Word Order

Linguists use symbols such as SOV to describe the canonical word order in a language. The letters stand for Subject, Object, Verb, and the six possibilities are given below:

And less often:

Languages differ in the flexibility of word order. In a given language more than one of the above possibilities may be observed, but one is usually more frequent than the others. Most Spanish sentences are SVO for example, but questions are usually VSO.

Most programming languages are SVO. Forth and the like are either SOV or OSV depending on how you look at it. Lisp is VSO.

I disagree. Most programming languages do not distinguish between subject and object (as do not many natural languages), which points to a weakness in this whole taxonomy. I'd say most OO languages are SVO, Forth is OV, Lisp is VO. But some higher-order functions work like adverbials, so Lisp (map f list) is, in my opinion, AVO. Yet in a deeper sense, pure functional languages do not have verbs, only descriptions -- f x does not read "do f to x" but only "f of x".

See also PerliGata.

EnglishLanguage is ALL of these:

 SVO: I run home. (Normal)
 SOV: I, to home, run. (Poetic)
 VSO: Run I to home. (Poetic)
 OVS: To home run I. (Poetic)
 OSV: To home I run. (Poetic)
 VOS: Run home, I do. (Yoda)

Why must the direction "to" be added to all but SVO where direction is implied?

"Home" doesn't seem to be an object; in fact, I don't think "run" is a transitive verb. A better example would probably be where OSV is used in conversation for emphasis. "That, I'd like to see." Or, an actual as opposed to hypothetical usage: Southwards aye we fled, from the Rhyme of the ancient mariner.

Run isn't transitive, but it can take an indirect object, which is normally signified with "to". I guess it's understood in the first example.

English is really SVO, but it uses others for poetry and yoda as noted above. Yoda doesn't need a to either.

IIRC, GermanLanguage has this rule that most sentences are SVO, unless there's an adverb or a clause up front, in which case the verb cuts ahead of the subject:

 "Ich gehe heim."
 "Morgen gehe ich heim."

It probably helps that German declines nouns for case.

German nouns are inflected for number. There are blanket declensions for case are Gentive (des Mannes) and Dative plural (von den Buechern). A handful of nouns also have inflections for the Accusative but these are mainly historical accidents (fuer den Knaben).

I don't think German does that. It declines articles for case, but that's not always enough to make a difference. Also, OVS is also permitted in German sentences, just so long as the verb comes second. At least the version we were taught.

As a NativeSpeaker? of the related DutchLanguage, I'll try to help. Dutch is SOV, but is affected by what is called V2; in the main sentence, the flexed verb is moved to second position.

 "... dat ik melk drink." (SOV)                     -> "Ik drink melk." (SV2O)                      = "I drink milk." (SVO)
 "... dat ik melk zal moeten kunnen drinken." (SOV) -> "Ik zal melk moeten kunnen drinken." (SV2OV) = "I will have to be able to drink milk." (SVO)

-- AalbertTorsius. (let's discuss this on DutchWordOrder)


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