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 Post subject: Most Logical Word Order
PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2016 8:09 pm 
Niš
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I'm designing a language with more emphasis on logic and would like to know, which of the 6 word orders would be considered the most logical? Though I could simply be biased by my English-speaking background, I feel as if the most logical is SVO. For example, in Jim hit Bill, it is ordered chronologically. For Jim to hit Bill, Jim and Bill must (1) be at the location. Jim (2) throws a punch, (3) causing Bill to be hit. I'd love to hear any constructive criticism. -Škjakto

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PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2016 8:27 pm 
Smeric
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Your argument doesn't rule out SOV.

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PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2016 9:12 pm 
Sanci
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Well, in formal logic, I'm a big fan of Łukasiewicz notation, which corresponds nicely to VSO. Conversely, if you prefer RPN, then I guess that corresponds to SOV.

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PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2016 9:29 pm 
Smeric
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I do not really see how any of the six word orders are particularly logical compared to each other.

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PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2016 9:41 pm 
Smeric
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Me, neither. I have never heard of any such thing as a "most logical word order." I don't think I think of natural languages as logical in general.


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PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2016 9:49 pm 
Smeric
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isn't it great when the "most logical" solution is the one you were using already


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PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2016 1:01 am 
Lebom
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it depends what you mean by "logical." but if you adopt Kayne's antisymmetry approach to linearization, then SVO is the optimal word order.


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PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2016 1:34 am 
Lebom
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Almost 20 yrs ago I decided to use SOV for all my languages. My argument was that it was the best for embedding in serntences with more than one verb, Because in SVO langs, if you have 2 verbs, the only way to do it in one sentence is to make the object of the 1st verb the subj of the 2nd. e.g. "this is the DOG that scared the CAT that ate teh RAT". but if you use SOV, you have the additional possiblity of giving either the S or the O 2 verbs. e.g. "Boy lollipop eat, milk drink." ---> "the boy that ate the lollipop is drinking his milk". Obv, its not that hard to just use a pronoun like "he" or "who" and make the SVO languages like English do the same thing, but I have always preferred conlangs that use lots of big words and few or no little ones. Thus I avoud pronouns wherever possible.

my first language used VO for the special case of passive verbs. e.g. "defeat army" ----> "the army was defeated." However, that was because it was an isolating language. now, i use inflections to mark verbs as passive.

sorry for bad typing, my eyes are bothering me

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PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2016 2:13 am 
Avisaru
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PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2016 3:01 am 
Avisaru
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I suppose you could argue that if you put agents on one side of the verb and patients on the other exclusively, as in an active-stative alignment, then you might argue that the most logical is either SVO or OVS, but even then I would still say that there is nothing inherently more "logical" about any one order.

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PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2016 6:29 am 
Avisaru
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My conlang is also designed to be what you might call "logical", so I've given this some thought too.

As mentioned, VSO is the standard in formal logic, and many other kinds of formal languages. More generally, we tend to write the operation first and the argument later, like f(x), for example. Natural languages, as you may know, also have the tendency to put the "arguments" after; linguists call them "head" and "dependant", so we get head-initial and head-final languages. You could certainly argue that a logical language should be strictly one or the other. I think head-initial is a good deal more common, and it does seem more logical, since it puts the "important stuff" first, in some sense.

Natural languages also have a tendency to put topic before comment - that is, first the thing you are talking about, and then the thing you are saying about it. Subjects are often topics, which might be the reason why subject before object is so common.

You don't necessarily have to think of the verb as the head, though. Comparing with programming languages, sometimes the subject is basically seen as the head. But that would be pretty unorthodox for this kind of conlang.

Depending on where you're going with the logicalness, SVO might have another advantage. Since it puts one noun phrase on each side of the verb, you can drop one of them without ambiguity.
Example: "Quiet evening yesterday. Watched Batman. Bob cooked."
You can tell that "Batman" is an object, and "Bob" is a subject, because one is before the verb and one is after.

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PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2016 9:20 am 
Sumerul
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I tend to find claims that certain features in languages are "more logical" to be questionable at best myself.

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PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2016 12:22 pm 
Sanno
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PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2016 12:36 pm 
Sumerul
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Dibotahamdn duthma jallni agaynni ra hgitn lakrhmi.
Amuhawr jalla vowa vta hlakrhi hdm duthmi xaja.
Irdro. Irdro. Irdro. Irdro. Irdro. Irdro. Irdro.


Last edited by Travis B. on Fri May 27, 2016 11:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2016 3:45 pm 
Avisaru
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My instinct is for a topic-first interpretation being the primary one, but as you put it, this naturally leads to a tendency for subject-first word orders. So it's nevertheless a relevant result for strict word order languages.


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PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2016 3:15 am 
Lebom
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to me, the reason "the most logical word order" is somewhat meaningless is that "subject" in the word order sense is a purely syntactic notion, and moreover one that conflates several different concepts, like 'agent', 'topic', 'animate'. logic deals with concepts, and it's not clear that agents, topics, and high-animacy entities are all "prior" in some sense to patients, comments, and low-animacy entities. moreover, i don't think we can take for granted that something coming first in word order means it's more important, more urgent or more salient. the whole "basic word order" idea is really just a useful generalization, but things like subjecthood and linear order are not quite as clear in reality as they are in our pretheoretical notions.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 02, 2016 11:54 am 
Avisaru
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 02, 2016 12:54 pm 
Sanci
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No grammatical feature is more logical than any other, as far as natural languages are concerned. You can make an SVO language if you want but that isn't more logical. I would say the most logical word order is to put the most important word first but I can't prove that's more logical so I can't claim that.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 02, 2016 12:58 pm 
Smeric
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Good luck on coming to a consensus with other people on what word is the most important...

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 02, 2016 3:32 pm 
Avisaru
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