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3.3.2.3.4. Stacked, coordinated and nested relative clauses
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This section discusses relative constructions containing more than one relative clause. The relative clauses in such constructions can be stacked, nested or coordinated. Some examples are given in (362). In example (362a), the two subclauses are stacked: as indicated by the indices, the first relative clause modifies the antecedent student'student', while the second relative clause modifies the sequence student die hiernaast woont'student who lives next door'. Such constructions differ from cases of nesting, illustrated in (362b), where the second relative clause modifies a noun phrase contained in the first relative clause. Both types of construction differ from cases of simple coordination of relative clauses, as in (362c), where each relative clause modifies the same antecedent. As we will see in the following subsections, stacking of relative clauses is fully acceptable only with restrictive relative clauses (as in example (362a)); coordination and nesting are possible both with restrictive and with non-restrictive relative clauses.

Example 362
a. De [[studenti [diei hiernaast woont]]j [diej Engels studeert]] komt uit Japan.
  the student  who next.door lives  who English studies  is  from Japan
  'The student who lives next door who studies English, is from Japan.'
b. De studenti [diei net een boekj kocht [datj over WO II gaat]] is mijn vriend.
  the student  who just a book bought  which  about WW II goes  is my friend
  'The student who has just bought a book which is about WW II is my friend.'
c. De mani [diei hier net was] en [diei Russisch sprak] is een bekend schrijver.
  the man  who here just was  and  who Russian spoke  is a well-known writer
  'The man who was just here and who spoke Russian is a well-known writer.'

Subsection I will discuss stacking and coordination of relative clauses of the same type. Subsection II will continue by discussing nesting of restrictive and non-restrictive relative clauses. Subsection III, finally, will consider constructions containing relative clauses of different types, that is, combinations of a restrictive and a non-restrictive relative clause.

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[+]  I.  Stacking and coordination of relative clauses

This subsection provides a discussion of the difference between stacking and coordination of relative clauses, the differences between restrictive and non-restrictive relative clauses in this respect, and the circumstances under which stacking of restrictive relative clauses is allowed.

[+]  A.  Restrictive relative clauses

The primeless examples in (363) show that stacking of restrictive relative clauses leads to a fully acceptable result. In (363a) the two restrictive relative clauses each in turn fulfill a restrictive function. The first relative clause restricts the set of possible referents of the antecedent noun student'student' to those that were just present. The addition of the second restrictive clause has the implication that this restricted set has a cardinality greater than one, and that only after applying this second restriction can the referent intended by the speaker be uniquely identified. Similarly, in (363b), the set of entities denoted by the noun man is first restricted to those men who were just at the indicated place, and is then narrowed down further to the one who spoke Russian. Thus, by twice restricting the set of potential referents the speaker enables the hearer to pick out the intended referent. Observe that although both sentences are restrictive, there is a preferred order proceeding from the general to the specific. In (363b), for instance, the set of men that were present will normally be larger than the set of men who spoke Russian, and for this reason inverting the order of the relative clauses, as in (363b'), will lead to a less acceptable result: this inverted order is only possible if the relative clause die hier net was receives (contrastive) emphasis, by which means the speaker may indicate that this information must be construed as the most specific.

Example 363
Stacked relative clauses: D [ NP [ NP [... N ...] i [ RC REL i ... t i ...]] j [ RC REL j ... t j ...]]
a. De [[studenti [diei hier net was]]j [diej Engels studeert]] is mijn vriend.
  the student   that here just was   that English studies  is my friend
  'The student who was just here who studies English is my friend.'
b. De [[mani [diei hier net was]]j [diej Russisch sprak]] is een bekend schrijver.
  the man  that here just was  that Russian spoke  is a well-known writer
  'The man who was just here who spoke Russian is a well-known writer.'
b'. ?? De man die Russisch sprak die hier net was is een bekend schrijver.

      The examples in (364) show that the two relative clauses can also be coordinated. These examples differ from those in (363) in that the two relative clauses have the same antecedent. This also relates to a difference in meaning: whereas (363a) implies that more students were just present, such an implication is absent from the construction in (364a), in which the two relative clauses merely restrict the set of students to the one student who was just here and who studies English. The same thing is true for the sentence in (364b), where the set of men is restricted to the one who was just present and who spoke Russian. Since in coordinated constructions the two relative clauses restrict the same antecedent set, it is possible to reverse the order of the two relative clauses. This is shown by (364b').

Example 364
Coordinated relative clauses: D [ NP [... N ...] i [[ RC REL i ... t i ...] en [ RC REL i ... t i ...]]]
a. De studenti [[diei hier net was] en [diei Engels studeert]] is mijn vriend.
  the student   who here just was  and  who English studies  is my friend
  'The student who was just here yesterday who studies English, is my friend.'
b. De mani [[diei hier net was] en [diei Russisch sprak]] is een bekend schrijver.
  the man   who here just was  and   who Russian spoke  is a well-known writer
  'The man who was just here and who spoke Russian is a well-known writer.'
b'. De mani [[diei Russisch sprak] en [diei hier net was]] is een bekend schrijver.

From a syntactic point of view, stacking and coordination are both unlimited; in practice, however, sentences soon become too complex, both syntactically and semantically, and as a result uninterpretable.

[+]  B.  Non-restrictive relative clauses

Stacking of non-restrictive relative clauses seems restricted but not entirely impossible. The examples in (365a&b), where the antecedent is followed by two non-restrictive relative clauses, are highly marked and may even be considered unacceptable by some speakers. If, however, two different relative pronouns are used, as die and wie in examples (365c) and dat and waar in (365d), the result seems to be more acceptable.

