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Re: "Free" word order (was Re: Greek definite article (was Re: Addendum: a holy spirit))

From:Chris Bates <chris.maths_student@...>
Date:Wednesday, December 15, 2004, 8:53
I think the problem with "free" word order is that the term is
misleading.... all the languages I've learned which allow variation in
word order, whenever I'm speaking them there always seems like a natural
order for the constituents and if I'm speaking rather than writing I
wouldn't even stop to consider alternative orders. And I'm not just
applying the native english SVO to those languages either.... after a
while you get an (imperfect generally, since its an L2) feel for where
words should go and then there doesn't seem to be a choice at all
anymore. But I think in most such languages there are several different
factors that determine the order, so it's quite difficult to give rules
for ordering to foreign learners of the language. In the end you just
have to experience the language enough to get a feel for where
everything goes.

>Topic is different-- it's also fronted, but must be definite, in Nom. case, >and set off with intonation; a resumptive pronoun is usually required too: > >Lopa ya, çenji yan yarungombra >(nom.)det/ S 3.acc V >'As for that/the lopa, Sh. slaughtered it' > > >
In most free word order languages, topic fronting seems to be common. Certainly Basque works this way... another common pattern seems to be that the focus position is next to the verb, either immediately before or afterwards, although that's not quite as common as topic fronting I don't think.