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Re: Language Change

From:Markus Miekk-oja <torpet@...>
Date:Tuesday, January 4, 2000, 22:31
> Could someone explain some of the ways that grammar of a language > might change over time? I can see that it might gain or lose > tenses, affixes of various sorts, etc, but is word order likely > to change? All comments appreciated!
Finnish has gone from SOV to SVO, and has postpositions. However, a rather great part of them get preposited when their object is partitive. Some can't get postposited, and some are the other way around... (read on to get why that changed..) In "Essays Of Conlang design" on some webpage, I read that natlangs tend to "walk" between SOV and VSO which are the outer points on a scale containing all the other. Because of this reason, "pure" VSO and SOV languages are rather uncommon. (since when a language is almost reaching "purity" it probably turns to slowly go the other way). (German: SOV, though taking a look at the main clauses you'll notice that it isn't "pure"). With word order shifts, the order of constituents in a noun phrase also are altered: VSO generally has prepositions, nouns, and adjectives, in that order. SOV generally has adjectives, nouns and postpositions in that order. SVO generally (I think) retains their old system, but doesn't always. V2 generally is lost by western Germanic languages on large islands outside the European coast :-) check for more info (at last, I found that address! knew it lurked somewhere around here :-)