A Survey of Relative Pronouns and their Uses in Natural and Artificial Languages

Alan Libert1, Christo Moskovsky1
Author Information & Copyright
1University of Newcastle

Copyright ⓒ 2016, Sejong University Language Research Institue. This is an Open-Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Published Online: Jan 01, 2017


This paper discusses a variety of questions regarding the form and function of relative pronouns in artificial languages. In the first major part of the paper information about relative pronouns in natural languages is presented. From this part the prospective language designer will get an idea of the range of relevant possibilities occurring in natural languages. The second major part shows some of the choices which languages designers have made with respect to relative pronouns in their languages. Generally these choices have been within a narrow range, that is, not all of the possibilities of natural languages have been selected for artificial languages. Specifically,the morphology and syntax of relative pronouns quite often resembles that of Indo-European languages, which is not surprising, since most language designers have been native speakers of an lndo­European language, and many artificial languages have been based on one or more of these languages. The final section of the paper contains some recommendations for the design and use of relative pronouns in artificial languages.

Keywords: relative pronouns; artificial languages; morphology; syntax