The relative influence of animacy, givenness, and focus on word order in Croatian ditransitive structures

Abstract

This paper aims to investigate how animacy, givenness, and focus influence word order in Croatian, as previous research has found that these factors have an effect on word order. Eighty-two participants completed an acceptability judgment task. The results showed, as expected, that animacy and givenness influence the animate/given object to precede the inanimate/new object, while focus provides the opposite effect. Focus is stronger than animacy because animacy has an influence only when focus is absent. Givenness has a weaker effect than the other factors because when animacy is balanced, there is a general preference for direct-indirect order. We thus reveal that these three factors are ordered hierarchically in the following way: focus > animacy > givenness.

 

Keywords: word order, ditransitives, givenness, focus, animacy, Croatian, Acceptability judgment task