[Lingtyp] 'basic word order' in the MP

fjn at uw.edu fjn at uw.edu
Wed Mar 23 19:47:15 UTC 2016

Dear Lingtyp,

I’m not sure how many formal linguists read this list, but some of you might have thought about this issue or have seen a reference. Do you know if anybody has taken on the question of 'basic word order' (VSO, OSV, etc.) within the Minimalist Program? It is not obvious that it is still a coherent notion. Given the abandonment of the level of D-structure and of X-bar theory and given that it is generally assumed (right?) that linearization takes place in PF, there is no obvious level or stage in the grammar that would identify Irish as VSO, Japanese as SOV, etc. While the mechanics of PF-syntax (at least to me) are quite murky, it seems like you would have to introduce something like extrinsic ordering in that component to postulate a 'basic order' for a particular language. For a language with only one ordering of S, O and V there is no issue, but every language, I think, allows more than one ordering.

Any thoughts on all of this?



Frederick J. Newmeyer
Professor Emeritus, University of Washington
Adjunct Professor, U of British Columbia and Simon Fraser U

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