and welcome to the second part of our look at the mess that seems to be
German Word Order
And before we get to it let’s do a super quick recap what we learned in part one. (find it here) we’ve learned three things.
The rules you can usually find are … not very good. And how could they. Because number 2:
There are no rules. And there’s not one correct order. There’s a default order which is the result of a fascinating interplay of several forces, pulling the elements in different directions. And the speaker has a lot of freedom to rearrange stuff for emphasis. Problem is that these interactions are uber complex and dynamic. We cannot really “learn” that. Which leads us directly to number three:
In linguistics there is the concept of a head of a phrase and we learned that German is at it’s soul a head-final language. You know… like its close relatives Korean and Japanese. They’re head final too.
Today, we’ll find out how this head-final-ness of German can help us explain everything. Well, not everything, but a lot. It’s going to be tough and I’m not saying that every sentence you’ll ever say will be correct. But at least things will make sense. Promise!