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Title: The Formation of Relative Clauses in Jakarta Indonesian: a Subject-Object Asymmetry
Authors: Tjung, Yassir
Keywords: Austronesian Languages
Central-Eastern Malayo-Polynesian Languages
Indonesian - Grammar
Relative Clauses
Issue Date: 2006
Publisher: University of Delaware
Abstract: This thesis is concerned with a general description of relative clauses in Jakarta Indonesian based on naturalistic and experimental data from Jakarta Indonesian-speaking children and adults. One interesting aspect of relative clauses in JakartaIndonesian is the peculiar characteristic of object relativization. From a superficial examination there seems to be nothing about Jakarta Indonesian that would lead one to expect that the distribution of subject and object relatives in this language would be different from that in English. The adult naturalistic data reported by Fox (1987) and the acquisition data reported by Diessel and Tomasello (2000) show that relativization of objects is more frequent than relativization of subjects in English relative clause production. In contrast, relativization of objects is grammatical in Jakarta Indonesian, but it is very rare. I claim that in Jakarta Indonesian, the processing factor that favors subject relatives is strengthened by the ease of passivization. The ease of passivization makes it possible for direct object relativization to be realized as subject relatives containing passives, since the passive construction in Jakarta Indonesian can have the function and use of the active construction when the agent is present. In English, however,relativization of underlying objects (patients) is, by default, realized through active sentences, the principal unmarked construction type that conveys semantically transitive propositions, rather than through passive sentences, the marked construction type that conveys semantically transitive propositions. That is, since the function of passivization in English involves defocusing of an agentive entity, it appears that in English the necessity of preserving the argument structure, i.e., relativization from active sentences, overrides the accessibility or processing factor that favors subject relatives.
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