Basic word order frequencies or manning/parker contra tomlin

Bert Peeters
1991 Language Sciences  
ABSTBACT This paper is a reply to Manning and Parker's &rrtguage Sciences 11. 43-65 (1989)l recent contribution in this journal on the basic word order frequency hierarchy for natural languages. It argues that Manning and Parker are wrong when they assume that the majority of previously offered explanations for the hierarchy are to be rejected because of a flavor of Lamarckianism, a theory of biological form which has been discarded by modern bioiogists. As language is not a type of biological
more » ... orm, there is nothing n priori wrong with an explanation which, rather like Lamarckianism, is based on functional principles. Manning and Parker's own explanation, based on the principles of figure/ground interpretation and on the idea that word order is a linear interpretation of semantic form, may seem convincing to the superficial reader, but implies that meaning exists independent of form. As it does not, their explanation must be abandoned. Moreover, the SOV > > OSV frequency hierarchy as it stands must be revised in the light of the findings of Tomlin K%rsic Word Or&r: Funcrionaf ~~i~cip~e~, London: Croom Helm (1986)l. SOV and SVO are numerically even, and so are VOS and OVS. The paper summa&es Tomlin's findings and argues that universal principles do not have to have the same crosslinguistic effects.
doi:10.1016/0388-0001(91)90006-m fatcat:7jzamvdzzfej7ghh7p35mua62y