Monday, February 09, 2009

Object Verb Subject

Object Verb Subject (OVS) or Object Verb Agent (OVA) is one of the permutations of expression used in linguistic typology, although it is rare among languages in general. OVS denotes the sequence 'Object Verb Subject' in unmarked expressions: Oranges ate Sam, Thorns have roses. While the passive voice in English may appear to be in the OVS order, this is not an accurate description. In an active voice sentence, for example Sam ate the oranges, the grammatical subject, Sam is the 'agent', who is acting on the 'patient,' the oranges, which are the object of the verb ate. In the passive voice, The oranges were eaten by Sam, the order is reversed so that patient is followed by verb, followed by agent. However, the oranges become the subject of the verb were eaten which is modified by the prepositional phrase by Sam which expresses the agent, maintaining the usual Subject Verb (Object) order. OVS sentences in English can be parsed when pronouns mark the case (Him like I.) But such a sentence is clearly nonstandard. This sort of reversed order can also be used in English when relating an adjective to a noun although here cold is a predicative adjective, not an object.

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