Relative Clauses

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Relative clauses in Sereer are externally headed with the head coming before the relativized clause. Clauses are relativized by suffixing ‘’’-na’’’ to the verb . It appears that any noun in Sereer can head a relative clause, regardless of its syntactic position within that clause. Notice in example 3 that the relativizer appears to be the same suffix as the adjectivizer (see Adjectives).

Contents

Relative Clause Accessibility Hierarchy

Subjects (1), direct objects (2), indirect objects (3), locations (4), instruments (5), possessors (of both inalienable (6) and alienable (7) possessums), and subjects of comparisons (8) can all be relativized. It may not be possible to relativize nouns indicating a time (or a season), either because these are adverbial or because it is semantically strange.

Subjects:

  1. oɓox ole wox’iina aʄuf’a
    oɓox ole wox -’ii -na a- ʄuf -’ -a dog DET bark –PST –RELVZR 3SG- run –PST –FV
    \The dog that barked ran away. (105)

Direct objectsː

  1. oɓox ole ondeɓ onge amoosna awoxa
    oɓox ole ondeɓ onge a- moos -na a- wox -a dog DET child DET 3SG- pet –RELVZR 3SG- bark -FV
    \The dog that the child pets barked. (105)

Indirect objectsː

  1. oɓox ole ondeɓ onge cooxna oxiiƈ ole amagna
    oɓox ole ondeɓ onge coox -na oxiiƈ ole a- mag -na dog DET child DET give –RELVZR bone DET 3SG- big -ADJVZR
    \The dog that the child gave the bone is big. (113)

Locationsː

  1. mbin ne ɓox ole genna amagna
    mbin ne ɓox ole gen -na a- mag -na house DET dog DET live –RELVZR 3SG- big -ADJVZR
    \The house where the dog lives is big. (113)

Instrumentsː

  1. japil fe ondeɓ onge degitna oɓanaana le welu
    japil fe ondeɓ onge degit -na oɓanaana le wel -u knife DET child DET cut –RELVZR banana DET sharp –ADJ?
    \The knife that the boy used to cut the banana is sharp. (114)

Possessor (of an inalienable possessum)ː

  1. ondeɓ onge aʄafum aɗomna axe loola
    ondeɓ onge aʄaf -um a- ɗom -na axe lool -a boy DET leg -3SG.POSS 3SG- hurt –RELVZR AUX.3SG cry -FV
    \The boy whose legs hurt is crying. (114)

Possessor (of an alienable possessum)ː

  1. ondeɓ onge oɓoxum aʄufna axe loola
    ondeɓ onge oɓox -um a- ʄuf -na axe lool -a child DET dog -3SG.POSS 3SG- run –RELVZR AUX.3SG cry -FV
    \The boy whose dog runs is crying. (114)

Subject of Comparisonː

  1. ondeɓ onge moʄna jool okoor oxe, ondeɓ arefu
    ondeɓ onge moʄ -na jool okoor oxe, ondeɓ a- ref -u child DET be.tall –RELVZR more man DET, young 3SG- be -FOC
    \The boy that is taller than the man is young. (114)

Notice that in (8), the relative clause has a large amount of material, which might be what causes the main verb ‘’’arefu’’’ to be marked for Focus.

Morphology of relativized verbs

The morphology of relativized verbs is mostly the same as that of verbs in main clauses; but there are a few differences when it comes to inflectional morphology. Derivational morphology in relativized verbs appears to be identical to that of verbs in main clauses.

Subject and Object Marking

When the subject marking does not appear on relativized verbs, as in

(9)and (10).

  1. oɓox ole ondeɓ onge '''cooxna''' oxiiƈ ole amagna
    oɓox ole ondeɓ onge coox -na oxiiƈ ole a- mag -na dog DET child DET give –RELVZR bone DET 3SG- big -ADJVZR
    \The dog that the child gave the bone is big. (113)
  1. oɓox ole ondeɓ onge amoosna awoxa
    oɓox ole ondeɓ onge a- moos -na a- wox -a dog DET child DET 3SG- pet –RELVZR 3SG- bark -FV
    \The dog that the child pets barked. (105)

Verbs with pronominal objects may also be relativized in Sereer, as in (11) and (12). Notice that there is no subject marking and that the relativizing suffix -na becomes -a when it follows a consonant cluster or nasal.

  1. mi fe nafoonga mexe fecaa	
    mi fe naf -oong -a me- xe fec -aa 1SG DET hit -2SG.OBJ -RELVZR 1SG -PROG dance -PROG
    \I who hit you am dancing (163)
  1. wo' fe nafaxama woxe fecaa	
    wo' fe naf -axama wo- xe fec -aa 2SG DET hit -1SG.OBJ -RELVZR 2SG- PROG dance -PROG
    \You who hit me, you are dancing. (163)

Object marking on relativized verbs appears to be identical to that of verbs in main clauses.

Tense and Aspect Marking

Much of the tense and aspect marking on relativized verbs is identical to that of main clauses. While full paradigms have not been systematically investigated, there are a few important differences, such as the use of "-ii" or "-'ii" for past tense (13) and (14) and the use of -(i)k as a future tense marker (15).

  1. okoor oxe ɗaan'iina axe fecaa
    okoor oxe ɗaan -' -ii -na a- xe fec -aa man DET sleep -PST -PST.REL -RELVZR 3SG- PROG dance -PROG
    \The man who slept is dancing. (163)
  1. okoor oxe ɗaaneegiina axe fecaa
    okoor oxe ɗaan -eeg -ii -na a- xe fec -aa man DET sleep -PROG.PST -PST.REL -RELVZR 3SG- PROG dance -PROG
    \The man who was sleeping is dancing. (163)
  1. okoor oxe na ɗaanka axe fecaa	
    okoor oxe na ɗaan -k -a a- xe fec -aa man DET REL? sleep -FUT -RELVZR 3SG- PROG dance -PROG
    \The man who will be sleeping/who is going to sleep is dancing. (163)

The most notable difference in tense and aspect marking for relative clauses is seen when progressive aspect is used, as in (16). Notice that the relative marker naa occurs preverbally in these cases (see naa).

  1. okoor oxe naa nafang
    o-koor ox-e naa naf-a-ng man DET-DEF REL hit-PROG-2s.obj
    'The man who is hitting you'
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