29 votes

Why are French, Italian, Spanish etc. listed as SVO languages?

French, Spanish and Italian use SVO in clauses with non-pronominal arguments. Many languages make use of more than one kind of word order; the "canonical" order used in simplistic categorizations of ...
brass tacks's user avatar
8 votes

Why are Latin descendants SVO?

The premise holds for most Romance languages but it is difficult to categorize Spanish (the largest latin language by number of speakers) as an SVO language. The earliest texts in medieval Spanish ...
Alex's user avatar
  • 111
8 votes
Accepted

Are there languages where this "is" phrase is reversed?

Word order in a copular construction can be flexible according to the languages of the world. You can have for a canonical sentence: Subject + Copula + Predicate (e.g English) Copula + Subject + ...
amegnunsen's user avatar
  • 1,527
8 votes
Accepted

Is there a standardized way to classify languages according to how much the order of the words is tied to the words themselves?

It seems to me that you're basically describing the differences between inflected v. isolating (or analytic) types of languages. With inflected languages, the ending is extremely important, and the ...
cmw's user avatar
  • 979
7 votes

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

WALS is a great tool to answer questions like this. With this combined view of three features I find Zapotec and Sre as languages with the following features: Plural prefix / Noun-Adjective / ...
Sir Cornflakes's user avatar
7 votes
Accepted

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

OVS word order means that the object comes before the verb and the verb comes before the subject. It's not very common, for reasons relating to branching direction. But in an OVS language it doesn't ...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 65.2k
7 votes
Accepted

In English are there any rules to prefer the word order "rock, paper, scissors" to name the game?

In Russian, the sequence is “rock, scissors, paper”: камень, ножницы, бумага (kámen’, nóžnitsy, bumága). The most obvious reason for this very sequence is that it makes a trochaic tetrameter verse,...
Yellow Sky's user avatar
6 votes

Why did English evolve to have so little inflection?

There is a trend for languages, in general, to lose inflection of a certain type, and Indo-European languages manifest that trend. Particular facts of English have encouraged that development, and ...
user6726's user avatar
  • 83k
6 votes

Does word order really not matter in Latin?

Short answer: of course, word order matters in Latin but differently from languages like English. Technical answer: rather than being vaguely classified as a free word order language, Latin is often ...
Mitomino's user avatar
6 votes
Accepted

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

To my knowledge Japanese has the feature you are looking for, provided that you consider such things as topicalization and focalization to be good examples of "additional meaning". In Japanese, the ...
Artemij Keidan's user avatar
6 votes

Are there languages where this "is" phrase is reversed?

Yes. In the most common order for equative or defining sentences in Welsh, the complement comes first, then the verb, then the subject. Example (from Wikipedia's article on Welsh syntax): Diffoddwr ...
Colin Fine's user avatar
  • 7,434
6 votes

How is topic-prominence different than OSV word order?

To put it simply, "topic" and "object" are not the same. The topic can have any syntactic role in the sentence (subject, object, main verb, etc): it's whichever element is most ...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 65.2k
5 votes

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

Not quite the same, but Russian reverses word order for approximate numbers: Ему сорок лет (he-DAT forty year-GEN) "He is forty years old", i.e. you know or you are fairly sure about his age....
Radovan Garabík's user avatar
5 votes

Are there any languages that place subjects and direct objects before the verbs, but everything else after?

Mande languages generally have SOVX word order. Otherwise, it is quite rare.
user6726's user avatar
  • 83k
5 votes

Principle of Compositionality: Free Word Order Languages?

There's no link between the principle of compositionality and (free) word order. Basque (and many other languages, such as most Indo-European and native American languages) use morphology to indicate ...
Atamiri's user avatar
  • 2,590
5 votes

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

Here is Quran word for word – every word is written separately, translated, explained grammatically, and recited audio by a professional reciter. If you click a word, you are redirected to a more ...
Yellow Sky's user avatar
5 votes

Why is Spanish SVO and not VSO?

The simplest answer is that the classification into VSO, SVO etc. as "types" is based on the order of full-word elements, thus full verbs and noun phrases as subject and object. Subject or object ...
user6726's user avatar
  • 83k
5 votes
Accepted

Did Proto-Indo-European put the adjective before or behind the noun?

Here are some reconstructed phrases in PIE. It seems, the adjective could go both before and after the noun. Examples: Adjective before h₁ōḱéwes h₁éḱwoes "swift horses" dus menes "bad ...
Anixx's user avatar
  • 6,647
5 votes

Did Proto-Indo-European put the adjective before or behind the noun?

PIE had a rich inflection system, as is echoed in the oldest attested daughter languages. Owing to this, if adjective and noun were each appropriately declined, the order could be either way. As to ...
007's user avatar
  • 164
5 votes

Peculiarities of English as spoken/written by Norwegians

What about translating literally some Norwegian expressions? I've heard someone says "it wasn't only-only" before now, with a thick accent of course. "only-only" is not a ...
Omar and Lorraine's user avatar
4 votes

Principle of Compositionality: Free Word Order Languages?

There is a certain meaning, and a sentence constructed in a particular language, obviously, uses the linguistic tools (or instruments) of that language to convey the meaning. In English, the word ...
Be Brave Be Like Ukraine's user avatar
4 votes

Principle of Compositionality: Free Word Order Languages?

In mathematics, semantics, and philosophy of language, the principle of compositionality is the principle that the meaning of a complex expression is determined by the meanings of its constituent ...
Sylar's user avatar
  • 71
4 votes

Focus-marking in different varieties of Spanish

User tchrist made an excellent point in a comment to an answer by Mark Beadles, which probably deserves to be expanded into a separate answer: In many spoken varieties of Spanish, (3) will never be ...
John Goodrick's user avatar
4 votes

Does the Dutch sentence "Waarschijnlijk deze zomer ga ik naar Spanje" follow the V2 structure?

This is a very bad sentence in Dutch : "Waarschijnlijk deze zomer ga ik naar Spanje." The normal word order would be Deze zomer ga ik waarschijnlijk naar Spanje. The referential adverbial in ...
A. ter Meulen's user avatar
4 votes
Accepted

How do linguists describe the element order of a possessive? (aka. "A's B" vs "B of A")

This is called Order of Genitive and Noun and common abbreviations are GenN (for A's B) and NGen (for B of A). For a survey, see WALS chapter 86.
Sir Cornflakes's user avatar
4 votes

Order of spoken numbers with respect to powers of the base of the numerical system

An example of how the spoken numerals influenced the way they were written numerically is the Slavic languages and their Cyrillic alphabet. Since Cyrillic is derived from the Greek alphabet, it also ...
Yellow Sky's user avatar
4 votes
Accepted

What are the pros and cons of having adjectives appear first?

Which approach allows for the transfer of a higher amount of information bits per second? This is, as it turns out, a question that can be answered experimentally: neither. Coupé, Oh, Dediu, and ...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 65.2k
4 votes
Accepted

Why do dominant VSO languages all have SVO as an alternative word order?

If you take a Chomskyan view of syntax, it's not possible to get a VSO order without some sort of movement. The arguments to a verb are always Merged in first, and then the subject attaches somewhere ...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 65.2k

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