Re: Basque, where did they come from?

Harlan Messinger (
7 Sep 1995 15:49:55 GMT

The logic at work here is this: I speak English. English is SVO.
Therefore, SVO is normal. Therefore, SOV is a surprising deviation from
the norm. Basque, Japanese, Korean, etc., are SOV languages. It would be
an amazing coincidence for all of these languages to have undergone the
same unusual deviation from SVO independently. Therefore, it is much more
likely that they can be traced back to one predecessor language that
uniquely underwent this deviation.

It doesn't work that way. SVO is a workable structure for a language. SOV
is a workable structure for a language. If a set of selected languages
developed independently, some will develop SVO, and some will develop SOV.
(And there are other possibilities, of course.) SOV is not a deviation
_from_ SVO. They are just alternate outcomes.

This is why linguistics is a complex field and why conclusions and
tentative conclusions of linguistic origin are not based on individual,
simplistic, superficial resemblances.