Kamakawi Relative Clauses

Relative clauses are a thing of beauty, if looked at in the right light. In the wrong light, though...

Relative clauses are a type of subordinate clause. What they do is they modify a noun. So, just as one might say of "the green book", one could also say "the book that your Aunt Sarah gave us on our wedding day that she got the author to sign, but which we subsequently lost". Everything after the word "book", beginning with "that", is a part of a relative clause which modifies "book". You could follow the word "lost" in the above sentence with any verb in the third person and get a grammatical sentence. All relative clauses do is delimit the possible range of nouns (in this case books) to which the speaker is referring. That's what modifiers do. It's their job. And they're better than anything else out there at it, so don't give 'em no guff.

As you may have noticed from the example, relative clauses are pretty much sentences (and can be rather long ones, at that—just ask Faulkner). They're not, however, ordinary sentences (e.g., you can't say "The book I like to eat donuts on Thursday" and expect to make any sense in a court of law, 10 Commandments or no). They crucially contain two things: (1) Some relevance to the noun in question (hence, relative clauses), and (2) either a blank or pronoun or something in (or not in) the clause that refers to the noun in question. In English, we have blanks. So, for example, you say "the man that I saw", not "the man that I saw him", even though in Arabic, for example, you'd do just that. Kamakawi is like English in this respect, but not in many others. Now we'll get down to the nitty-gritty.

Types of Relative Clauses

There are several types of relative clauses, depending on the language you're working with. Since the whole world speaks English, according to George W. Bush, I'll start with English and apply the types to Kamakawi. Here's an example of different types of relative clauses in English:

The fish that loved me...
The fish that I loved...
The fish that I gave a book (to)...
The fish for whom I bought a carrot...
The fish (that is) inside the fish bowl...
The fish whose sister I married...
The fish bowl where I saw the fish...

There are, basically, three kinds: (a) Relative clauses that use "that", and only require a missing noun; (b) relative clauses that use some sort of preposition (either initially or finally); and (c) relative clauses that use some kind of WH pronoun. From a grammatical standpoint, this allows English to relativize a: (1) subject; (2) direct object; (3) indirect object; (4) object of a preposition; (5) genitive/possessive noun; and (6) location. The reason English can do this is because all six categories happen to fall into one of the original three categories. If we had separate marking for each of those six categories, English might not be able to relativize one or the other. But that's just idle speculation.

Kamakawi is much more limited than English, because it can only relativize subjects. Further, it can only relativize like English's strategy (a). Thus, it would seem that Kamakawi's power to relativize is limited. There are several clever ways around this, though, and we'll now go over each.

Relativizing Subjects

This one is easy. Kamakawi can do this standing on its head, with its hands tied behind your back. No problem.

The strategy used for relativizing a subject will be used for all other relativization processes—it'll just be the simplest. To start with, here's your basic sentence:

Ka mama eine i nawa. = "The woman hugged a fish."

The relative correspondant to this sentence would be "The woman who hugged a fish". In order to do this, you either have to: (a) put the noun first, and then add a subjectless sentence using a subject status marker which is prefixed by po-, or (b) move the noun outside of the sentence, so it appears to the left of the subject status marker, and then add the prefix po- to the subject status marker. These are both asking you to do the same thing; it's just two different ways of thinking about it. For the examples below (and throughout most of this page), we'll be using a past tense same subject marker. This is not the only marker that may be used (for more info, go to the second-to-last section). In either case, the result is thus:

Eine poke mama i nawa... = "The woman who hugged a fish..."

Now you have a relative clause. You can add anything after it. So, to put it in a sentence:

A eli eine poke mama i nawa i'i. = "The woman who hugged a fish loves me."

One way to try to conceptualize a relative clause is to think of the po- prefix as a little prefix which means "with respect to", or "regarding", or "such that". So what you might get is: "The woman, with respect to the one that hugged a fish, loves me."

Now that we have the basic form down, we can move onto more complex relative clauses.

Relativizing Direct Objects

This one is also not too terribly difficult. There's one trick, and it's a simple one, so no need to worry.

I've said before that only subjects can be relativized. I'll also say that it's possible to relativize direct objects. The question, then, is how do you get a direct object to be a subject? The answer: Passiviation. So, if you wanted to specify a woman that had been hugged by a fish, rather than saying "the woman that a fish hugged", you'd say "the woman that was hugged by a fish". To do that, it's a simple matter of adding the passive suffix -'u to the verb within the relative clause, and then, if you wish to express the agent, preposing it with the oblique marker ti (though, of course, as with any passive, the oblique phrase can be left out completely). Here's an example:

Eine poke mama'u (ti nawa)... = "The woman who was hugged (by a fish)..."

