Negative SOV Word Order - any parallels or ?
Larry M. Hyman
hyman at SOCRATES.BERKELEY.EDU
Tue Apr 30 18:38:48 UTC 2002
Our field methods class is working on an Upper Cross language of
Nigeria, Legbo. This group of languages has the property of "SVO"
word order in the affirmative, but "SOV" in the negative, e.g.
(1) Object + locative (affirmative)
a. ba ké lídzil N-kE ìzOOn
they put food in pot
'they put food in a pot'
b. *ba N-kE ìzOOn lídzil ké
(2) Object + locative (negative)
a. bE lídzil N-kE ìzOOn bE áaà ké
they food in pot they neg put
'they didn't put food in a pot
b. *bE ké lídzil N-kE ìzOOn bE áaà ké
As also seen, subject marking is different (except for tone, the bE
'they' in the negative is identical to the object pronoun bE in fact).
We also can prepose from a serialized or embedded clause in the negative:
mm vONi taa n dEi gedze
1sg-neg want that 1sg buy yams 'I don't want to buy yams'
gedze mm vONi taa n dEi
yams 1sg-neg want that 1sg buy
(but not *yams I want that I buy)
Our best hypothesis is that there once was a negative verb in second
position, which does appear (as bi) in non-root subordinate clauses,
badum sE akE ba bi lidzil N-kE izOOn bE aà ke
men the REL they NEG food in pot they neg put
'the men who didn't put food in the pot'
It could therefore be that the original second-position negative verb
fell out in main clauses only.
Does anyone know of any parallels to this SVO vs. SOV ordering having
to do with negation (or anything else that "rings a bell"?). Let me
know if anyone would like more information--there's A LOT more going
Thanks very much.
Larry M. Hyman Tel: (510) 643-7619
Professor & Chairman (through June 30, 2002) Dept.: (510) 642-2757
Department of Linguistics Fax.: (510) 643-5688
University of California, Berkeley CA 94720
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