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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Order of adjectives in Hebrew [closed]

In English, there is a rule for adjective order (IIRC, it's something like: opinion, size, tempature, age... resulting in "A wonderful little cold antique chair...". What, if it exists, is the order ...
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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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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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“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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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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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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394 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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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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“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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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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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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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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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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132 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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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548 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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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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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 ...
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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 ...
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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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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 (SVO,...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...