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Re: THEORY: word-order

From:Jörg Rhiemeier <joerg_rhiemeier@...>
Date:Monday, December 27, 2004, 20:38

On Fri, 24 Dec 2004 00:20:36 -0600,
"Thomas R. Wier" <trwier@...> wrote:

> I'm not sure how one could objectively classify languages into > "free" word-order languages, and "strict" word-order languages. > Some otherwise very similar languages have very different attitudes > towards branchedness and word-order. Turkish and Georgian, e.g., are > both highly left-branching languages, and both have extensive case marking > to identify NPs' roles, but Turkish is said to be very strictly SOV, > while Georgian does sometimes, sometimes not.
This is true; the only way to tell whether the word order in a language is free or not is to examine the corpus. Do different word orders occur? And if yes, do they correlate with clause types? Etc.
> Phaleran tends more to be like Georgian in this respect; it's > nonconfigurational, and can throw things around in really wild > orders. (See my earlier post on binding and anaphora for some > examples.)
Old Albic is much like Phaleran; it is also nonconfigurational. The arguments within a clause can occur in any order; adjectives can be moved away from their head noun because they agree with it in gender, number and case; the same thing can be done with possessors because of Suffixaufnahme; and even with relative clauses because the relative particle agrees with its head. An example sentence: O ndero pecham terára the.M-AGT man-AGT small-C-OBJ see-PRES-3SG:P-3SG:A o bocara am henam. REL.M-AGT flee-PRES-3SG:A the.C-OBJ child-OBJ This is indeed evilly twisted, but it can only mean `The man who flees looks at the small child' because _pecham_ agrees with _am henam_ and _o bocara_ with _o ndero_. However, most of these tricks occur chiefly in poetry and are rarely used in "normal" texts. A sentence like the one given above would strike any Old Albic native speaker as contrived, and he might have some difficulty parsing it.
> C'ali, on the other hand, tends strongly to VSO order, > with focused or topicalized NPs coming initially sometimes.
VSO order with topic fronting is also the rule in Old Albic, and more so in its (yet mostly unexplored) modern descendants. Greetings, Jörg.