Questions tagged [word-order]

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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1answer
89 views

Word order in “ברוך הבא”

I'm learning Modern Hebrew (I am a complete novice) and I was trying to wrap my head around the structure of the common phrase for "Welcome" ("ברוך הבא"). The etymology of "הבא" is pretty much clear ...
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What are some good resources on the study of word order?

I've already read the Wikipedia article on the subject, and I was wondering if any resources exist that go more into detail.
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92 views

Why is Spanish SVO and not VSO?

I understand that Spanish sentences have an SVO sentence structure. (S)(Yo) (V)compro (O)los zapatos. What confuses me is the fact that when the subject is a pronoun, it is omitted so often that you ...
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128 views

What is the position of the subject in a Greek sentence, whose word order is VSO?

The following is a Greek sentence Σε ποιόν φίλο νομίζεις ότι μιλάει ο άντρας; To which friend think.2SG that speak.3SG the man Its counterpart in ...
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Why do adverbials of place come before adverbials of time? [closed]

He comes to class at 9 AM. In the above sentence to class, the adverbial of place comes before at 9 AM, the adverbial of time. Why is the below sentence wrong? **He comes at 9 AM to class."
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I read the Quran syllable by syllable but I don't know where a word begins and where it ends.If I knew that I could translate them from the dictionary [closed]

Salaam aleikum. I have learned the entire Arabic alphabet. And also the harakat and long vowels. But I have a big problem. I read the Quran syllable by syllable but I don't know where a word begins ...
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How common are languages with different word orders in matrix and non-matrix clauses

How common is it cross-linguistically for a language to have a different word order in various types of embedded clauses such as relative clauses? WALS appears to collect information on word order in ...
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191 views

Are there languages where this “is” phrase is reversed?

"A cat is an animal". "Is a cat an animal?" I have a theory that the word order here is important. One must first put the image of a "cat" in your brain BEFORE recognising if it is an "animal". For ...
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60 views

Is there a term for mismatch between time and word order?

Is 'word order' the correct term? Does anyone know of other examples from the literary canon? I can think of merely one in English from As I Lay Dying (1930): I can remember how when I was young I ...
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127 views

“I gave Tom an apple” and “I gave an apple to Tom”

"I gave Tom an apple" and "I gave an apple to Tom" have the same meaning. The meaning of Tom receiving the apple comes form the position of the word in the former example and from the preposition in ...
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147 views

Does a null-subject language always have to satisfy EPP?

I am analyzing Latin word order. As in many other languages, most Latin sentences begin with the subject, but I've noticed quite a few that have many complements and adjuncts and then end with the ...
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Why are French, Italian, Spanish etc. listed as SVO languages?

In this Wikipedia article, French, Italian and Spanish are listed as SVO languages, along with English and Chinese. (However, Latin is listed as SOV.) I am highly confused about such statement. In ...
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281 views

What's the difference between V2 word order and OVS word order?

Is there any difference between the two? They seem the same to me, c.f.: Fußball spielten die Kinder vor der Schule im Park. Football played the kids before school in the park. (...
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936 views

How VSO (Verb-Subject-Object) works [closed]

After looking through some of the VSO languages, it seems that the "most VSO centric" one I could find (using Google Translate) is Hawai'ian. The simplest example sentence is (1): I went to the ...
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126 views

How common is it for languages to be head-first as often as they are head-final?

English, I've heard, is rather odd for not leaning one way or another towards a head-final order, or a head first. Verbs gravitate towards the beginning of sentences and it uses prepositions, which ...
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74 views

“In his desk(,) he kept a black book.” Is “in his desk” a preposed complement here?

The answers and comments beneath my question about the sentence “He kept a black book in his desk” seemed to agree that “in his desk” acts as a complement and not as an adjunct in that sentence. But ...
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1answer
107 views

Are there any languages that mark plural before the noun, while everything else comes after?

There's a lot of head-final languages where everything precedes the noun except for the number (Japanese is one example). But are there any that do the reverse? Is there a language where number ...
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1answer
74 views

Is there any theoretical explanation of putting infinitive clause at the beginning?

There is a sentence which my Canadian professor today talked about. 1-) I see no reason to do these stupid things. The Canadian English professor at the university said that we could put the part "...
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132 views

Linear order preserving syntactic trees

Two questions: Is the syntactic tree notation supposed to be Linear order preserving in general Linear order preserving for English Generally linear order preserving for English None of the above ...
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Do different alignments restrict what kind of word order a language can have?

I've read somewhere that all known ergative languages are either verb-initial, or verb-final. I find this surprising, but I don't know of any counter-examples. I've seen plenty of nominative ...
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3answers
327 views

Principle of Compositionality: Free Word Order Languages?

Can anyone explain what additional claims can be made for the Principle of Compositionality in regards to a language like Basque? I understand that Basque is a "free word order" language and the ...
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In English, what rules govern the optimal order of nouns in a list?

For example, is noun word-order governed by a universal ranking of semantic fields, as with adjectives, or do other considerations in general English word choice and order (well-formedness of ...
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1answer
169 views

Are there any configurational languages that AREN'T verb-medial?

