This map shows the position of adverbial subordinators, morphemes which mark adverbial clauses for their semantic relationship to the main clause. Adverbial subordinators which are separate words are referred to as subordinating conjunctions by traditional grammar. Examples of adverbial subordinators in English include because, although, when, while, and if. The map further distinguishes adverbial subordinators which are separate words from ones which are affixes on verbs.
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|Adverbial subordinators which are separate words and which appear at the beginning of the subordinate clause||398|
|Adverbial subordinators which are separate words and which appear at the end of the subordinate clause||96|
|Clause-internal adverbial subordinators||8|
|Suffixal adverbial subordinators||64|
|More than one type of adverbial subordinators with none dominant||93|
The first type shown on the map includes languages in which the adverbial subordinators are separate words that appear at the beginning of the clause, as in the English example in (1a) and the example in (1b) from Hanis Coos (Coosan; Oregon).
The second type shown involves languages in which adverbial subordinators are separate words that appear at the end of the clause, as in the example in (2a) from Kombai (Trans-New Guinea; Papua, Indonesia) and the example in (2b) from Kolyma Yukaghir (isolate; Siberia, Russia).
The third type shown involves languages in which the adverbial subordinator appears inside the clause. In Nkore-Kiga (Bantu; Uganda), the adverbial subordinator appears between the subject and the verb, as in (3).
‘when Brer Rabbit challenged the elephant’
In Yukulta (Tangkic; Queensland, Australia), the subordinator is an enclitic, attaching to the first constituent of the clause, as in (4), where =aka attaches to the first word in the subordinate clause, ŋapay, and precedes the present tense clitic =ŋka.
‘He might die, because he’s very sick.’
There are only eight languages shown on the map with this as the dominant type, but there are many other languages in which this type occurs, though not as the dominant type of subordinator.
The fourth type shown involves languages in which the adverbial subordinator is a suffix on the verb, illustrated in (5a) for Kiowa (Kiowa-Tanoan; central United States) and in (5b) for Hunzib (Daghestanian; eastern Caucasus, Russia).
In most languages of this sort, the language is verb-final and the suffixes on the verb are also at the end of the clause. A logically possible type for which I have no clear example is a language where the adverbial subordinator is a prefix on the verb.
The final type shown involves languages in which more than one of the above types occurs but in which no single type is dominant. This includes languages with both affixes and separate words functioning as adverbial subordinators, languages with both clause-initial and clause-final words as adverbial subordinators, and languages combining clause-internal or second position adverbial subordinators with clause-initial or clause-final ones, without one being dominant. For example, Tigre (Semitic; Eritrea) has both initial subordinators, as in (6a), and internal subordinators, as in (6b).
‘after I return to Karan’
‘while they were seeking the chieftainship [for him]’
‘I shall go back when my work is done.’
‘even though there was a cool breeze blowing’
‘if we ate it, ...’
‘if you stay’
‘because you work’
‘because they tell me’
The suffix -irã ‘because’ is used on auxiliary verbs, while the separate word pérã ‘because’ is used when there is no auxiliary. In Majang (Surmic; Ethiopia), adverbial clauses tend to involve a word at the beginning of the clause and a clitic at the end. With ‘because’-clauses there is also a suffix on the verb, so the meaning ‘because’ is coded by three simultaneously-occurring morphemes, as in (9).
‘because Tolay brought mead’
In some languages with more than one form of subordinator, one can be treated as dominant (see “Determining Dominant Word Order”). For example, in Miya (Chadic; Nigeria), there are both clause-initial subordinators, as in (10a), and subordinators which appear in preverbal position, as in (10b) and (10c). The latter sort follow the subject pronoun if there is one, as in (10b); but if the subject is nominal, the nominal subject will follow the verb in such clauses, with the result that the subordinator is initial, as in (10c). Although initial in (10c), its position might be more accurately described as immediately preverbal, with the understanding that in clauses of this sort, immediately preverbal position will also happen to be initial position in the clause. Because some subordinators are always clause-initial (10a) while others are only sometimes clause-initial (10b,c), Miya is shown on the map as having initial subordinators.
‘... so that you would not steal it’
‘When I call them, ...’
‘When Kasham calls them, ...’
Particularly when coding languages with adverbial subordinator affixes, care was taken not to include affixes which are general markers of subordination, or affixes which may be more properly viewed as part of the tense-aspect system. For example, an affix on a subordinate verb indicating that the event of the subordinate clause is simultaneous with that of the main clause has a meaning somewhat analogous to that of while in English, but was considered a tense-aspect affix rather than an adverbial subordinator for the purposes of this map.
In some languages, the words treated here as adverbial subordinators are formally adpositions combining with nominalized forms of verbs. For example, in (11) from Krongo (Kadugli; Sudan), the word kárrí ‘after’ is formally a preposition combining with a nominalized form of the verb in genitive case, the case that this preposition governs.
‘after drinking tea’
With nouns, this preposition means ‘behind’.
Similarly included among suffixal adverbial subordinators on the map are morphemes that are formally case suffixes. For example, in Kannada (Dravidian; India), the instrumental case suffix is used with gerund clauses to form ‘because’-clauses, as in (12).
‘since it’s very hot’
The most frequent type shown is adverbial subordinators which are separate words occurring at the beginning of the clause. This type is represented by a majority of the languages on the map. This type is especially common in (i) Europe; (ii) an area in Asia stretching from the Middle East to India; (iii) Southeast Asia through the Pacific, including Australia but not the mainland of New Guinea; (iv) Africa; and (v) parts of North America, notably the Pacific Northwest and Mesoamerica.
Clause-final subordinators that are separate words are common in (i) an area in Asia stretching from India northeast through Burma and China into northeastern Asia; (ii) New Guinea; and (iii) South America. Suffixal adverbial subordinators are generally found in the same areas as clause-final subordinators that are separate words, but are also common in the Caucasus region and in the United States.
Languages with a mixture of types are widely distributed, but less common in areas where clause-initial subordinating words predominate, except across central Africa.
The map displays two interesting asymmetries of word order and affix position. First, among adverbial subordinators that are separate words, clause-initial subordinators outnumber clause-final subordinators by almost 4 to 1. If we add to the latter type verbal suffixes, which most commonly occur in clause-final position in verb-final languages, the initial subordinators are still more than twice as common. The second asymmetry is among affixal adverbial subordinators, all clear instances of which are suffixes, with no clear instances of prefixes. While this fits into the overall preference for suffixes (see Map 26A), it constitutes one of the stronger instances of this preference. Adverbial subordinators resemble adpositions and case affixes in that they both indicate the semantic relationship between a constituent and a verb, so the rarity of prefixal adverbial subordinators can be viewed as related to the rarity of case prefixes, although why both of these are rare is not clear.
For a detailed study of adverbial subordinators among the languages of Europe, see Kortmann (1997). See Diessel (2001) for discussion of a related typological feature, the order of adverbial clause and main clause.