When the relative position of words within a sentence may change the meaning or grammaticality, a language is said to be sensitive to word order.

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Does word order really not matter in Latin?

New to Latin, I can't help but wonder about the following: Every text I found online claims that since words are inflected (enough) to indicate the roles they play in a sentence, word order has no ...
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1answer
63 views

Why is less consistent SVO more common than VSO or VOS?

"Language Change as a Source of Word Order Correlations", by Brady Clark, Matthew Goldrick, and Kenneth Konopka, is among the many sources dating back to Greenberg (1966) stating that language ...
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2answers
91 views

Why are Latin descendants SVO?

Latin was a language which predominant order was Subject-Object-Verb, as in the example proverb Errare Humanum Est So, why all its modern descendents are predominantly Subject-Verb-Object order? Or ...
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1answer
142 views

Does subject precede object in all natural languages?

From here : English and Chinese, for example, put the subject first, the verb in the middle, and the object at the end for an SVO word order. Irish and Biblical Hebrew are VSO languages that ...
2
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3answers
165 views

Free Word Order Languages: How Much Freedom?

Persian, Russian, German, Turkish and Czech are generally described as free-word-order languages, but do you know any quantitative, corpus-based, or information theoretic definition of word order? Is ...
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0answers
62 views

What morphosyntactic features are associated with VSO?

In an answer to another question, librik cited Orin Gensler's observation that Insular Celtic and Semitic share a surprisingly large feature complex. This makes it hard for a layman with ready access ...
2
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1answer
95 views

Scrambling in Languages like Latin

Consider a clause in Latin that has n words. Latin frequently uses scrambling, so there are n! possible ways to arrange that clause given a free word order. However, Latin writers use only a small ...
3
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1answer
134 views

Non-configurational language Nunggubuyu/Wubuy

Having read this SO answer, I am curious if another supposedly non-configurational language like Wubuy (Nunggubuyu) has been re-analyzed as "configurational". Work on it was done by Jeffrey Health in ...
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0answers
98 views

Constituent Order and Alignment

Seeing What might "S/A-V-O" and "A/S-V-O" mean? reminded me of something I've wondered at various points in the past. I'm familiar with the different clause constituent orders ...
2
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1answer
101 views

What might “S/A-V-O” and “A/S-V-O” mean?

In looking through Google Books's preview of A Grammar of Lao by N. J. Enfield, I came across these two terms, which I'm assuming are equivalent to one another (possibly one is even a typo) and some ...
3
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2answers
238 views

Is there a significance to word order in ASL?

Going on the general assumption that ASL is loosely rooted in English (only in the sense that it was developed in a country dominated by native English speakers, this is not to say that ASL is derived ...
2
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2answers
148 views

What are the most common reasons for (synchronic) word-order changes in isolating languages?

What are the most common reasons for (synchronic) word-order changes in isolating languages? From what I’ve read, word order in isolating languages can be changed even when the constituents in the ...
6
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1answer
193 views

Origin of current order pattern in English/German

It is well-known, or better said, well-accepted, that the ancestral language Proto-Indo-European (PIE) was a OV language with a very limited (or nonexistent) use of subordinate clauses. In ...
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1answer
293 views

What is this feature of British English called?

In British English you'll often hear them post-fixing expressions that American English tends to keep up front. For example, I've heard British English speakers (golf commentators in particular) say ...
6
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1answer
731 views

The stylistic effect of chiasmus in Latin

The motto of my alma mater is sidere mens eadem mutato, which I gloss: sidere mens eadem mutato star-SG.N.ABL mind-SG.F.NOM same-SG.F.NOM change-SG.N.ABL I have long ...
5
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1answer
253 views

History of the verb positioning in German

In German, the word order is SVO (or V2, to be precise) in main clauses, while in subordinate clauses have the finite verb in final position; there is some discussion of the word order in "German is ...
5
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1answer
207 views

Word order typology in Germanic

I am not a native speaker of English, but I study English and Dutch. I have noticed that the two languages differ in their degree of flexibility. The following sentence, for example, is not acceptable ...
7
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1answer
255 views

How do SOV languages develop agreement affixes on verb?

According to WALS, most languages using SOV as basic order of subject, object and verb have some kind of personal agreement markers. As far as I know, these affixes rise by grammaticalization of ...
5
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1answer
336 views

Indo-European prepositions: why prepositions?

In a related but different question to Indo-European prepositions: from whence did they come?, why do just about all modern Indo-European languages have prepositions rather than postpositions? PIE ...
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1answer
210 views

How do isolating VSO languages differentiate the subject and object?

In some Austronesian languages, which typically lack inflection, subjects appear structurally identical to their objects. What constructs do Verb-Subject-Object languages use to distinguish the two?
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1answer
166 views

Why do we need machine translation evaluation?

Why is it that we need machine translation evaluation? If we have subjective evaluation measures why do we need automatic evaluation? As most of the automatic evaluation metrics are unable to capture ...
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0answers
74 views

Formal approaches to Russian word order

What are the known formal approaches to Russian (or similar languages) word order? I'd expect something expressed in terms of exteded DRT or similar formalism.
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3answers
403 views

What are examples of non-V2 pattern in Modern English?

What is an example of a modern English clause that does not follow the verb-second (V2) word order?
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571 views

Did case systems dissappear to make embedding easier?

I edited this question in response to Karlsson's paper, "Constraints on Multiple Center-Embedding of Clauses" (Journal of Linguistics 43 (2), 2007, 365-392), linked here: ...
6
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2answers
186 views

Focus-marking in different varieties of Spanish

Spanish is often described as putting focused constituents at the end of the sentence, leading for instance to VOS word order in sentences with a focused subject. (For instance, Maria Zubizarreta's ...
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2answers
169 views

In which varieties of English is it common to front predicates as in “Bought a nice house, he did.”?

In which varieties of English is it common to front predicates as in the following sentence? Bought a nice house, he did. In which pragmatic contexts is this done in these varieties?
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9answers
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What is word order used for in “free word order” languages?

Consider languages whose case-systems allow the order of arguments to be changed without changing the arguments’ grammatical relations. (Note the 189 languages noted as having “no dominant ...
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0answers
158 views

Is there any difference in meaning or nuance when the adjective follows the noun in Georgian?

Many languages allow the order of adjectives compared to nouns to vary, but for different reasons: Some languages have very free word order in which case there is little difference between adj + ...
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3answers
931 views

German is SOV: should it not have been “Ich ein Berliner bin”?

German is typically described as a Subject-Object-Verb language. For former American President Kennedy's mistake to be grammatical (i.e. without the indefinite article "ein"), why should it not have ...
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1answer
401 views

How common is word order change?

During the course of their development, the word order of some languages change. Examples include Latin (SOV) that changed to SVO in the Romance languages, Proto-Austronesian (verb initial) that ...
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5answers
1k views

Languages with stricter and less strict word order?

I'm sure most people here know, but for completeness, let's define what syntax is: The arrangement of words and phrases to create well-formed sentences in a language. [NOAD] N.B. It can ...
11
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3answers
164 views

How do purely statistical machine translators deal with different word orders?

Even relatively closely related languages can differ greatly in word order. Take English and German for instance. English is pretty boringly subject-verb-object whereas in German the finite verb must ...
7
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1answer
376 views

Relationship between SOV word order and osV prefixes

I've been reading about the Native American language isolate Washo, and looking at the Universals Archive. If an ergative language is SOV, the object and subject affixes will be prefixes and the main ...