Escape from the noun phrase
From relative clause to converb and beyond in an Amazonian language
This paper deals with the evolution of certain subordinating constructions in Hup, a Nadahup (Makú) language of the northwest Amazon. Internal reconstruction, informed by close resemblances among synchronically attested clause types, suggests that Hup’s headless relative clause has given rise to a converb construction, a subtype of adverbial in which a dedicated verb form modifies a main clause. This development provides new insight into the origins of converbs and sheds light on the crosslinguistically common resemblance between relative and adverbial constructions more generally. Additionally, the Hup converbal clause has itself developed a main clause function, and the subordinating morphology employed by the relative and converb constructions is associated with topicalization. The transitions undergone by these structures in Hup contribute to our understanding of the diachronic pathways that may be taken by clauses once they have attained syntactic complexity.
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