Research on Language and Computation

, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp 107–129 | Cite as

The Combinatorics of Cases and Word Order

  • Relja Vulanović


The flexibility of word order varies from one language to another. In discussions of language complexity and word-order complexity in particular, it is important to find how many word orders the given grammatical structure can theoretically permit without creating syntactic ambiguity, even though not all of these orders are necessarily used in practice. Another question is what these orders are and how to determine them. The case system has to be taken into consideration because it is possible to make word-order freer if there are more cases available. These combinatorial questions are formalized for simple sentences using a model based on Dik’s Functional Grammar. Some special cases are completely solved, i.e. formulas are proved for the maximum number of word orders and their construction is given. The theoretical results are confirmed by several examples. Other cases and the general complexity of the problem are illustrated by additional examples.


case combinatorics flexibility of word order Functional Grammar word order 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Mathematical SciencesKent State University Stark CampusCanton, OhioUSA

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