Word Order - Pragmatic Word Order

Pragmatic Word Order

Some languages do not have a fixed word order. In these languages there is often a significant amount of morphological marking to disambiguate the roles of the arguments; however there are also languages in which word order is fixed even though the degree of marking would enable free word order, and languages with free word order, such as some varieties of Datooga, which have free word order combined with a lack of morphological distinction between arguments. Typologically there is a trend that highly animate actors are more likely to be topical than low-animate undergoers, this trend would come through even in free-word-order languages giving a statistical bias for SO order (or OS in the case of ergative systems, however ergative systems do not usually extend to the highest levels of animacy, usually giving way to some form of nominative system at least in the pronominal system). Most languages with a high degree of morphological marking have rather flexible word orders such as Latin, Portuguese, Romanian, Hungarian, Serbo-Croatian, Russian (in intransitive clauses), and Finnish. In some of those, a canonical order can still be identified, but in others this is not possible.

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