Bernard Comrie comrie at EVA.MPG.DE
Mon Mar 12 18:01:37 UTC 2001

To:	LingTyp
From:	Bernard Comrie
Date:	12 Mar 2001
Subj:	Relativization

Just a couple of remarks on the "subject only relativization" discussion.

First, I think it is important to note that a number of languages,
more specifically a number of European languages, have, in addition
to a construction or set of similar constructions that can be used to
relativize a fair range of arguments/adjuncts, a very distinct
construction that can only be used to relativize subjects. In the
relevant European languages, this is a contrast between a general
finite construction and a subjects-only participial construction. Of
course, it is true that these languages can overall relativize a wide
range of positions. But it is nonetheless the case that there is one
construction restricted to subjects, moreover a construction that is
not in complementary distribution with other possibilities, but an
alternative for subjects only.

Second, it wouldn't surprise me that a language might have
restrictions on relativizing particular subclasses, especially
relatively small subclasses, of subjects, while still being able to
relativize subjects in general (and indeed a range of other
arguments/adjuncts in general). Alexis Manaster-Ramer noted in his
"The other side of accessibility" (CLS 15, p.215) that Russian
doesn't allow relativization of the subjects of nominal and locative
sentences, or Egyptian Arabic subjects of nominal sentences--all of
these are verb-less in the languages in question. But this doesn't
affect the claim that subjects are in general relativizable in these
Prof. Dr. Bernard Comrie     Director, Department of Linguistics

Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
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