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 kind of variant of "SVO", representing the word order subject-object verb:

  • S/A-V-O

    By unmarked I mean that the speakers report an impression that the S/A-V-O pattern is somehow basic in status. A consultant will likely supply the S/A-V-O pattern when asked to compose sentences of the variety The farmer killed the duckling, ...

  • A/S-V-O

    With this in mind, consider the Lao A/S-V-O constituent order pattern, perhaps the closest to a pragmatically unmarked pattern:

    Departures from the A/S-V-O pattern are common. Movement, for example, may see a subject argument in a post-final position ...

  • 1
    I stand corrected btw., that was most unfortunate.
    – Cerberus
    Commented Oct 19, 2013 at 7:53

1 Answer 1


The Abbreviations list of that book is viewable (if you search for "abbreviations"), and says "A = agent-like argument of transitive clause" and "S = single argument of intransitive clause".

  • Now why didn't I think of that? (-: Commented Oct 18, 2013 at 22:21
  • 2
    But what's the difference between S/A and A/S? Is it just scribal variation, or is there a significance in the ordering?
    – jlawler
    Commented Oct 19, 2013 at 0:09

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