And now within a sentence:

A eli eine poke mama'u (ti nawa) i'i. = "The woman who was hugged (by a fish) loves me."

And that's all there is to it for direct objects. Remember passivization, though, as it will be a crucial part of forming other relative clauses.

Relativizing the Objects of Prepositions

I'm going to go out of order here a minute because this one's easy.

In English, the "typical" preposition is one which specifies some idea of place (e.g., "at", "in", "to", "on", "off", etc.). In Kamakawi, all of these prepositions are sometimes adjectives, often nouns, more than usually adverbs, and always verbs. Since they are verbs, their objects can be "relativized" quite easily by making their objects the subjects of a sentence whose verb is the verbal form of said preposition. So, take, for example, the following:

Eine te fale. = "A woman is on the grass."

You could say that same sentence this way:

Te eine ie fale. = "A woman is on the grass."

To say "The woman who is on the grass", then, you just use te as a verb, like in the example above:

Eine poe te ie fale... = "The woman who is on the grass..."

Remember: The k marks the past tense, so poe is just a contraction of the prefix po- and the present tense same subject marker e.

So, the next question is: What do you do if you want to relativize "the grass"? Glad you asked. Now that we know how to use the passive in relative clauses, why not see how it applies to prepositions?

Fale poke te'u (ti eine)... = "The grass that (a woman/someone) was on..."

There's no easy way to translate the Kamakawi sentence above into English in order to get the exact sense of it, but the idea shouldn't be hard to grasp. "Being on" is a verb, and the object of "being on" is a thing that someone's on. So, logically, if you passivized that, the object becomes the subject, and so you get something like "The grass was beed (been?) on by the woman".

So, that's done. Not too hard. Now let's move onto some hard ones.

Relativizing Indirect Objects

Kamakawi really doesn't have indirect objects. For that matter, Kamakawi doesn't have ditransitive verbs. What are often thought of as indirect objects, however, are things like benefactives. Take, for example, the following sentence:

A mama eine i nawa i'i. = "The woman hugged a fish for me."

In the sentence above, the second predicate marker, i, isn't a predicate marker at all, but a dative marker. It indicates that its object (in this case, ei, "I") is the beneficiary of the action described. So what if you wanted to relativize that object? Say, "The woman I hugged a fish for". Well, "the woman" isn't the subject of the imbedded clause, so you can't relativize it directly. She's also not the direct object of the phrase, so if you passivized it, you'd get "The fish that was hugged by me for the woman", so that won't work. Well, what's left? Are we stuck? No indeed.

To take care of sentences such as the one described above, we have to use Kamakawi's applicative marker. I was hoping to be able to send you off to a site which would explain what an applicative is, but there doesn't seem to be one. Stupid world wide web...

An applicative promotes an argument. What do I mean by "promote"? What's an argument? Good questions. I'll ignore them and try another approach.

Take passives. In English, if you say "I'm eating an apple", you know that there are two participants: (1) the apple (which is getting eaten), and (2) I (the eater). What would happen if you were to say, "The apple is being eaten"? Well, now you only know about one participant. What happened to the other? It was pushed into the background. The speaker did this either because they didn't want the listener to know who the eater was, or they thought that the eater wasn't important enough to mention. In either case, you can say that the role of the eater in a passive sentence is demoted. After all, if the subject is the top dog of the sentence, it's clear that something happened to the eater, since if you want to reintroduce, it get's stuck at the end as "by me". And what's more, it's not even necessary! Basically, the eater gets the shaft. So what about the eatee? The eaten? Well, we can say it gets promoted. Why? Because now it's top dog! It's the subject, the verb agrees with it, the sentence is about it, the whole shebang.

So, that's passives. To summarize, when you passivize a verb, you: (1) Demote the subject, and (2) promote the object. This brings us to the applicative.

The applicative is a verbal affix, just like a passive. Not all languages have one (English, for example, does not). What an applicative does is it promotes an indirect object, or prepositional phrase. Many languages do this in many ways. So, for example, you can promote an indirect object to a direct object. Let's say you did this with "give". In English, you might convey this idea by saying "I book-give you". "You", which was an indirect object, now becomes a direct object, because it's been promoted. In English, the way we can accomodate for this is by adding the former direct object, "book", to the front of the verb. This strategy is called noun incorporation. Other languages might keep "book" as a direct object. Others might demote "book" and make it an indirect object or oblique. Still other languages might delete "book" entirely. Kamakawi does something like this.

