Word Order Tendencies

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eldin raigmore
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Re: Word Order Tendencies

Post by eldin raigmore »

xingoxa wrote:There seems to be some kind of relationship between word order and the prevalence of ergativity.

Verb-final SOV languages are quite often ergative.
Verb-initial VSO languages are sometimes ergative.
Verb-medial SVO languages are rarely (perhaps some would claim never) ergative.

For some reason.
Is that true? ( edit ): WALS.info seems to back it up, so I guess it is. ( / edit )

I checked WALS.info.

The Word-Order features having to do with Verbs are 81, 82, 83, and 84.

The Alignment features are 98, 99, and 100.

In http://wals.info/feature/combined/98A/81A,
150 languages have both features recorded;
78 (52%) are verb-final, 52 (35%) are verb-medial, and 20 (13%) are verb-initial;
20 (13%) are ergative, and 130 (87%) are non-ergative.

Out of the 78 verb-final languages, 16 (21%) are ergative.
Out of the 52 verb-medial languages, 1 (2%) is ergative.
Out of the 20 verb-initial languages, 3 (15%) are ergative.

Out of the 20 ergative languages, 16 (80%) are verb-final, 3 (15%) are verb-initial, and 1 (5%) is verb-medial.
Out of the 130 non-ergative languages, 62 (48%) are verb-final, 51 (39%) are verb-medial, and 17 (13%) are verb-initial.

You'd have to do a chi-square test to see whether the correlation "verb-medial means non-ergative" is statistically significant.

Or to decide whether the statistical correlation between verb-final and ergative is statistically significant.

If word-order and morphosyntactic alignment were statistically independent
you would expect to see 2% of the languages be verb-initial and ergative, just as you do,
and expect to see 11% of them be verb-initial and non-ergative, as compared with the 12% that are.

But you'd expect to see 5% be verb-medial and ergative, instead of the 1% that is;
you'd expect to see 7% be verb-final and ergative, instead of the 11% that are;
you'd expect to see 30% be verb-medial and non-ergative, instead of the 34% that are;
and you'd expect to see 45% be verb-initial and non-ergative, instead of the 41% that are.

Is that significant?

So; why is it that verb-medial languages tend not to be ergative and ergative languages tend not to be verb-medial?

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http://wals.info/feature/combined/99A/81A and http://wals.info/feature/combined/100A/81A show just about the same correlation, ANAICT.

http://wals.info/feature/combined/98A/82A, http://wals.info/feature/combined/99A/82A, and http://wals.info/feature/combined/100A/82A don't show any immediately-obvious-to-me correlation between alignment and the "SV or VS" feature.

But http://wals.info/feature/combined/98A/83A and http://wals.info/feature/combined/99A/83A seem to show that OV languages outnumber VO languages about 5 to 1 among ergative languages, while there're almost as meany VO languages as OV languages among all alignments taken together.

http://wals.info/feature/combined/100A/83A, http://wals.info/feature/combined/98A/84A, http://wals.info/feature/combined/99A/84A, and http://wals.info/feature/combined/100A/84A, probably shed less light on the subject; or if they shed light on it I don't see it yet.
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Xing
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Re: Word Order Tendencies

Post by Xing »

eldin raigmore wrote:
So; why is it that verb-medial languages tend not to be ergative and ergative languages tend not to be verb-medial?
Don't know. Here is an attempt to explain this tendency within a minimalist framework: Excluding SVO in Ergative Languages: A New View on Mahajan’s Generalisation
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CarsonDaConlanger
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Re: Word Order Tendencies

Post by CarsonDaConlanger »

What about the placement of adjectives-adverbs? I.E very tall.
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eldin raigmore
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Re: Word Order Tendencies

Post by eldin raigmore »

CarsonDaConlanger wrote: 05 Dec 2018 01:30 What about the placement of adjectives-adverbs? I.E very tall.
https://wals.info/chapter/91, “Order of Degree Word and Adjective”

Here are Feature 91A interacting with each alignment feature:

https://wals.info/combinations/91A_98A#2/19.7/154.7

https://wals.info/combinations/91A_99A#2/19.7/154.7

https://wals.info/combinations/91A_100A#2/19.7/151.7

Can you do the math yourself?

