2

Given that PIE people have present-day descendants in India to Europe, they have divided so starkly: in the given map, most languages from India to middle east upto east Europe are SOV, whereas most in west Europe are SVO.

How did this parent population separate into two? How did they evolve to be distinct?

I used http://wals.info/feature/81A#3/43.20/67.76 as a map reference.

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    Linguistics would be a better cite also because you may need to evaluate the degree of dominancy of the word order in these languages. Its unlikely that the split happen overnight, and the degree of dominancy of SVO over SOV may help to estimate when particular languages started to show a preference. I cannot speak of many languages, but just comparing fairly rigid English with very flexible Russian is enough to see that word order preference is not equally honored among PIE languages.
    – Michael
    Feb 11 '15 at 15:24
  • Are you asking about Indo-European? If so, why do you mention Georgian?
    – fdb
    Feb 11 '15 at 17:06
  • @fdb, PIE as in Proto Indo-Europian. And Georgian was a example more familiar to me, over say Adyghe Feb 11 '15 at 17:36
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    @Michael Do you know what "most" means in English?
    – Atamiri
    Feb 12 '15 at 1:57
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    Something's fishy about the map. It lists Russian as SVO, but says Belarussian "has no dominant order", when in fact Russian and Belarussian grammars are almost identical. I speak Russian and studied Belarussian and I failed to see any difference between the languages in choosing word order.
    – carsten
    Feb 13 '15 at 1:52
1

It is important to know that many of the languages tagged on the map as SVO are not actually SVO and that not all correctly tagged languages share the same history with respect to word order. For example, the Romance languages derived from an SOV order, whereas English derived from a V2 order. If I were you I would forget about that map as soon as possible.

1
  • A very good point. This is a general problem with lists or maps compiled from books by different authors using different methodologies.
    – fdb
    Jul 9 '15 at 8:39
0

I don't really know enough about linguistics to be an expert on that exact linguistic difference. However, the map you supplied looks quite similar to the modern separation between the Indo-Iranian branch of Indo-European and the rest. It is believed that Indo-Iranian goes back to about the 3rd Millenium, BC. Their separate recorded history starts around the 9th century BC, when they (and their invention, the chariot) invaded the Iranian plateau. From there some of them turned east and invaded India as well. Presumably this cut them off a bit from the rest of their Indo-European compatriots up on the western Eurasian Steppe, and already "migrating" into Europe.

Note that a lot of the Germanic languages (but not English), according to that map have no dominant order.

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  • The list at the bottom of the link gives English as SVO.
    – fdb
    Feb 11 '15 at 18:11
  • @fdb - Clarified. I wasn't sure about English (hadn't found its dot), which is why I'd phrased that sentence in such an awkward way. English has a rather unique history among Germanic languages, so I'm not surprised. It would be interesting to know when this happened. Perhaps a good question idea for someone.
    – T.E.D.
    Feb 11 '15 at 18:37
-1

All branches show in their most ancient form either SOV order or its traces. That said, the PIE had SOV word order as the default(unmarked) but being a highly inflective language its word order was mostly free.

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    Ancient IE languages like Vedic, Avestan, Greek have a very free word order, not SOV.
    – fdb
    Feb 12 '15 at 9:20
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    @fdb Homeric Greek was more SOV, but since the Hellenistic period Greek has been more SVO.
    – carsten
    Feb 13 '15 at 1:55
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    @fdb A language may have a free word order but still have one it defauls to. Russian, for example, generally defaults to SVO, however a particular sentence can be VSO, SOV or even OSV depending on several factors.
    – carsten
    Feb 13 '15 at 2:03
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    Any statistics for Greek? And what about Vedic and Avestan?
    – fdb
    Feb 13 '15 at 9:10
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    @fdb: No statistics. Nobody was counting. All we have is some writing that survived. Not that much. And Pāṇini's grammar, which is not sociolinguistically oriented. As for the OQ, SVO and SOV are not "peoples" and don't define any branch of Indo-European. They just happen to be common enough developments (along with VSO, like Celtic) to mention, like palatalization or umlaut. Feb 16 '15 at 0:14

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