The ordering of obliques and adpositional elements


  • Yasutomo Kuwana
  • Hisao Tokizaki



word order, oblique, juncture, Minimize Domains, typology, adposition


The order of verbs (V) and their object (O) has been of great interest among researchers.  However, few studies have examined the order of obliques (X) with respect to V and O.  Dryer (with Gensler) (2013) find the asymmetry between VO and OV languages in terms of the position of X: unlike VO languages, all three types of OV languages (XOV, OXV, and OVX) are widely attested.  Hawkins (2008) tries to explain this asymmetry by the interaction of three patterns, (i) Verb & Object Adjacency, (ii) Object & X on Same Side of Verb, and (iii) Object before X.  Although his analysis is successful in explaining the word order data in the world’s languages, there are still some problems.  In this paper, we argue that we can predict the possible word orders using only Hawkins’s (2004, 2008) Minimize Domains (MiD).  We also argue that compared to the prepositional counterparts, postpositions, postpositional clitics, and case suffixes are more likely to be connected to their noun (phrase) complement phonologically and morpho-syntactically.  In other words, the juncture between noun and adposition/clitic/affix in head-final languages is tighter than that in head-initial languages.  Assuming that adjuncts (X) consist of noun and adposition/clitic/affix, the domain of constituent recognition is different in the possible word orders of O, X and V.  We assume that postpositions/postpositional clitics/suffixes need only half of a word (^ = 0.5) for domain recognition because they are closely attached to the adjacent noun (phrase).  We conclude that any ordering of O, X and V is possible if the domain size is less than 4.  This analysis has advantages over Hawkins’s (2008) analysis because it is simpler and does not need to assume Hawkins’s principle of Argument Precedence.




How to Cite

Kuwana, Yasutomo, and Hisao Tokizaki. 2023. “The Ordering of Obliques and Adpositional Elements”. Proceedings of the Linguistic Society of America 8 (1): 5495.