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Basic Word Order (RLE Linguistics B: Grammar): Functional by Russell S Tomlin

By Russell S Tomlin

This publication examines the frequencies of the six attainable easy observe (or constituent) orders (SOV, SVO, VSO, VOS, OSV, OVS) presents a typologically grounded reason behind these frequencies when it comes to 3 autonomous, sensible rules of linguistic organization.


From a database of approximately 1,000 languages and their simple constituent orders, a pattern of four hundred languages was once produced that's statistically consultant of either the genetic and areal distributions of the world’s languages. This pattern finds the subsequent relative frequencies (in order from excessive to low) of uncomplicated constituent order kinds: (1) SOV and SVO, (2) VSO, (3) VOS and OVS, (4) OSV.


It is argued that those relative frequencies should be defined to be the results of the potential interactions of 3 primary practical ideas of linguistic association. precept 1, the thematic info principle, specifies that preliminary place is the cross-linguistically favoured place for clause-level thematic info. precept 2, the verb-object bonding principle, describes the cross-linguistic tendency for a transitive verb and its item to shape a extra tightly built-in unit, syntactically and semantically, than does a transitive verb and its topic. precept three, the animated principle, describes the cross-linguistic tendency for semantic arguments that are both extra animate or extra agentive to ensue past within the clause. each one precept is inspired independently of the others, drawing on cross-linguistic facts from greater than eighty genetically and typologically varied languages.


Given those 3 independently stimulated useful ideas, it's argued that the relative frequency of simple constituent order varieties is because of the tendency for the 3 rules to be maximally learned within the world’s languages. SOV and SVO languages are typologically such a lot common simply because such simple orders replicate all 3 ideas. the rest orders ensue much less often simply because they mirror fewer of the principles.


The 1,000-language database and the genetic and areal category frames are released as appendices to the volume.

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