Pragmatics of Word Order Flexibility
For some time the assumption has been widely held that for a majority of the world's languages, one can identify a “basic” order of subject and object relative to the verb, and that when combined with other facts of the language, the “basic” order constitutes a useful way of typologizing languages. New debate has arisen over varying definitions of “basic”, with investigators encountering languages where branding a particular order of grammatical relations as basic yielded no particular insightfulness. This work asserts that explanatory factors behind word order variation go beyond the syntactic and are to be found in studies of how the mind grammaticizes forms, processes information, and speech act theory considerations of speakers' attempts to get their hearers to build one, rather than another, mental representation of incoming information. Thus three domains must be distinguished in understanding order variation: syntactic, cognitive and pragmatic. The works in this volume explore various aspects of this assertion.