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Certainly, all languages have some restrictions on word order, even if it
is on the level of "keep words in the clause they belong in", eg. don't
move the object of a relative clause in front of the first word of the
main clause. Some word orders may not be possible for largely arbitrary
reasons. But among the word orders that are possible in a language,
each word order seems to have one or more specific semantic/pragmatic
functions, and the speaker doesn't really have complete freedom to use any
word order s/he feels like. I don't know Hungarian, but from the little
I've seen from presentations and been told by others in the know, it does
have a greatly many possible word orders, but they are constrained both in
the ways you mention and in the information structure (pragmatics).

Marcus


On Mon, 10 Sep 2001, Michael Poxon wrote:

> Dear Marcus,
>
> It is true that Hungarian has fairly free word order, but still has a
> certain amount of restraint even so (i.e., adjectives tend to precede their
> nouns, the stressed concept precedes the verb). And even in free word-order
> languages I think you'd be hard-pressed to find, for example, one in which
> an adverbial modifier preceded the imperative (i.e., here come vs. come
> here). Of course, you could get round this by having verbs which mean "come
> here" - something akin to "approach!". At the level of a bare-bones Verb
> Phrase "The man hit the boy" type word order in such languages may be free.
> Anything more complicated, involving relativity for example, will tend to
> condition structure. My own language Omeina uses a suffixed relative marker,
> An-te ai-na-di bere-n aito-de na (man-erg : did-he-me : see-that : father-my
> : is) = the man who saw me is my father (hyphens show morpheme boundaries in
> each case). Nested relative clauses are no problem, since each relative
> marker is suffixed to the relevant verb.
>
> Mike Poxon.
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "SMITH,MARCUS ANTHONY" <[log in to unmask]>
> To: <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Monday, September 10, 2001 7:04 PM
> Subject: Re: me and my languages
>
>
> > On Mon, 10 Sep 2001, Jesse Bangs wrote:
> >
> > > >     Anyway, I think I'm realizing my question here.  Is it feasible
> > > that
> > > > there could be a language with no preferred word order whatsoever
> since
> > > all
> > > > the information is encoded in the verb?
> > >
> > > Yes.  I have heard that Hungarian has no preferred word order (Frank
> > > Valoczy will verify this), and it isn't even as agglutinative as this.
> >
> > The question of whether a language has a preferred word order or not is, I
> > think, misframed. The question should address what kind of
> > pragmatic/semantic functions the various word orders play.