Does German have subjective word-orders?

"Subjective word orders" are the ones like "Away he went!" and "Off you would go in(= into) the mist of day." (Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein II: American popular song "If I Loved You" sung by Barbra Streisand).
Thank you so much in advance for your kind help!
 
  • Hutschi

    Senior Member
    Hello
    I think that such word orders are possible in German,too. For example: ..(und) hinaus ging er! (strong emphasis on 'hinaus').
    I trust that natives will confirm.
    I do not know the exact meaning of "subjective word order". In German it is one of the standard word orders, but not the default word order.
    If subjective is "non-standard" then there are few such orders. Mostly they are used in sociolects, like "Guggst du." as main clause.

    "Ab geht die Post!" kenne ich als Redewendung in dieser Form. Es bedeutet: "Los geht's!" (als Aufforderung oder Beobachtung - abhängig vom Kontext.)

    ---
    Aber es ist auch ein Teil der Standardsprache.

    Meinst Du lediglich Hervorhebung durch Wortstellung oder subjektive Nicht-Standard-Wortstellung?
     
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    I do not know the exdt meaning of "subjective word order". In German it is one of the standard word orders, but not the default word order.
    If subjective is "non-standard" then there are few such orders. Mostly they are used in sociolects, like "Guggst du." as main clause.

    "Ab geht die Post!" kenne ich als Redewendung in dieser Form. Es bedeutet: "Los geht's!" (als Aufforderung oder Beobachtung - abhängig vom Kontext.)

    ---
    Aber es ist auch ein Teil der Standardsprache.

    According to Sadao Ando/Andoo: "Gen-dai Ee-Bun-poo Koo-gi = Lectures on The Modern English Grammar," (Tokyo: Kaitaku-sha, 2005), p. 750, the terms of "the objective and subjective orders" are the ones by V. Mathesius:

    "The objective orders" means the default/"kernel-sentences" word orders showing the flows from the themes/old-info to the rhemes/new-info.

    "The subjective orders" are the ones revealing the speakers' abrupt, momentary excitement etc. hurriedly and ones showing the unusual flows from the rhemes to the themes:

    What a big house (= the rheme) that is (= the theme)!
    Nonsense (= the rheme) I call it (= the theme)!

    (Excuse me: my PC has put the beginning of my new post into the quotation frame, and I fail to know how to fix it.)
     
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    Hutschi

    Senior Member
    I see. So it does not mean "Standard word order."

    "Ab mit dem Kopf!" - ruft die rote Königin in Alice im Spiegelland in einer der deutschen Übersetzungen. (subjective word order)

    In einer anderen fing sie an zu brüllen: „Ihren Kopf ab! ihren Kopf –“ (objective word order) Alice im Wunderland/Achtes Kapitel. Das Croquetfeld der Königin – Wikisource

    ---
    We have separable words. Here it is strange. Would you define it as subjective or objective? I would define it as "mixed word order":
    "Schlagt ihr den Kopf ab!" using your explanation.
     

    Kajjo

    Senior Member
    "Ab mit dem Kopf!" - ruft die rote Königin in Alice im Spiegelland in einer der deutschen Übersetzungen. (subjective word order)
    Why is this "subjective"? (which I regard as misleading nonsense term anyway).

    It is just strongly elided without a predicate. However, the imperative is clear to natives.

    I would define it as "mixed word order":
    "Schlagt ihr den Kopf ab!" using your explanation.
    This is default word order. To separate separable verbs is default in German, not any deviation from default. This is a default imperative.

    Den Kopf, schlag ihn endlich ab!

    That would be "subjective", i.e. strong deviation from default word order.
     

    Hutschi

    Senior Member
    I asked about the intended meaning of "subjective". Before I got the answer I would have said approximately the same as you.
    It is not about standard and default word orders but
    the definition is supposed to be:

    "The objective orders" means the default/"kernel-sentences" word orders showing the flows from the themes/old-info to the rhemes/new-info.

    "The subjective orders" are the ones revealing the speakers' abrupt, momentary excitement etc. hurriedly and ones showing the unusual flows from the rhemes to the themes:

    What a big house (= the rheme) that is (= the theme)!
    Nonsense (= the rheme) I call it (= the theme)!
    In German: "Unsinn würde ich das nennen!" is standard, it is not default. In this sense it is not subjective but standard order.

