Volume 45, Issue 1
  • ISSN 0731-3500
  • E-ISSN: 2214-5907
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The relative constructions in several Palaungic languages (Htanaw, Wa, Lawa, Rumai Palaung, Samlong Palaung, and Rucing Palaung), here shown to be participant nominalizations, display striking mutual similarities, while conspicuously diverging from the dominant relativization strategy within the Austroasiatic family. Instead of the common pattern, the Palaungic constructions examined exhibit the following structural features: (a) invariably precedes the verb complex directly; (b) internal constituent order is , with the exception of Htanaw. An unusual functional trait is additionally found in the three Palaung varieties: the construction only performs object relativization. By placing the findings in a diachronic perspective, we propose two new pathways of branch-internal syntactic change that may explain this unusual synchronic status. Among these, the lexical-to-clausal-nominalization pathway in particular offers a plausible alternative scenario to the earlier hypothesis that such verb-initial structures are inherited from Proto-Austroasiatic (Jenny 2020). Furthermore, a tentatively suggested etymological origin of the relativizer, pAA * ‘place’, provides an account of the narrow semantics in Palaung.


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  125. DSJ = Differences_Seat_Journal (based on task from Skopeteas et al. 2006)
  126. LT = Little_Tiger (children’s story, free narrative)
  127. Sxx = elicitation session no. xx
  128. Trad1 = Traditional_Story1 (folktale, free narrative)
  129. Trad2 = Traditional_Story2 (folktale, free narrative)
  130. Vid = Video_Commentary (conversation between four speakers while watching same video)

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