[Lingtyp] Narrative relative clauses

Bohnemeyer, Juergen jb77 at buffalo.edu
Tue May 8 15:10:33 EDT 2018

Dear colleagues -- I’m looking for any leads regarding both in-depth single-language and typological studies on a phenomenon one might refer to under the makeshift labels ‘narrative relative clauses’ or ‘eventive relative clauses’. I will stick here to the former label (NRCs), since the latter is more ambiguous. NRCs are a type of non-restrictive RCs that distinguish themselves from other kinds of non-restrictive RCs by standing in a narrative rhetorical relation to the matrix clause (or put differently, by advancing a narrative story line to which the matrix clause also contributes). Based on European languages, some subtypes could be distinguished based on (i) the “antecedent” of the RC - the matrix clause referent the RC picks up - and (ii) the expression of the semantic relation between the matrix and RC events:

	• Antecedent is a participant of the matrix event; event relation implicit:
          Sally gave the cup to Floyd, who smashed it to pieces
	• Antecedent is the matrix event itself; event relation implicit:
          Sally gave the cup to Floyd, which irritated Sam
	• Antecedent is the matrix event itself; event relation explicit:
          Sally gave the cup to Floyd, whereupon Sam left the room in disgust

B and C are presumably structurally distinct from ordinary (non-restrictive) RCs. On the other hand, A-type NRCs are interesting for the form-meaning mismatch or semantic-pragmatic mismatch they involve. A more technical definition of NRCs might be as follows:

	• Constructions involving a matrix clause and a dependent clause;
	• The dependent clause should share some of the language-specific properties of RCs that set them apart from other types of dependent clauses/predications in the particular languages;
	• The matrix clause event and the dependent clause event are causally related and/or spatio-temporally contiguous.

I fully expect that the pragmatic functions of NRCs can be partially or wholly fulfilled by other clause combination constructions that do not have the language-specific trappings of RCs. Such functionally related alternative means are very much part of the interest driving this investigation.

Thank you in advance for any leads on this topic! -- Best — Juergen

Juergen Bohnemeyer, Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies 
Department of Linguistics and Center for Cognitive Science 
University at Buffalo 

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