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Relative Clauses - Stylistics

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Relative Clauses - Stylistics

We would like to introduce you one part of English. It is the relative clause. There are many parts of English grammar. Although the relative clauses in English language are very similar to relative clauses in Slovak language, they are translated in a different way.
Just as the sentence may be indefinitely complex, so may the noun phrase. This must be so, since sentences themselves can be reshaped so as to come within noun-phrase structure. For example this simple and complex sentences:
A/ The woman is Bathsheba Everden.
The woman is young and atractive.
The woman was looking into the mirror.
can be re-expressed as one simple sentence with a very complex noun phrase as subject:
B/ The young and atractive woman who is looking into the mirror is Bathsheba Everden.
(These sentences are from the book that I am working with and they are the main
characteristics of the main character Bathsheba Everden.)

Starting from the simple sentence with a very complex noun phrase as subject, we could reconstruct any of the simple and complex sentences. In fact we could not understand the noun phrase subject of the simple sentence with a very complex noun phrase as subject, unless we recongnized its component parts as they are set out in the first three sentences in A/. The sentence in B/ has introduced many changes. We have suppressed all or part of the verbs, we have put the complement young and atractive before the noun woman. We have also replaced the woman of by who.

In describing complex noun phrases, we distinguish three components:
a) The head, around which the other components cluster and which dictates concord and other kinds of congruence with the rest of the sentence outside the noun phrase:
Eg: The young and atractive woman who is looking into the mirror is Bathsheba Everden.
b) The premodification, which comprises all the items placed before the head – notably, determiners, adjectives, and nouns.
Eg: The young and atractive woman…
c) The postmodification, comprising all the items placed after the head – notably, prepositional phrases, nonfinite clauses and relative clauses:
Eg: The woman who is looking into the mirror…

Clauses beginning with question words (who, which, where) are often used to modify nouns and some pronouns – to identify people and things, or to give more information about them. Clauses used like this are called „relative clauses“

Now, we would like to introduce you two types of the relative clauses. The modification can be defining (or restrictive) and non-defining (or non-restrictive). That is, the head can be viewed as a member of a class which can be linguistically identified only through the modification that has been supplied (defining):
Eg: …as can the men of towns who are more to the manner born.
…and unperceived farmer who were alone its spectators…
There are several grammatical differences between the two kinds of relative clause. There are also stylistic differences: non-defining clauses are generally more formal, and are less frequent in informal speech.
Or the head can be viewed as unique or as a member of a class that has been independently identified, eg. in a preceding sentence. Any modification given to such a head is additional information which is not essential for identifying the head, and we call it non-defining:
Eg: The ring of the sheep-bell, which had been silent during his absence.
But there is a way some men have, rural and urban alike, for which the mind is more…

Bathsheba Everden, who wore no riding-habit, looked around for a moment.
This sentence has a non-defining relative clause since Bathsheba Everden´s identity is dependent of whether or not she has the riding-habit, though the information on her present manners may be useful enough. In this example, the modification is inherently non-defining, since the heads in question – being treated as unique – will not normally admit definition. But any head can be non-defining modified.

Premodification is in general to be interpreted in terms of postmodification and its greater explicitness. It will therefore be best to begin our detailed study of noun-phrase structure with the forms of postmodification.
Explicitness in postmodification varies considerably, however. It is greater in the finite relative clause:
Eg: Gabriel had always known that when the fire was lighted the door must be kept open.
than in the non-finite clause:
Eg: Gabriel had always known when the fire was lighted the door must be kept open.
Part of the relative clause´s explicitness lies in the specifying power of the relative pronoun. It is capable A/ of showing agreement with the head and
B/ of indicating its status as an element in the relative clause structure.
Agreement is on the bases of a two-term „gender“ system, personal and non-personal:
The girl, who… The ground, which…
The men of towns who… The sheep-bell, which…
The farmer who… The sunlight, which…
One who… The time of life at which…

It will be seen from these examples that „personality“ is ascribed basically to human beings but extends to creatures in the supernatural world (angels, elves, etc.) which are thought of as having human characteristics such as speech. It does not extend to the body or character, in part or whole, of a human being, living or dead, when this is considered as separate from the entire person. Their owners can regard pet animals as „personal“, at least. On the other hand human babies can be regarded as not having developed personality.

Case in the relative pronoun
Case is used to indicate the status of the relative pronoun in its clause. There are two situations to consider:
1) If the pronoun is in a genitive relation to a noun head, the pronoun can have the form „whose“. „Whose“ is a relative possessive word, used as a determiner before nouns in the same way as his, her, its or their. It can refer back to people or things. In a relative clause, whose + noun can be the subject, the object of a verb or the object of a preposition. „Whose“ can be used in both defining and non-defining clauses.
Eg: Oak was seized with a misgiving as to whose ear was the recipient of his answer.
… he was stealthily turning to discover, if possible, into whose hands he had fallen.

2) With a personal antecedent, the relative pronoun can show the distinction between „who“ and „whom“, depending on its role as subject of the relative clause or as object or as prepositional complement:
Eg: …all men of the stamp to whom labour suggests nothing worse than a wrestle…
When the governing preposition precedes its complement the choice of „whom“ is obligatory.
When it does not, or when the relative pronoun is the object, there is some choice between „who“ or „whom“.

Relative pronoun and adverbial
The functions and interrelations of the relative pronouns are best handled in connection with relative clauses and nominal relative clauses.

 The „wh-“ series reflects the gender (personal/non-personal) of the antecedent:
Personal: who, whom, whose
Non-personal: which, whose
There is an inflected genitive for both „who“ and „which“, but there is a preference for the of-genitive with non-personal antecedents. Instead of „whose“, we can use „of which“ or „that…of“ to refer to things, and these are sometimes preferred.
The personal objective „whom“ is often replaced by „who“ but never when preceded by a preposition. „Who“ can be used as an object in defining clauses in an informal style. „Whom“ is more formal. In non-defining clauses, „who“ is less common as an object, though it is sometimes used in an informal style.
"Whose" is a possessive relative word, used as a determiner before nouns. It replaces his/her/its. „Which“ can refer not only to a noun, but also to the whole of a previous clause.
In non-defining clauses, quantifying determiners can be used with „of whom“, „of which“, „of whose“. The determiner most often comes before of „which/whom/whose“, but can sometimes come after it in a very formal style.
Eg: Then the wind spouted in at a ventilating hole-of which there was one on each side…

 „That“ is common as a relative pronoun in defining clauses, used irrespective of gender or case except that the genitive must involve postposed „of“. It can refer to things, and in an informal style to people. „That“ is unusual in non-defining clauses.

 Zero is used often in defining relative clauses. We often leave out object pronouns, especially in an informal style. In non-defining clauses this is not possible.
Eg: Nobody appeared, and he heard the person retreat among the bushes.
Or: Nobody appeared, and he heard the person that retreat among the bushes.
George, the elder, exhibited an ebony-tipped nose…
Or: George, the elder, that exhibited an ebony-tipped nose…

"Who", „which“ and „that“ can be the subjects of verbs in relative clauses. „Who“ refers to people and „which“ to things, „that“ can refer to both people and thing.
Eg:…and other philosophers who follow out a train of reasoning to its logical conclusion..
…and that indifference to fate which is the bases of his sublimity…

"Who", „whom“, „which“ and „that“ can also be used as the objects of verbs in relative clauses. „Who“ is informal as an object, in a more formal style, „whom“ is used, especially in certain kinds of relative clause.
Eg: He had passed through an ordeal of wretchedness which had given him…
´I shall do one thing in this life, that is, love you, and long for you…´

Defining relative clauses

Defining relative clauses qualify or define a noun and tells us exactly which person or thing are we ta;lomg about. They are an essential part of the meaning of a sentence and therefore they cannot be left out.
Eg: It came from the man who held the reins.

In defining relative clauses we use a general pronoun „that“ which is independent of the personal of non-personal character of the antecedent and also of the function of the pronoun in the relative clause:
Eg: It is safer to accept any chance that offers itself…
…out for anything in the whole cycle of labour that was required in the fair.
In defining relative clauses we use also „who“. It is preferred to „that“ when it is subject and when the antecedent is personal. But „that“ is preferred to „who(m)“ when it is object, in part perhaps to avoid the „who/whom“ choice. When the verb in the relative clause is „be“, the complement pronoun must be „that“ or „zero“.

