AG 4: VO-OV: Correlations of head-complement order in grammar and lexicon

Session organizers

Walter Bisang (U Mainz), Balthasar Bickel (U Zürich), Gisbert Fanselow (U Potsdam) & Hubert Haider (U Salzburg)


The distinction between OV and VO order in a clause is usually taken to be a good predictor of further serialization facts, and one can find several proposals for an explanation of the corresponding correlations in the literature. Possible further correlates of the VO-OV distinction in domains other than word order such as the following have been investigated to a much lesser extent. The data represented in WALS shows that the percentage of languages without a morphological system of case is lower among the OV languages. Likewise, there are more OV than OV systems among the languages with an ergative case pattern,  while VO languages are overrepresented among the languages which position question words at the clause's left periphery.

Other correlations have been proposed on the basis of much smaller language samples. Thus, it has been claimed that free constituent order (scrambling) and the absence of typical subject-object asymmetries are concomitant of OV order, and it has been argued that OV languages have a higher N:V ratio in the lexicon. There are interesting proposals as to how such correlations can be modeled in a theory of language.

The workshop invites contributions that investigate in a cross-linguistically well-founded style grammatical or lexical properties correlating with head-complement order. Relevant topics are, e.g.: are there correlates of head complement/modifier order in domains different from basic serialization? This prominently includes the SOV syndrome, that is, the particular grouping of syntactic properties characteristic of SOV languages Are there effects outside grammar, e.g., in frequency patterns in corpora or the lexicon? Which areal, diachronic, psycholinguistic or theoretical properties allow us to understand the correlates of head complement/modifier order? How can we account for deviations from the general pattern in individual languages or language groups?

We welcome bottom-up (descriptive & analytic) as well as top-down (theoretical & predictive) approaches, with a strong preference for a solid empirical basis in terms of cross-linguistic empirical coverage as well as a theoretically-informed analysis in each case. Ideally, the final workshop schedule will list contributions focusing on tightly connected properties from different languages families as well as from different families of linguistic thought whose joint aim is providing well-analyzed empirical input and empirically well-founded generalizations on cross-linguistically assessed dispositions of head-final vs. head initial phrases and in particular sentence structures.

Deadline: 31.8.2014


  14:00 Matthew Dryer (SUNY Buffalo)  
    Grammaticalization accounts for word order correlations  
  15:00 Jürg Fleischer (Marburg)  
    Areality and OVVO in Central Europe: evidence from the Wenker surveys  
  16:00 Break  
  16:30 Stavros Skopeteas (Bielefeld)  
    Adjunct order in languages with V-final and V-initial VPs  
  17:30 Waltraud Paul (CRLAO Paris)  
    "Deconstructing" correlations of head-complement order in the grammar: the case of Chinese  
  9:00 Gerard Kempen (MPI Nijmegen) & Karin Harbusch (Konstanz)  
    In spoken Germand and Dutch, high-frequent finite verbs populate main clauses more densely than subordinate clauses, but much less so in spoken English: a corpus-linguistic study into VO vs. OV word order  
  10:00 Norvin Richards (MIT)  
    Selectional Contiguity  
  11:00 Break  
  11:30 Balthasar Bickel (Zürich), Walter Bisang (Mainz), Gisbert Fanselow (Potsdam) & Hubert Haider (Salzburg)  
    Focusing on SOV in a structural, typological, and field-linguistic perspective  
  11:30 Ad Neeleman (UCL London)  
    Two asymmetries between pre- and post-head order and their implications for syntactic theory  
  12:30 Federica Cognola (Trento)  
    The correlation of VO and the fronting of question words beyond typology