[Author Login]
Title:Word Order Typology in Optimality Theory
Authors:João Costa
Abstract:Word Order Typology in Optimality Theory

João Costa

Universidade de Lisboa & HIL\Leiden University

This paper argues that Optimality Theory gives us the tools for a

correct analysis of word order variations at the base. It looks at

SVO, VSO and VOS languages, and argues that the emerging word orders

are cases of Emergence of the Unmarked (McCarthy and Prince 1994).

It is argued that, in the so-called discourse-configurational

languages, once we look at sentence-focus cases (answers to what

happened-questions), the effects of discourse-related constraints

are controlled for (Grimshaw and Samek-Lodovici’s ALIGNFOCUS is

vacuously satisfied by all candidates and the winner will be the

word order which satisfies the constraints normally dominated by

ALIGNFOCUS). The difference between SVO and VSO will be explained

in terms of a tension between CASE and STAY. This will not only

derive this alternation, but also the surface position of preverbal

subjects in these two types of languages (in Spec,IP and left-dis-

located respectively). The SVO/VSO alternation is derived by only

re-ranking one constraint, which is desirable given recent descrip-

tions of dialects of Spanish, which either allow one or the other

order. The impossibility of obtaining VSO orders in Italian will be

derived from the high ranking of Obj-CASE in this language, as

opposed to other Romance languages. Again, within Romance, only one

constraint will be re-ranked. Malagasy (VOS) will receive an ana-

lysis similar to Italian, although discourse constraints will be

low-ranked, deriving the obligatoriness of this word order. Celtic

(VSO) will also have ALIGNFOCUS low-ranked, deriving its obligatory

word order. The analysis proposed here tries to give further support

to the claim made in OT that linguistic variation should follow from

constraint ranking. It also emphasizes the importance of the Emergence

of the Unmarked in the theory.
Type:Paper/tech report
Article:Version 1