Subject Object Verb


Subject Object Verb

In linguistic typology, Subject Object Verb (SOV) is the type of languages in which the subject, object, and verb of a sentence appear or usually appear in that order. If English were SOV, then "Sam oranges ate" would be an ordinary sentence.

Incidence

Among natural languages with a word order preference, SOV is the most common type (followed by Subject Verb Object; the two types account for more than 75% of natural languages with a preferred order). [cite book
last = Crystal
first = David
authorlink = David Crystal
title = The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language
edition = 2nd edition
year = 1997
publisher = Cambridge University Press
location = Cambridge
id = ISBN 0-521-55967-7
] Languages that prefer SOV structure include Ainu, Akkadian, Amharic, Armenian, Aymara, Basque, Bengali, Burmese, Burushaski, Elamite, Hindi, Hittite, Hopi, Itelmen, Japanese, Kannada, Korean, Kurdish, Manchu, Marathi, Mongolian, Navajo, Nepali, Nivkh, Nobiin, Pāli, Pashto, Persian, Punjabi, Quechua, Sanskrit, Sinhalese and most other Indo-Iranian languages, Somali and virtually all other Cushitic languages, Sumerian, Tamil, Tibetan, Telugu, Tigrinya, Turkic languages, Urdu, Yukaghir, and virtually all Caucasian languages.

Standard Mandarin is SVO, but for simple sentences in clear context, word order is flexible enough to allow for SOV or OSV. German and Dutch are considered SVO in conventional typology and SOV in generative grammar. For example, in German, a basic sentence such as "Ich sage etwas über Karl" ("I say something about Karl") is in SVO word order. When a conjunction like "dass" ("that" in English) is used, the verb appears at the end of the sentence, rendering the word order SOV. A possible such sentence in SOV word order would be: "Ich sage, dass Karl einen Gürtel gekauft hat." (A literal English translation would be: "I say that Karl a belt bought has.")

Properties

SOV languages have a strong tendency to use postpositions rather than prepositions, to place auxiliary verbs after the action verb, to place genitive noun phrases before the possessed noun, to place a name before a title or honorific ("James Uncle" and "Johnson Doctor" rather than "Uncle James" and "Doctor Johnson"), and to have subordinators appear at the end of subordinate clauses. They have a weaker but significant tendency to place demonstrative adjectives before the nouns they modify. Relative clauses preceding the nouns to which they refer usually signals SOV word order, though the reverse does not hold: SOV languages feature prenominal and postnominal relative clauses roughly equally. SOV languages also seem to exhibit a tendency towards using a Time-Manner-Place ordering of prepositional phrases.

One can usefully distinguish two types of SOV language in terms of their type of marking. The first, referred to in linguistic typology as dependent-marking, has case markers to distinguish the subject and the object, which allows it to use the variant OSV word order without ambiguity. This type usually places adjectives and numerals before the nouns they modify and is exclusively suffixing without prefixes. SOV languages of this first type include Japanese and Tamil.

The second is head-marking and distinguishes subject and object by affixes on the verb rather than markers on the nouns. It also differs from the dependent-marking SOV language in using prefixes as well as suffixes, usually for tense and possession. Because adjectives in this type are much more verb-like than in depedent-marking SOV languages, they usually follow the nouns. In most SOV languages with a significant level of head-marking or verb-like adjectives, numerals and related quantifiers (like "all", "every") also follow the nouns they modify. A language of this type is Navajo.

In practice, of course, the distinction between these two types is far from sharp. Many SOV languages are substantially double-marking and tend to exhibit properties intermediate between the two idealised types above.

Examples


= Japanese =

Latin

Although Latin is an inflected language, the most usual word order is SOV.

Again, there are multiple valid translations ("a slave", etc) that do not affect the overall analysis.

Pashto

ee also

*Topic-prominent language
*Subject Verb Object
*Object Subject Verb
*Object Verb Subject
*Verb Object Subject
*Verb Subject Object

References


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