This paper addresses the blurring of a distinction between subordinate clause and nominal phrase in colloquial Indonesian conversation. Specifically, it presents a discourse-based analysis of the forms and functions of constructions introduced by the morpheme yang. Previous literature has generally described these constructions as relative clauses; however, this paper shows that they form a continuum around three general foci. They range from traditional relative clauses serving as modifiers of head nouns, to headless referring expressions serving as presupposed information in clefts, to referring expressions functioning as direct nominal arguments of predicates. The findings call into question the label “relative clause” for these Indonesian constructions, and support a view of grammatical categories as emerging from their use in discourse.
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