[Lingtyp] Subject-verb inversion with transitive verbs
ellison.luk at kuleuven.be
Tue Apr 14 12:28:32 UTC 2020
One question that I had about your examples is whether or not you are also counting right dislocation phenomena under your definition of "inversion". I assume you are since you include the Japanese example, which would be described more as an example of (right) dislocation (Kohji 2018), since Tarō-ga would be post-verbal, in the right periphery. If you are, then (Mandarin) Chinese would actually also allow such 'inversion' phenomena, given that right dislocation is amply attested in colloquial/spoken varieties of both Mandarin and Cantonese (to name two). From the following examples, you can see that the transitive subject can be extracted "over" the verb and transitive object (in my intuition, the commas shouldn't represent necessary prosodic breaks). If you would allow these examples then, Cantonese and Mandarin (and probably many other Sinitic languages) would seem to satisfy your category of "no case or agreement, inversion in transitive clauses possible". Of course, these are subject to restrictions, but again, so would the case be for Japanese and other languages you are investigating.
cai3 wo3 jiao3 le, ni3.
step I foot PEFT you
"(You) stepped on my foot, you." (Guo 1999: 1107)
唔 拎 把 遮 喇，我
mm4 ling1 ba2 ze1 la3, ngo2
not bring CL umbrella SFP , I
"I am not bringing the umbrella." (Lai et al 2017)
wui2 maai2 jat1 bou5 din6nou5 lo1, keoi2
will buy one CL computer SFP, he
"He will buy a computer." (Cheung 2009, cited in Lee 2013: 16)
Guo, Jian Sheng (1999). 'From information to emotion: The affective function of right dislocation in Mandarin Chinese'. Journal of Pragmatics, 31: 1103–1128.
Cheung, Lawrence Yam-Leung (2009). 'Dislocation focus construction in Chinese.' Journal of East Asian Linguistics, 18: 197-232.
Kamada, Kohji (2018). Rightward movement phenomena in linguistics. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle on Tyne, UK.
Lai, Christy Choi-Tin, Law, Sam-Po, & Kong, Anthony Pak-Hin (2017). 'A Quantitative Study of Right Dislocation in Cantonese Spoken Discourse.' Language and speech, 60(4): 633–642.
Lee, Kent (2013). 'Right dislocation in Chinese: Interface of syntax and information structure.' Korean Journal of Chinese Language and Literature, 55: 3-50.
Ellison Kingman Luk
Date: Sun, 12 Apr 2020 22:22:30 +0900
From: Ernei Ribeiro <ernei8299 at gmail.com>
To: lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org
Subject: [Lingtyp] Subject-verb inversion with transitive verbs
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Languages like Spanish or Italian have a default, unmarked word order SVO that is most compatible with discourse contexts where no part of the clause is focused. However, these languages also display an alternative VS word order in declarative sentences, sometimes depending on discourse context and notions such as topic and focus. This alternative word order is illustrated in (1a) and (1b) with Italian and Spanish examples.
Subject-verb inversion with transitive verbs is not possible in English, as shown in (1c).
**In this rainforest can find a lucky hiker the reclusive lyrebird.*
It is generally assumed (Barbosa 2009) that languages like Spanish or Italian allow subject-verb inversion with transitive verbs because they have rich agreement, while English or French do not allow such inversion because they have poor agreement.
Subject-verb inversion with transitive verbs is also seen in languages without agreement. Japanese allows subject inversion, as shown in (2ab), while Chinese does not, as seen in (2cd). This is clearly related to the fact that Japanese has case morphology on nouns, while Chinese does not.
‘Taro ate cake.’
‘Zangsan made a phone call.’
Note that English and Chinese might sometimes allow subject-verb inversion involving intransitive verbs, as in the English directive inversion in (3a) and the Chinese clause with an indefinite subject in (3b).
*Into the room came two students.*
‘There came (some) guests.’
I am searching for possible exceptions to the aforementioned generalizations, that is:
(4) Are there languages without agreement and without case morphology on nouns that allow subject-verb inversion with transitive verbs?
(5) Are there languages with poor agreement and without case morphology on nouns that allow subject-verb inversion with transitive verbs?
(6) Are there languages with rich agreement that DO NOT allow subject-verb inversion with transitive verbs?
(7) Are there languages with case morphology on nouns that DO NOT allow subject-verb inversion with transitive verbs?
Many linguists have noted that it is difficult to define “rich agreement.”
For the time being, I will consider agreement to be “rich” if it distinguishes six or more person, number and gender combinations, as in the Spanish present tense conjugation of the verb ‘eat’ in (8a). I will consider agreement to be “poor” if it distinguishes five or fewer such combinations, as in the English present tense in (8b).
Barbosa, Pilar. "Two kinds of subject pro." Studia Linguistica 63.1 (2009): 2-58.
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