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10_Object Verb Subject

Definition
The property Object Verb Subject has the value "yes" when the order Object Verb Subject can be used in a neutral context. The clause in this property is an active (non-passive) declarative (non-interrogative) clause. In this property, the subject and object are not pronouns. As with all word order properties, we restrict our attention to productive word order patterns.

Definition of Subject
Definition of Object

General Note on Word Order Properties:
A "yes" value for Object Verb Subject does not exclude a "yes" value for any other order of these categories.

NA (Not Applicable): All known languages have subjects and objects in the defined sense, so this property is always defined and never has the value NA.

Examples:

1.
Hixkaryana is "yes" for Object Verb Subject:

toto y-ahosɨ-ye kamara
man 3:3-grab-DISTANT.PST jaguar
"The jaguar grabbed the man."

Reference:
Dryer, Matthew S. 2008. Order of Subject, Object and Verb. In Haspelmath et al., chapter 81. Available online at http://wals.info/feature/81. ACCessed on 2009-03-09.

2.
English is "no" for the property Object Verb Subject, since this order is always ungrammatical:

*the airplane saw John
(* means ungrammatical)

3.
Japanese is "no" for the property Object Verb Subject, since this order is always ungrammatical.

*koppu-o otosi-ta dareka-ga.
cup-ACC drop-PST someone-NOM
"Someone dropped a cup."

