Processing Facilitation Strategies in OV and VO Languages: A Corpus Study
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Open Journal of Modern Linguistics 3(3) : 252-258 (2013)
The present corpus study aimed to examine whether Basque (OV) resorts more often than Spanish (VO) to certain grammatical operations, in order to minimi ze the number of arguments to be processed before the verb. Ueno & Polinsky (2009) argue that VO/OV languages use certain grammatical resources with different frequencies in order to facilitate real-time processing. They observe that both OV and VO languages in their sample (Japanese, Turkish and Spanish) have a similar frequency of use of subject pro-drop; however, they find that OV languages (Japanese, Turkish) use more intransitive sentences than VO languages (English, Spanish), and conclude this is an OV-specific strategy to facilitate processing. We conducted a comparative corpus study of Spanish (VO) and Basque (OV). Results show (a) that the fre- quency of use of subject pro-drop is higher in Basque than in Spanish; and (b) Basque does not use more intransitive sentences than Spanish; both languages have a similar frequency of intransitive sentences. Based on these findings, we conclude that the frequency of use of grammatical resources to facilitate the processing does not depend on a single typological trait (VO/OV) but it is modulated by the concurrence of other grammatical feature.