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As OVS languages ( object-verb-subject ) are in the Sprachtypologie those languages designated in which object , verb and subject in the normal case - that is, pragmatically unmarked declarative sentences in the present tense - occur in this order, that is where this word order dominant (ie the basic word order ) is.

Along with OSV, OVS is one of the rarest of the possible phrase sequences. OVS occurs in less than 1% of the world's languages. Languages ​​with this basic word order are z. B. the indigenous American languages Cubeo , Hixkaryána and Selk'nam , the oceanic language Tuvalu , the Australian languages Mangarrayi and Ungarinjin , the Nilo-Saharan language Päri and the artificial language Klingon , which should sound as exotic as possible. Most languages ​​with a dominant OVS word order are used in South America and there v. a. spoken in the Amazon basin .

The following sentence from the Hixkaryána, a Karib language, provides an example of OVS word order :

toto y-ahos ɨ -ye kamara
man 3> 3 -grip- PRÄT jaguar
O V S.
"The jaguar attacked the man."

An OVS sequence is possible in some other languages ​​in individual constructions, e.g. B. if in a construction with inversion of subject and verb (VS) an object is also placed in front ( topicalized ). This is possible, for example, in various Romance languages; Here is an example from Catalan (see under Catalan Language # Morphology and Syntax ):

  • El llibre el va portar en Joan.
(The book it brought to Joan)
"The book brought JOAN"

This sentence requires that "the book" be known information, "Joan" the new information of the sentence. The prefix "el llibre" triggers the setting of an additional object pronoun on the verb. This sentence form is therefore not the simplest possible and most normal (unmarked) sentence form in Catalan. The special thing about OVS languages ​​is that such a sequence forms the simplest sentence and the neutral basic sequence; only this defines an OVS language.


  • Matthew S. Dryer: Order of Subject, Object and Verb. In: M. Haspelmath, MS Dryer, D. Gil, B. Comrie (Eds.): The World Atlas of Language Structures Online . Max Planck Digital Library, Munich 2008, Chapter 81. (Description of the different word order types and map with expression in different languages)


  1. Only 11 of 1377 languages ​​in the sample by Dryer (2008) show OVS as the base word order.
  2. DC Derbyshire: Hixkaryana . North-Holland Publ, Amsterdam 1979, p. 87.
  3. 3> 3 is the verbal congruence, the verb congruent with object and subject, both of which are 3rd person . Both people are combined in a morpheme .