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Re: Prefixes and typology

From:Patrick Littell <puchitao@...>
Date:Monday, May 30, 2005, 2:20
On 5/29/05, Chris Bates <chris.maths_student@...> wrote:
> > I may be wrong, but I think VOS languages are the most common of the OS > type (although still pretty rare). OVS and OSV are rarer... > > Yup. It's still pretty rare, but if the studies so far are
representative*, VOS probably greatly outnumbers the other two put together. I'd estimate, oh, 100 VOS languages out there in the world, depending on how one counts them. I'd be surprised if there are more than 30 or so OVS/OSV languages total. (Incidentally, are there any of them outside the Amazon Basin?) You tend to find VSO and VOS in close genetic and areal proximity. (And quite a few languages that are happily fluid between the two.) It seems pretty common for languages to shift between them over time. My own guess is that this is due to shifts in priority between the two constraints "Put the subject before the object" and "Keep the verb phrase intact.". Subjectively, VOS doesn't seem at all "weird" to me, the way OVS and OSV feel. To me, there doesn't seem anything "counter-intuitive" to parsing Malagasy or Tseltal. OVS and OSV feel strange to me. Pat *The largest study I've seen was about 1,000 languages, and maybe 25 of them were VOS. -- Patrick Littell PHIL205: MWF 2:00-3:00, M 6:00-9:00 Voice Mail: ext 744 Spring 05 Office Hours: M 3:00-6:00