Word order correlations and word order change: an "applied-typological” study on literary Armenian varieties
Since Greenberg's (1963) implicational universals, there have been various discussions about correlations between certain pairs of grammatical elements and basic word order and the predictability of syntactic developments in individual languages, or even linguistic areas, on the basis of these implicational universals and correlational pairs.
The syntactic analysis of natural languages shows that some implications are not necessarily compelling. Deviations from implicational norms can be caused by simple pragmatic or semantic circumstances or by linguistic borrowing. The correlation of the order of nominal modifiers and head-noun with the basic word order features is still in debate. Which correlations are "universal”? Which ones give revealing information about syntactic patterns and word-order changes in a particular language?
The study of Armenian syntax has so far had little attention within both Armenian studies and General Linguistics. In the present study, word-order patterns and the diachronic syntactic change in literary Armenian varieties are described by means of word-order correlations, word-order principles and the interaction of morphological agreement and syntactic ordering. Conventionalized word-order patterns and preferences in Classical, Middle and both Modern Armenian varieties are formulated. These are supported by statistical frequencies taken from Armenian text corpora. Order preferences and frequencies in all stages of literary Armenian also contribute to a new discussion about the status of Armenian as a rather 'free' or 'variable' word order language, and prove that the relevant syntactic change was already in the initial stage in the oldest literary variant, Classical Armenian.
ISBN 9783895867514. LINCOM Studies in Indo-European Linguistics 22. 400pp. 2002.