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word order

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word order

Postby spqr » Mon Jun 24, 2013 5:13 pm

Did the ancient Romans ever use random word order in speech or writing just for the sake of variety or simply individual habits and preferences?
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Re: word order

Postby Markos » Fri Jun 28, 2013 5:07 pm

I'm grieved that nobody answered your question. I'm a lurker from the Greek boards, and Greek, not Latin, is my real focus, and I can say that "just for the sake of variety or simply individual habits and preferences" is an excellent way to explain why Greek word order varies so much.

In the extant manuscripts of the Greek New Testament, there are very few serious differences in meaning, but one of the things that does vary a fair amount is the word order. This suggests to me something of the "individual habits and preferences" you mention.

To the extant that this is true of Latin I hope others will weigh in on.
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Re: word order

Postby Scribo » Fri Jun 28, 2013 6:35 pm

No it's neither random nor wholly personal in either language. There is, too some degree, method to the madness though obviously within the most common sentence patterns there's going to be variety since they're both inflextional languages.

That's the short answer, the long answer would entail reproducing several pages from either a good grammar or composition book. That's actually your best bet to begin with. Then cross reference them vs literature. Admittedly we can see that literary word order varies from what we can ascertain of common speech, but still, you can pick up on these tendencies. Greek tragedy, for example, often appears nearly random. Frustrating, but then scholars like Dik have shown this is not the case either.

Panhuis' Latin Grammar has an excellent section on Latin word order if you can get it, a good 6/7 pages and based on modern, communicative, linguistics so easy to follow.
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Re: word order

Postby Markos » Fri Jun 28, 2013 7:56 pm

...the long answer would entail reproducing several pages from either a good grammar or composition book. That's actually your best bet to begin with. Then cross reference them vs literature.


That's good advice from Scribo, but you might also try writing a bunch of conversational Latin and comparing that with what you read. My experience with writing Greek is that one begins to get a sense of a euphonic balance to Greek sentences and paragraphs that defies analysis but seems to largely drive Greek word order choices, independent of any semantic nuance.
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