    In Kimko's definition, it follows the English forms.
    I cannot see other relations between themes and rhemes than in English. It seems to be completely parallel. We would not call it subjectve word order in German Grammar.
     
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    Why is this "subjective"? (which I regard as misleading nonsense term anyway).

    It is just strongly elided without a predicate. However, the imperative is clear to natives.


    This is default word order. To separate separable verbs is default in German, not any deviation from default. This is a default imperative.

    Den Kopf, schlag ihn endlich ab!

    That would be "subjective", i.e. strong deviation from default word order.
    I asked about the intended meaning of "subjective". Before I got the answer I would have said approximately the same as you.
    It is not about standard and default word orders but
    the definition is supposed to be:


    In German: "Unsinn würde ich das nennen!" is standard, it is not default. In this sense it is not subjective but standard order.

    In Kimko's definition, it follows the English forms.
    I cannot see other relations between themes and rhemes than in English. It seems to be completely parallel. We would not call it subjectve word order in German Grammar.
    Then let's be bold enough to re-name the term as "emotional word-orders"; I guess that that's what Mathesius meant to express. The "subjective/objective" pair is not appropriate, I'm afraid. "Emotional/Intellectual" seem better to me.
     

    manfy

    Senior Member
    German - Austria
    Then let's be bold enough to re-name the term as "emotional word-orders";
    To boldly go where no man has gone before, you want? Hmmmm....my objective opinion: Let's not!

    True, "subjective/objective word order" is not a common term in standard or traditional grammar and if not put into proper context, these terms are even misleading, but just a little bit of googling seems to show that they are narrowly defined and established terms in some specific fields of semantics. Changing that to "emotional/intellectual word order" would obfuscate and distort the underlying concept even further.
    In fact, the "emotional aspect" that you mentioned here or in your "Johann rief ich an"-thread is only one of several motivations that explain the use of such peculiar wording but is not a defining characteristic, hence does not justify your renaming attempt.
     
    To boldly go where no man has gone before, you want? Hmmmm....my objective opinion: Let's not!

    True, "subjective/objective word order" is not a common term in standard or traditional grammar and if not put into proper context, these terms are even misleading, but just a little bit of googling seems to show that they are narrowly defined and established terms in some specific fields of semantics. Changing that to "emotional/intellectual word order" would obfuscate and distort the underlying concept even further.
    In fact, the "emotional aspect" that you mentioned here or in your "Johann rief ich an"-thread is only one of several motivations that explain the use of such peculiar wording but is not a defining characteristic, hence does not justify your renaming attempt.
    Thanks a lot! But I am no conservative and would like to renew what is to be renewed.
    Would you mind summing up for me the reason(s) why or how that is a well-defined, unshakably-established terms pair?
    And I wonder which word(s) of "Johann rief ich an." seem(s) to be "emotional" or "excitement-showing"?
     

    manfy

    Senior Member
    German - Austria
    Thanks a lot! But I am no conservative and would like to renew what is to be renewed.
    :) Renew you can, but mere renaming of existing ideas is dangerously close to plagiarism if you "happen to forget" naming the originators of that concept. :rolleyes:
    Would you mind summing up for me the reason(s) why or how that is a well-defined, unshakably-established terms pair?
    I can't, I'm afraid. I'm not an academic linguist. And I didn't say "unshakably established". But I did find a number of books and academic papers on the net when searching "subjective word order" and "subjektive Wortstellung". That alone is proof that these terms are established concepts in linguistics.
    Of course, I didn't read them! I just skimmed a few lines to assess whether those hits refer to the subject you're talking about. It's hardcore linguistics and some writers even drift towards the philosophical and esoteric realms... Not a light read!
    What was interesting though, is that many papers seem to use it in the context of comparative language studies, which tells me that it is one of those artificial language concepts that help explain the existence and usage of that language phenomenon in seemingly unrelated languages.
    And I wonder which word(s) of "Johann rief ich an." seem(s) to be "emotional" or "excitement-showing"?
    In German I can't - but in my limited experience as second language speaker of English, I can subscribe to that idea. English is fairly rigid with its SVO word order, but in those cases where you find idiomatic deviations from SVO, there often appears to be an "emotional aspect" involved, be it one way or another.
    For instance, just take "John I called!". This actually is an unorthodox OSV order and without contextual justification it is grammatically unacceptable.
    In German, however, we don't have such rigid word order requirements.
    Granted, in the absence of context "Johann rief ich an" sounds decidedly odd -- particularly for me as southern speaker. But if I turn it into the idiomatic "Johann habe ich [schon] angerufen", it is completely natural and unremarkable in German even without any context. A native listener wouldn't waste a single thought about why I said "Johann habe ich [schon] angerufen" instead of "Ich habe Johann [schon] angerufen". Even though this is an OSV word order, nobody would think that I were trying to hint something with it.

