|SOV||"She him loves."||45%||Pashto, Latin, Japanese, Afrikaans|
|SVO||"She loves him."||42%||English, Hausa, Mandarin, Russian|
|VSO||"Loves she him."||9%||Biblical Hebrew, Irish, Filipino, Tuareg|
|VOS||"Loves him she."||3%||Malagasy, Baure|
|OVS||"Him loves she."||1%||Apalaí?, Hixkaryana?|
|OSV||"Him she loves."||0%||Warao|
In linguistic typology, object–subject–verb (OSV) or object–agent–verb (OAV) is a classification of languages according to whether this structure predominates in pragmatically neutral expressions. An example of OSV word order would be: Oranges Sam ate.
OSV as unmarked word order
This type of word order in unmarked sentences (i.e. sentences in which an unusual word order is not used for emphasis) is rare. Most languages that use OSV as their default word order come from the Amazon basin, such as Xavante, Jamamadi, Apurinã, Kayabí and Nadëb.
An Apurinã example:
anana nota apa pineapple I fetch I fetch a pineapple
Star Wars franchise creator George Lucas attributed to his fictional character Yoda a native language featuring OSV grammatical order, as reflected in the character's instinctive application of the OSV template to Galactic Basic vocabulary in generating statements such as "Your father he is, but defeat him you must."
OSV as marked word order
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (May 2012)|
Various languages allow OSV word order but only in marked sentences, i.e. in certain circumstances to draw special attention to the sentence or part of the sentence.
American Sign Language
American Sign Language uses topics to set up referent loci, so that sentences can appear to be in OSV order because ASL is a pro-drop language. However, ASL's default word order outside of topic–comment structure is SVO.
Arabic also allows OSV in marked sentences, for example:
إِيَّاك نَعْبُدُ وإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِين Iyyāka naʿbudu wa iyyāka nastaʿīn You alone we worship, and You alone we ask for help.
English and German
This structure may on occasion be seen in English, usually in the future tense or used as a contrast with the conjunction "but", such as in the following examples: "Rome I shall see!", "I hate oranges, but apples I'll eat!"; and in relative clauses where the relative pronoun is the (direct or indirect) object, such as in "What I do is my own business." In English and German OSV also appears in relative clauses where the relative pronoun is the (direct or indirect) object, such as in "Was ich mache, ist meine Angelegenheit."
In Modern Hebrew, OSV is often used to emphasize the object. For example אני אוהב אותה (normal SVO) would mean "I love her", while "אותה אני אוהב" would mean "It is her that I love".
In Hungarian OSV is used to emphasize the subject:
A szócikket én szerkesztettem = The article/I/edited (meaning: It was I who edited the article - and not somebody else).
Japanese and Korean
In Korean, OSV is possible when the object is topicalized.
Sentence 그사과는내가먹었어요. Words 그 사과 는 내 가 먹 었 어요 Romanization geu sagwa neun nae ga meog eoss eoyo. Gloss the/that apple (topicalization marker) I (sub. marker) eat (past) (polite) Parts Object Subject Verb Translation It is I who ate that apple.
An almost identical syntax is possible in Japanese:
Sentence そのりんごは私が食べました。 Words その りんご は 私 が 食べ まし た。 Romanization sono ringo wa watashi ga tabe mashi ta. Gloss the/that apple (topicalization marker) I (sub. marker) eat (polite) (past/perfect) Parts Object Subject Verb Translation It is I who ate that apple.
OSV is possible when the object is emphasized.
Cah cihuah in niquintlazohtla (indicative marker) women (topicalization marker) I-them-love women I love them It is the women whom I love.
It can be used in Yiddish to emphasize the distinctive properties of the object.
- Introducing English Linguistics International Student Edition by Charles F. Meyer
- Russell Tomlin, "Basic Word Order: Functional Principles", Croom Helm, London, 1986, page 22
- O'Grady, W. et al Contemporary Linguistics (3rd edition, 1996) ISBN 0-582-24691-1
- Introduction to Classical Nahuatl[vague]