OV/VO variation and information structure in Old Saxon and Middle Low German

  • Tara Struik Radboud University Nijmegen
Keywords: old saxon, middle low german, OV-VO variation, information structure, antisymmetry


This paper discusses the syntactic status of OV/VO variation in Old Saxon and Middle Low German, a relatively understudied member of the West-Germanic language family. A comprehensive corpus study on Old Saxon and novel Middle Low German material shows that OV/VO variation is to a large extent governed by information structure and grammatical weight. The results indicate that Low German patterns with Dutch and German: given objects are predominantly preverbal, while new objects freely surface in postverbal position. While these observations might at first glance invite an analysis in terms of extraposition from an OV base, this paper argues specifically against this. Instead, it is argued that an antisymmetric analysis in which OV word order is derived from a VO base provides a better framework to account for the effect of information structure and weight on OV/VO variation.