Arguments vs. adjuncts as heads of relative clauses

Whitney Anne Postman wap2 at
Sun Oct 21 21:20:08 UTC 2001

Dear Waruno,
First let me thank you for yet again going out of your way to answer
my question. I wanted to be certain that in Standard Indonesian,
oblique NPs can indeed serve as heads of RCs. I wonder if the same is
true for Standard Malay and other related languages like Javanese or
Now if you don't mind, let me ask you a related question. What if, in
your translation of (3), the agentive preposition "oleh" were
removed? In other words, what if the agent "wanita" were incorporated
(to use terminology from Myhill (1992))? The result would be:

? Bayi itu sedang digendong wanita [yang menyanyikan  lagu ninabobo]
  (baby DET DURAT  carryPASS woman  [DET  singCAUS-ACT song lullaby])

How does this sentence sound to you? I suppose I'm mainly interested
in whether or not it is better with "oleh", or whether the
presence/absence of "oleh" makes any difference at all.

Terima kasih banyak!

>Sorry this isn't really an answer to the query, because I'm not
>aware of knowing a languge that doesn't allow construction (3) -
>- indirect object as head of relative clause.
>But in Indonesian, constructions (5)-(6) are achieved by an interesting
>"trick" which can however be avoided in (5) when one rephrases it with a
>passive voice form of the verb in the relative clause - (5a)
>(1/4) The woman [who is singing a lullaby] is holding a baby.
>       Wanita [yang sedang menyanyikan lagu ninabobo] itu sedang menggendong
>      (woman [REL DURAT singCAUS-ACT song lullaby] DET DURAT carryACT baby)
>(2) The woman is holding a baby [who is sleeping].
>     Wanita itu sedang menggendong bayi [yang sedang tidur]
>    (woman DET DURAT carryACT baby [REL DURAT sleep])
>(3) The baby is held by the woman [who is singing a lullaby].
>     Bayi itu sedang digendong oleh wanita [yang menyanyikan lagu ninabobo]
>    (baby DET DURAT carryPASS by woman [DET singCAUS-ACT song lullaby])
>(5a) The baby [that is being held by the woman] is sleeping.
>      Bayi [yang sedang digendong oleh wanita itu] sedang tidur
>     (baby [REL DURAT carryPASS by woman DET] DURAT sleep)
>(5) The baby [that the woman is holding] is sleeping.
>     Bayi [yang wanita itu sedang menggendong-nya] itu sedang tidur
>    (baby [REL woman DET DURAT carryACT 3psOBL] DET DURAT sleep)
>(6) The woman [that the baby is being held by] is singing.
>     Wanita [yang bayi itu sedang digendong oleh-nya] itu sedang nyanyi
>    (woman [REL baby DET DURAT carryPASS by 3psOBL] DET DURAT singSTAT
>In (5) and (6), the role to be attributed to the head of the relative
>clause is duplicated within that clause by -nya (oblique-case form of
>the third person singular pronoun _ia_).
>Salam,  Waruno

"Each year, 26,000 people are killed or mutilated by landmines of
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To help eradicate landmines, check out
Whitney Anne Postman
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Fields of Linguistics and Cognitive Studies, Southeast Asia Program
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