Word order for nouns and adjectives

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Fausta
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Word order for nouns and adjectives

Post by Fausta » Sun Aug 11, 2019 12:49 pm

Salvete! Is there a rule governing whether an adjective precedes or follows the noun it is describing? Does it resemble French in that it depends on the adjective in question? Would 'the little brown dog' be 'parvis canis fuscus' and not 'parvis fuscus canis'? Gratis!

RandyGibbons
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Re: Word order for nouns and adjectives

Post by RandyGibbons » Sun Aug 11, 2019 4:50 pm

Is there a rule governing whether an adjective precedes or follows the noun it is describing?
No! That's one of the cool things about Latin.

There are patterns which you'll come to intuit (or read or hear about) at a far later stage in your Latin experience, but for now I'd say relish and get familiar with word order in Latin, in general and in respect to your specific scenario, as being quite flexible.

Btw, it's parvus, not parvis (maybe a typo on your part).

Callisper
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Re: Word order for nouns and adjectives

Post by Callisper » Tue Sep 03, 2019 3:07 am

Fausta wrote:
Sun Aug 11, 2019 12:49 pm
Would 'the little brown dog' be 'parvis canis fuscus' and not 'parvis fuscus canis'?
Prefer "parvus canis fuscus" by far.

Contra the poster above word-order is not all that free and "parvus fuscus canis", while maybe not strictly impossible, would be painfully clunky. Adj+Noun+Adj is generally far more common than Adj+Adj+Noun in proper classical Latin prose.

RandyGibbons
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Re: Word order for nouns and adjectives

Post by RandyGibbons » Tue Sep 03, 2019 9:02 am

Adj+Noun+Adj is generally far more common than Adj+Adj+Noun in proper classical Latin prose.
And you know that how, Callisper? If there's a study you can cite, or a recommendation to that effect in a prose composition textbook, I'd be very interested (and there may well be - I'm not saying you're wrong).

Or possibly you know that just because you have a feel for it from a great deal of experience reading Latin? If that's the case - or really in the first case too - in my humble opinion it's much better for someone in her very beginning stage of learning Latin to be shown the comparative flexibility of word order in Latin, and to learn to play around with it without worrying about 'rules', and to acquire her own feel for nuance as she goes along. Just as it would be a waste of time, if not even a harmful distraction, to foist The Elements of Style on someone in their very early stages of learning English.

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Re: Word order for nouns and adjectives

Post by Callisper » Tue Sep 03, 2019 5:08 pm

RandyGibbons wrote:
Tue Sep 03, 2019 9:02 am
And you know that how, Callisper? If there's a study you can cite, or a recommendation to that effect in a prose composition textbook, I'd be very interested (and there may well be - I'm not saying you're wrong).
Something I learnt from my first teacher and then, as we do, verified against what I read as a consistent strong pattern in the language. I haven't read it in a scientific study explicitly, as unfortunately there's a (relative) dearth of those. As for prose composition textbooks, I see no reason to regard them automatically as any more authoritative than my own opinion (remember these books were mostly not written by the likes of Erasmus or Heinsius, but by people no more brought up living & breathing Latin than you or I, and indeed comparatively lacking in learning resources).
RandyGibbons wrote:
Tue Sep 03, 2019 9:02 am
it's much better for someone in her very beginning stage of learning Latin to be shown the comparative flexibility of word order in Latin, and to learn to play around with it without worrying about 'rules', and to acquire her own feel for nuance as she goes along. Just as it would be a waste of time, if not even a harmful distraction, to foist The Elements of Style on someone in their very early stages of learning English.
At this point perhaps there should be a meta-discussion thread for this, as it obviously goes beyond the OP her(?)self.

I don't know how you concluded she is "in her very beginning stage of learning Latin"; no doubt you've been paying more attention than me and this isn't baseless. But what I found was a post asking an objective question about Latin, and that is the question I answered.

