Chapter 6 Information Structure and the Syntax of Zenzontepec Chatino Relative Clauses

In: Relative Clause Structure in Mesoamerican Languages

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Abstract

Zenzontepec Chatino relative constructions display a range of nuanced syntactic differences. Some are syndetic, while others are asyndetic. Some are externally headed, while others have external light heads or are headless. Some display a gap strategy; others have relative pronouns; and a pronoun retention strategy may be used for disambiguation. While some of the differences are syntactic, being based on the syntactic function of the head in the relative clause, asyndesis and the cline of headedness are not based on syntax per se, but are largely driven by information structure and discourse, especially specificity and topicality. Thus the syntax of relative clauses is like much of the rest of the syntax of the language and cannot be well understood without considering data from natural discourse.