A feature of syntax - the order in which words go in a sentence (phrase) in order to create meaning.

For example, English has a fairly strict Subject-Verb-Object word order. This means that phrases are generally structured in this way:

subject / verb / object

who / does what / to whom

Mary / hit / Julia

If we changed the word order so that the object were in front and the subject were at the back, the original meaning would be lost:

Julia / hit / Mary.

In English, the subject must always precede the object (passive sentences are the way of getting around this rule), because there is no other way of telling who did what to whom.

Word Orders in Different Languages

The twelve most widely-spoken languages in the world have been boldfaced for your convenience.

I'm not a linguist: most of these classifications are based on textbooks, web sites, sample grammars, and simple texts. Several of these languages have special rules that allow them to exhibit more than one word order, depending on how you use the words: I've attempted to file these languages by the most prevalent word order.

/msg me with additions or corrections: if your language isn't on this list, I want to know where it belongs, and so does E2.

SVO ("Dog bites man")

SOV ("Dog man bites") VSO ("Bites dog man") OVS ("Man bites dog") OSV ("Man dog bites") VOS ("Bites man dog")

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