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zompist bboard • View topic - Relative clauses: cross-linguistic comparison

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 10, 2018 3:04 pm 
Boardlord
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I've always recommended to conlangers that they consider four possible relative situations, where the target noun is

(1) subject in both clauses: The player who complains about his team will lose.
(2) subject in main, object in subclause: The player that Widowmaker shot was too visible.
(3) object in main, subject in subclause: Everyone hates the player who complains about his team.
(4) object in both clauses: Mercy resurrected the player that Widowmaker shot.

Looking more closely at several natlangs, though, it seems the subclauses in (2) and (4) are the same, and so are the ones in (1) and (3). That is, the structure of the subclause (including case roles) doesn't depend on anything in the main clause.

Does anyone have a natlang counterexample at hand? That is, an example where the subclause itself varies depending on whether it's attached to a subject or an object?


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 11, 2018 12:07 am 
Smeric
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.

Also, Ancient Greek. From Language Universals & Linguistic Typology (1989, 2 ed.) by Bernard Comrie, p. 153-154:

"One phenomenon that is found sporadically is that known to traditional grammarians of Latin and Greek as attraction, whereby the case marking of the head noun in one clause is attracted into that of the other clause. Persian provides particularly clear exemplification of attraction from the relative clause...In Ancient Greek, attraction usually works the other way round, an expected accusative relative pronoun in the relative clause being attracted into the case of its antecedent:

ek tõn póleōn [hõn éxei] (41)
from the cities-GENITIVE which-GENITIVE he-has
'from the cities which he has'

The preposition ek requires the genitive case, so the genitive case of tõn póleōn is as expected in the main clause; the verb éxei ' he has ', however, would be expected to have an accusative object, but instead the relative pronoun has been attracted into the case of the noun phrase within the main clause."

Also, this happens in English sometimes! From :

The book is one of those rare novels that owes its (owe their?) popularity more to word-of-mouth recommendation than to the publisher’s advertising.
(cf. Those novels that owe their (???owes its) popularity more to word-of-mouth recommendation than to the publisher’s advertising aren't worth reading.)

EDIT: Hmm. That last one probably occurs in some other languages, too, doesn't it?


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 11, 2018 12:36 am 
Smeric
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More suggestion that anythng, but surely the alignement will affect things? Ergative languages will do relative clauses differently, as will Austronesian alignement languages, I'd expect.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 11, 2018 12:55 am 
Smeric
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They do relative clauses differently, but that still doesn't necessarily mean that the structure of the subclause depends on anything in the main clause, right?

This is an example Comrie has in Malagasy (p. 159 of the same book I quoted in my last post; I've changed the gloss slightly):

ny vary izay novidin'ny vehivavy ho an'ny ankizy
'the rice that the woman bought for the children'

Is there any other way to say that in Malagasy? Does it matter whether the rice is the subject or the object of the main clause?


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 11, 2018 3:32 am 
Boardlord
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The Greek example is great, though keep 'em coming. :)

I have the Comrie and I had a note to myself to re-read it, so I will make sure I do that.

Malagasy only allows relativization of the subject of a clause. To get anything else you need to change the voice (fortunately there's at least three).


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 13, 2018 2:03 am 
Smeric
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2018 7:48 pm 
Avisaru
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Hopi has something called the "subject constraint" which says that a relativized noun can't be the subject-in-the-main-clause unless it's also the subject-in-the-relative-clause. So sentences 1, 3, and 4 are permissible in Hopi, but not 2.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2018 6:07 am 
Sanci
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While we're on the topic, I'm curious to ask: how "normal" are relative clauses where the relativized noun is not an argument at all cross-linguistically? (are they even relatives proper :? ) Stuff like "the reason why", "the place where/whence", "the year when" etc.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2018 6:33 pm 
Smeric
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Comrie seems to suggest that making subclauses of all four types is more problematic in sentences where there is more than one subordinate clause. From the end of his chapter on relative clauses (p. 160-162):

