Relative clause head position

Waruno Mahdi mahdi at
Fri Oct 26 10:35:01 UTC 2001

In Indonesian Malay there are several possible structures of
relative clauses with agent in front, middle or, at the end,
some older, some newer, some only realisable with a limited
number of verbs. Compare:

(1) rumah tempat engkau sedang bertumpang
    house place 2p-ABS/NOM DURAT lodge-STAT
   'house where you /are lodging'

(2) rumah yang  engkau  sedang     menumpangi-nya
    house REL 2p-ABS/NOM DURAT lodge-APPL-ACT 3p-OBL
    'hause at which you are lodging'

(3) rumah yang sedang ditumpangi   oleh-mu
    house REL  DURAT lodge-APPL-PASS by 2p-OBL
   'house which is being lodged at by you'

(4) rumah yang sedang   kau-tumpangi
    house REL  DURAT 2p-ERG lodge-APPL-NOVC
   'house which you are lodging at'

(5) rumah tumpangan-mu
    house lodge-PASSPART 2p-OBL
   'house you lodge at'
  (actually: your "lodging-at" house)

ABS=absolutive, NOM=nominative, ERG=ergative, OBL=oblique,
REL=relative "pronoun", DURAT=modifier for durative aspect,
STAT=stative, APPL=applicative,
ACT=active, PASS=passive, NOVC=no voice (voice-neutral),
PASSPART="passive participle".

Sentence (4) is only possible when the agent is a personal
pronoun or a proper name or term of address refering to either
the speaker or the person being spoken to.
The greater part of verbs do not have the form involved in (5)
where the attribute is actually not a relative clause.
Most words derived in this fashion from verbal bases have become
converted into nouns (for some, an archaic passive participle and
a homophonous noun coexist). The oblique form of the 2p-pronoun in
(5) carries a more genitive/possessive than instrumental meaning.

But the relative clause can never precede the head. It can however
be individualised (i.e. exist on its own without a head), in which
case it can stand at the front of a sentence:

(4b) Yang sedang   kau-tumpangi      rumah atau kolong jembatan?
     REL  DURAT 2p-ERG lodge-APPL-NOVC house or  pit   bridge
    'Is the place you are lodging at a house or the place under a bridge?'

The relative clause _yang....tumpangi_ is not functioning here as
attribute to either _rumah_ or anything else, but as topic (a) of
an 'A = B' type sentence. It could be replaced by the corresponding
relative clause of all the above examples except perhaps that of (2)
[I'm not so sure about this point] which involves the "trick" with
_-nya_ already mentioned in an earlier input.
For additional clarity, one often inserts the determinative _itu_
'that' after the A (in this case the headless relative clause). It
then serves as a kind of syntactical 'land mark'. But it is optional.

Aloha,  Waruno

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