Slavic languages – "SVO" languages without SVO qualities?
Hubert Haider, Luka Szucsich
January 2020
 

Slavic languages are commonly filed under "SVO languages", with an exceptional property, though, namely an atypically extensive word order variability. A systematic comparison of Slavic languages with uncontroversial SVO languages reveals, however, that exceptional properties are the rule. Slavic languages are 'exceptional' in so many syntactic respects that "SVO" appears to be a typological misnomer. This fact invites a fresh look. Upon closer scrutiny, it turns out that these languages are not exceptional at all, but regular members of a different type. They are representative of a yet unrecognised type of clause structure organisation. The dichotomy of 'head-final' and 'head-initial' does not exhaustively cover the system space of the make-up of phrases. In addition, there arguably exists a third option. This is the type of phrasal architecture in which the head of the phrase is directionally unconstrained. It may precede its dependents, as in VO, it may follow, as in OV, and it may be sandwiched by its arguments. From this viewpoint, the Slavic languages cease to be exceptional. They are regular representatives of the latter type, and, crucially, their syntactic properties match the properties of this type, with all corollaries.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/004973
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: submitted
keywords: scrambling, free word order, svo, slavic languages, russian, bulgarian, czech, polish, epp, superiority
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