A Statistical Study of Nominative/Genitive Alternation in Modern Khalkha Mongolian Relative Clauses
(55th Meeting, 2012)
Mongolian exhibits Nominative/Genitive alternation, a phenomenon called Ga/No Conversion in the Japanese literature, in marking agents in relative clauses and nominal complements. However, the distributions of nominative and genitive agents in Mongolian and Japanese relative clauses are different. This paper reports the result of a statistical study of data provided by 34 Khalkha Mongolian native speakers (M 15; F 19; Average age 36:00). Nominative agents are less preferred than their genitive counterparts.
On the other hand, agents marked nominative outnumber those marked genitive in Modern Japanese relative clauses (Harada 1971, Maki et al. 2004, Nambu 2007, Nambu and Matsuda 2007).
Hsiao (2007) proposes that there exists an “analytic-synthetic cycle” in Mongolian historical syntax. A language shows analytic characteristics when a temporal meaning is expressed by verbal-nominal suffixes and a copula or an ‘exist’ verb. When copula/’exist’ verb is omitted, or when the verbal suffixes and the copula/’exist’ verb are reduced, contracted and lost their original meanings, these reduced/contracted forms are reanalyzed as indicative suffixes.
It is proposed that the analytic-synthetic cycle also occurs in Japanese. And Japanese goes faster than Mongolian. Aspectual suffixes -gsan/-gsen, -qu/-kü in Mongolian are not tense markers in subordinate clauses, which are non-finite and exhibit nominal characteristics. However, verbs with perfective suffix are for the most time treated as finite in both matrix and subordinate clauses in Japanese.