As for the languages I know I think to believe, that a subordinated clause comes in a chunk and not scattered throughout the main clause.

For instance:

I LIKE TO SING, while i slave away

while I slave away is the subordinated clause and in one continuous piece, there is nothing like:

  • I while LIKE i TO slave SING away

Now I don't know if this contradicts some basic principle in linguistics, but a friend of mine,Aslan, who admittingly tends to be a crackpot, but has also proven to be smart, claims, that this is the case in one of the Balkan languages he speaks.

The example I provide is necessarily just wrong grammar I had to make up, to exemplify what I mean.

  • 2
    Can you ask him to provide glossed examples? If so, you can just ask another speaker of that language whether the examples and glosses are correct... Commented Mar 18, 2017 at 15:53
  • "I saw [a rabbit that hopped away] yesterday" ==> "I saw [a rabbit] yesterday [that hopped away]."
    – Greg Lee
    Commented Apr 13, 2017 at 21:34

2 Answers 2


This sort of behavior certainly occurs in some languages. Here's an example from Meskwaki where a relative clause is interspersed with the matrix clause:

iiniyeeka [peeminehkawaatshiki ashaahaki ihkweewani]

those.abs chase 3p-3'/part.3p Sioux.pl woman.obv

those who they chased her the Sioux the woman

"Those Sioux who were chasing the woman"

The head of the relative clause is the noun Sioux, but it appears internal to the relative clause.

  • Again, I don't think this is what the OP is looking for. The subordinate clause is still in one piece in the sentence... Commented Apr 13, 2017 at 19:55

Not sure about how this would be viewed in English but you can find a certain discontinuity in European languages:

I don't know what you think you are doing.

Nevím, co si myslíš, že děláš.

In Czech, word dělat (to do) comes with obligatory transitivity (unless in it means to work (in order to earn money)) and thus requires a direct object. In this sentence, the direct object would be co (what) but this is moved at the beginning of the first-order subordinate and merged with its own relative pronoun.

  • 2
    Parentheticals can break up subordinate clauses. E.g., "I like to sing as i slave (which rhymes with "wave") away."
    – Greg Lee
    Commented Mar 18, 2017 at 19:16
  • 1
    I'm not sure the English example is what the OP is looking for. The 'what' is still within the subordinate clause, despite the long-distance dependency. The OP seems to be looking for examples where the subordinate clause is 'interlaced' in the main clause. Commented Mar 18, 2017 at 19:38

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.