LINGUIST List 12.2517

Wed Oct 10 2001

Sum: Explanation of Turkish Construction

Editor for this issue: Marie Klopfenstein <>


  1. John R Te Velde/forlang/cas/Okstate, Turkish Construction

Message 1: Turkish Construction

Date: Tue, 9 Oct 2001 14:37:24 -0500
From: John R Te Velde/forlang/cas/Okstate <>
Subject: Turkish Construction

On Sept. 27 I posted the following query:

About a year ago I received the following construction from a fellow
Linguist Listserv member as an example of an "RNR" construction in Turkish.
Today I have a question about it: Could someone explain to me the position
of the coordinating conjunction, which appears to be after the subject of
the conjoined clause? This order of subject and coordinating conjunction
doesn't occur in any other language that I have data for. Is this
construction grammatical? Is the other "normal" ordering (c. conj. -
subject) also possible?

 Ahmet Hasan karides-i ei Mehmet te istiridye-yi ye-sin
isti-yor (Turkish)
 A. H. shrimp.ACC M. and oyster.ACC eat.SUBJUNCT want

The following individuals responded:

Werner Abraham
Yasemin Altun
Cem Bozsahin
Ivan A. Derzhanski
Anaid Donabedian
Erika H. Gilson
Nigar Gulsat
Mine Guven
Baris Kabak
Nihan Ketrez
David Palfreyman
Eva Remberger
Michael Swan
Ceyhan Temurcu
Jeremy Whistle

Some confusion was caused by my example because of the loss of italics and
subscript, resulting in the misinterpretation of 'ei', which was intended
to be a subscripted RNR gap. I apologize for that.
 Many of these individuals pointed out that the particle 'de' (spelled
phonetically as 'te' in my posting, as it would sound in the context) is
not really a coordinating conjunction and shouldn't be glossed as 'and' but
rather more like 'too' in the Eng. construction 'Peter writes novels;
Petra, too, writes them' or 'aber' in German: 'Peter schreibt Romane, Petra
aber schreibt nur Aufs�tze'. The element which 'de' follows -- always the
first element in the conjunct -- is focused. It was pointed out that Latin
has a similar element, 'que' which can occur in the position of 'de' in
Turkish in constructions like 'senatus populusque romanus'. One individual
identified 'de', with the variant 'da' as a "postclitic connective marker"
which represents just one of three ways to coordinate sentences in Turkish.
The scope of 'da' is dependent on the site of its attachment. Research on
this is available in Kornfilt, J. (1997). Turkish. Routledge. Another
person termed 'de' a "topicalization marker", rendering the translation of
the example as: "Ahmet wants Hasan to do this, and as far as Mehmet is
concerned, he wants the same..."
 A couple of individuals pointed out that the element 've', a
borrowing from Arabic, can be used as a (true) coordinating conjunction.
Its position is where coordinating conjunctions normally occur: between
conjuncts, i.e. in my example before 'Mehmet'. However, the use of 've'
results in some degradation of the grammaticality. It was also pointed out
that constructions like my example do not need a coordinating conjunction
at all, just a pause. In Eng. RNR constructions, this is generally ok also:
Peter wants Paul, Frank (wants) Fritz to eat the shrimp'.

Thanks again to all those who responded!

John te Velde
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue