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In most cases, German does not seem to have
any restrictions on the surface ordering of the verb's arguments, i.e. (7a) and
(7b) have roughly the same interpretation (except for a shift in focus):
..., daß die Prinzessin den
princessNOM the princeACC
... that the princess married the prince.
..., daß den Prinzen die Prinzessin heiratete.
Most native speakers will intuitively say that
(7a) represents the 'basic’ ordering. According to Höhle (1982), there is
independent evidence supporting such intuitions: the 'basic' word orders usually
have the greatest number of possible foci and the greatest potential for
contextual adequacy, i.e. they can serve as answers to a wider range of
questions (cp. Haider 1993, Frey 1994). Most analysts thus agree that structures
like (7b) are somehow 'derived' from the corresponding 'basic' word order (i.e.
(7a)), while disagreement revolves around the question of how exactly this
may take place.
Denying the existence of default argument
orders would amount to a serious violation of all assumptions concerning
information storage economy. A verb like heiraten,
'marry', would then have two lexicon entries specifying the two possible
argument orderings NOM-ACC-V and ACC-NOM-V. For 3-place-predicates one would
have to posit up to six argument orderings. For reasons of economy, I will thus
base my further discussion on the notion that attempts to 'derive' scrambled
structures from 'default' ones are not only reasonable, but driven by economic
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© Philipp Strazny 1997
 I set 'derivation' in quotation marks to differentiate from 'syntactic derivation'. When I speak of the 'derivation of scrambling structures', I simply mean to imply that 'scrambled structures' are not 'garbled structures', in the sense that each displaced argument is traceable to a specific position in the underlying argument structure of the predicate.