LINGUIST List 13.3188

Wed Dec 4 2002

Qs: Canonical Order, Conditional Sentences

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  2. Rita Moraes, Conditional Sentences - Semantics

Message 1: Canonical order

Date: Wed, 4 Dec 2002 10:23:34 -0600 (CST)
Subject: Canonical order

Dear List:

I am directing a thesis on punctuation in Spanish (reputedly, and
pretty much in fact, a 'free word order' language), in which the
student is trying to postulate punctuation rules based on the
'canonical order' of Spanish constituents and its variations.

I have the very firm idea that canonical order is that in part because
it is the most frequent order in the language. However, I have done
no research on this supposed fact, and cannot think of any offhand.
Does anyone know of any work on the relative frequency of sentences in
canonical order and those showing variation in that order? Of course,
this would be especially useful in a 'free word order' language like
Spanish, but anything would be welcome. Likewise, she would be
interested in the relative frequency of the different orders of the
basic elements, if anyone knows of any work on that (one type of
sentence and its variants that she is working with is SUBJECT - VERB -
OBJECT - CIRCUMSTANTIAL_COMPLEMENT -- the last is normally a
prepositional phrase or adverbial phrase; this would produce in
principle 24 different orders in this case, *all* of which are
attested and attestable in Spanish, though presumably with rather
different relative frequencies of use).

She would also like to know who was the first person to coin the term
'canonical order', or to whom it is attributed. (Or is it just an
idea that 'grew'? This last seems to me to be unlikely, but if anyone
has any really old references to the notion, I guess I might have to
accept it)


James L. Fidelholtz	e-mail:
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Message 2: Conditional Sentences - Semantics

Date: Wed, 04 Dec 2002 14:13:42 +0000
From: Rita Moraes <>
Subject: Conditional Sentences - Semantics


I'd like to know what is the semantic function of the conditional
sentences. I also ask if someone has hints or papers about
conditional sentences in english or mainly in portuguese.


Subject-Language: English;Portuguese; Code: POR 

Language-Family: English;Latin Subgroup; Code: IEJAA
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