Subject-headed relative clauses (Surgut Khanty)

RCnonS: While the nominal head of a subject-headed relative clause can be understood to be the subject of the clause, this role is not marked grammatically; instead, the noun is only marked for its syntactic role in the main clause.

(1) ʌow mōq-ʌ-aʌ päwəʌtə-tə nīŋ pūpi-ji pəʌ-ʌ-əm.

I bear_cub-pl-3sg bath-prs.ptc woman bear-abl afraid-prs-1sg

‘I’m afraid of the mother bear which is bathing her cubs.’ (Csepregi 2012b)

In Surgut Khanty, the head noun of a relative construction does not reflect its function within the immediate clause (the subject in the present example) because it takes the case ending corresponding to its sentence function. In example (1), the noun pūpi ‘bear’ is the argument of pəʌ- ‘be afraid’ and thus takes the ablative case ending.


Márta Csepregi