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Lexical determination of word order

From:Peter Bleackley <peter.bleackley@...>
Date:Tuesday, May 30, 2006, 11:08
Khangaþyagon has a single, invariable word order, VSO. Its descendent,
Mágikimnaz, had a variable word order, determined by definiteness (definite
NPs occur before the verb, indefinites afterwards). Most of Mágikimnaz's
descendents have found other ways of marking definiteness, and adopted a
fixed word order - SOV, SVO, or VSO (OVS and rarely OSV can occur as marked
word orders in some languages, but not as basic word orders, and no
language ever uses VOS). Languages with SOV word order generally leave
definite arguments unmarked and mark indefiniteness, those with VSO leave
indefinite arguments unmarked and mark definiteness, while those with SVO
either mark both or mark for definiteness on objects and indefiniteness on

One descendent, however, is different. Magiñas is a chaotic koine of
several different late Mágikimnaz dialects, which were mutually
intelligible with some difficulty. These had different basic word orders,
more or less evenly distributed between the three possibilities. I think
that in this language word order will be determined by some feature of the
lexical content of the sentence. Any idea what feature this might be?



Gary Shannon <fiziwig@...>