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zompist bboard • View topic - VO -> OV, prepositions -> postpositions?

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PostPosted: Wed May 19, 2010 9:49 am 
Lebom
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Say a language had relatively free word order - unmarked SVO, but also OSV, SOV (object can be fronted to topicalise/emphasise it, or put verb final for another special reason) and prepositions. Later the word order shifts to fixed verb final order. What would happen to the prepositions? Verb final with prepostions is supposedly against a strong universal. How would the situation resolve? Would/could the prepostion reanalyse as a postposition to the word before? Eg S na-O V -> S-na O V ? Any other ideas?

Is this change actually attested? If so, what happened?


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PostPosted: Wed May 19, 2010 10:00 am 
Avisaru
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Read one or more of the books that come up in .

My particular preference is , if only because I've already read it.

But to answer your questions, IMHG (in my humble guess) probably one or both of (because it includes "word-order correlates") or (because that's a well-studied actual historic example of such a change in a well-known natlang) would be better.

---
Hope that helps.


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PostPosted: Wed May 19, 2010 10:45 am 
Smeric
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In general I would expect the prepositions to stay prepositions. I think you've got the universal a bit backwards: strong postpositional systems are very restricted to OV languages, but strong prepositional systems (and mixed systems) are found in every kind of language. But it's certainly possible for a preposition system to gradually decay after a language changes to OV, as a result of new postposition creation. And it's probably possible for prepositions to become postpositions of the same nouns by moving from the beginning to the end of the noun phrase.

But in general, it is relatively rare for grammatical marker to switch from attaching to the word on one side to attaching to the word on the other, without itself changing position. And even then, when it does happen, it's when the marker in question is located between two types of word that are normally always found together in the same order, which can make it unimportant to know whether the marker attaches to the left or the right.

I can think of one possible exception that would work that way: a preposition marking accusative case on the direct object, which in SOV could conceivably turn into an ergative-marking postposition on the subject. But the whole prepositional system doing this in unison would be bizarre.


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PostPosted: Wed May 19, 2010 11:31 am 
Avisaru
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There are plenty of examples, after all. Most early attested IE languages had SOV dominant order, and almost a unanimous preference for prepositions. They all had suffixed noun case, of course, but the point is still valid.

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PostPosted: Wed May 19, 2010 2:02 pm 
Avisaru
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PostPosted: Wed May 19, 2010 2:29 pm 
Lebom
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FWIW, Baltic Finnic has kind of had the opposite change in word order: from predominantly SOV to predominantly SVO (word order is still relatively free, though). And yes, this has apparently affected the placement of adpositions to some degree; the system still favors postpositions, but is no longer exclusively postpositional. Several adpositions can even be placed either before or after the noun they modify, and it may well be that some which formerly tended to go after now tend to come before (ie. have effectively changed from postpositions into prepositions). Other prepositions are new ones that simply weren't there before the word order shift; they seem to have been derived from adverbial expressions and whatnot (and a couple have been borrowed from neighboring IE langs).

So I don't see why that couldn't work the other way around as well. The system would probably stay mainly prepositional, at least for some time, but gradually come to allow more and more postpositions as well.


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PostPosted: Wed May 19, 2010 3:22 pm 
Smeric
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I have just finished reading Ian Roberts, Diachronic Syntax, and he gives an example of a VSO >SOV change (citing Greenberg), namely in Ethiopian Semitic. Ge'ez, the liturgical language of the Ethiopian Christians, is a representative of the state before the change: it is as VSO as its sisters Hebrew and Arabic. Then, the Ethiopian Semitic languages shifted to verb-final order under the influence of neigbouring non-Semitic SOV languages; later, other word-order parameters changed, one after another, to harmonize with the SOV order. Several languages represent the stages of the change:

Ge'ez: VSO, NA, NGen, Prep
Tigre: SOV, NA, NGen, Prep
Tigrinya: SOV, AN, NGen, Prep
Amharic (14th cent.): SOV, AN, GenN, Prep
Harari: SOV, AN, GenN, Postp

(Tigre and Tigrinya are spoken more northward of Amharic, Harari to the south; the change propagated from south to north.)

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PostPosted: Wed May 19, 2010 3:37 pm 
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PostPosted: Wed May 19, 2010 3:56 pm 
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PostPosted: Thu May 20, 2010 2:06 am 
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PostPosted: Thu May 20, 2010 8:48 am 
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PostPosted: Thu May 20, 2010 10:10 am 
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PostPosted: Fri May 21, 2010 11:56 pm 
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PostPosted: Sat May 22, 2010 3:05 pm 
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