Hi. In a previous video, we ordered our words. We've seen that the specific word order is a characteristic of an individual language. For instance, if you divide a sentence into a subject, a verb, and an object. We can order those three things in six possible ways. There's six possible word orders. And we have seen that all of those word orders are actually attested in some language. I'm going to discuss word order more now with my students Marten and Inge. >> So the first question that I had is you said all word orders are actually attested in languages. But I was wondering if these word orders are divided equally among languages of the word, of the world. >> All right. Yeah, that's a good question. Actually, I mean, we don't really know, because there's so many languages, which have not been described yet. But from the languages we know, and I think we can say it is still some kind of representative sample. The answer seems to be clearly, no. >> Mm-hm. >> If you just take two out of these six orders, SVO and SOV. We have already covered 90% of the languages we know. If you take the third word order there, VSO, that covers another 8 or 9% even. So that means that the other three word orders, together, they're about 1%. They're a very small minority. They're not all equal, no. >> But why is it that some word orders are more frequent than others. >> Yeah. Why is that? Well, one thing which can, if we look at these six different orders. So, look at them until you see something which is special about the first three, SVO, SOV, and VSO? >> I don't know, if I look at the structure, I would say that they all have S before O? >> Mm. >> So, that seems. >> [LAUGH] Yeah. Well, you're laughing about it, but this, actually that's completely correct. That's exactly the answer I wanted to hear. So it's, this is what distinguished these first three from the last three. It's the subject coming before the object. So apparently that's an order which languages like. >> Mm-hm. >> And actually it seems to be something which really humans like. Linguists have been doing experiments quite recently where they try to make people gesture. So people would just use spoken language they didn't know any sign language. You can still ask them to imitate some type of story, to tell a story by just making movements with your hands. So you show them a girl who is catching a fish. Okay, it didn't matter what the language was, so whether they were Japanese or Turkish or English or Italian. It didn't matter what their word order in their language was. They would all do the same thing in a sentence like this. They would first do the girl. I don't know how you do a girl, it's some, long hair or something like that. And then they would do the fish. Let's do it like that. And then, they would do the, then they would do the catch. So then, always in this order. So, the girl, fish, catch, so, subject, object, verb. So even if the language would do something differently they would do it. So that order seems to come natural. Now you might wonder, why is that? All right, so why, what makes this order come natural? And linguists are divided about this. There's I think, two main hypotheses. One is that some important part of grammar is innate, children are born with it. Children are born in this case with this preference for subjects to come before objects. >> Mh-hm. >> The other linguists would say that there are other factors, there's other things in our brains, in our way of perceiving the world. Which caused this. That we just tend to think first about who is doing the thing, which would be subject. And then what is affected by the particular action which is taken which would be expressed by the object. >> Okay, so either because it was innate or because of the logical order. But there are still sort of exceptions, because there are languages which have the other, less frequent basic word orders. So why are there languages that do not have these most most frequent basic word orders? >> Right, so now why are there any languages at all which put an object before a subject, right? Yeah. That's because this is probably, whatever the factor is, it's probably not the only factor. There might be other factors which have, worked in the history >> of this language. Which might have been because, well, there was something funny about objects, such that these objects were better expressed at the beginning of the sentence. You like to have shorter words at the beginning or the sentence more, or something like that. And then that might have become part of the grammar in the course of time. And this might have given us some of these other word orders. >> Okay. >> So, now, actually what you say is that there are certain factors that may be very important. But then there may also have been all these other factors that may have played a role? So how does that work for linguistics as a science? Because there does not seem to be a certain law that says okay this is the way it is. >> Mm-hm. >> There's only endless exceptions to everything. >> Right. So is, is linguistics a real science? >> Yeah. >> Like I don't know. >> Like physics. >> Like physics is. Because physics has real laws. >> Like gravity for example. If I take my pen then it will fall, always. >> Yeah well, yes, well, actually, I mean, to some extent, no, always, no. Because if you, I don't know, if you put some kind of wire there and you attach it to the ceiling, it doesn't fall. Okay, so there are exceptions there as well. If there is something else going on it doesn't fall. The thing is with physics. Physics we can easily do in a lab. We can just isolate the important circumstances, or we can say, we can make sure that it's not attached to anything. With language, we cannot do that, language is spoken by human beings. We cannot make sure that it's not attached to other things. That there's not always some kind of other factor which is playing a role. We cannot put language in the lab in that same, exact same way. So you have exceptions, but if you think about it, in physics you have exceptions as well. It's just that we understand more clearly why you would have those exceptions. In summary, if you're looking for a 100% law about word order, maybe you don't find it. But we find something which is very close to that. We find that tendency which tends to be very very strong and which covers 99% or 98% of all languages. We know subjects come before objects in almost all of those languages. And we have seen that linguists have various explanations for this. And maybe they don't completely agree about what the precise explanation is but we do find something which comes as close to a law as we can, in the study of human behavior and human language. Now, knowing this, in the next video, we are going to look at the word order of the languages of our informants.