Re: Basque, where did they come from?

Peter Ludemann (
Sun, 10 Sep 1995 16:36:32 GMT

In article <42u1kj$>,
Kevin Daly <> wrote:
> So word order certainly doesn't seem to be a good indicator of relationship
>between apparent isolates which, if related to one another , would have to
>have been separated by many thousands of years' separate evolution -
>considering the variation between languages we _know_ are related to one

You can get SVO, VSO, and SOV even in one language. In German, SVO is
normal; VSO is used in subjunctive clauses (and sometimes
stand-alone); and SOV is used for some past-tense ("have ... done" /
"will ... do" forms). Word order just isn't terribly important to
understanding. [With some effort, you can do these inversions in
English also, especially in poetry: "Came a soldier along the road";
"I will upon these events ponder".]

On the other hand, Japanese is pretty well stuck with SOV. But other
orders are possible (e.g., some speaker groups, such as women, have a
tendency to put the subject last, although that can be analyzed as a
defective clause with no final copula). The reason that Japanese is
more stuck with SOV is that it has no relative pronouns, so a
modifying clause must go directly before the noun it modifies. [This
form was more complex in Old Japanese, using special conjugations for
non-final modifying clauses.]

It looks as if SVO/VSO/SOV/etc. isn't a major distinguishing feature
of a language, but more a side-effect of other characteristics (and
sometimes a random choice), such as agglunative, isolating,
inflected, etc.

[Disclaimer: I'm not a professional linguist, but I've read a fair bit.]

Peter Ludemann,