Abstract

This paper reports on the results of a detailed empirical study of word order correlations, based on a sample of 625 languages. The primary result is a determination of exactly what pairs of elements correlate in order with the verb and object. Some pairs of elements that have been claimed to correlate in order with the verb and object do not in fact exhibit any correlation. I argue against the Head-Dependent Theory (HDT), according to which the correlations reflect a tendency towards consistent ordering of heads and dependents. I offer an alternative account, the Branching Direction Theory (BDT), based on consistent ordering of phrasal and nonphrasal elements. According to the BDT, the word order correlations reflect a tendency for languages to be consistently right-branching or consistently left-branching.*

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Additional Information

ISSN
1535-0665
Print ISSN
0097-8507
Pages
pp. 81-138
Launched on MUSE
2015-04-01
Open Access
No
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