Following Comrie & Kuteva’s (2005) WALS chapter, the present chapter and the following two chapters look at the marking of relative clauses and at the way in which the head’s role is indicated inside the relative clause.
As in Chapter 7 (on the order of relative clause and noun), a relative clause is defined as a clause that helps narrow the reference of a noun (the head) and in which the referent of the noun head has a semantic role. (Headless relative clauses are again left aside.)
Relative clauses can be marked as such by a special morpheme that occurs at the beginning (or more rarely at the end) of a relative clause, which we call relative particle (as in (1), where the particle ya is glossed rel). Alternatively, overt marking may be lacking (zero) (as in (2)).
The role of the head inside the relative clause can be indicated by a gap (no overt expression) (as in (3)), or by a resumptive pronoun (as in (4)). The gap is indicated by an underline ( _ ) in this and the next two chapters.
Most relative clause constructions can be classified by these two parameters: Whether they are marked by a particle or not, and whether the head’s role is indicated by a resumptive pronoun or not. This yields four types of constructions (values 2-5).
In addition, there is the possibility of marking the relative clause and the head’s role by the same element, a relative pronoun, as in (5).
The relative pronoun ki marks the beginning of the relative clause (like a relative particle), and at the same time it indicates that the head is a subject inside the relative clause (it contrasts with the object form ma).
In this chapter, we study subject relative clauses, i.e. relative clauses where the head has the subject role in the relative clause, as in (1)-(5). (The next two chapters look at object relative clauses and instrument relative clauses.) We distinguish seven subtypes:
|Relative particle and gap||20||32||52|
|Relative particle and resumptive pronoun||3||9||12|
|Zero and gap||4||25||29|
|Zero and resumptive pronoun||2||9||11|
2.1 Relative pronoun
The first type is “relative pronoun” (value 1). The best-known cases of relative pronouns, as found in Latin, inflect for case like other pronouns and nouns. In the APiCS context, a relative-clause marker is regarded as a relative pronoun if it has different subject and object forms (as is the case in Angolar, whose subject relative clause we saw in (5)), or if it can be combined with an adposition. For example, the marker kyen in Chabacano counts as a relative pronoun because it can be combined with the object marker kun, as seen in (6b).
(6b) shows a pied-piping construction, i.e. a relative clause construction where the preposition is fronted along with the relative pronoun (this construction is more common in instrument relative clauses, Chapter 94).
Relative pronouns are uncommon world-wide (Comrie & Kuteva 2005), and they mostly occur in European languages. In APiCS, relative pronouns are only found in languages with European lexifiers, and one suspects that the pied-piping constructions are often due to later lexifier influence. The case of Angolar, which has a subject-object distinction independently of its lexifier, is quite unusual (another case is Casamancese Creole, see Chapter 93).
2.2 Relative particle and gap
The most common way of forming subject (and object) relative clauses is by marking the relative clause with a particle and leaving the head’s role implicit via a gap (value 2). We already saw examples of this type in (1) and (3) above, and another one is (7):
The difference between particles like ya (in 1), ki (in 3), ki (in 7) and we (in 8) and pronouns like kyen (in 6a) is that particles do not contribute to indicating the head’s role. That the head is a subject inside the relative clause must be inferred from the gap in preverbal position. Some of the particles used in this construction were inherited from the European lexifiers (ki/ku in Portuguese-based creoles, from que; dat in Trinidad English Creole, from that). But others are new, or are at least not found in the standard variety of the lexifier, e.g. we in West African English-based languages (apparently deriving from where) and di in English-based creoles in Suriname (apparently deriving from this). See Kortmann & Lunkenheimer (2011: features 189, 190) for nonstandard relativizers in varieties of English.
2.3 Relative particle and resumptive pronoun
In a few APiCS languages, especially in West Africa, subject relative clauses contain both a relative particle and a resumptive pronoun (value 3) (see also ex. 4).
Resumptive pronouns are not common in subject position (e.g. Hawkins 1999: 258), but they do occur in West African indigenous languages, so in some languages this construction seems to be due to substrate influence.
2.4 Zero and gap
Zero-marked subject relative clauses with a simple gap in subject position (value 4) are also quite common, despite the fact that they introduce local ambiguity (i.e. the head noun could be mistaken for the subject of the relative clause verb).
2.5 Zero and resumptive pronoun
In a few languages, the relative clause is zero-marked, but there is an overt subject pronoun, which functions as a resumptive pronoun (value 5, see also ex. 2).
In three languages, there are internally-headed or correlative relative clauses (see Chapter 7). These are subsumed under the category “non-reduction” here (value 6). And in three languages, subject relative clauses are marked by a verbal affix (value 7).
Kuteva & Comrie (2012) argue that creole languages tend to have at most a single relative marker, whereas noncreoles often have multiple relative markers. While we did not specifically ask their question, our data seem to confirm their conclusion. Another question is whether there is any substrate influence on relative clauses, but this has to await future study (see also Kuteva & Comrie (2005) on relative clauses in African languages).