[Lingtyp] VOS languages and clausal complement extraposition

Randy J. LaPolla randy.lapolla at gmail.com
Fri Jan 12 07:18:33 UTC 2018

Dear Olga,
Tagalog is a predicate-initial language, though calling it VOS would be problematic, on many counts. Relevant to your question, the so-called object complements don’t appear as grammatical objects (there are none in the language), but appear either as the predicate/comment (with the speech act or perception word/phrase as topic), or as the topic (with the speech act or perception word/phrase as predicate--focus is clause-initial in Tagalog, and the topic occurs at the end of the clause unless it appears as a second-position clitic pronoun or is in contrastive focus). The interesting thing in regard to your question is that when they appear in predicate position, which would normally mean initial position, if the topic is not “heavy” (e.g. a full clause itself), then usually the topic appears before the predicate in a marked construction usually used for contrastive topics. If the topic is heavy then the topic will appear in its usual place at the end of the clause.
So although there is no hard and fast rule, generally heavier expressions appear toward the end of the clause.

You can find many examples of the different patterns found in §3.28 of Schachter & Otanes 1972, Tagalog Reference Grammar, UC Press.

All the best,
Randy J. LaPolla, PhD FAHA (羅仁地)
Professor of Linguistics and Chinese, School of Humanities 
Nanyang Technological University
HSS-03-45, 14 Nanyang Drive | Singapore 637332
Most recent book:

> On 11 Jan 2018, at 7:19 AM, Olga Zamaraeva <olzama at uw.edu> wrote:
> Dear all,
> It is my understanding that clausal complements (in particular, objects) often like to be at the end of the matrix clause. For example, in Turkic languages, which often have basic SOV order, some clausal objects must be extraposed; similarly in Persian, etc (Noonan, 2007).
> Are there examples of V-initial (VOS) languages disallowing clausal objects in sentence-medial position? I've come across mentions of it, for instance that some Mayan languages do that (Aissen, 1992), but I am having a hard time finding clear IGT examples in descriptive grammars.
> Would anyone be able to point me to such a source?
> Thank you,
> Olga Zamaraeva
> Ph.D. student
> Department of Linguistics
> University of Washington
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