So, back to our example: "The woman I hugged a fish for". If you were to applicativize the word mama, "hug", in Kamakawi, what you'd get is a verb meaning "to hug for". The applicative affix is -kV, where V is the previous vowel in the word to which it's being attached. So, here's an example sentence:

Ka mamaka ei ie eine (ti nawa). = "I hugged for the woman (by means of a fish)."

In Kamakawi, you can reintroduce the direct object in the same way you'd reintroduce a subject in a passive, but it's hardly ever done. Anyway, notice what's happened: "The woman" is the noun we want to relativize, and now it's the direct object of the sentence. Now, thanks to the passive, we can relativize an indirect object thus:

Eine poke mamaka'u (i nawa) (ti'i) = "The woman (I) hugged (a fish) for."

Notice that something funny happens here. In a passive sentence, the subject is demoted and marked with an oblique. In an applicative, the direct object is, in a sense, demoted and marked with an oblique. In the example above, the applicative happens first, and so "the fish" marked with the oblique and sent to the end of the sentence. Then the passivization happens, and "I" is marked with the oblique and sent to the end of the sentece. Since the passivization happened second, the passivized subject is demoted past the oblique "fish". The result is that "fish" can no longer be marked by the oblique, and so is marked by the dative. And, as a rule, obliques always come last in Kamakawi, so the order is "A woman for whom was hugged a fish by me". Of course, that's only if you leave both in. Both phrases have been demoted, and so both can be left out. If both are left out, the resulting sentence translates to something like, "The woman for whom something was hugged".

That essentially explains the bulk of indirect object relativization in Kamakawi. What's more, we now have all the strategies in place to take care of the rest of Kamakawi relative clauses.

Relativizing "Real" Indirect Objects

What most people think of when they hear the term "indirect object" are the objects of verbs that take more than one object. So, for example, "me" in "give me the key to your heart, as well as the combination to your safe". "Me" here is an indirect object, which, in Latin, would take the dative. Since this isn't Latin, though, it doesn't. In fact, in Kamakawi, direct objects of this kind don't exist. Why? Because Kamakawi doesn't have ditransitive verbs. Sure, there's a verb "give", nevi, but what it means is, roughly, "to give to someone". So the direct object that nevi takes is a recipient, and not a given thing. To express the idea of giving something to someone, you need a helper verb, li, and so you'd say something which would come out something like, "I take a book and I give to you". This kind of a construction is called a serial verb construction.

So, if you wanted to grammaticalize the Latin indirect object in a sentence with one of these verbs, it's fairly simple, since it's just the direct object:

Ka mama ei ie eine poke nevi'u (ti nawa). = "I hugged the woman who was given something (by a fish)."

Also simple if you want to relativize "fish":

Ka mama ei ie nawa poke nevi i eine. = "I hugged the fish who gave something to a woman."

If you want to: (a) Specify that "something", and then (b) relativize it, though, that becomes complicated. First, let's see how that sentence would look normally:

Ka li ei i nawa ke nevi i ia. = "I gave you a fish (lit., 'I got a fish and gave to you')."

So, if you want to relativize "fish" in that sentence, you have two options. The first should be somewhat apparent: If it's the direct object of li, why not just passivize li? Here's what that would look like:

Ka mama ei ie nawa poke li'u kae nevi (ei) i ia. = "I hugged the fish that (I) gave you."

The above sentence needs a little explaining. First, I introduced a subject marker we haven't seen before. The subject marker ae (in the past tense kae) indicates that the subject is new, but that it can be retrieved from the previous clause. What this means is that if the previous clause had only two arguments (a subject and an object), then the subject can be omitted with the ae marker, since it's known that the subject must be the object from the previous clause. If there are additional PP's or NP's, though, it must be specified. In our sentence, the subject can be included or omitted, though if it's omitted, the giver couldn't be recovered. (By the way, we use the ae subject marker because the subject of the next clause within the imbedded clause is the NP within the unmentioned oblique.) So, it just depends on how much information the speaker wants to be in the sentence.

There is another way to do it, though. Notice that with the verb nevi, you have two arguments—a subject and object—and the one you want to relativize is a third. We've situations like this before. And what we did was add the applicative to the verb. The same thing can be done here, with the same result. So, a normal clause with an applicative might look like this:

Ka neviki ei i nawa (ti ia). = "I gave a fish (to you)."

This now looks like our regular English ditransitive verb "give", though it's syntactically and morphologically different. At any rate, now it's a simple matter of passivizing the verb:

Ka mama ei ie nawa poke neviki'u (i ia) (ti'i). = "I hugged the fish that was given (to you) (by me)."

