Why German is not an SVO-language but an SOV-language with V2

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This paper will take as its starting point the widely assumed distinction
between SVO-languages and SOV-languages, with a particular focus
on German as compared to English and to Danish. It will be argued that
German (and Dutch, Frisian and Old English) is an SOV-language whereas
Danish and English (and Icelandic) are SVO-languages, even though
several orders may be found inside each of these languages. It will also
be shown where the verb second (V2) property fits in, which is common
to German and Danish (and Old English), but only found in (present-day)
English to a much smaller extent.
The differences between this analysis and two other analyses will also
be discussed, namely the analysis in Greenberg (1963) and Bohn (1983)
that both German and English are SVO-languages, and the analysis in
Bohn (2003) that German is SVO in main clauses but SOV in subordinate
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationA Sound Approach to Language Matters : In Honour of Ocke-Schwen Bohn
EditorsAnne Mette Nyvad
Number of pages11
Place of publicationAarhus
PublisherAU Library Scholarly Publishing Services
Publication date2019
ISBN (Electronic)978-87-7507-440-2
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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