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Question about word order with adjectives

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Question about word order with adjectives

Postby Matermultorum » Wed Oct 30, 2013 8:51 pm

Is this a typical word order? adjective, preposition, noun? This was in Caesar's Gallic wars DBG 6:14

duabus de causis For two reasons




And what about this one? adjective, entire rest of the sentence, noun it modifies. Aargh!

magnoque hi sunt apud eos honore

These are in great honor among them. Caesar's Gallic wars 6:13



Where could I read more about Latin word order? I knew that adjectives of quantity came before the noun, I just didn't know they could come anywhere that wanted to as long as it was before the noun.

Thank you!
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Re: Question about word order with adjectives

Postby adrianus » Thu Oct 31, 2013 11:18 am

Ordo saepè mutat vim.
Order changes a word's emphasis often.

duabus de causis = for TWO reasons
magnâ cum laude = with GREAT distinction

Normal order: preposition noun adjective
Plerumquè habes hoc: praepositio nomen adjectivum

Devine and Stevens, Latin Word Order (2006) is good but complex. // Bonum at multiplex hoc opus.
I'm writing in Latin hoping for correction, and not because I'm confident in how I express myself. Latinè scribo ut ab omnibus corrigar, non quod confidenter me exprimam.
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Re: Question about word order with adjectives

Postby Matermultorum » Thu Oct 31, 2013 1:45 pm

Thank you for the helpful reply. Now that I know that they can be so far apart (nouns and adjectives) it will help when I am trying to translate a seemingly "nounless" adjective:). And then of course there are the "nounless" adjectives that are used as substantives.
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Re: Question about word order with adjectives

Postby mwh » Thu Oct 31, 2013 8:03 pm

There's a formidably learned book on Latin Word Order by Devine and Stephens, but it calls for a high degree of linguistic competence and I suspect you're after something more basic. Can't really help you there but don't the standard Latin textbooks give some guidance?

In your sample sentence the "fronting" of magno gives it prominence, and since Latin is an inflected language, with cases etc. to sort out what goes with what, adjectives don't have to stand right next to their nouns. The word order is more flexible – which enables it to be more nuanced and expressive.

PS I now see adrianus' helpful post, as well as your response to that.

Thinking that words in a sentence can go wherever they want is not at all a bad way to think about Latin word order. (Some experts go so far as to describe Latin word order as "free.") That's not the same as thinking that it makes no difference where they go, which would be a big mistake: word order matters. Pulling something to the front (or alternatively deferring it to the end) can be a way of making it prominent; separating adjective from its noun (or adverb from its verb) likewise. Learn your declensions, pay close attention to case endings, and you'll do all right. (Same goes for conjugations and verb endings, needless to say!)

Good luck!
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Re: Question about word order with adjectives

Postby Qimmik » Fri Nov 01, 2013 2:46 am

Latin word order is very flexible, and it's fun! A line chosen at random from Ovid (Metamorphoses 7.80):

parva sub inducta latuit scintilla favilla

"A small spark has lain hidden under ash spread over [inducta] [it]."

Parva agrees with scintilla (nominative); inducta agrees with favilla (ablative) ; and the verb latuit is in the middle.

This is a very common arrangement of words in Latin poetry: two adjectives and two nouns with a verb in the middle. And there are similar arrangements, where adjectives are violently separated from the nouns they modify and arranged in elaborate interlocking patterns. This is technically known as hyperbaton. It's quite common in Latin--the inflectional patterns allow you figure out which adjectives modify which nouns.

Here the metrical pattern makes it clear that the -a's of parva and scintilla are short and the -a of inducta is long. Metrically, the -a of favilla could be long or short, but once you become familiar with Latin verse, you would have no trouble recognizing that the -a of favilla must be long and that inducta must agree with it.
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Re: Question about word order with adjectives

Postby adrianus » Fri Nov 01, 2013 2:53 pm

I'm writing in Latin hoping for correction, and not because I'm confident in how I express myself. Latinè scribo ut ab omnibus corrigar, non quod confidenter me exprimam.
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