Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Verb Subject Object
Verb Subject Object—commonly used in its abbreviated form VSO—is a term in linguistic typology. It represents one type of languages when classifying languages according to the sequence of these constitutents in neutral expressions: Ate Sam oranges. The word order roughly corresponds to the order of symbols in (non-reverse) Polish notation or the S-expressions of the Lisp programming language.
Examples of languages with VSO word order include the Celtic languages (such as Welsh, Irish, and Scottish Gaelic), Arabic, Ancient Egyptian, Tagalog and Tongan. Non-VSO languages that use VSO word order in questions include Dutch and French.
Dutch uses VSO order in regular questions, and SVO order only (and optionally) for questions based on neutral sentences, as statements of incredulity ("Sam at sinaasappels." "Sam at sinaasappels?", "Sam ate oranges?")
Finnish also (usually: word order is free but alternative forms are rarely used) uses VSO order in questions where the action referred by the verb is questioned: "Söikö Sam appelsiineja?" ("Did Sam eat oranges?") However, questions where the subject or object is questioned are structured SVO or OSV, respectively ("Samko söi appelsiineja?", "Was it Sam who ate oranges?"; "Appelsiinejako Sam söi?", "Was it oranges that Sam ate?")
The other permutations in the order of most common to rarest are:
- Subject Verb Object Sam ate oranges. (e.g. English, German, Kiswahili, Chinese, Russian)
- Subject Object Verb Sam oranges ate. (e.g. Japanese, Persian, Latin)
- Verb Object Subject Ate oranges Sam. (e.g. Fijian)
- Object Subject Verb Oranges Sam ate. (e.g. Xavante)
- Object Verb Subject Oranges ate Sam. (e.g., Klingon)
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