In Kamakawi, either way is acceptable, though, in certain cases, the applicative version would be better, since the other way could you leave with a long imbedded clause before a direct object is realized, and the long-distance dependency could result in misunderstandings.

Relativizing Locations

In some cases, a location needs to be relativized. These would be the objects of certain locative prepositions, so, "at the store", "in the closet", etc. To relativize these, you'll, again, have to use the applicative. Here's an example of how one might use an applicative, and how a verbs arguments can actually change its meaning:

Ka mataka ei ie apule. = "I saw (something) at the store."

Here because the direct object is a location, the logical phrase it could have come from was a prepositional phrase, where the preposition was some sort of locative which described where the event of seeing took place with respect to the store. Now the direct object has been demoted, and the place where the event took place is being promoted. So, if you wanted to say, "The store I saw the fish at was big", you'd say:

A kavi apule poke mataka'u (ie nawa) (ti'i). = "The store (I) saw (the fish) at is big."

That's how you relativize locations. Again, the noun will motivate what reading the applicative has. So, if it's a table, it'll probably be "on", unless some set of actions clearly indicates "under" is preferable to "on"; "closet" will probably be "in"; places will be "at". And then with motion verbs, all these would become latives: "under", "onto", "into", "towards"...

Relativizing Genitives

Lastly we come to relativizing genitives or possessives. What are these? Well, for example, there's, "The woman whose fish I hugged". Here the possessor of fish is being relativized. So, how do you it in Kamakawi? The simple answer is: You can't. What you'd have to do is say, "The woman who owned a fish that was hugged by me". This would, in fact, be the most natural way to do it. The other way would be to use the applicative in the way we've seen. So, you're original sentence is:

Ka mamaka ei ie eine (ti nawa). = "I fish-hugged the woman."

That's already kind of weird, because applicatives are generally only used in Kamakawi to raise locative/dative arguments, not genitival arguments. The immediate interpretation probably wouldn't be the correct one, and the "optional" oblique would probably have to be obligatory to get the meaning, and even then, you'd have to explain. Anyway, from here, you get:

Ka mata ei ie eine poke mamaka'u (i nawa) (ti'i). = "I saw the woman that (I) fish-hugged."

Again, explanation would probably be necessary, and a redundant, "that I fish-hugged her fish" might be neceessary (so, mamaka'u i nawa tinea, where ti- is a genitival prefix). This is a case where the long-winded approach would probably be the preferable one.

The Role of the Target of Relativization in the Matrix Clause

Isn't that a long, freaky title?

If you visited this page in the past, you may notice that this section is new. This is because it is. The reason it's new is that I kind of neglected to mention something so important it gives one pause. That is, when I've been talking about relativizing objects, subjects, etc., I was talking about the nouns within the relative clause. But there's more than one clause when we're talking about a relative clause. The main clause has heretofore been ignored. I now would like to say a few brief words about the main clause.

A relative clause can be appended to any noun. It's kind of like an adjective. Subjects, objects, indirect objects, objects of prepositions, etc., can all have adjectives, and so can they also all have relative clauses. There's no problem with it at all: It's perfectly (to borrow a silly word) licit. In fact, I encourage the practice of appending relative clauses to non-subjects. Share the jam, and all that. When this is done, though, a different subject status marker is used in the relative clause. It refers to the subject of the main clause, so if the subject isn't the same, well, by gum, then the subject status marker must reflect that. Let's look at some examples using "the woman that hugged a fish" as our relative clause and the verb mata, "see", as our main verb (along with hopoko, "man", as an extra noun). Take a look:

  • Ka mata eine poke mama i nawa ie hopoko. "The woman who hugged a fish saw the man."
  • Ka mata hopoko ie eine pokae mama i nawa. "The man saw the woman who hugged a fish."
  • A mata eine poe mama i nawa ie hopoko. "The woman who is hugging a fish sees the man."
  • A mata hopoko ie eine poae mama i nawa. "The man sees the woman who is hugging a fish."

Logically the subject status marker used in a relative clause could never be a "different subject" marker (i.e., a or ka), because it has to modify a noun in the matrix clause, and that noun in the matrix clause has to be in the matrix clause. As such, the subject is never completely new. Nevertheless, the important point is that the relative marker is not poke. Rather, it's po-, which attaches to the subject status marker, which itself is bound by the ordinary rules governing subject status markers.


That's how you do relative clauses in Kamakawi. That's it! It's done! No more! WOOOO HOOOO!!! Now the only place you'll see them again is when we get to the section on syntax. Ahhhh...wicked syntax...!

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