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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 clause. 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. -- Patrick Littell PHIL205: MWF 2:00-3:00, M 6:00-9:00 Voice Mail: ext 744 Spring 05 Office Hours: M 3:00-6:00


Henrik Theiling <theiling@...>