Contributed by: Andrea Cattaneo, Chris Collins, Jim Wood
Language Value Contributor Comments
   =Hoan No Chris Collins
   Acehnese No Julie Legate
   Afrikaans No Theresa Biberauer
   Akan-twi No AUGUSTINA OWUSU
+ Albanian No Dalina Kallulli
  Words: #Akullore bleu Eva.
  Gloss: ice-cream bought Eva
  Translation: Eva bought (an) ice-cream.
  Comment: this is bad in a ‘neutral’ context, but fine in a context such as ‘What did Eva buy?’
  Contributor: Dalina Kallulli
   American Sign Language No Natasha Abner
   Amharic No Girma Demeke
+ Ancient Greek Yes Richard Faure
  Contributor: Richard Faure
  Words: tò mían eînai tḕn pólin epaineî málista ho Sōkrátēs
  Gloss: ART-NT one-ACC.F.SG be-INF ART-ACC.F.SG city-ACC praise-IND.PRS.3SG the.most ART-NOM Socrates-NOM
  Translation: ‘Socrates praises most highly the unity of the state’
  Comment: Aristotle, Politics, 1262b. The object is a nominalized infinitival clause lit. 'the fact that the city is one'
  Contributor: Richard Faure
   Arabic, Gulf Yes Dimitrios Ntelitheos Only when adding an object agreement suffix to the verb.
+ Armenian (Eastern) Yes Sona Haroutyunian
  Words: Salor kerav Ani-n
  Gloss: plum eat.3SG.PST Ani-DET
  Translation: Ani ate plum
  Contributor: Sona Haroutyunian
   Atayal (Squliq) No Sihwei Chen
   Babanki No Pius Akumbu
   Bafut No Pius Tamanji
   Bajau, West Coast Yes Mark Miller
   Bambara No Bryan Villa
   Bandial No Wolfgang Berndt
   baoulé - faafouê de kokumbo Yes kouakou koffi salomon
   Bardi Yes Claire Bowern
   Basaa No Paul Roger Bassong
   Basque No Karlos Arregi
   baule-kôdeh No Andréa ALLA
+ Bellinzonese No Andrea Cattaneo
  Words: * Un libru u=vö al Mario
  Gloss: a book he=want.PRS.3SG the Mario
  Translation: Mario wants a book.
  Contributor: Andrea Cattaneo
   Beng No Denis Paperno
   Bengali No Fabricio M. F. Gerardi
   Bole No Alhaji Gimba
   Brazilian Portuguese No Bruna Moreira
   Breton No Steve Hewitt
   Bulgarian No Ljuba Veselinova
   Burgenland-Romani Yes Michelle McComb
   Burmese No Timothy Ho
   Calabrian (Northern) No Giuseppina Silvestri
   Cantonese (Guangzhou) No Zixian Qiu
   Catalan No Txuss Martin
   Chalcatongo Mixtec No Jess Combs
   Chichewa No Sam Mchombo
   Chickasaw Yes Pam Munro
   Chol No Jessica Coon
+ Cypriot Greek No Marios Andreou
  Words: *Pagoton eferen o Kostas.
  Gloss: ice-cream brought the Kostas
  Translation: Kostas brought ice-cream.
  Contributor: Marios Andreou
+ Czech Yes Pavel Caha
  Words: Petra uštknul had.
  Gloss: Petr.acc bit snake.nom
  Translation: A snake bit Petr.
  Comment: OVS seems to me the neutral word order when the object is more prominent than the subject on an animacy scale.
  Contributor: Pavel Caha
   Dagaare No Adams Bodomo
   Danish No Fabricio M. F. Gerardi
   Dholuo No Hilda Koopman
+ Dida Lakota (diéko) No Gohon Fabienne Stéphanie Attéby ALS4 workshop 2016
+ Digo Yes Steve Nicolle
  Words: M-kongo n-ka-mu-ona mino.
  Gloss: CL1-sick_person 1SG-HOD-3SG.OBJ-see 1SG
  Translation: I have seen the sick person. (Lit: The sick person, I have seen her, me.)
  Comment: The non-canonical order OVS is possible so long as there is a verb complement marker (mu- in this example) which agrees with the object NP. The object NP is a left-dislocated topic.
  Contributor: Steve Nicolle
+ Digor Ossetic Yes David Erschler
  Words: duwɐ žild-i=ma ɐr-kodta kɐsalga
  Gloss: two round-OBL=more prv-do.PST.3SG fish
  Translation: 'The fish made two more rounds.'
  Comment: The oblique marking on žild 'round' is not a manifestation of DOM, it is assigned by the numeral.
  Contributor: David Erschler
   Dutch No Hilda Koopman
+ Eastern Armenian Yes Karine Megerdoomian
  Words: khndzor-a kerav Mariam-a
  Gloss: apple.DEF eat.3SG.PST Mariam.DEF
  Translation: Mariam ate the apple
  Contributor: Arwa Rangwala
   Egyptian Arabic No Arwa Rangwala
   English No Chris Collins
   English (Singapore) No Adam Chong
   European Portuguese No Salvador Mascarenhas
   Ewe No Chris Collins
   Farefari No Mary Esther Kropp Dakubu
