BH, word order, randy buth

yochanan bitan ButhFam at compuserve.com
Sun Sep 12 13:16:47 EDT 1999


> (1)   (P!)  Pn V S O X
>now it just happens that with an overt subject (S), S is promoted to
>Pn a good amount of the time (as would be expected). so even in your
>terms, a (1) structure would be SVOX most of the time on the surface.

actually, not. at least not if you change "good amount of the time" (line
2) to "most..." (line 3).
VSO is still statistically dominant (though statistical dominance is a
secondary concern for FG, GB and any generative theory.). 
of course, if one deletes vav ha-hippux (though i don't accept that,
historically or functionally), then narrative clauses are mostly SVO --
EXCEPT when non-subject terms come first: OVS, XVS. These last two show
that deepstructure is still VSO, since OSV and XSV are not the common
result. You might want to compare similar things happening in subordinate
ki clauses. ki-VSOX is default and ki-PV(SOX) shows the common functional
placement that reinforces the theory of a VSO template. in a ki clause the
fronted material is almost always Focal since Contextualizing Constituents
(a.k.a. Topic) are not usually needed within a subordinate ki clause.
no one is saying that SVO-based rules couldn't be written, it's just that
they end up inelegant and functionally cumbersome and skewed.

> (2)   (P!)  V Pn S O X,  where P! is an optional casus pendens
this would be a very strange animal to explain functionally and
universally. The major Pn position after the verb?!?! [Not to be confused
with the cross-language attraction of pronominals to a verb and between
verb and Subject in Hebrew, creating a secondary topicalization/known/less
salient slot after the verb, e.g. "ve-higid lexa ha-shem" "and-will tell
to-you the Lord", something that already exists in expanded statements of
(1) but has nothing to do with Focus (marked-salient-information) so as to
need another template (2) .] 
In sum, (2) is simply not a functional  template of hebrew. if you were
proposing (2) for the vav ha-hippux, you would still need to delete the
non-existent Pn. then simply say that the V has merged (historically
frozen) with the Pn slot in (1) thereby producing obligatory V-S order.

> does this help, clarify, etc?
well, not yet. am i permitted to guess that you haven't yet reread the
sections of the article i pointed out? both the 'historical shift ala
givon' and 'what if no vav hahippux' approaches to word order are dealt
with there. (Buth in Bodine '95:...80-83...).

braxot
randall buth



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