Edited by Hilke Reckman, Lisa Lai-Shen Cheng, Maarten Hijzelendoorn and Rint Sybesma
[Not in series 210] 2017
► pp. 107–123
Chapter 7Frequential test of (S)OV as unmarked word order in Dutch and German clauses
A serendipitous corpus-linguistic experiment
In a paper entitled “Against markedness (and what to replace it with)”, Haspelmath argues “that the term ‘markedness’ is superfluous”, and that frequency asymmetries often explain structural (un)markedness asymmetries (Haspelmath 2006). We investigate whether this argument applies to Object and Verb orders in main (VO, marked) and subordinate (OV, unmarked) clauses of spoken and written German and Dutch, using English (without VO/OV alternation) as control. Frequency counts from six treebanks (three languages, two output modalities) do not support Haspelmath’s proposal. However, they reveal an unexpected phenomenon, most prominently in spoken Dutch and German: a small set of extremely high-frequent finite verbs with unspecific meanings populates main clauses much more densely than subordinate clauses. We suggest these verbs accelerate the start-up of grammatical encoding, thus facilitating sentence-initial output fluency.
- 3.Three frequential tests
- 4.Discussion: Time and fluency pressures can boost VO:OV ratios
Cited by 2 other publications
This list is based on CrossRef data as of 01 february 2023. Please note that it may not be complete. Sources presented here have been supplied by the respective publishers. Any errors therein should be reported to them.