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

From:Henrik Theiling <theiling@...>
Date:Tuesday, December 14, 2004, 17:58

Chris Bates <chris.maths_student@...> writes:
>... > Don't you just love "free" word order languages? Out of interest, how > many people have current conlangs with word order determined by > pragmatics rather than a fixed word order?
It is always at the extreme for my langs: two of them have almost totally free order, namely Fukhian and Qthen|gai (the latter, however, marks adjunct shifts at the head), and one that relies totally on order and thus has a totally fixed order: Tyl Sjok. Qthen|gai, however, it special in that it is polysynthetic so many things happen at morphology level, where the order is fixed, too. The few things at syntax level, however, use free order. As said, the order is marked at the head. BTW, none of these langs allows raising or so, i.e., they do not allow any reordering but inside clause structures. In Russian I read that reordering is interesting. I think I once read a sentence similar to: Ja tybja znaju shto ljubju. I-NOM you-ACC know-1 that love-1 Maybe someone can verify that this is right. If so, I find the shift of 'tybja' from the subordinary clause quite remarkable.
> And if focus/topic/other factor determine your word order, have you > worked out the rules in detail? What's the focus position? Topic > position (if there is one)? etc
For Fukhian, I think I never worked out rules, so intuitively, it will be like in German: topic first. In Qthen|gai, the heaviness of the clauses are the pragmatic reasons that determine word order. So the usual word order is changed if the sentence is felt to become hard to parse due to heavy clauses. Heavy clauses tend to be shifted right to get the light weight ones earlier. And when both agent and patient are free words, the normal order of patient before agent may be switched if the patient is particularly heavy. I'm not sure whether I will introduce word order rules depending on focus or topic, because I will have a focus particle and I have a topicative case already.
> I have seen languages where people just specify "free" word order > without giving any guide to how exactly the pragmatics affect the order, > which really isn't helpful, since the rules applied do seem to vary from > language to language in ordering the "free" arguments of the verb.
Right. I once thought about a free word order language with strong suffixaufnahme, so that all words in subordinate clauses are marked for the role in which the clause occurs in the matrix clause, too. This way, the order of words would *really* be totally free. However, this marking felt a bit unwise, so I dropped the design. (It is not deleted, so maybe one day...) **Henrik


Isaac Penzev <isaacp@...>