    If I'm not mistaken, normal German grammar calls that "markierte Satzstellung." By pulling the object to the beginning of the sentence you're emphasizing this particular constituent of the sentence. I have to admit that the concept of "markierte/unmarkierte Satzstellung" is in fact just another artificial grammar concept that tries to explain how the language works -- but at least it's simpler and more self-explanatory than subjective/objective word order or the Rhema/Thema/Schema stuff. ;)

    And to hopefully completely bust the emotion/excitement idea let me end with a Yoda quote: Much to learn, you still have, Master Kimko. :)
     
    ä:) Renew you can, but mere renaming of existing ideas is dangerously close to plagiarism if you "happen to forget" naming the originators of that concept. :rolleyes:

    I can't, I'm afraid. I'm not an academic linguist. And I didn't say "unshakably established". But I did find a number of books and academic papers on the net when searching "subjective word order" and "subjektive Wortstellung". That alone is proof that these terms are established concepts in linguistics.
    Of course, I didn't read them! I just skimmed a few lines to assess whether those hits refer to the subject you're talking about. It's hardcore linguistics and some writers even drift towards the philosophical and esoteric realms... Not a light read!
    What was interesting though, is that many papers seem to use it in the context of comparative language studies, which tells me that it is one of those artificial language concepts that help explain the existence and usage of that language phenomenon in seemingly unrelated languages.

    In German I can't - but in my limited experience as second language speaker of English, I can subscribe to that idea. English is fairly rigid with its SVO word order, but in those cases where you find idiomatic deviations from SVO, there often appears to be an "emotional aspect" involved, be it one way or another.
    For instance, just take "John I called!". This actually is an unorthodox OSV order and without contextual justification it is grammatically unacceptable.
    In German, however, we don't have such rigid word order requirements.
    Granted, in the absence of context "Johann rief ich an" sounds decidedly odd -- particularly for me as southern speaker. But if I turn it into the idiomatic "Johann habe ich [schon] angerufen", it is completely natural and unremarkable in German even without any context. A native listener wouldn't waste a single thought about why I said "Johann habe ich [schon] angerufen" instead of "Ich habe Johann [schon] angerufen". Even though this is an OSV word order, nobody would think that I were trying to hint something with it.

    If I'm not mistaken, normal German grammar calls that "markierte Satzstellung." By pulling the object to the beginning of the sentence you're emphasizing this particular constituent of the sentence. I have to admit that the concept of "markierte/unmarkierte Satzstellung" is in fact just another artificial grammar concept that tries to explain how the language works -- but at least it's simpler and more self-explanatory than subjective/objective word order or the Rhema/Thema/Schema stuff. ;)

    And to hopefully completely bust the emotion/excitement idea let me end with a Yoda quote: Much to learn, you still have, Master Kimko. :)
    Thank you, thank you! Now I remember: professional linguists often use the terms of "marked/unmarked" for "non-default/default" to make the unusual/unorthodox/exceptional expressions conspicuous/auffällig/stand_out, I mean, to point them out.
     

    manfy

    Senior Member
    German - Austria
    Thank you, thank you! Now I remember: professional linguists often use the terms of "marked/unmarked" for "non-default/default" to make the unusual/unorthodox/exceptional expressions conspicuous/auffällig/stand_out, I mean, to point them out.
    :thumbsup: Yes, "marked/unmarked" is used quite often for various languages in language forums.

    Of course, that doesn't mean that you can't use the terms "objective/subjective word order" when the question or discussion calls for it. You just have to make sure that the other people in the thread have the same understanding of those terms. And don't be surprised if a large number of native speakers don't show much interest in such specialised terms and concepts. We usually have no need for those in-depth details because we already speak the language. Grammar almost always comes only into the picture when we study foreign languages. :)
     
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