Word
order
English
equivalent
Proportion
of languages
Example
languages
SOV "She him loves." 45% 45
 
Sanskrit, Hindi, Ancient Greek, Latin, Japanese, Korean
SVO "She loves him." 42% 42
 
Chinese, English, French, Hausa, Italian, Malay, Russian, Spanish
VSO "Loves she him." 9% 9
 
Biblical Hebrew, Arabic, Irish, Filipino, Tuareg-Berber, Welsh
VOS "Loves him she." 3% 3
 
Malagasy, Baure
OVS "Him loves she." 1% 1
 
Apalaí, Hixkaryana
OSV "Him she loves." 0% Warao, (certain dialects of) Korean
Frequency distribution of word order in languages surveyed by Russell S. Tomlin in 1980s[1][2]
()

In linguistic typology, object–subject–verb (OSV) or object–agent–verb (OAV) is a classification of languages, based on whether the structure predominates in pragmatically-neutral expressions. It is occasionally used in English: "Him I know."

Contents

Unmarked word orderEdit

Natural languagesEdit

OSV is rarely used in unmarked sentences, those using a normal word order without emphasis. Most languages that use OSV as their default word order come from the Amazon basin, such as Xavante, Jamamadi, Apurinã, Kayabí and Nadëb.[3] Here is an example from Apurinã:[3]

anana nota apa
pineapple I fetch
I fetch a pineapple

British Sign Language (BSL) normally uses topic–comment structure, but its default word order when topic–comment structure is not used as OSV.

Marked word orderEdit

Various languages allow OSV word order but only in marked sentences, those that emphasise part or all of the sentence.

American Sign LanguageEdit

American Sign Language uses topics to set up referent loci.

ASL normally also uses topic–comment structure, similar to BSL.

ArabicEdit

Arabic also allows OSV in marked sentences:

إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ وَإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينَ.
Iyyāka naʿbudu wa-iyyāka nastaʿīn
You alone we worship, and You alone we ask for help.

English and GermanEdit

In English and German, OSV appears primarily in relative clauses if the relative pronoun is the (direct or indirect) object: "What I do is my own business" and "Was ich mache, ist meine Angelegenheit."

In English, OSV appears in the future tense or as a contrast with the conjunction but: "Rome I shall see!" and "Oranges I may hate; (but)* Apples I shall eat!"[citation needed]

  • Note: The inclusion of the word "But" may be optional.

HebrewEdit

In Modern Hebrew, OSV is often used instead of the normal SVO to emphasise the object: while אני אוהב אותה would mean "I love her", "אותה אני אוהב" would mean "It is she whom I love".[4] Possibly an influence of Germanic (via Yiddish), as Jewish English uses a similar construction ("You, I like, kid")—see above —much more than many other varieties of English, and often with the "but" left implicit.

HungarianEdit

In Hungarian, OSV emphasises the subject:

A szócikket én szerkesztettem = The article/I/edited (It was I, not somebody else, who edited the article).

Korean and JapaneseEdit

Korean and Japanese have SOV by default, but word order is relatively free if the verb is at the end, and OSV is common if the object is topicalised.

Sentence 그 사과었어요.
Words 사과 어요
Romanization geu sagwa neun je ga meog eoss eoyo.
Gloss the/that apple (topicalization marker) I (polite) (sub. marker) eat (past) (polite)
Parts Object Subject Verb
Translation It is I who ate that apple. (or) As for the apple, I ate it. (or) The apple was eaten by me.

An almost identical syntax is possible in Japanese:

Sentence そのりんご食べました。
Words その りんご 食べ まし た。
Romanization sono ringo wo watashi ga tabe mashi ta.
Gloss the/that apple (object marker) I (sub. marker) eat (polite) (past/perfect)
Parts Object Subject Verb
Translation It is I who ate that apple.

MalayalamEdit

OSV is one of two permissible word orders in Malayalam, the other being SOV.

NahuatlEdit

OSV emphasises the object in Nahuatl.[5]

Cah cihuah in niquintlazohtla
(indicative marker) women (topicalization marker) I-them-love
women I love them
It is the women whom I love.

TurkishEdit

OSV is used in Turkish to emphasise the subject:

Yemeği ben pişirdim = The meal/I/cooked (It was I, not somebody else, who cooked the meal).

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Meyer, Charles F. (2010). Introducing English Linguistics International (Student ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  2. ^ Tomlin, Russell S. (1986). Basic Word Order: Functional Principles. London: Croom Helm. p. 22. ISBN 9780709924999. OCLC 13423631.
  3. ^ a b O'Grady, W. et al Contemporary Linguistics (3rd edition, 1996) ISBN 0-582-24691-1
  4. ^ Friedmann, Naama; Shapiro, Lewis (April 2003). "Agrammatic comprehension of simple active sentence with moved constituents: Hebrew OSV and OVS structures". Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research. 46 (2): 288–97. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2003/023). PMID 14700372.
  5. ^ Introduction to Classical Nahuatl[vague]