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Why are Basque postnominal relative clauses interesting?

Typological properties of Basque:

“Its basic word order is SOV, and it exhibits virtually all the typological characteristics commonly associated with SOV word order. Apart from lexical adjectives, all modifiers are preposed, and this includes large and syntactically complex modiers like genitives and nite relative clauses.” (Trask 1998) « Not many languages allow dierent word orders in relative clauses. Prenominal and postnominal variants exist in Tauya (MacDonald 1990, 109-110), Lhasa Tibetan (whichalso allows head-internal RC, Wu (2011, 571)) and Lahu (Lehmann 1984, 184). In these languages, theprenominal variant predominates and the postnominal is restricted (e.g. in terms of the arguments thatcan be relativized). « The disappearance of the postnominal variant is attested in texts: corpus data ratherthan reconstruction. 1.4 D:  « Both constructions are documented from the earliest Basque texts. « The prenominal is the only option in most modern dialects. « ThepostnominalRCisnowadaysonlypossibleinsomenortherndialects(asamarkedform). 1.5 R « How does the frequency of the postnominal variant change? « What are the dierences between the dialects? « Do the postnominal and prenominal RCs dier with regard to the grammatical rolesthat can be relativized (Accessibility Hierarchy)? « Why does the postnominal RC disappear?

Basque subordinate clauses: a diachronic study Dorota KRAJEWSKA (Universidad del País Vasco, Spain) Abstract

The subordination markerbait-is one of very few grammatical prefixes found in Basque, a predominantlysuffixing language. While itsfunctions are well understood, its diachrony has not been studied in detail.The goal of this paper is thus to (1) analyze diachronic changes in the use of the prefix, (2) establishdiachronic relations between its functions, and, (3) revise the traditional hypothesis on its source andgrammaticalization. The study is based on a corpus of 16th-20th cent. texts.The marker, which attaches to the finite verb, is found in a wide array of subordinate constructions(Oyharçabal 1987, 2003). Firstly, it is employed together with several clause-initial conjunctions inadverbial clauses or with a pronoun in relative clauses. Secondly, it can be used on its own (i.e. withoutany conjunction) inreason and relative clauses, and in complements of a rather limited class of verbs.Here, the clause type is not marked overtly and the sentence can be ambiguous.bait-also occasionallyappears in independent clauses (e.g. in exclamatives or to express contrast).The corpus data show that important changes in the use of themarker have taken place since the 16thcentury. With regards to clauses with conjunctions and relative pronouns, their use has decreasedsignificantly. Their high frequency in old texts, however, could be explained through influence of theRomance subordination strategies. As for the constructions withbait-only, in modern texts the marker ismostly found in reason clauses, whereas in the 16th century relative clauses predominated andcomplement and reason were infrequent.Lafon (1966) argued thatbait-developed from the affirmative particlebai‘yes’ through an emphasismarker. This hypothesis is problematic, though. It is unclear how an emphasis marker could end upmarking subordination. Also, the only evidence Lafon provides is questionable. Accordingto him,independent clauses withbait-are relicts of the old emphasis marker. A closer look at such clauses revealsthat they are better seen as innovations rather than archaisms: in some cases insubordination seemslikely; in others, a confusion withba-affirmation/emphasis marker could explain the use ofbait-.Even thoughbai‘yes’ andbait-could be related, it is unlikely that the subordination marker developedfrom the affirmative particle. I will propose instead thatbait-was initially a relativeclause marker, whichlater spread to other types of subordinate constructions. The extension from relative clause tocomplement clause is cross-linguistically well attested. Similarly, it is common for a relative clause markerto become a general purposesubordination marker. The only change that is not typologically usual andwould require more explanation is the specialization ofbait-as reason marker. I will propose that thereason interpretation ofbait-clauses originated in contexts that were ambiguous between relative orreason reading.ReferencesLafon, R. (1999 [1966]). La particulebaiten basque: ses emplois morphologiques et syntactiques. InHaritschelhar, J. & Charritton, P., ed.,Vasconiana, 667–687. Euskaltzaindia, Bilbo.Oyharçabal, B. (1987). Etude descriptive de constructions complexes en basque: propositions relatives,temporelles, conditionelles et consessives. PhD thesis, Université de Paris VII, Paris.Oyharçabal, B. (2003). Relative clauses. In Hualde, J. I. & Ortiz de Urbina, J., ed., A grammar of Basque,762–823. Walter de Gruyter, Berlin.

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