On the contextual conceptualization of <i>joka</i> relative clauses in Finnish

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Studies on relative clauses commonly distinguish between two types of relative clauses: restrictive and non-restrictive. Research suggests that the restrictive relative clauses are subordinate and thus tightly connected to their main clause. Non-restrictive relative clauses, on the other hand, could often be replaced by a co-ordinating conjunction or by two independent clauses. Consequently, their status as subordinate constructions is called into question: they are categorized as non-subordinate relative constructions &#8211; or at least as being less subordinate than restrictive relative clauses. This article discusses the usefulness of the notions restrictive and non-restrictive relative clause in the description of Finnish data. Finnish joka clauses seem to be instantiating only one construction type, and its function as either restrictive or non-restrictive depends on contextual factors. However, analyzing relative clauses as merely just one construction type has theoretical implications for the research on subordination. If the same grammatical construction can have subordinate and non-subordinate functions only depending on the context it is used in, the question of what subordination is primarily becomes a matter of dynamic conceptualization. This article suggests that the Finnish joka construction is neither subordinate nor non-subordinate, but that it has construal potentials that are evoked in complex ways in the real contexts of use.


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