The C system of relatives and complement clauses in the history of Slavic languages

Roland Meyer


This article scrutinizes the diachrony of relativizers and complement clause subordinators in Russian, Polish, and Czech. Historical morphology indicates a development from agreeing relative pronouns via noninflected relativizers to complement clause subordinators. This concurs with recent findings on Germanic (Axel-Tober 2017), but contradicts more traditional proposals that derive subordinators from demonstratives. The respective syntactic reanalyses are demonstrated on diachronic Slavic corpus data. Moreover, a quantitative comparison of sixteenth- to seventeenth-century East Slavic texts with and without West Slavic interference suggests that the use of kotoryj ‘which’ as a relative pronoun spread into Russian as an inner-Slavic contact-induced change.


relative clause; complement clause; historical linguistics; syntax; Slavic languages

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