Re: Relative clauses
|From:||Patrick Littell <puchitao@...>|
|Date:||Saturday, August 6, 2005, 22:29|
On 8/6/05, Henrik Theiling <theiling@...> wrote:
> I have a question: are there natlangs where in a relative
> construction, the modified noun is part of the subordinate clause? I
> mean, it belongs to the matrix clause logically, of course, since the
> relative clause modifies it there. But do some languages re-structure
> this syntactically so that the modified noun becomes part of the
> relative clause?
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. If anyone has Comrie
1989 -- and if you're interested in typology you should, since it's
referenced everywhere -- there're examples in the chapter on relative
The main question that needs to be dealt with is "how do you determine which
of the subordinate-clause participants is participating in the main clause?"
The simplest way to do this is just to put a "head-of-this-relative-clause"
marker next to the participant in both.
The man MARK kissed the woman X ran away.
"The man who kissed the woman ran away."
The man kissed the woman MARK X ran away.
"The woman who was kissed by the man ran away."
Or you could, for example, require that the "head" occupy subject position
in the relative clause -- that is, forbid relativizing on any relation but
subjects. (You might, then, wish to include a variety of voices; see
Malagasy for this combination. Malagasy relative clauses aren't internally
headed, but this scheme would work for internally headed ones, too.)
If you have a case marking language, consider how you indicate how the head
fits into the main clause. Presumably, it's already taking case within the
relative clause. One not uncommon solution is to case-mark the entire
The man-NOM kissed the woman-ACC X-NOM kicked the child-ACC.
Or you could mark the verb:
The man-NOM kissed-NOM the woman-ACC X kicked the child-ACC.
Not every language with internally-headed relative clauses disambiguates
things this thoroughly. Sometimes you just have to rely on context to figure
out whether the man or the woman is the head, and what role he or she plays
in the main clause.
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