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Webinar 3 : A typologically unusual finite relative clause strategy in the Southern Caucasus

Presented by : Katherine Hodgson - University of Cambridge

Date : 15 February 2021

Organized by : Languages, Dialects and Isoglosses of Anatolia, the Caucasus and Iran (Labex EFL - INALCO)

Discussant : Michèle Sigler, London

Abstract :

Armenian is generally described as a language having finite RCs introduced by a relative pronoun as its primary strategy. However, it also possesses an invariant clause linker derived from a relative pronoun, and data from a corpus of colloquial spoken language show that this, like its Georgian equivalent rom, is frequently used to introduce RCs, as well as other types of subordinate clauses. The Armenian and Georgian constructions in question share the property, typologically unusual for RCs introduced by an invariant clause-linker, that they allow the relativized element to appear as a full NP in RC case. A common configuration has the relativized NP of a left-adjoined RC preposed (topicalized) ahead of the clause-linker, a position that is paralleled by topical elements in other types of subordinate clauses in these languages. This and other properties of these constructions reveal that they can be straightforwardly interpreted as adjoined RCs with a structure analogous to that of correlatives. Similar constructions found in other languages of the area, including Udi and Northern Talyshi, which have caused problems of interpretation because it has been assumed that they are embedded postnominal RCs, therefore the fronted relativized element must be outside RC and should not have RC case (Gandon 2016, 2018), can also be interpreted in this way. Thus it appears that adjoined RCs introduced by an invariant clause-linker, though typologically rare compared to adjoined RCs with true RP (correlatives) or embedded postnominal RCs with invariant clause-linker, are actually quite widespread in the Southern Caucasus area.

Gandon, Ophélie. 2018. The grammaticalization of interrogative pronouns into relative pronouns in South-Caucasian languages: Internal development or replica? In Sylvie Hancil, Tine Breban & José Vicente Lozano (eds.) New Trends in Grammaticalization and Language Change. John Benjamins Publishing Company. 163-181.

Gandon, Ophélie. 2016. La relativisation dans une perspective aréale: l’aire Caucase- Anatolie de l’est- Iran de l’ouest. PhD thesis, Université Sorbonne Nouvelle-Paris 3.

Biography :

My main area of research is syntax, with a particular interest in dialect variation. I have carried out extensive fieldwork on Armenian and modern Greek dialects, including Pontic Greek as spoken in the Caucasus, which was the subject of my postgraduate dissertation at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. The subject of my PhD (at INALCO) was the syntax and typology of relative clauses in colloquial Armenian. I have also produced syntactic analyses of definiteness and case and noun phrase structure in Eastern Armenian during my studies (BA and MPhil) at the University of Cambridge. I currently have a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Cambridge, funded by ELDP, for the documentation of the Zok language, otherwise known as Agulis dialect of Armenian.


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