Behaghel’s Laws describe the basic principles of the position of words and phrases in a sentence. They were formulated by the linguist Otto Behaghel in the last volume of his four volume work Deutsche Syntax: Eine geschichtliche Darstellung (published 1923-1932).
They include the following cross-language principles:
- Elements that belong close together intellectually will also be placed close together (Behaghel’s First Law)
- That which is less important (or already known to the listener) is placed before that which is important. (Behaghel’s Second Law)
- The distinguishing phrase precedes that which is distinguished.
- Given two phrases, when possible, the shorter precedes the longer. (Law of Increasing Terms (or Constituents))