"In section 7.3.1, we looked only at simplex sentences, and only at a single position at a time. However, one might venture to claim that the kinds of generalization made in section 7.3.1 can be extended if one also considers more complex constructions. [...] However, there are also problems in generalizing these extensions, indicating that further work needs to be done in some of these areas. For instance, a reasonable extension would be to claim that the subjects of subordinate clauses should be more accessible to relativization than non-subjects (just as subjects of main clauses are more accessible than non-subjects). However, all the evidence suggests just the opposite. In English, non-subjects of subordinate clauses are freely relativizable, while subjects can be relativized only if there is no conjunction:

the girl [ that you think (that) I love ] (66)
the girl [ that you think (*that) loves me ] (67)

For some speakers of Hungarian, quite irrespective of conjunctions, subordinate subjects cannot be relativized, whereas non-subjects often can:

a pénz, [ amit mondtam, hogy a fiú elvett ] (68)
the money which-ACCUSATIVE I-said that the boy took-away
' the money that I said (that) the boy took away '

*a fiú, [ aki mondtam, hogy elvette a pénzt ] (69)
the boy who I-said that took-away the money-ACCUSATIVE
'the boy that I said took away the money'

(Elvette is used with a definite direct object, otherwise elvett. Other speakers of Hungarian would find (69) grammatical.) In Imbabura Quechua, it is possible to relativize a non-subject of an embedded clause using the gap type, but not the subject of an embedded clause:

[ Marya Juan wawa -ta riku-shka -ta ni-shka ] llugshi-rka. (70)
María Juan child ACCUSATIVE see NOMINALIZER ACCUSATIVE say NOMINALIZER leave PAST-3SINGULAR
' The child that María said that Juan saw left. '

*[ Marya warmi Juan -ta riku-shka -ta ni-shka ] llugshi-rka. (71)
María woman Juan ACCUSATIVE see NOMINALIZER ACCUSATIVE say NOMINALIZER leave PAST-3SINGULAR
' The woman that María said saw Juan left. '

There is thus good cross-linguistic evidence for the surprising generalization that subordinate non-subjects are easier to relativize than subordinate subjects, but apparently no good explanations as to why this should be so."


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2018 5:11 am 
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2018 7:25 am 
Smeric
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But doesn't this lead to a situation where changing the subject from one clause to another is exactly what you do?


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2018 8:22 am 
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2018 1:54 pm 
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2018 8:37 pm 
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2018 10:18 pm 
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 2018 2:02 pm 
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 2018 7:15 pm 
Smeric
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Those first two examples remind me of things like "I say so" vs. "says me." (I'm not sure to what extent the previous sentence makes sense to non-Americans. I hope it at least sort of makes sense to other Americans :P).


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 20, 2018 2:46 pm 
Sumerul
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Forms like "The system just crashed, says me." are grammatical to me, even though I cannot figure out how they are, because when by itself the subject ought to be I, and only becomes me (and only in everyday speech, not in higher registers) when there are multiple subjects including a 1S subject.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 20, 2018 3:51 pm 
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2018 8:59 pm 
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 22, 2018 3:32 am 
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2018 5:40 am 
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Fantastic info! Thank you very much for this.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2018 11:01 am 
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 29, 2018 3:38 pm 
Avisaru
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It's alladhī not alādhī. I think مرئي جدا is probably the best translation for 'too visible' although out of context the English sentence sounds a bit funky to me too. But yeah, definite Arabic relative clauses are formed by a... subordinator? that acts very much like a definite substantive (it even has the definite article, al- or il- respectively, and is probably related to words like dhū X 'possessing X'). Although it doesn't have much case variation, in the cases where it distinguishes case it does so based on the main clause, not the subordinate clause, i.e. the 'relative pronoun' is in the main clause not the subordinate clause:

الرجلان الذان رئيتهما
ar-rajul-āni l-ladh-āni / raʾay-tu=humā

The two men I saw

هل تقصد الرجلين الذين رأيتهما؟
hal ta-qṣud-u r-rajul-ayni l-ladh-ayni / raʾay-tu=humā

Do you mean the two men I saw?

But I'm not sure this is of direct relevance to the original question, since if we take the subclause as starting after the slash, the structure remains the same; it only differs (arguably) based on the role of the head noun in the subclause itself (if anything other than subject, a resumptive pronoun is required - but Arabic grammar in fact analyses both resumptive pronouns and verbal person marking as two categories of pronoun anyway, for fairly good syntactic reasons not worth going into here, making them structurally identical).

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