Re: Relative clauses
|From:||Patrick Littell <puchitao@...>|
|Date:||Sunday, August 14, 2005, 2:07|
On 8/6/05, Patrick Littell <puchitao@...> wrote:
> Yes, there are natlangs that do this; as Jeffrey said these are sometimes
> called "internally headed" relative clauses. My linguistic literature and my
> internet connection are far away from each other right now, but give me a
> week and I'll give you languages and relevant examples.
Here are some examples of internally-headed relative clauses, if anyone
still wants some. The following is from Bambara, a Mande language of West
Africa, adapted from Comrie (1989).
N ye so ye.
I PAST house see.
Tye be [ n ye so min ye ] dyo.
man PRES I PAST house MARK see build.
Marking the internal head is useful for reducing ambiguity. Consider this
example from Imbabura Quechua:
[ Kan kwitsa-man kwintu-ta villashka ]-ka sumaj-mi.
you girl to story ACC telling -TOP pretty-VALIDATOR.
This could mean either "The girl to whom you told the story is pretty" or
"The story that you told the girl is pretty".
As for disambiguation of what role the internal head plays in the main
clause, the same strategies are available as for languages with external
heads. (The goal is opposite, however; the need in an external-headed
language is to indicate the role the external head plays in the subordinate
clause.) If you have strict word order, the solution is pretty simple: just
plunk the relative clause in the appropriate place for, say, a direct
object, as in the Bambara example above. Otherwise, you may wish, for
example, to mark the entire clause with a case marker. Here's an example
from Diegueño, which iirc is a Yuman language.
Tenay ?wa :?wa :w.
Yesterday house I-saw.
"I saw the house yesterday."
?wa :-pu -Ly ?ciyawx.
house -DEF -LOC I-will-sing.
"I will sing in the house."
[Tenay ?wa :?wa :w] -pu -Ly ?ciyawx.
"I will sing in the house I saw yesterday."
In essence, the entire relative clause is just plunked down where the root
would have been. Also pretty simple. So it's actually pretty simple for
word-order-y and case-y languages. What about for agreement-y languages?
Well, I can't think of any language with interally-headed relative clauses
that also relies primarily on agreement; every example I can find is (as
Thomas noted) adjunct-head languages, and adjunct-head languages tend to be
case-y. My guess would be that IHRCs wouldn't require any special treatment;
the verb would agree with the head in the same manner whether it was
internal or external to the relative clause.
For any of these strategies, you could also try...
1) Do the inverse of Malagasy: require that only the subject can be
expressed by an IHRC and use the inventory of voices to realize the argument
as subject. I like this one, although it forbids two IHRCs in a sentence.
But plenty of languages have similar restrictions, like forbidding the
question "Who killed whom?"
2) Require "equi-type" relative clauses, in which the head plays the same
role (semantic or grammatical) in both the main clause and the relative
3) Do nothing. Examples in which real ambiguity occurs are pretty rare,
except when taken out of context and used as examples of ambiguity.
Anyway, there're some ideas for ya.
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