Headless Relative Clauses in Mesoamerican languages


Headless Relative Clauses (e.g., the bracketed string in Luca ate [what Adam prepared]) have received much less attention in the linguistics literature than related constructions like Headed Relative Clauses and Wh- Interrogative Clauses, despite the many morpho-syntactic and semantic puzzles they raise within a language, across languages, and for our understanding of human language in general. Headless Relative Clauses have been even more neglected in the study of Mesoamerican languages, although preliminary and isolated investigations have shown that they are present and very productive.

With this project, we want to pursue the broadest and most articulated cross-linguistic study of Headless Relative Clauses that has been conducted so far and the first systematic study of the morpho-syntactic and semantic properties of Headless Relative Clauses across more than 15 Mesoamerican languages from different language families by a team of 23 graduate students and scholars from Mexico, the US, Canada and France.

By providing a general methodology to systematically collect and analyze data about Headless Relative Clauses across languages, we want to raise the awareness and knowledge about Headless Relative Clauses in Mesoamerican languages and, more broadly, about those Mesoamerican languages in general. Our main findings will appear in an edited volume in English by a main academic publisher. This will ensure academic visibility to Mexican students and scholars in the English-speaking world and high-standards in academic and publishing quality.

The principal investigators of the project

Ivano Caponigro

University of California San Diego

Harold Torrence

University of California Los Angeles

Roberto Zavala

CIESAS Sureste

The project is supported by grants from: