Word of the Day

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Constructions with relative pronoun whose

Romanian is the only language I know that has crossed agreement when it comes to the whose construction. Other languages either make the pronoun agree with the possessed (Portuguese, Spanish, Italian...) or with the antecedent (Slavic and Germanic languages):

Some Romance languages:
Portuguese: O homem cuja filha trabalha com meu pai é estrangeiro.
Spanish: El hombre cuya hija trabaja con mi padre es extranjero.

Some Slavic languages:
Czech: Muž, jehož dcera pracuje s mým otcem, je cizinec.
Slovak: Muž, ktorého dcéra pracuje s mojím otcom, je cudzinec.
Polish: Mężczyzna, którego córka pracuje z moim ojcem, jest obcokrajowcem.

Some Germanic languages:
English: The man whose daughter works with my father is a foreigner.
German: Der Mann, dessen Tochter mit meinem Vater arbeitet, ist ein Ausländer.
Dutch: De man wiens dochter met mijn vader werkt, is een vreemdeling.
Swedish: Mannen vars dotter arbetar med min far är en utlänning.

But in Romanian:
Bărbatul a cărui fată lucrează cu tatăl meu este străin.
Where a agrees with a term not immediately after it, fată, a feminine noun, and cărui agrees with bărbatul, a masculine noun, also not immediately before it.

It is somewhat akin to Italian
Italian: L'uomo la cui figlia lavora con mio padre è straniero. 
where the relative pronoun cui must be preceded by an article that agrees with the noun that comes later.

French has it easier:
L'homme dont la fille travaille avec mon père est étranger.
Where dont is invariable.

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