash the dog?"on the other hand implies a completed action (the washing of the entire dog, the completion of the entire process). "Pesettekö te koiran" can mean "do you wash the dog [regularly/repeatedly]" or "are you going to wash the dog" depending on the context. In both cases it refers to the entire, complete process.


Okay! That makes sense... For a sec I thought a lot of these examples were partitive due to partitive verbs, but it's actually because of irresultative phrases it sounds like. (I utilize this link here for help.) Thanks again! This was very helpful in understanding these translations better!


Can't we drop the pronoun is the verb's conjugation implies the pronoun?


Better than those damned dishes all 4he time

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