Functional underpinnings of diachrony in relative clause formation

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The present paper explores the grammatical formation and synchronic variation of relative clauses in the Northern Paiute (Western Numic; Uto-Aztecan) language, as determined by their functional and grammatical connections to nominalization. We find support for several hypotheses from the literature regarding the development of syntactic complexity along a paratactic-to-syntactic pathway. An approach that seeks functional explanations for diachronic developments helps to make sense of the data, particularly in connecting nominalization to relativation not as one of several available strategies for relative clause formation, but as part of the same complex functional and grammatical domain. Keywords: Relative clauses; nominalization; subordination; diachronic syntax


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