Is it true that has a rule, a language where subject and object aren't explicately marked will always have SVO or OVS order? I've been thinking that it may be possible to get away with having no ...
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247 views

Is there a measure for grammatical similarity?

Something I see from time to time is the proportion of words from various sources, e.g. English has about 29% French, 29% Latin, 26% Germanic and 6% Greek words. I've never seen anything similar with ...
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Are there any languages that place subjects and direct objects before the verbs, but everything else after?

I know the Romance languages do this with pronouns, but they don't do this with noun phrases. Are there any natlangs out there where the subject and direct object always precedes the verb, but ...
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Has there been cross-linguistic work on differential adjective-noun order?

In recent years, a massive amount of attention in linguistics has been devoted to the variation within language varieties of grammatical structures caused by semantic and discourse-pragmatic factors, ...
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Does the Dutch sentence “Waarschijnlijk deze zomer ga ik naar Spanje” follow the V2 structure?

This question would be better on Dutch Languages SE, but that site is still in Area 51. I was discussing Dutch grammar with a Dutch native and how I'd just learnt that Dutch is a V2 language (as are ...
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You fought so bravely for it. [adjunct vs. complement]

You fought so bravely for it. In this sentence, the verb 'fought' is followed by two dependents: so bravely and for it. I thought that for it was a complement whereas so bravely was an adjunct. But ...
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How do linguists describe the element order of a possessive? (aka. “A's B” vs “B of A”)

While the exact nature of a language's possessive elements may vary in meaning, usage, syntax, etc. what they all seem to share is that they ether present the superior element before the inferior one, ...
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In which non-Sinitic languages do negative clauses retain older constituent order in SVC-derived complex predicates?

Many complex predicates are historically derived from serial verb constructions. This is not only true of the Sinitic family. For example, in Saramaccan (Byrne 1987, as cited in Givón 2009): (1) a ...
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244 views

Could you provide examples of free word order languages that use word order to express grammatical categories?

In another question someone pointed out, that at least some slavic languages use word order to express the grammatical category of definitiveness. For instance in Polish: This example has been ...
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Why did English evolve to have so little inflection? [duplicate]

Consider the sentence, The boy hit the ball out of the yard. If we think of the words which make up the sentence, we realize that none of them have much inflectional possibility. The conjugation ...
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4answers
235 views

Why is the adjective usually before the noun?

I've noticed that in English the adjective is usually before the noun, why is that? In French it's in one way or the other depending on the case (as far as I know it's not to make things clearer). ...
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Russian “crude” translation into English for Theatre Purpose [closed]

I am a playwright/performer and need help with writing a "broken" English version from a native Russian speaker of the following. Please note the show I am doing is in the Ridiculous Theatrical ...
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121 views

The barrier of intuitively using a second language’s word order

I am learning German and a big hurdle I am facing is word placement. For example, the last half of a sentence is: […], aber ich werde es nicht verstehen. (but I would not understand it.) I know ...
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3answers
240 views

How does Japanese word order obviate the need for relative pronouns?

According to the Wikipedia page on Japanese grammar: Head finality in Japanese sentence structure carries over to the building of sentences using other sentences. In sentences that have other ...
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How often can the words in a sentence be rearranged to form different but similarly likely setentence

I have a conjecture that given a particular (multi)set of words without knowledge of ordering, then one ordering is normally much more likely than any others. Its not always true, Show me flights ...
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180 views

Does understanding free word order require a distinct cognitive process?

Abbreviate 'a language with free word order' to FWOL (eg: 1, 2, 3, 4). I exemplify with Latin. When trying to read a FWOL, I must firstly consciously determine the lexical categories of each word, ...
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132 views

How can we account for head-final PPs and VPs in Classical Chinese?

According to Koopman (1983), there is an explanation for why Chinese, despite being a head-final language, has SVO and prepositional features. She suggested that Chinese assigns Case to the right but ...
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317 views

Is word order a method of implementing case in English language

I often read that English retains 'vestigal' case markers, particularly for the genitive, although some argue that 's is a clitic. Pronouns remain the largest source of marked words indicating the ...
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Alternative subject positions in Spanish questions, economy and markedness

The following six Spanish sentences are different versions of the question/different questions corresponding to the unmarked declarative sentence Alguien más podría haber estado usando su ordenador (= ...
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The Difference between “Imperium Persarum” and “Persarum Imperium” [closed]

First time asking. :) As the title suggests, I wanted to know the difference between the two names for the Persian Empire in Latin. (I'm not even sure if both are used...) I've tried asking other ...
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Determine adjective order algorithmically

Does NLTK (or any other Python natural language module) have the ability to determine the order of multiple modifier adjectives? For example: metal round huge bowl (incorrect) huge round metal bowl (...
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3answers
494 views

Which languages allow right-branching nominal pre-modifiers?

In English, as in German, Spanish, French, or Italian, non-lexicalized noun pre-modifiers cannot be 'right-branching' (i.e., they cannot carry either complements or modifiers of their own placed ...
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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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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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1answer
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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
695 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 ...
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605 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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430 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 ...