Headless Relative Clauses in Mesoamerican Languages

Headless Relative Clauses in Mesoamerican Languages
Ivano Caponigro, Harold Torrence, Roberto Zavala Maldonado
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Headless relative clauses have received little attention in the linguistic literature, despite the many morpho-syntactic and semantic puzzles they raise. These clauses have been even more neglected in the study of Mesoamerican languages. Headless Relative Clauses in Mesoamerican Languages constitutes the first in-depth, systematic study of the topic. Spanning fifteen languages from five language families, it is the broadestcrosslinguistic study of headless relative clauses yet conducted. For most of these languages there is no previous descriptive or documentary material on wh-constructions in general, let alone headless relative clauses. Many of the languages are threatened or endangered; all are understudied. Each chapter in this volume constitutes an original contribution to typological and theoretical linguistics. The first chapter provides a comprehensive introduction to the varieties of headless relative clauses and their importance to the study of human language, while the other chapters are language-specific and follow a uniform format to facilitate comparisons and generalizations across languages. Through the collective work of a team of twenty-one scholars, Headless Relative Clauses in Mesoamerican Languages presents a clear and systematic introduction to relative and interrogative clauses inMesoamerican languages.
"A ground-breaking volume -- the first exclusively on headless relatives, the first on semantic issues in Mesoamerican languages. An excellent introduction and detailed explorations of individual languages paint a rich and exciting picture of how wh structures without nominal heads can have referential import. Typologists, syntacticians, semanticists and anyone studying microvariation in relativization strategies will find a wealth of hidden gems in thisoutstanding contribution to the vibrant field of cross-linguistic semantics. " -- Veneeta Dayal, Dorothy R. Diebold Professor of Linguistics, Yale University"This book presents a thorough analysis of headless relative clauses in fourteen Mesoamerican language from four families, plus one Central American language. The cast of twenty-one authors is superlative and includes nine who are native speakers of one of the languages under consideration, as well as other linguists from around the world. The resulting book is a model of collaborative linguistics. " -- Nora C. England, Professor of Linguistics, University ofTexas at Austin"This book is a crowning achievement of research on headless relatives, a model of the micro-typological approach to language, and an inspiring example of careful semantic work on lesser-known languages. By showing how much can be accomplished in describing such languages, the authors set an important precedent for future studies in cross-linguistic semantics. The introduction to the book stands out as a state-of-the art overview of headless relatives, from thequestions that need to be asked to a painstaking analysis of their semantic properties. An absolute must for semanticists, syntacticians interested in relativization, typologists, and Mesoamericanscholars. " -- Maria Polinsky, Professor of Linguistics, University of Maryland
Ivano Caponigro is Associate Professor of linguistics at the University of California, San Diego. He is interested in formal semantics and its interfaces with syntax and pragmatics across languages. He has conducted extensive crosslinguistic work on relative clauses and wh- clauses, with special emphasis on free relative clauses and other headless relative clauses. Harold Torrence is Associate Professor of linguistics at the University of California, Los Angeles. His research focuses on the syntax and morphology of African and Mesoamerican languages. He has worked extensively on wh- questions, relativization, focus, and complementation. Roberto Zavala Maldonado is Professor of linguistics at the Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropologia Social (CIESAS) in San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico. He is interested in Mesoamerican languages, typology, language documentation, syntax, and lexicography. He has conducted extensive research on several morphosyntactic aspects of Mayan and Mixe-Zoquean languages.