Arguments vs. adjuncts as heads of relative clauses

Paul Kroeger paul_kroeger at
Tue Oct 23 19:23:02 UTC 2001


     Are your sentences (5) and (6) accepted as grammatical by all speakers
     of standard Indonesian?  My impression is that in Bahasa Malaysia, the
     resumptive pronoun =nya can only be used to relativize possessors, and
     specifically possessors of subjects.  (I think Comrie makes this point
     in his 1981 book (LULT), and Keenan may say something similar in the
     Shopen volumes.)

     (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

     Are there any native speakers of Bahasa Malaysia on the AN-LANG list
     who could give us their reactions to these sentences?  My own
     intuitions are nearly useless, but I think I would not be totally
     surprised to hear (6) in a non-formal context; sentence (5), on the
     other hand, with =nya used for the direct object, sounds less
     acceptable to my non-native ears.

     Here is a possibly related question:

     Sneddon (1996, sec. 3.88-91) describes the topicalization of
     possessors using a resumptive pronoun.  He implies that the
     topicalized NP must be the possessor of the subject of the clause, as
     in (a) and (b); possessors of direct objects cannot be topicalized in
     this way, as shown in (c).  These judgements are confirmed by
     Indonesian speakers I have consulted.  Sneddon also gives examples
     similar to (d), in which the direct object itself is topicalized; but
     I have gotten decidedly mixed responses to these sentences, with a
     number of Indonesian speakers rejecting them quite emphatically.  I
     suspect that speakers who accept sentences like (d) should also accept
     (5), and vice-versa.  Is this in fact the case?  If not, is there at
     least a positive correlation between these judgements?

   (a) Sopir itu, nama=nya Pak Ali.
   'As for that driver, his name is Mr. Ali.'

   (b) Mahasiswa itu, rambut=nya tidak pernah di-sisir.
   'That student, his hair is never combed.'

   (c) *Mahasiswa itu, polisi telah memotong rambut=nya.
   (for: 'That student, the police have cut his hair.')

   (d) %Surat itu, Ali belum menerima=nya.
     'That letter, Ali has not received (it) yet.'

     Many thanks for any light you can shed on these questions.

     -- Paul Kroeger

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