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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9answers
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What is word order used for in “free word order” languages?

Consider languages whose case-systems allow the order of arguments to be changed without changing the arguments’ grammatical relations. (Note the 189 languages noted as having “no dominant word-...
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3answers
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How do purely statistical machine translators deal with different word orders?

Even relatively closely related languages can differ greatly in word order. Take English and German for instance. English is pretty boringly subject-verb-object whereas in German the finite verb must ...
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6answers
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Languages with stricter and less strict word order?

I'm sure most people here know, but for completeness, let's define what syntax is: The arrangement of words and phrases to create well-formed sentences in a language. [NOAD] N.B. It can also refer to ...
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1answer
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What is this feature of British English called?

In British English you'll often hear them post-fixing expressions that American English tends to keep up front. For example, I've heard British English speakers (golf commentators in particular) say ...
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2answers
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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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4answers
301 views

Focus-marking in different varieties of Spanish

Spanish is often described as putting focused constituents at the end of the sentence, leading for instance to VOS word order in sentences with a focused subject. (For instance, Maria Zubizarreta's ...
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1answer
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Origin of current order pattern in English/German

It is well-known, or better said, well-accepted, that the ancestral language Proto-Indo-European (PIE) was a OV language with a very limited (or nonexistent) use of subordinate clauses. In Proto-...
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4answers
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Indo-European prepositions: why prepositions?

In a related but different question to Indo-European prepositions: whence did they come?, why do just about all modern Indo-European languages have prepositions rather than postpositions? PIE is ...
8
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1answer
262 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 ...
8
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1answer
640 views

Relationship between SOV word order and osV prefixes

I've been reading about the Native American language isolate Washo, and looking at the Universals Archive. If an ergative language is SOV, the object and subject affixes will be prefixes and the main ...
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3answers
613 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 ...
7
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1answer
524 views

How do SOV languages develop agreement affixes on verb?

According to WALS, most languages using SOV as basic order of subject, object and verb have some kind of personal agreement markers. As far as I know, these affixes rise by grammaticalization of ...
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1answer
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How common is word order change?

During the course of their development, the word order of some languages change. Examples include Latin (SOV) that changed to SVO in the Romance languages, Proto-Austronesian (verb initial) that ...
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0answers
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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 ...
7
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1answer
427 views

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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3answers
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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 ...
6
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1answer
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The stylistic effect of chiasmus in Latin

The motto of my alma mater is sidere mens eadem mutato, which I gloss: sidere mens eadem mutato star-SG.N.ABL mind-SG.F.NOM same-SG.F.NOM change-SG.N.ABL I have long ...
6
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2answers
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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 ...
6
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1answer
934 views

History of the verb positioning in German

In German, the word order is SVO (or V2, to be precise) in main clauses, while in subordinate clauses have the finite verb in final position; there is some discussion of the word order in "German is ...
6
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1answer
302 views

Word order typology in Germanic

I am not a native speaker of English, but I study English and Dutch. I have noticed that the two languages differ in their degree of flexibility. The following sentence, for example, is not acceptable ...
6
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1answer
132 views

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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In which varieties of English is it common to front predicates as in “Bought a nice house, he did.”?

In which varieties of English is it common to front predicates as in the following sentence? Bought a nice house, he did. In which pragmatic contexts is this done in these varieties?
5
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2answers
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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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0answers
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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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0answers
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Is there any difference in meaning or nuance when the adjective follows the noun in Georgian?

Many languages allow the order of adjectives compared to nouns to vary, but for different reasons: Some languages have very free word order in which case there is little difference between adj + noun ...
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German is SOV: should it not have been “Ich ein Berliner bin”?

German is typically described as a Subject-Object-Verb language. For former American President Kennedy's mistake to be grammatical (i.e. without the indefinite article "ein"), why should it not have ...
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2answers
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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 ...
4
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1answer
136 views

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 ...
4
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2answers
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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 ...
4
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1answer
217 views

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
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What are examples of non-V2 pattern in Modern English?

What is an example of a modern English clause that does not follow the verb-second (V2) word order?
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3answers
330 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 ...
3
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2answers
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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 ...
3
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1answer
424 views

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 ...
3
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2answers
652 views

How do isolating VSO languages differentiate the subject and object?

In some Austronesian languages, which typically lack inflection, subjects appear structurally identical to their objects. What constructs do Verb-Subject-Object languages use to distinguish the two?
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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 ...
3
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1answer
708 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 ...
3
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1answer
426 views

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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0answers
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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 ...
3
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0answers
53 views

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 ...
3
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0answers
116 views

Formal approaches to Russian word order

What are the known formal approaches to Russian (or similar languages) word order? I'd expect something expressed in terms of exteded DRT or similar formalism.
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4answers
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Did case systems dissappear to make embedding easier?

I edited this question in response to Karlsson's paper, "Constraints on Multiple Center-Embedding of Clauses" (Journal of Linguistics 43 (2), 2007, 365-392), linked here: http://www.ling.helsinki.fi/~...
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1answer
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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 ...
2
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1answer
294 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. (...
2
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2answers
246 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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2answers
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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 ...
2
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1answer
408 views

Why do we need machine translation evaluation?

Why is it that we need machine translation evaluation? If we have subjective evaluation measures why do we need automatic evaluation? As most of the automatic evaluation metrics are unable to capture ...
2
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1answer
103 views

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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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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1answer
293 views

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 ...