In linguistic typology, object–subject–verb (OSV) or object–agent–verb (OAV) is a classification of languages, based on whether the structure predominates in pragmatically-neutral expressions.
Unmarked word order
OSV is rarely used in unmarked sentences, those using a normal word order without emphasis. Most languages that use OSV as their default word order come from the Amazon basin, such as Xavante, Jamamadi, Apurinã, Kayabí and Nadëb. Here is an example from Apurinã:
anana nota apa pineapple I fetch I fetch a pineapple
Marked word order
Various languages allow OSV word order but only in marked sentences, those that emphasise part or all of the sentence.
Arabic also allows OSV in marked sentences:
إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ وَإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينَ. Iyyāka naʿbudu wa-iyyāka nastaʿīn You alone we worship, and You alone we ask for help.
English and German
- Note: The inclusion of the word "But" may be optional.
In Modern Hebrew, OSV is often used instead of the normal SVO to emphasise the object: while אני אוהב אותה would mean "I love her", "אותה אני אוהב" would mean "It is she whom I love". Possibly an influence of Germanic (via Yiddish), as Jewish English uses a similar construction ("You, I like, kid")—see above —much more than many other varieties of English, and often with the "but" left implicit.
In Hungarian, OSV emphasises the subject:
A szócikket én szerkesztettem = The article/I/edited (It was I, not somebody else, who edited the article).
Korean and Japanese
Sentence 그 사과는 제가 먹었어요. Words 그 사과 는 제 가 먹 었 어 요 Romanization geu sagwa neun je ga meok eoss eo yo. Gloss the/that apple (topic marker) I (polite) (sub. marker) eat (past) (declarative) (polite) Parts Object Subject Verb Translation It is I who ate that apple. (or) As for the apple, I ate it. (or) The apple was eaten by me.
An almost identical syntax is possible in Japanese:
Sentence そのりんごは私が食べました。 Words その りんご は 私 が 食べ まし た。 Romanization sono ringo wa watashi ga tabe mashi ta. Gloss the/that apple (topic marker) I (polite) (sub. marker) eat (polite) (past/perfect) Parts Object Subject Verb Translation It is I who ate that apple.
OSV is one of two permissible word orders in Malayalam, the other being SOV.
OSV emphasises the object in Nahuatl.
Cah cihuah in niquintlazohtla (indicative marker) women (topicalization marker) I-them-love women I love them It is the women whom I love.
OSV is used in Turkish to emphasise the subject:
Yemeği ben pişirdim = The meal/I/cooked (It was I, not somebody else, who cooked the meal).
- Meyer, Charles F. (2010). Introducing English Linguistics International (Student ed.). Cambridge University Press.
- Tomlin, Russell S. (1986). Basic Word Order: Functional Principles. London: Croom Helm. p. 22. ISBN 9780709924999. OCLC 13423631.
- O'Grady, W. et al Contemporary Linguistics (3rd edition, 1996) ISBN 0-582-24691-1
- Friedmann, Naama; Shapiro, Lewis (April 2003). "Agrammatic comprehension of simple active sentence with moved constituents: Hebrew OSV and OVS structures". Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research. 46 (2): 288–97. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2003/023). PMID 14700372.
- Introduction to Classical Nahuatl