   Faroese No Gunnar Hrafn Hrafnbjargarson
   Farsi No Natasha Schimka
   Fijian No Zhenyu Sun
   Finnish No Anders Holmberg
   French No Chris Collins
   French (Ivorian) No Akpoué Josué
   Frisian (West Frisian) No Jarich Hoekstra
   Ga No Mary Esther Kropp Dakubu
   galician Yes Naír García
   Garifuna No Teresa O'Neill (contributor till 2012)
   georgian Yes Lea Nash
   German No Chris Collins
   Ghɔmáĺá' No Francine Moguo
   Gothic No Fabricio M. F. Gerardi
+ Greek No Arhonto Terzi only grammatical if object is focused
  Words: *To vivlio dhiavase o Petros
  Gloss: the book read the Peter
  Translation: Peter read the book
  Comment: The sentence becomes grammatical with contrastive focus on the object.
  Contributor: Arhonto Terzi
   Greek (Cappadocian) No Petros Karatsareas
   Greek (Homer) Yes Chiara Bozzone
   Greek (Medieval) Yes Io Manolessou
+ Greenlandic, West (Kalaallisut) No Stephen Mayeaux # by the example indicates grammatical but not in a neutral context (only in response to a question of the form, ‘Who performed the given action?’ with non-lowered pitch on the final constituent)
  Words: #puisi pisar-aa piniartu-p
  Gloss: seal catch-3s.3s.INDIC hunter-ERG
  Translation:  ‘The hunter caught the seal’
  Contributor: Stephen Mayeaux
   Guébie No Hannah Sande
   Gungbe (Porto-Novo) No Enoch Oladé Aboh
   Gurene No Samuel Atintono
   Haitian No Michel DeGraff
   Hakka No Iris Wu
   Hanga No Geoffrey Hunt
   Hausa No Russell Schuh
+ Hebrew No Ur Shlonsky
  Words: *xatul-im 'ohev Gabi
  Gloss: cat-M.PL like-PR Gabi
  Translation: Gabi likes cats
  Contributor: Ur Shlonsky
+ Hebrew (Biblical) No Massimo Gargiulo the natural order is: Verb—Subject—Object; a variation of the usual order of words frequently occurs when any member of the sentence is to be specially emphasized (Gesenius). E.g. we have O-V-S in Gen 30,40
  Comment: the natural order is: Verb—Subject—Object; a variation of the usual order of words frequently occurs when any member of the sentence is to be specially emphasized (Gesenius). E.g. we have O-V-S in Gen 30,40
  Contributor: Massimo Gargiulo
   Hindi No Gurprit Bains
   Hittite No Mattyas Huggard
+ Hixkaryana Yes Laura Kalin
  Words: kuraha y-onyhorye-no biryekomo
  Gloss: bow 3SBJ.3OBJ-make-IMMEDPST child
  Translation: The child made a bow.
  Comment: This is the unmarked, canonical word order for transitives. (Derbyshire 1985:p. 31)
  Contributor: Laura Kalin
   Hungarian No Anna Szabolcsi
   Ibibio No Willie Willie
   Icelandic No Jim Wood
   Igala No Johnson Folorunso Ilori
   Igbo No Mary Amaechi
   Iha No Mark Donohue
   Ilokano No Jeremy Rafal
   imbabura quichua No UCLA Linguistics 210
   Indonesian No Mark Donohue
   Irish No Bridget Nixdorf
   Iron Ossetic Yes David Erschler
   Isbukun Bunun No Iris Wu
   Italian No Andrea Cattaneo
   Italian (Napoletano Antico) No Adam Ledgeway
   Italian (Reggiano) No Giovanni Roversi
   Jamaican Creole English No Tonjes Veenstra
   Japanese No Ken Hiraiwa
   Jarawara No Alan Vogel
   Jingulu Yes Rob Pensalfini
   K'iche' Yes Pam Munro
+ Kannada (Bengaluru-Mysore) No Amrit Amritavalli
  Words: chappati tin-utt-aane(,) Raama
  Gloss: chappati-bread eat-nonpast-3sg.m. Rama
  Translation: ‘Chappati-bread, Rama eats.’
  Comment: very natural in modal contexts about what Rama can eat, pandas eat, etc.
  Contributor: Amrit Amritavalli
   Karachay No Steve Seegmiller
   Kashaya Yes John Gluckman
   Kayan No Ken Manson
   Khasi No Gracious Temsen
   KiLega No Kasangati Kinyalolo
   Kinande No Patricia Schneider-Zioga and Philip Mutaka
   Kiswahili No Aggrey Wasike
   Kiyaka Yes Lukowa Kidima
   Kom No Richard Kwamong
   Konni No Michael Cahill
   Korean No Chung-hye Han
   Koyo No Hilda Koopman
   Kuot No Eva Lindström
   Kurdish (Sorani) No Yadgar Karimi
+ Kusaal No Hasiyatu Abubakari
  Words: *laad la da’ pυa la
  Gloss: things Def buy.perf woman Def
  Translation: *‘the things bought the woman’
