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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When do Hindi and Urdu follow free word order?

Urdu is my first language, yet I can't really think of any sentences off the top of my head where Urdu doesn't follow the SOV order. A sentence like : میں گھر جا رہا ہوں (I am going home) follows the ...
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OVS in English dialogue

English is an SVO language. When writing dialogue, especially in literature, writing a sentence with the speech first is considered grammatically correct. Take for example this extract from Ursula K ...
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Question on Avestan Adjectives

Looking at various examples of Avestan, I am confused on how the adjectives work. For instance, Ahura Mazda, Vohu Manah, Angra Mainyu, Spenta Armaiti, Aka Manah, etc are all adjective first. But Asha ...
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What psychological effects does the language one speaks have on them? [closed]

Are there any known psychological effects that have been observed on people who speak one language as opposed to another. For example, in Latin languages there are genders, in English there are none; ...
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V-Bar Syntax in Latin

I am reading Devine and Stephens Latin Word Order, but without the requisite grounding in formal linguistics. They use the term V-bar syntax, and I am not sure what they mean by this and would like ...
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On the change of word order as languages develop?

While I understand the most common changes in word order, the whole SOV can go to OSV, SVO, and OVS, and so forth. But I do not exactly understand how and why word order would change. Can you explain ...
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In English are there any rules to prefer the word order "rock, paper, scissors" to name the game?

Reading some buzzfeed article I saw someone claiming that in their part of the world they say "paper, scissors, rock" As the article mentions, this seems crazy wrong to most Americans and to ...
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Peculiarities of English as spoken/written by Norwegians [closed]

I'm writing a fiction book. Some of its characters are Norwegians who exchange emails in English. I'd like to lightly stylise their texts. What mistakes / peculiarities / word choice / sentence ...
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Why is English so flexible?

In handling the concept of dialects of a common language among characters in "classical" role-playing games (e.g., D&D, Traveller), one idea for signalling 'foreign' dialects that often ...
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What are the pros and cons of having adjectives appear first?

In the English, we say: Red apple Red is an adjective. apple is a noun. Red tells us that, well, the apple is red. In other languages, such as Arabic, it is the other way around. I.e.: تفاحة ...
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rules of syllogistic logic in an OVS or OSV language

I am looking to write the present the rules of Aristotelian syllogistic logic in a language that would be unfamiliar to my mostly-American students. So I thought I would do it in an OVS or OSV ...
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Did Proto-Indo-European put the adjective before or behind the noun?

Did PIE put the adjective behind the noun (like Romance languages usually do) or before the noun (like Germanic languages)?
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Is this phrase or clause a clause?

Is "lefty loosey, righty tighty" a clause? Or what is "lefty loosey, righty tighty"? Or what part of speech is "lefty loosey, righty tighty"? Or what part of speech is ...
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Order of spoken numbers with respect to powers of the base of the numerical system

I am interested in the history of how numbers were spoken with respect to hundreds, tens, unities... (or more generally powers of a base if the systems is not decimal). To clarify, here is an example: ...
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Word order in "ברוך הבא" [closed]

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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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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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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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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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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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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8 votes
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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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6 votes
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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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2 votes
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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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2 votes
2 answers
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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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