Not everyone learns best by subconsciously absorbing patterns. Some better grasp patterns that are pointed out. You would do well not to pigeonhole every learner of the classical languages into your own framework of how learning "should" happen; we are, generally, adults here; this poster's concrete question on word-order - no trace anywhere of her soliciting opinions whether word-order is an appropriate subject of study - deserved to be taken at face-value and provided a concrete answer.

If you feel so strongly about beginners avoiding word-order that you superimpose this sentiment on people who've taken no steps to solicit it, it might be worth making a general thread or even sticky for basic learning recommendations, and you (and others) can put what you think in there. That would spare those who actually want answers - whether or not you find it appropriate to furnish them - the trouble of constantly hearing they're "not ready" for them.

talus
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Re: Word order for nouns and adjectives

Post by talus » Mon Sep 09, 2019 4:43 pm

Draeger in his book on the style of Tacitus devotes §220 to attributive adjectives: “Attributive adjectives, not being used for purposes of stress [i.e., an adjective can be placed before a substantive for emphasis (G&L §291)], stand first, if the notion of the same is intrinsic to the idea of the related substantives.” So Draeger finds two uses for adjectives that precede their noun: 1) The writer wants to stress the attribute in the context; 2) The writer wants to indicate that the adjective is intrinsic to the noun.
G&L §676, Note 2, state that when the adjective was placed first “it formed a close compound with its substantive.” They give the examples bonus homo and homo bonus. The former makes the claim that goodness and the man are bound as one, i.e., the man is good to the core.
Zumpt in §793 writes that an adjective comes before its substantive when it means to declare "an essential difference of that substantive from others." He gives as example Pliny's book title, Libri Naturalis Historiae. Naturalis makes a point to distinguish this history from other kinds of history and any potential reader should note by the emphasis what the book is about.

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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: Word order for nouns and adjectives

Post by Barry Hofstetter » Mon Sep 09, 2019 5:52 pm

598. The main rules for the Order of Words are as follows:—

a. In any phrase the determining and most significant word comes first:—

1. Adjective and Noun:—

omnīs hominēs decet, EVERY man ought (opposed to some who do not).
Lūcius Catilīna nōbilī genere nātus fuit, māgnā vī et animī et corporis, sed ingeniō malō prāvōque (Sall. Cat. 5), Lucius Catiline was born of a NOBLE family, with GREAT force of mind and body, but with a NATURE that was evil and depraved. [Here the adjectives in the first part are the emphatic and important words, no antithesis between the nouns being as yet thought of; but in the second branch the noun is meant to be opposed to those before mentioned, and immediately takes the prominent place, as is seen by the natural English emphasis, thus making a chiasmus.]

...

b. Numeral adjectives, adjectives of quantity, demonstrative, relative, and interrogative pronouns and adverbs, tend to precede the word or words to which they belong:—

cum aliquā perturbātiōne (Off. i. 137), with SOME disturbance.
hōc ūnō praestāmus (De Or. i. 32), in THIS one thing we excel.
cēterae ferē artēs, the OTHER arts.

NOTE.—This happens because such words are usually emphatic; but often the words connected with them are more so, and in such cases the pronouns etc. yield the emphatic place:—

causa aliqua (De Or. i. 250), some CASE.
stilus ille tuns (id. i. 257), that well-known STYLE of yours (in an antithesis; see passage). [Ille is idiomatic in this sense and position.]
Rōmam quae apportāta sunt (Verr. iv. 121), what were carried to ROME (in contrast to what remained at Syracuse).
Allen, J. H., & Greenough, J. B. (1903). Allen and Greenough’s New Latin Grammar. (J. B. Greenough, G. L. Kittredge, A. A. Howard, & B. L. D’Ooge, Eds.) (p. 396). Boston: Ginn & Co.
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
The Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
καὶ σὺ τὸ σὸν ποιήσεις κἀγὼ τὸ ἐμόν. ἆρον τὸ σὸν καὶ ὕπαγε.

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