[Lingtyp] Corpus studies of relativization

TasakuTsunoda tasakutsunoda at nifty.com
Tue Jun 5 07:10:13 UTC 2018

Dear Johanna,


There is a work which is not based on a large corpus but may be nonetheless relevant to your search: Tsunoda (2008).


    (a) Tsunoda (2008) looks at the preprints of 8 papers — written in Japanese — that were presented at the 122nd meeting of the Linguistic Society of Japan (23-24 June 2001). The ages of the authors are 52, 49, 45, 41, 39, 39, 35, 27, respectively. Tsunoda (2008) deals with adult speech.


    (b) Tsunoda (2008) deals with Japanese, whose RCs involve a gap strategy.


    (c) Tsunoda (2008) looks at the following arguments:


Subject: active subject and passive subject.

Direct object.

Indirect object.

Oblique object.



(In Japanese, the object of comparison cannot be relativised on.) The following tendency is observed in these 8 preprints (Tsunoda 2008: 212).


“With each of the authors, virtually all the RCs involve the subject of an active (i.e. active subject), the subject of a passive (i.e. passive subject) or the direct object. In contrast, there is no example or there are very few examples involving the indirect object, the oblique object or the genitive.”


    (d) Previous works, e.g. Tsunoda (2003), pointed out that the use of passives in Japanese is becoming increasingly frequent. Tsunoda (2008) shows that this is happening in RCs, as well. Tsunoda (2008: 213) states as follows.


“The younger the author is, the smaller the number is of RCs modifying the direct object; ...”


“In contrast, the younger the author is, the larger the number is of RCS modifying the passive subject;”


That is, roughly speaking, younger authors tend to use Japanese-equivalents of sentences such as (1), rather than those of sentences such as (2).


(1) the conclusion that is suggested by the data

(2) the conclusion that the data suggest


In (1), the passive subject is relativised on, while in (2) the direct object is relativised on.


    (e) On the basis of (c) and (d), Tsunoda (2008: 214) provides the following prediction, which is highly speculative.


“As shown by Keenan and Comrie (1977: 69-70), in many Western Malayo-Polynesian languages, such as Malagasy and Tagalog, only the subject can be relativized on. That is, if, in Japanese, the change described above progresses, the RCs will be confined to the subject, and, concerning the formation of RCs, Japanese will undergo a typological change and become a language like Tagalog and Malagasy.”


    (f) Tsunoda (2008) is a revised and developed version of a paper that was published in Japanese: Tsunoda (2004).


    (g) References


Keenan, Edward L. and Bernard Comrie. 1977. Noun phrase accessibility and universal     grammar. Linguistic Inquiry Vol. 8, No. 1: 63-99.


Tsunoda, Tasaku. 2003. Henna judoobun: ‘Kuma ga yamu o ezu shasatsusaremashita’ [Strange passives: ‘The bear was unavoidably shot dead’]. In Nagoya Kotoba no Tsudoi[:] Gengo Kagaku Ronshuu [Nagoya Linguistic Circle: Papers in Language Science], Ikudoo Tajima and Kazuya Niwa (eds.), 35-42. Nagoya: Graduate School of Letters, University of Nagoya.


Tsunoda, Tasaku. 2004. Nihongo no rentaishuushokusetsu: Firipin o toorisugite madagasukaru ni tassuru? [Relative clauses of Japanese: Will they go past the Philippines and reach Madagascar?]  Nihongo no bunseki to gengoreikeeron [Analysis of Japanese and language typology], Taroo Kageyama and Hideki Kishimoto (eds.), 559-571. Tokyo: Kurosio Publishers.


Tsunoda, Tasaku. 2008. Predicting a future change: relative clauses of Japanese. In Elisabeth Verhoeven; Stavros Skopeteas; Yong-Min Shin; Yoko Nishina; and Johannes Helmbrecht (eds.) Studies on grammaticalization, 209-216. Berlin and New York: Mouton de Gruyter.


Best wishes,


Tasaku Tsunoda



送信元: Lingtyp <lingtyp-bounces at listserv.linguistlist.org> (Johanna NICHOLS <johanna at berkeley.edu> の代理)
日付: 2018年6月4日月曜日 16:58
宛先: Linguistic Typology <LINGTYP at listserv.linguistlist.org>
件名: [Lingtyp] Corpus studies of relativization


We are looking for corpus studies of relativization in adult speech that report frequencies of relativization on different arguments.  There seem to have been few since Fox 1987, most on English (some references below).  Can anyone refer us to other work?  Especially needed are languages with gap strategies and languages with ergativity, but all references appreciated.  We'll summarize.




Johanna Nichols

for the Language Convergence Laboratory, Higher School of Economics, Moscow





Fox, Barbara.  1987.  The noun phrase accessibility hierarchy reinterpreted: Subject primary or the absolutive hypothesis?  Language 63:4.856-870.

Fox, Barbara, and Sandra A. Thompson.  1990.  A discourse explanation of the grammar of relative clauses in English conversation.  Language 66:2.297-316.

Haspelmath, Martin.  1994.  Passive participles across languages.  Barbara A. Fox and Paul J. Hopper, eds., Voice: Form and function, 151-178.  Amsterdam: Benjamins. 

Heider, Paul M., Jeruen E. Dery, and Douglas Roland.  2014.  The processing of it object relative clauses: Evidence against a fine-grained frequency account.  Journal of Memory and Language 75.58-76.

Mak, Willem M., Wietske Vonk, and Herbert Schriefers.  2002.  The influence of animacy on relative clause processing.  Journal of Memory and Language 47:50-68.

Reali, Florencia, and Morten H. Christensen.  2007.  Processing of relative clauses is made easier by frequency of occurrence.  Journal of Memory and Language 57:1.1-23.

Roland, Douglas, Frederic Dick, and Jeffrey L. Elman.  2007.  Frequency of basic English grammtical structures: A corpus analysis.  Journal of Memory and Language 57:3.348-379.

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