LINGUIST List 9.318

Wed Mar 4 1998

Qs: Word Order, HEL Movies, Formal Grammar Texts

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  1. bingfu, left-right assymetries of word order
  2. Johanna Rubba, HEL movies
  3. El-Kareh/Tharwat, formal grammar

Message 1: left-right assymetries of word order

Date: Fri, 27 Feb 1998 12:46:28 -0800 (PST)
From: bingfu <>
Subject: left-right assymetries of word order

Dear Netters:

	I am doing some research on left-right assymetries of word
order variation and need your help with data.

	The question is that head-final and -initial
languages/constructions often behave very differently with regard to
word order variations. For example, verb-initial languages have two
basic orders: VSO and VOS, and some verb-initial languages are just
indeterminate in this aspect; whereas almost all verb-final languages
consistently have SOV as the basic order.

	This left-right asymmetry is also displayed in NP internal
order: as shown in the following universal of NP internal word order:

 	When any or all of the modifiers (demonstrative, numeral, and
descrytive adjective) precede the noun, they (i.e., those that do
precede) are always found in that order. For those that follow, no
predictions are made, though the most frequent order is the
mirror-image of the order for precediogmodifiers. In no case does the
adjective preced e the head when the demonstrative or numeral follow.(
Hawkins 1983: 117-120).

The phenomon is also shown in language-internal word order variation.

	(1) a. 	el primer buen capitulo
	 	the first good chapter
		'the first good chapter'

	 b. * el buen primer capitulo
	 the good first chapter

	 c. el capitulo primero bueno
	 the chapter first good

	 d. el capitulo bueno primero
	 the chapter good first

When both modifiers primer(o) 'first' and buen(o) 'good' precede the
head noun capitulo 'chapter', only order (a), but not (b), is
allowed. However, when both follow, both (c) and (d) are allowed.

	All these observations seem to suggest that head-final
constructions are more consistent and stable than head-initial
constructions are in terms of canonical order. However, things can be
the other way round. For example, the verb-initial constructions that
composed of V, DO (Direct Object) and Ad (adverbial) are dominantly
use [V DO Ad]. In English, this order is strict and has been viewed as
a syntactic principle termed as the 'adjacency condition on case
assignment'. On the other hand, if verb-initial, the bias in ordering
is not obvious. Professor Matthew Dryer informed me that there are
some verb-final languages in which [Adv DO V] is preferred,
e.g. Bhojpuri; and others in which [DO Adv V] is preferred,
e.g. Kanuri, Harar Oromo, Kannada, Balti, Siane, Wambon, Suena,
Amele. Furthermore, in many SOV languages, both [O Adv V] and [Adv O
V] are common and it may be difficult to say which is more basic
order. In short, oders among V, DO and Ad indicatae that the
head-initial constructions is more stable than their head-final

	Either way, they all indicate some left-right asymmetries in
word order variation.

Now, what I need your help are:

1. Is there any recent discussion on the topic in the literature. I
already knew Tomlin's book. "Basic Word Order", I need to know
something newer.

2. Are there any languages that behave like English, which rigorously
allows only V DO Ad but not V Ad DO, unless clearly motivated by
processing ease (heavy NP shift)?

3. In your native langueages, what is the basic order for V, DO, Ad.

4. In addition, please translate the following sentences into your
native languages. If a translation allows various word orders, please
list them from more to less neutral, natural ones.

(1) He made fun of me three times

(2)He gave me gifts three times.

(3) He walked with a stick in the garden for three hours yesterday.

	Any reply will be most welcome and I will make a summary on
all replies.

			Bingfu Lu
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Message 2: HEL movies

Date: Mon, 2 Mar 1998 13:03:15 -0800 (PST)
From: Johanna Rubba <>
Subject: HEL movies

Hello, all. I would like to compile a list of feature films (or good
documentaries or TV series) that can be coordinated with a History of
the English Language course. I'm looking for recommended titles. I'm
especially interested in films that are (a) reasonably historically
accurate; (b) of reasonably good quality in acting and production; (c)
include rich period detail, esp. of daily life and of ordinary
people. I also would like to know about films that are not
historically accurate, but that are relatable to HEL as representative
of literary tropes (romance: Camelot) or are otherwise cleverly usable
(Monty Python and the Holy Grail). I know this sounds very open-ended
.... preferably, the films should deal with aspects of British or
British colonial history (including history of the various former
colonies). I'm interested in contemporary-era films that show ethnic
diversity within Britain, too, especially if there is alot of clear
dialect variety.

Film versions of great literature are of interest, but I'd like a list
that includes all sorts of stuff.

Here are some titles I have thought of myself or been tipped to by
-Rob Roy
-Brother Cadfael Mysteries (from PBS Mystery series)
-The Lion in Winter
-Monty Python and the Holy Grail

I'll post a summary to the list.

Johanna Rubba	Assistant Professor, Linguistics ~
English Department, California Polytechnic State University ~
San Luis Obispo, CA 93407 ~
Tel. (805)-756-2184 E-mail: ~ 
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Message 3: formal grammar

Date: Tue, 03 Mar 1998 18:28:40 +0200
From: El-Kareh/Tharwat <>
Subject: formal grammar

We are in need to introduce formal garmmar in an undergraduate course
to prepare future computational linguist so I need advice of a simple
introductory book I would even prefer if it had exercices with answers
thanks for our help you can answer at my personnal address and i will
summarize the answers nevervana
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