As compared to their contemporary varieties, 18th century Slovene and Kajkavian literary sources exhibit a larger range of relative clause constructions introduced by the interrogative-based pronouns kateri/koteri ‘which’. Systematising this variation promises to add to the debate on the typology of relativisation strategies and relative clause structures, and to allow for a closer understanding of the emergence of the relativising function for kateri/koteri (and cognates).
Focusing in particular on the structures that are marginal or even obsolete in the contemporary varieties, the argument put forth in this paper is that in times of a developing literacy with specific needs in terms of content and elaboration, Latin might have served as a model for kateri-/koteri-constructions in 18th century Slovene and Kajkavian. More specifically, authors used language inherent means, i.e., interrogative pronouns of the type ‘which of two’, in new functions to adapt a structure available in Latin such as to meet particular genre-specific purposes. The fact that some of these structures went out of use with the diminishing role of the relevant genres illustrates how literary trends may coin functional and/or structural patterns that might appear marginal at first sight but are actually highly revealing for gaining insight into the processes that drive language contact and change.