  Comment: The language does not have overt marking for the nominative and accusative forms. Passivization is also impossible. The argument role of an NP defines its role in a sentence. Even though the example in this column is syntactically viable, it is semantically unacceptable as things cannot be buyers.
  Contributor: Hasiyatu Abubakari
   Kusunda Yes Mark Donohue
   Laal No Florian Lionnet
   Lango No Arwa Rangwala
   Lani No Mark Donohue
   Lao No Alif Silpachai
+ Latin Yes Fabricio M. F. Gerardi
  Words: Lecticam sequuntur armati
  Gloss: litter.ACC follow.3PL.PRS armed.NOM.PL
  Translation: Armed men follow the litter
  Comment: Q. Curt. (Hist. 8.9.24)
  Contributor: Fabricio M. F. Gerardi
+ Latin (Late) No Giovanni Pairotti a value 'no' was assigned since the statistical distribution is below 30%
  Words: omnium nomina annotat presbyter
  Gloss: everybody: GEN the names: ACC write down: PRS: 3SG a presbyter: NOM
  Translation: ‘a presbyter writes down the names of everybody’
  Comment: (Itin. Eg. 45.1). The pattern is found only in 9,7% (my own data) of main active declarative clauses. See Spevak 2005: 240-249 – Itin. Eg. = Itinerarium Egeriae, 4th cent. CE, electronic LLT-A edition (=CCSL 175, P. Geyer / O. Cuntz, 1965, p. 37-90).
  Contributor: Giovanni Pairotti
   Lebanese Arabic No Lina Choueiri
+ Lithuanian Yes Felix Thies
  Words: Mane apėmė baimė.
  Gloss: me.ACC take.PST.3 fear.NOM.SG
  Translation: Fear took me.
  Comment: OVS as neutrals word order restricted to certain contexts. (Ambrazas 2006: 696).
  Contributor: Felix Thies
   Lubukusu No Aggrey Wasike
   Maasai (Kisongo) No Hilda Koopman
   Mada No Bebey Théodore
   Malagasy No Ed Keenan and Laura Kalin
   Malayalam No Mythili Menon
   Mandarin No Arthur Wang
   Mankanya No Tim Gaved
   Maori No Ray Harlow
+ Marshallese No Heather Willson Sturman
  Words: *Kuuj eo e=j dāpij leddik eo.
  Gloss: cat the.SG 3SG.AGR=PRS hold.TR girl the.SG
  Translation: The girl is holding the cat.
  Contributor: Heather Willson Sturman
   Masarak No Jessica Chen
   Mbuko No Richard Gravina
   Medumba No KEUPDJIO HERMANN SIDOINE
   Middle Dutch No Gertjan Postma
   Miya No Michael A. Estrada
   Moroccan Arabic No Arwa Rangwala
+ Muyang No Bebey Théodore
  Words: ⃰* zum é shí Lawan
  Gloss: Wine 3sg drink Lawan
  Translation: (could only mean infelicitously: wine drinks some Lawn
  Contributor: Bebey Théodore
  Words: ⃰ * Satai á zeggáë boskur
  Gloss: Satai 3sg hit bicycle
  Translation: ⃰ Cannot mean OVS “A bicycle hits Satai.” Can only mean Satai hits a bicycle
  Contributor: Bebey Théodore
   N|u No Chris Collins
   Nahuatl (Central Huasteca) No John Garcia
   Nahuatl (Classical) Yes John Garcia
   Naki No Jeff Good
   Nawdm No Hannah Kim
   nda'nda' No Christelle Niguieu Toukam and Bertille Baron ALS4 workshop 2016
   Ndut No Daniel Morgan
   Neapolitan No Giuseppe Samo
   Nepali No Mark Donohue
   Niuean No Diane Massam
   Nkore-Kiga No Hilda Koopman
   Northern Thai No Alif Silpachai
   Norwegian No Marit Julien
+ Nupe No Jason Kandybowicz
  Words: *Nakan e ba Musa.
  Gloss: meat PRS cut Musa
  Translation: Musa is cutting the meat.
  Contributor: Jason Kandybowicz
   Nweh No Hilda Koopman
   Okinawan No Ken Hiraiwa
   Old English No Steve Seegmiller
   Old French Yes Heather Burnett These strings occur; hard to control for a reading
+ Old Norse No Fabricio M. F. Gerardi
  Words: Íslendingabók gørða ek fyrst biskupum várum Þorláki ok Katli
  Gloss: book-of.icelanders.ACC.F make.PRF.1.SG I ...
  Translation: The Book of Icelanders I wrote first for our bishops Thorlak and Ketil (Lib. Isl.)
  Comment: This order is possible with a topicalized object, but not in a neutral context.
  Contributor: Fabricio M. F. Gerardi
   Old Saxon No George Walkden
   Oluwanga No Dimitrios Ntelitheos
   Oluwanga (Eji) No Ceciliane Odangah
   One No Mark Donohue
   Palue No Mark Donohue
   panjabi No Gurprit Bains
   Papuan Malay No Mark Donohue
   Pashto No Taylor Roberts
   Pima Yes Marcus Smith
+ Polish Yes Barbara Tomaszewicz
