A simulation study on word order bias

Tao Gong, James W. Minett, William Shi Yuan Wang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


The majority of the extant languages have one of three dominant basic word orders: SVO, SOV or VSO. Various hypotheses have been proposed to explain this word order bias, including the existence of a universal grammar, the learnability imposed by cognitive constraints, the descent of modern languages from an ancestral protolanguage, and the constraints from functional principles. We run simulations using a multi-agent computational model to study this bias. Following a local order approach, the model simulates individual language processing mechanisms in production and comprehension. The simulation results demonstrate that the semantic structures that a language encodes can constrain the global syntax, and that local syntax can help trigger bias towards the global order SOV/SVO (or VOS/OVS).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-76
Number of pages26
JournalInteraction Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 14 Aug 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Computational simulation
  • Global order
  • Local order
  • Semantics
  • Word order bias

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Communication
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Linguistics and Language


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