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Open Access The Influence of English on the History of Hindi Relative Clauses

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The Influence of English on the History of Hindi Relative Clauses

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The influence of Hindi on English has been well documented; however, little has been said about the influence of English on the structure of Hindi. In this paper I provide evidence that Hindi “embedded” (i.e. post-nominal) relative clauses result from English influence. Hindi originally had Relative-Correlative (RC-CC) constructions that could adjoin to the left or the right of the main clause. Since evidence from early Hindi is limited, I draw on Awadhi and Braj Bhakha to provide greater time depth for the earlier history of Hindi. In addition I examine early 19 th century grammars and texts. None of these provide unambiguous evidence for embedded relative clauses. By contrast, late 19 th century and early 20 th century Hindi texts translated from English exhibit many instances of central embedded relative clauses (besides the old adjoined relativecorrelatives), thus supporting the argument that Hindi embedded relative clauses result from the influence of English. I argue that what may have helped in this developed is the occasional occurrence of potentially ambiguous structures in earlier Hindi, which could be reinterpreted as involving embedding, rather than a relative-correlative construction with deleted correlative pronoun.


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