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By Der-Hwa Victoria Rau.

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SVO order is also typical of French, Swahili and Chinese, among others. Other languages have different basic word orders. VSO is found in Irish and Welsh, SOV in Japanese, Turkish, Basque and Quechua, and VOS in Malagasy (in Madagascar). The Amazonian language Hixkaryana is OVS, and there are reports that another Amazonian language, Apurin˜a, may be OSV. It appears that SOV order is the most frequent on the planet, followed closely by SVO and more distantly by VSO. VOS is decidedly uncommon, and OVS and OSV are, at best, very rare.

The Spanish and German examples also illustrate what might be called agreement in gender. For example, the Spanish noun casa ‘house’ is feminine in gender; if we use instead a masculine noun, such as libro ‘book’, we get el libro viejo ‘the old book’ and los libros viejos ‘the old books’, showing that the determiner and the adjective are ‘agreeing’ in gender as well as in number. Such gender matching is traditionally regarded as another variety of agreement; strictly speaking, however, this is not agreement but government, since a single noun like casa or libro has only one possible gender, and hence in these cases it is not the form of the noun which determines the forms of the other words, but its very presence – the defining criterion for government.

Other meanings expressed by affixes in English include the comparative affix -er (wider) and the superlative affix -est (widest), the vagueness of -ish, the abstraction of -ness, the various oppositenesses of anti-, un-, non-, dis- and de-, the repetition of re-, the emptiness of -less, and the anticipation of pre-(even somewhat redundantly in words like prewarn, pre-plan, and pre-book). Verbs in English can also exhibit affixes, as shown by paint, which has grammatical forms like paints (She paints pictures), painted (She painted a picture and the quite different She has painted a picture) and painting (She is painting a picture).

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A grammar of Atayal by Der-Hwa Victoria Rau.


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