V2 word order

V2 word order

Verb-second (V2) word order, in syntax, is the rule in some languages that the second constituent of declarative main clauses is always a verb, while this is not necessarily the case in other types of clauses.

V2 effect

The V2 effect is clearly demonstrated in the following Dutch sentences:

It may seem that the verb is in the third position in the last sentence, but it is the second "constituent"; the first constituent is "dit boek" (this book) (note how the following is ungrammatical: *"Dit las boek ik gisteren"). Note the contrast with the following embedded clauses:

Note that the last example would normally be perceived as too awkward and be replaced with the straight-forward "Ich wollte dieses Buch lesen können", unless the speaker wants to emphasize tense.


V2 word order is primarily associated with Germanic languages, English being a notable exception. (French, a Romance language, had a V2 stage, and Kashmiri and some Rhaeto-Romance languages currently do.) Other verbs are placed in the position dictated by the prevailing word order of the language: in otherwise SVO languages, such as Swedish and Icelandic, the verb is placed after the subject but before the object; in otherwise SOV languages, such as German and Dutch, the verb is placed after the object.

In addition, there are two prime distinctions of V2 languages. The CP-V2 languages such as Swedish and German only allow the movement in main clauses. On the other hand, the IP-V2 languages such as Icelandic and Yiddish require movement in subclauses too. Kashmiri constitutes a third, intermediate type in which there is "movement" in main clauses and sentential-object clauses but not in relative clauses. The CP and IP refer to a particular theory of grammar in which there is a position known as the complementiser, to which the verb moves in CP-V2 languages. Finding it already occupied by the complementiser pronoun 'that' in subclauses, movement is prohibited. On the other hand, in IP languages, a position known as I is found directly after the C position, which is never occupied (except after V2 movement) and thus movement is allowed in subclauses. Although this theory is explained with reference to a particular theory, the difference between Swedish and German grammar on the one hand and Icelandic and Yiddish grammar on the other is real, and the terms 'CP-V2' and 'IP-V2' are used even by those who do not subscribe to the theory.

An earlier stage of English was V2, and some vestiges of its former structure have remained in fixed phrases such as 'so am I', adverbial time phrases such as 'not once has he bothered to phone', and productive structures like 'I didn't go and neither did he', with the verb before the subject ('I' and 'he', respectively). It has been argued that [http://www.ling.upenn.edu/~kroch/omev2-html/omev2-html.html older English word order was of the SVO, IP-V2 sort] , and it is easy to see how such an order can with little change develop into a simple SVO language as is Modern English today.



German, and Dutch examples, Dutch being the first example given.
* I READ THIS BOOK YESTERDAY.::Ik las dit boek gisteren.::Ich las dieses Buch gestern.
* YESTERDAY READ I THIS BOOK.::Gisteren las ik dit boek.::Gestern las ich dieses Buch.
* I SAID THAT I THIS BOOK YESTERDAY READ.::Ik zei dat ik dit boek gisteren las.::Ich sagte, dass ich dieses Buch gestern las.
* I SAID THAT I YESTERDAY THIS BOOK READ.::Ik zei dat ik gisteren dit boek las.::Ich sagte, dass ich gestern dieses Buch las.


ex. Swedish*
* I READ THAT HERE BOOK YESTERDAY.::Jag läste den här boken igår.
* YESTERDAY READ I THAT HERE BOOK.::Igår läste jag den här boken.
* YOU KNOW THAT I READ THAT HERE BOOK YESTERDAY.::Du vet att jag läste den här boken igår.
* YOU KNOW THAT I CERTAINLY READ THAT HERE BOOK YESTERDAY.::Du vet att jag ju läste den här boken igår.

*Note that Swedish use determinative pronouns and adjectives differently than West Germanic languages. Unlike in West Germanic, words directly corresponding to this/these and that/those are generally not used, with the preferred way using fixed phrases, with positional adjectives markers, lit. approximation "den/det här"("the(sing.) here")=this, "den/det där"("the(sing.) there")=that", de här("the(plur.) here")=these, de där("the(plur.) there")=those. There are words formally used for "this", denna/denne/detta and "these" dessa, but there are no direct words corresponding to "that" or "those".


ex. Icelandic, Yiddish, examples in Yiddish:
* I READ THE BOOK TODAY.::Ikh leyen dos bukh haynt.
* TODAY READ I THE BOOK.::Haynt leyen ikh dos bukh.
* YOU KNOW THAT I READ THE BOOK TODAY.::Du veyst, az ikh leyen dos bukh haynt.
* YOU KNOW THAT TODAY READ I THE BOOK.::Du veyst, az haynt leyen ikh dos bukh.


ex. Kashmiri
*I read this book today.::mye per yi kyitaab az.
* Today read I this book.::az per mye yi kyitaab.
* I said that I read this book today.::mye von zyi mye per yi kyitaab az.
* I said that today read I this book.::mye von zyi az per mye yi kyitaab.
*This is the book which I today read.::yi chi swa kyitaab ywas mye az per.
*This is the book which I said that I read today.::yi chi swa kyitaab ywas mye veny zyi mye per az.

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Look at other dictionaries:

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  • word order — n. the arrangement of words in a phrase, clause, or sentence …   English World dictionary

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  • word order — noun Date: 1882 the order or arrangement of words in a phrase, clause, or sentence …   New Collegiate Dictionary

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  • Word order — Порядок слов …   Краткий толковый словарь по полиграфии

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