LINGUIST List 7.699

Thu May 16 1996

Disc: Syntactic Typology

Editor for this issue: Anthony Rodrigues Aristar <aristartam2000.tamu.edu>


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  1. Richard Cameron, Re: 7.691, Disc: Syntactic Typology
  2. Marc Hamann, Disc: Syntactic Typology

Message 1: Re: 7.691, Disc: Syntactic Typology

Date: Wed, 15 May 1996 15:20:01 CDT
From: Richard Cameron <U17819UICVM.CC.UIC.EDU>
Subject: Re: 7.691, Disc: Syntactic Typology
In Matthew Dryer's very interesting posting on Syntactic Typology and
Syntactic Change he wrote the following:
 "..a number of Austronesian languages in Papua, New Guinea have apparently
 changed from VO to SOV due to contact with Non-Austronesian Papuan
 languages."
Where is evidence for this published or available?
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Message 2: Disc: Syntactic Typology

Date: Wed, 15 May 1996 17:03:33 EDT
From: Marc Hamann <gmhamannresunix.ri.sickkids.on.ca>
Subject: Disc: Syntactic Typology
I would like to weigh in on this topic of syntactic typology distributions
with two points.

1. From a statistical point of view, it might be more interesting to study
the number of speakers who use languages with a given order. This would
allow the sample to even out historical accidents of merely local interest,
since presumably to have a very large number of speakers, a language must
operate across many cultures or a least across many subcultures. Thus a
family of 50 related languages with few speakers in a geographically
isolated area will not throw the cross-linguistic sample out of whack.

2. The movement from SOV to SVO cases that I know of, including
pidginization, are frequently observed in conjunction with loss of distinct
case marking. This suggests that separating the potentially confused NPs
with the clearly distinct verb might have some functional advantage. This
is somewhat supported by the reverse case in Mandarin Chinese, where the
normal SVO order is transposed to SOV in certain cases where the object is
marked by the prepositon "ba". In other words, it's OK to have S and O
side by side if they are clearly marked.

- ---
Marc Hamann Ph:(416) 813-5779
Database Developer/Programmer
Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto,Ontario
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