  Words: Piotra ukąsiła żmija.
  Gloss: Piotr.acc bit viper.nom
  Translation: A viper bit Piotr.
  Comment: Felicitous as answer to 'What happened to Peter?'
  Contributor: Barbara Tomaszewicz
   Portuguese No Fabricio M. F. Gerardi
   Q'anjob'al No Kathleen O'Flynn
   Romanian No Oana Savescu
+ Russian No Stephanie Harves
  Words: #Knigu kupil Ivan.
  Gloss: book.ACC bought Ivan.NOM
  Translation: Ivan bought a book.
  Comment: The order Object Verb Subject is felicitous only in non-neutral contexts, e.g. when the object is topicalized..
  Contributor: Stephanie Harves
   Salasaca Quichua No Pieter Muysken
   Samoan No Vincent Homer
   San Dionisio Ocotepec Zapotec No George Aaron Broadwell
   Sandawe No Helen Eaton
   Saramaccan No Tonjes Veenstra
   Sasak Yes Nur Ahmadi and Eli Asikin-Garmager
   Saweru No Mark Donohue
   Scottish Gaelic No Andrew Carnie
   Senaya No Laura McPherson
   Shan No Alif Silpachai
   Shupamem No Abdoulaye Laziz Nchare
+ Sicilian No Cristina Guardiano
  Words: na kàsa vìtti Gjovànni
  Gloss: a house saw John
  Translation: John saw a house
  Comment: Marked order. Preferred, in certain contexts (cf. Cruschina 2008, Zanini & Damonte 2010)
  Contributor: Cristina Guardiano
  Words: a n'wòmminu ammazzàrru i polizjòtti
  Gloss: to a man killed the policemen
  Translation: the policemen killed a man
  Comment: Marked order. Preferred, in certain contexts (cf. Cruschina 2008, Zanini & Damonte 2010)
  Contributor: Cristina Guardiano
   Skou No Mark Donohue
   Slovenian No Franc Marušič
+ Spanish No Violeta Vazquez-Rojas
  Words: *El espejo limpió Juan
  Gloss: the.M mirror clean.PST.3SG Juan
  Translation: Intended: 'Juan cleaned the mirror'
  Contributor: Violeta Vazquez-Rojas
   St'át'imcets No Lisa Matthewson
+ Swedish No fredrik heinat
  Words: Glassen åt flickan
  Gloss: ice-cream.DEF ate girl.DEF
  Translation: The ice-cream the girl ate.
  Comment: O V S is possible only with a topicalized object and the finite lexical verb in second position.
  Contributor: fredrik heinat
   Swiss German No Cecile Meier
   Tagalog No Edith Aldridge
   Taiwanese Southern Min No Arthur Wang
+ Teramano No Iara Mantenuto
  Words: *na bananə maɲó Mariə
  Gloss: a banana ate Mary
  Translation: Mary ate a banana
  Contributor: Iara Mantenuto
   Thai No Peter Jenks
   Tigre No Zhenyu Sun
   Titan No Claire Bowern
   Tiwa No Virginia Dawson
+ Tlingit Yes James Crippen
  Words: xóots a-w-0-si-teen wé shaawát-ch
  Gloss: brown.bear 3.P-PFV-3.A-CLF[−D,s,+I]-see DEM.MDIST woman-ERG
  Translation: that woman saw the brown bear
  Contributor: James Crippen
   Tommo-So No Laura McPherson
   Tongan No Hilda Koopman
   Triqui, Copala No George Aaron Broadwell
   Tukang Besi No Mark Donohue
   Tuki (Tukombo) No Edmond Biloa
   Tupi (Ancient) Yes Fabricio M. F. Gerardi OVS is possible for second person (sg. and pl.) object pronouns, depending on which personal pronoun is the subject. Example: Nde kuab Pedro (you.OBJ knows Pedro 'Pedro knows you')
   Turkish Yes Murat Kural
   Tuvan No Brian Hsu
   Twi No Chris Collins
   Udmurt No Orsolya Tanczos
   Ukrainian No Roksolana Mykhaylyk possible in certain non neutral contexts
   Vata No Hilda Koopman
   Vietnamese No Binh Ngo
   Vlaški-Žejanski-Istro-Romanian No Zvjezdana Vrzic
   Wan No Tatiana Nikitina
   Warlpiri Yes Margit Bowler
   Welsh No David Willis
   West Flemish No Liliane Haegeman
   Western Armenian Yes Hrayr Khanjian
   Wolane No Hannah Kim
   Wolof No Harold Torrence
   Wuhu Chinese No Zhuo Chen
+ Xhosa No Xiujie Ma
  Words: I-moto i-hamb-a u-Thole.
  Gloss: 9-car SM9-walk-FV 1a-Thole
  Translation: Lit: 'The car is walking Thole.'-‘The car is being used by THOLE.’
  Comment: There is a focus falling on the logical subject THOLE (not John).
  Contributor: Xiujie Ma
   Yémba No Elsie Mawamba
   Yan-nhaŋu Yes Claire Bowern
   Yawa No Mark Donohue
   Yiddish No Shannon Mooney
   Yoruba No Johnson Folorunso Ilori
   Zamboageño Chabacano No Grace Gaspardo
   Zulu No Claire Halpert