Re: Dependent clauses, etc.

From: Ronald Ross (
Date: Thu Mar 06 1997 - 18:50:21 EST

Micheal Palmer wrote:
> At 12:13 AM -0600 3/6/97, Ronald Ross wrote:
> [SNIP]
> >. . . Relative clauses often begin with relative pronouns: WHO, WHOM,
> >WHOSE or in Greek hOS, hOU, hW, hON, etc. But they don't always. Both
> >Greek and English also have participial relative clauses (although most
> >Greek grammarians don't recognize them as such).
> If you are interested in exploring the "participial relative clauses" that
> Ronald refers to here, try looking under Participle, Adjectival in the
> index of your reference grammar. Most of the reference grammars include a
> discussion of the participle used as a modifier of a noun (or nominal
> element). When used in this way the participle usually must be translated
> into English as a relative clause, hence the feeling that it is a
> participlial relative clause. Personally, I prefer to call them
> "adjectival" uses of participial clauses and reserve the term "relative
> clause" for clauses which do use relative pronouns, while recognizing that
> relative clauses are one type of "adjectival" clause.

> -------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Micheal W. Palmer
> Religion & Philosophy
> Meredith College

Yeah. Well as they say, a rose by any other name . . . The advantage
to calling them participial relative clauses might be that it would help
close the gap between the analyses done by biblical languages scholars
and work done on non biblical languages. The trend (outside of biblical
languages scholarship) has been to define these things more in terms of
function and semantics. Quoting from William Croft's "Typology and
Universals" (Cambridge U. Press, 1990), who in turn is quoting from a
seminal article on relative clauses by Bernard Comrie and Edward Keenan:

"We are attempting to determine the universal properties of relative
clauses (RCs) by comparing their syntactic form in a large number of
languages. To do this it is necessary to have a largely syntax-free way
of identifying RCs in an arbitrary language. Our solution to this
problem is to use an essentially semantic based definition of RC" ("Noun
phrase accessibility and universal grammar" Linguistic Inquiry (1977

The "relative pronoun type" is only one of four major relative clause
types identified by Comrie in his book Language Universals and
Linguistic Typology. And very many languages have more than one type,
mixtures of these four major types or some other minor types. I don't
know. I am aware that I am to a large degree an outsider on this list,
so I hesitate to make suggestions of this nature, but it seems to me
that it would be healthy for the study of biblical languages to begin to
look at them in light of other languages. Linguists working in the area
of typologies typically take two different approaches: 1) start from a
form (structure) and see what functions it fulfills within a language
and cross-linguistically; 2) start with a function and see what forms
it takes within a language and cross linguistically. If a variety of
forms do what relative clauses are supposed to do, then we can probably
conclude that they are different types of relative clauses. IMHO.


Ron Ross

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Sat Apr 20 2002 - 15:38:09 EDT