I have heard that there are a few languages that lack sentential embedding. If this is the case, what grammatical devices do they use instead of adverbial clauses, complement clauses, and noun-modifying clauses?

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    What languages have you heard this about? BTW, subordinate clauses are not the only kind of sentential embedding. Commented Mar 18, 2012 at 23:04

1 Answer 1


By relying on inference, parataxis can do the job. Compare the a-examples (parataxis) with the b-examples (subordination) below.

1) a) Go fetch the urn, the one on the mantlepiece
   b) Go fetch the urn that is on the mantlepiece
2) a) The sun was shining bright. We went for a walk.
   b) The sun was shining bright, so we went for a walk.

There are still rules though. In the second parataxis-example (2a), the latter sentence is generally assumed to happen simultaneously or after the first sentence. What happens first goes first, and a cause would be mentioned before the effect etc.

The Wikipedia-page on parataxis isn't very useful as it concentrates too much on parataxis in English for poetic effect, but now you know one more term to look for in reference grammars at least!

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