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________


Features involving order and adjectives are:
Feature 87A: Order of Adjective and Noun
Feature 91A: Order of Degree Word and Adjective
Feature 97A: Relationship between the Order of Object and Verb and the Order of Adjective and Noun

There are other WALS.info features concerning adjectives (but not order), and other features concerning order (but not adjectives).
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CarsonDaConlanger
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Re: Word Order Tendencies

Post by CarsonDaConlanger »

eldin raigmore wrote: 05 Dec 2018 03:17 https://wals.info/chapter/91, “Order of Degree Word and Adjective”

Here are Feature 91A interacting with each alignment feature:

https://wals.info/combinations/91A_98A#2/19.7/154.7

https://wals.info/combinations/91A_99A#2/19.7/154.7

https://wals.info/combinations/91A_100A#2/19.7/151.7

Can you do the math yourself?

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Thanks!
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Re: Word Order Tendencies

Post by k1234567890y »

Xing wrote: 10 Oct 2011 18:11 There seems to be some kind of relationship between word order and the prevalence of ergativity.

Verb-final SOV languages are quite often ergative.
Verb-initial VSO languages are sometimes ergative.
Verb-medial SVO languages are rarely (perhaps some would claim never) ergative.

For some reason.
According to WALS data, there's only one SVO ergative language, there are no SVO languages with tripartite or active-stative alignments on nouns: https://wals.info/combinations/81A_98A#2/26.8/149.4 , by comparison, there are 9 conlangs with SVO + ergative on nouns, 2 conlangs with SVO + tripartite on nouns, 4 conlangs with SVO + Active-inactive on nouns: https://cals.conlang.org/feature/81+98/

The only SVO + ergative on noun language is the Paumarí language in South America: https://wals.info/languoid/lect/wals_code_pau

However, according to Wikipedia, Paumarí is not purely SVO, SOV and OVS word orders are also possible in Paumarí, and Paumarí applies different case marking systems for different word orders; moreover, Paumarí uses postpositions instead of prepositions; besides, if one does not look at the "Order of Subject, Object and Verb", and only look at the "Order of Object and Verb", it shows that Paumarí does not have a fixed order between object and verb.

Also there's a thesis about the mutual exclusivity between SVO order and ergativity with the title "Excluding SVO in Ergative Languages: A New View on Mahajan's Generalisation". One can find the thesis here: https://ling.auf.net/lingbuzz/000810
I prefer to not be referred to with masculine pronouns and nouns such as “he/him/his”.
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Re: Word Order Tendencies

Post by Pabappa »

Thanks for the information. All of my languages are SOV except some of the Dreamlandic languages .... and those outliers are also flirting with tripartite style alignments, which they evolved as part of the same process that turned them from SOV word order into variable but leaning SVO.

I can't really classify the Dreamlandic alignment precisely because it depends on noun class, but I will consider having them hurry on along towards a nominative/accusative setup now that I know that what i'm doing is unstable. In fact I could even say I've got the whole setup the wrong way around because while the vast majority of my languages are strictly SOV, most of those are also nom/acc or entirely without noun case marking.

I dont really need to know *why* SVO and tripartite dont get along, but it would be nice to see it all spelled out ... and more importantly, perhaps, why SVO and ergativity also dont get along, since i imagine there's probably a lot more ergative conlangs out there than tripartite.

Any theories? Is it just because of a general tendency to front-load information? by the time you get to the verb in an SOV language, you've already heard the nouns, so might as well put the alignment markers on the nouns too, which means nontraditional alignments are more likely to arise? that barely makes sense, though, because ergativity is no more front-loaded than nom/acc, so it's just a wild guess.

Perhaps there's something about reduced sentences, with only an experiencer and a verb, that makes ergativity more likely in SOV languages than in SVO.
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Re: Word Order Tendencies

Post by Salmoneus »

In SOV languages, subjects precede verbs. And in SOV languages, possessors generally precede nouns. Possessors and subjects can therefore be confused, as can verbs and nouns - and perhaps as a result, SOV languages tend to use a lot more participles, gerunds, verbal nouns, etc.

If you also assume that object-verbalnoun compounds can be formed, this leaves you with:

Verbal expression: John whale hunting (SOV)
Nominal expression: John's whale(-)hunting

The nominal expression is preferred in certain backgrounding contexts (or everywhere), and is re-interpreted as an ergative-absolutive verbal expression.


Not all ergative constructions are derived from verb-nominalisation, but a lot of them are - presumably enough to make ergativity much more common in SOV languages.
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