LINGUIST List 6.1578

Wed Nov 8 1995

Sum: Turkish Relative Clauses

Editor for this issue: Ljuba Veselinova <>


  1. Ali Aghbar, Sum: Turkish

Message 1: Sum: Turkish

Date: Tue, 07 Nov 1995 16:05:58 Sum: Turkish
From: Ali Aghbar <>
Subject: Sum: Turkish

Here is a summary of responses to my enquiry about Turkish relative
clauses. This is what I had said in my inquiry:

 From what I have been told, Turkish (as spoken in Turkey) does
 not seem to have an unreduced relative clause system. The
 relative clause structures seem to be more like reduced
 relative clauses in English, as in:

 kedinin yakaladigi fare kucuktu.
 By cat caught mouse was-small.
 "The mouse that the cat caught was small."

 Fareyi yakalyan kediyi gordum.
 The mouse catching cat I-saw.
 I saw the cat that caught the mouse.

I will report the responses I have received in relation to the five
questions I had asked. I am grateful to Cyrano de Babestherac,
Stavros Macrakis, and Jennifer L. Smith for their helpful

1. Is the judgement that Turkish does not have an unreduced
relative clause system valid?
 No direct response.
2. Is there a relativizer (such as the equivalent of THAT in Old
English) in Turkish?
 Someone mentioned that Turkish has borrowed [ki] from Persian
 and that it is only occasionally is used to form relative
3. Does Turkish use unreduced relative clauses under any
 See response under Q. 2.
4. Are there any good references on this topic?
 G.L. Lewis's Turkish Grammar
5. Are there other languages which behave like Turkish?
 I was told that both Japanese and Korean behave very much like
 Turkish. Although whether these three languages belong to one
 family of languages (Altaic) is still an unresolved question,
 at least in this respect they are behaving in a similar way.

 Examples from Korean:

 koyangi-eh-geh chaphin chui chagatta
 Cat- by caught mouse small-Past

 chui-lul chapun koyangi-lul boatta
 mouse-OBJ catching cat- OBJ see-Past

 Examples from Japanese:

 Neko-ga tukamae-ta nezumi-wa tiisa-katta.
 cat-NOM catch-PAST mouse-TOPIC small-PAST
 '[The] cat-caught mouse was small.'

 Nezumi-o tukamae-ru neko-o mi-ta.
 mouse-ACC catch-NONPAST cat-ACC see-PAST
 '[I] saw [the] mouse-catching cat.' = 'I saw the cat that
 catches mice.'

 The responder adds:

 However, I remember that when I was studying Japanese, my
 class read a passage that contained _tokoro-no_ 'place-
 GENITIVE' used as a relative pronoun. My teacher, a
 native speaker very knowledgeable about literature in
 both Japanese and English, told us that this relative
 pronoun was _invented_ in the late 19th century when many
 Western documents, etc., were translated into Japanese
 and the translators felt it necessary to "translate"
 relative pronouns. According to my teacher, relative
 clauses with _tokoro-no_ are identical in meaning to
 sentences without, but I suspect there is a register
 difference. The _tokoro-no_ construction may be limited
 to written styles, but I'm not sure about that.

 So a sentence with _tokoro-no_ would probably look
 something like:

 kokusai-kooryuu-o fuyasu tokoro-no seisaku
 international-exchange-ACC increase "REL PRON" policy
 'a policy which (will?) increase international exchange'

This is all. Please write to me if you have further information.
If I get significant responses, i will do a follow-up summary.


 Ali-Asghar Aghbar, Dept. of English, Indiana U. of PA, Indiana, PA 15705
 Bitnet: aaghbariup Internet: Phone: 412-357 2262
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