This paper seeks to contribute to understanding of the dynamics of reference relation and subordination in Tibetan grammar. As a way of shedding light on this complex topic, it examines a translated sūtra, the Ye shes rgyas pa'i mdo, which contains numerous stories relating interactions and conversations between a variety of characters. A close reading of several representative passages of this text reveals some of the systematic structures of subordination. Despite not being outlined as a principle in traditional Tibetan grammars, subordination is seen here to be clearly reinforced by, and at times entirely encoded in, the use of the converb –nas to express coreference, and in the verbal noun and converb structures –pa dang and -pa las to connote cross-reference. The paper thus aims to show how attention to the functioning of subordinating structures serves the reader in the interpretation of complex passages where such structures at times provide the only key to the attribution of agency.
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