Example 365
Stacked non-restrictive relative clauses
a. ?? De studenti , [diei hier net was], [diei Engels studeert] , is mijn vriend.
  the student  who here just was  who English studies  is my friend
  'The student, who was just here (and) who studies English, is my friend.'
b. ?? De mani , [diei hier net was], [diei Russisch sprak], is een bekend schrijver.
  the man  who here just was  who Russian spoke  is a well-known writer
  'The man, who was just here (and) who spoke Russian, is a well-known writer.'
c. ? Jani, [diei net vertrokken is], [van wiei ik geen adres heb] , is onvindbaar.
  Jan  who just left is  of whom I no address have  is untraceable
  'Jan, who has just left (and) of whom I have no address, is untraceable.'
d. ? In het noordeni, [dati onbewoond is], [waari weinig toeristen komen], is de natuur nog ongerept.
  in the north  which uninhabited is  where few tourists come  is the nature  still unspoilt
  'In the north, which is uninhabited. where few tourists go, nature is still unspoilt.'

The markedness of the examples in (365) may be due to the fact that they can only be given a coordinated reading, with both relative clauses modifying the same antecedent. This means that these examples compete with the examples in (366), in which this reading is made explicit by means of the conjunction en'and'.

Example 366
Coordinated non-restrictive relative clauses
a. De studenti , [[diei hier net was] en [diei Engels studeert]] , is mijn vriend.
b. De mani , [[diei hier net was] en [diei Russisch sprak]] , is een bekend schrijver.
c. Jani , [[diei net vertrokken is] en [van wiei ik geen adres heb]] , is onvindbaar.
d. In het noordeni , [[dati onbewoond is] en [waari weinig toeristen komen]] , is de natuur nog ongerept.
[+]  II.  Nesting of restrictive and non-restrictive relative clauses

This subsection discusses the nesting of relative clauses, that is, cases in which a relative clause modifies a constituent of some other relative clause, so that the former is embedded in the latter. An example involving restrictive relative clauses can be found in (367): the first relative clause, introduced by the pronoun die, modifies the antecedent man'man'; the second relative clause, headed by the pronoun dat, modifies the noun boek'book', which is contained by the first relative clause.

Example 367
Hij is de mani [RC diei een boekj [RC datj over de oorlog gaat] kocht].
  he is the man  who  a book  which  about the war  goes  bought
'He is the man who has bought a book which is about the war.'

      In those cases where the two relative pronouns take the same form, ambiguity may arise between a stacked and a nested reading. Thus in example (368a) the two relative clauses can be either stacked or nested. In the former case, the second relative clause is interpreted as modifying the phrase man die onlangs getrouwd is met een schrijfster; on the latter interpretation, the relative clause modifies the schrijfster. The two analyses are given in (368b&b'), respectively.

Example 368
a. de man die getrouwd is met een schrijfster die ik net heb ontmoet ...
  the man  who  married  is to a writer  who  just  have  met
b. de [NP [NP mani diei getrouwd is met een schrijfster]j diej ik net heb ontmoet] ...
b'. de [NP mani diei getrouwd is met een [NP schrijfsterj diej ik net heb ontmoet]] ...

      Although Subsection I has shown that stacking of non-restrictive relative clauses is not readily possible, nesting of non-restrictive relative clauses is unproblematic: each new relative clause may, in principle, take as its antecedent a noun phrase from the preceding relative clause. This is very clear from (369b) as the relative pronoun waar'where' can only take the location in Utrecht as its antecedent. Due to this difference in acceptability between stacking and nesting, ambiguity does not readily arise. This is clear from the fact that the most likely interpretation of example (369b) is that in which the second relative clause modifies the proper noun Marie, not the proper noun Jan: in order to obtain the latter reading the two relative clauses must be coordinated.

Example 369
a. Ik ga naar Peteri, [RC diei in Utrechtj woont, [RC waarj hij een baan heeft]].
  go  to Peter  who in Utrecht lives  where he a job has
  'Iʼm going to Peter, who lives in Utrecht, where he has a job.'
b. Jan, die getrouwd is met Marie, die uit Duitsland komt, gaat in Berlijn werken.
  Jan  who  married  is with Marie  who  from Germany  comes  goes in Berlin work
  'Jan, who is married to Marie, who is from Germany, is going to work in Berlin.'

Like stacking and coordination, nesting of relative clauses is, from a syntactic point of view, unlimited; in practice, however, sentences soon become too complex, both syntactically and semantically, and as a result uninterpretable.

[+]  III.  Mixed constructions with restrictive and non-restrictive relative clauses

Restrictive relative clauses always precede non-restrictive clause: in (370a), for example, the first relative clause restricts the set of men denoted by its antecedent man, while the second relative clause provides additional information about the resulting referent set of the noun phrase man die de vergadering leidde'man who chaired the meeting'. Example (370b) shows that the restrictive clause cannot follow the non-restrictive one; at best, this example can (marginally) be interpreted with a non-restrictive reading of the second clause.

Example 370
a. De man [RC die de vergadering leidde], [RC die een vriend van mij is], ...
  the man  who the meeting  led  who  a friend of me  is
  'The man who chaired the meeting, who is a good friend of mine, ...'
b. # De man, die een goede vriend van mij is, die de vergadering leidde ...

This word order restriction can be accounted for by the structure of the noun phrase proposed in 3.3.2.1: the restrictive relative clause (RRC) must be part of the NP-domain given that it affects the denotation of the NP, whereas the non-restrictive relative clause (NRC) does not have this effect, and must therefore be outside this domain (but within the DP-domain; cf. Section 3.1.2, sub II). This leads to the structure in (371), from which the word order restriction follows immediately.

Example 371
[DP D [NP [... N ...]i [RRC RELi ... ti ... ]]j , [NRC RELj ... tj ... ]] , ...
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