Nominal Modification

The Research Training Group on Nominal Modification at the Goethe University Frankfurt

Home » Virtual GK Colloquium July 14 (@2:15pm): Michael Erlewine

Virtual GK Colloquium July 14 (@2:15pm): Michael Erlewine

On Tuesday, June 14th virtual GK Colloquium will be hosting 3 talks. The first talk by our guest speaker Michael Erlewine will be on Patterns of relativization in Austronesian and Tibetan. This talk will start at 2:15. Please send an e-mail to to get access link to Zoom meeting room.


In both Tibetan and so-called Philippine-type Austronesian languages, the form of the verb varies with the choice of relative clause pivot, with different forms chosen for the relativization of agents, themes, locatives/goals, and instruments. These alternations have however been described in very different ways in their respective literatures. In the Bodic literature, these verb forms have been described as different types of nominalizations (DeLancey 1999, Noonan 2008, a.o.). In the Austronesian literature, these alternations reflect different grammatical “voices,” with relativization obeying a “subject-only” restriction (Keenan & Comrie 1977, a.o.). In this talk, I compare these systems, concentrating on the behavior of relativization of an embedded clause argument, i.e. long-distance relativization. Original data on long-distance relativization in Tibetan, which has not been previously described, shows clear parallels to the well-studied behavior of long-distance relativization in Austronesian languages. I describe an analytical approach for capturing the shared behavior of these systems, as well as their differences.

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