Provided the relative pronoun is not the subject of the relative clause. A further option exists in relative clause structure of having no relative pronoun at all. It is the clause with „zero“ relative pronoun.
Eg: Nobody appeared, and he heard the person!!! retreat among the bushes. /that/
Some people!!! look upon marriage as a short cut that way,… /who/
George, the elder,!!! exhibited an ebony-tipped nose… /that, who/
Just as „that“ and „zero“ are available when the relative pronoun is dominated by a preposition, so they can be used when the relative pronoun is part of a place, time, or cause adjunct. With place adjuncts, the preposition must usually be expressed. But with the time adjuncts, omission of the preposition is usual whether the pronoun is „that“ or „zero“.
More frequently and more formally the pronoun „which“ is used and the preposition precedes the pronoun:
Eg: The dog took no notice,for he had arrived at an age at which all superfluous barking was.
He had just reached the time of life at which „young“ is ceasing to be the prefix of „man“
We are brought on to a day in February, on which was held the yearly statute…

With manner adjuncts, it would not be abnormal to find „which“ with a preposition in a more formal style.
Eg: … in a piping note of more treble quality than that in which the exclamation usually
embodies itself…
The main forms of pronouns used:

SUBJECT Who (that) That (which)
OBJECT --- (that) --- (that)

Non-defining relative clauses

Non-defining relative clauses add extra information of secondary importance, and can be left out of a sentence. Non-defining relative clauses are separated by 2 commas and in speech we also separate them by pauses.
Non-defining relative clauses are mainly found in written English, where sentences are carefully constructed. In spoken English, they sound rather formal, and can easily be expressed by simpler sentences.
The loose non-defining relationship is often semantically indistinguishable from coordination or adverbial subordination.
Eg: … in the waistband of his trousers, which also lay at a remote height under his
waistcoat, the watch was…
We use „wh-“ pronouns:
Eg: The ring of the sheep-bell, which had been silent during his absence, recomenced…
One night, when Farmer Oak had returned to his house,believing there would be no…
On the extreme summit, where the ends of the two converging hedges of which we had
spoken, were stopped short by meeting the brow…
As a determiner, „which“ appears in non-defining clauses that are introduced especially by temporal adjuncts, but this is largely in formal style.
The main forms of pronouns used:

SUBJECT , who … , which …

, who …
(, whom …)

, which…
Translation of relative clauses

There are many possibilities how to translate any text. We decided to choose the book, from the novelist and poet, Thomas Hardy. One of his eleven successful novel is „Far From the Madding Crowd“. We have also a translation of this book, which was translated by Zora Juráková.

Now, we would like to analyse the using of the relative pronouns and to present the diagrams that are in the enclosure 1 of this seminar work.
We have found out that the relative pronoun „which“ is most used. It is not used only as the simple word, but also with prepositions. A percentage of its using is 50% altogether. The only pronoun „which“ is used in 37 per cent of all example sentences. The other pronouns with „which“ were: „for which“ (1%), „at which“ (2%), „in which“ (2%), „on which“ (1%), „of which“ (5%), „from which“ (2%).

 The second most used relative pronoun is „who“. It is used in 16 example sentences from all one hundred. It means that its percentage is 16%. Similar pronoun, „to whom“ is used only in one sentence.
 The another pronoun is the pronoun „that“, which we have thought is the most used pronoun. But its percentage is low number 8. It is used in cases in defining relative clauses and in non-defining relative clauses as well.
 On the same level as „that“, is „zero“ pronoun. It is in the sentences where we can put in pronouns like „that“, „which“, „who“ etc.
 In 8 per cent is used the pronoun „whose“. This simple pronoun is in fact in 7 per cent of the sentences. In the 1 per cent is used „of whose“.
 At the sixth place is the relative pronoun „where“. It is used in four sentences.
 The other pronouns are: „what“ with 3% and the last one is „when“ with 2%.

The translation of these relative pronouns is very various. In some cases the pronoun is not even mentioned in the translation. It was hard to find the sentences where the pronoun should be translated. In some cases there are new sentences done in spite of the pronoun, in others the pronoun is directly translated and putted on the right position in the sentence.

In the enclosure 2 are another diagrams where are the rates and the percentages of the translated words on every pronoun. Now, we would like to write some words about the translation.

