From Miika Sillanpää:
A Finnish tabloid presented this beautiful crash blossom today:
Disregarding the tragic subject, it can be read either as
"Father kills his daughter's dog with hammer"
"Father kills his daughter with dog's hammer"
Well-tended crash blossoms such as this are exceedingly rare in the Finnish-language media, so it was a pretty delightful find on this grim and dark Friday the 13th. Though I wonder where the dog had gotten the hammer in the first place.
Google Translate presents another possibility (I think incorrectly): "The father of her daughter's dog was killed with a hammer".
Why should crash blossoms be rare in Finnish? Well, the fact that Finnish inflects nouns for case, and inflects verbs for person, number, tense, and mood, should help Finns to keep straight who did what to whom.
On the other hand, Finnish allows pretty free scrambling of word order within clauses (and sometimes outside them). And there's one big gotcha in the whole case-marking thing: a morphologically distinct accusative case exists only for certain pronouns. Otherwise, singular direct objects look just like the genitive, and plural direct objects look just like the nominative.
Based on my limited memory of the limited amount of Finnish morphology that I learned as a graduate student from Lauri Karttunen, supplemented by online access to FINTWOL, I conjecture that in this case we have:
|isä||father (nominative singular of isä)|
|tappoi||killed (3rd singular past active of tappaa)|
|tyttärensä||his daughter (nominative singular OR genitive/accusative singular of tytär + possessive nsä)|
|koiran||dog (genitive/accusative singular of koira)|
|vasaralla||hammer (adessive singular of vasara)|
(Apologies for what I've probably gotten wrong.)
Oh, I forgot to mention that the "adessive" case has the following collection of meanings:
- expressing the static state of being on the surface of something ("on the table")
- used with the verb olla (to be) to express possession ("be at X" = "belong to X")
- expressing the use of something ("at X" = "with X")
- expressing the time at which things take place ("at noon")
- expressing the general proximity in space or time at which something takes place ("at school")
- in certain expressions expressing mood ("in a rage")
So in Finnish, to kill someone with a hammer, you kill them at a hammer.
Anyhow, I think we know that the father must be the subject of the verb killed, and we know that he killed with a hammer. (Or maybe at or on a hammer, but let's not be pedantic…) However, his daughter and the dog each might be the (accusative) object, or might be a genitive connected to something else in the clause. In particular, the father might have killed his daughter with the dog's hammer, or killed his daughter's dog with a hammer.
I leave it up to our Finnish readers to tell us whether he might have killed the dog with his daughter's hammer.
Not a nice story, any way you parse it.