There are three main possibilities, how are the sentences translated. The first one is that the pronouns are directly translated, the second one is that the pronoun is not even translated and the third one is that there is formed new sentence from the relative clause. The direct translation is extended in 49 percentage. The second case is used in 46 per cent and the third case is used only in 5 per cent.

 The relative pronoun „which“ is translated as: „ktorý/-á“in sixteen cases, „co“ in three cases and it also is not mentioned in the translation in sexteen cases and there are also new sentences done from the relative clause that followed the pronoun in two cases. (table 1)
Eg: When abreast of a trunk which appeared to be the oldest of the old, he became
Ked došiel k stromu, ktorý vyzeral najstarší, zbadal…
 The pronoun „who“ is translated to more words: „ktorý/-á“in five cases, „kto“ in two cases, „co“ also in two cases, and again it is left in five cases and there are done new sentences in two cases. (table 2)
Eg: It came from the man who held the reins.
Trhané zvuky pochádzali od muža, co držal opraty.
 „That“ is translated in a different way that we have expected to be translated in some cases as „ktorý/-á“. It is translated in two cases as: „aká/-é“, „co“ is translated in one case and it also is not translated in five sentences. (table 3)
Eg: …in tones that had more mellowness than clearness,…
…skôr mäkkými ako ostrými tónmi,…
 „Zero“ pronoun is not translated in any special way. (table 4)
Eg: Nobody appeared, and he heard the person xxx retreat among the bushes.
Nikto nevyšiel, a iba pocul, ako sa neznáma vykráda spomedzi kríckov.
 „Whose“ is translated in expected way: in three cases it is not translated, in two cases it is translated as „cej/cí“ and in another two instances is it used as „ktorej/komu“. The pronoun „of whose“ is not mentioned in the translation.(table 5)
Eg: Whose farm were you upon last?
Na cej farme ste robili naposledy?
 „Where“ is translated in all three possibilities, which we have already mentioned. (table 6)
Eg: …at the sides, or, where the flow was more rapid, the stream…
V miestach, kde bol tok rýchlejší, prúd…
 „What“ is used as a relative pronoun instead of the thing that in some sentences. (table 7)
Eg: …on the other side upon what he found to be ploughed soil,…
…na druhú stranu, ako neskôr zistil na orácinu…
 „When“ is used only in two sentences and it is translated in two ways. The first one is „ked“ – in one case and the other one case is that it is not mentioned in the translation. (table 8)
Eg: One night, when Farmer Oak had returned to his house,believing there would be no…
Raz v noci, ked sa farmár Oak vracal domov v nádeji, že už…

We are not at the position that we can criticize the translation of Mrs Zora Juráková. But I would translate some sentences in a different way. In some cases in the translation there are the sentences very complicated.
Eg:…said Oak firmly, with the bearing of one who was going to give his days and nights to
Ecclesiastes for ever.
…povedal Oak pevne a odovzudane, akoby hovoril, že sa vzdáva všetkých slobodných
dní a nocí a naveky ich hodlá zasvätit štúdiu knihy Kazatelov.
I would translate it in this way:
...povedal Oak pevne, s utrpením niekoho, kto sa vzdáva všetkých slobodných dní..
But in some cases she translated the sentence in such a good way, which we will not be able to do it so.
Eg: …had an influence upon him which might have surprised any who never suspected…
…sa ho citlivo dotkla. Prekvapilo by to každého, kto žil utiahnuto

We add some enclosures where are som graphs, on which shown the usage of the pronouns in percentage and on the others are expressed the translations of the main relative pronouns.
We hope you will like our work and you will understand all definitions and all graphs. We tried to explain the relative clauses on many examples from the book Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy.


1) Porovnávacia gramatika anglického a slovenského jazyka I
- Miroslav Bázlik, Martin Votruba
2) A Concise Grammar of Contemporary English
- Sidney Greenbaum, Randolph Quirk
3) Far From the Madding Crowd
- Thomas Hardy
4) Daleko od hluciaceho davu
- Thomas Hardy, translator Zora Juráková

1) Porovnávacia gramatika anglického a slovenského jazyka I
- Miroslav Bázlik, Martin Votruba
2) A Concise Grammar of Contemporary English
- Sidney Greenbaum, Randolph Quirk
3) Far From the Madding Crowd
- Thomas Hardy
4) Daleko od hluciaceho davu
- Thomas Hardy, translator Zora Juráková

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