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 Post subject: Word order style
PostPosted: Sun Apr 18, 2010 7:52 pm 
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Sons of Thunder
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perpetuae capiamus gaudia vitae

This kind of word order is very common...are there rules about what makes this better grammar or style than, say, "gaudia vitae perpetuae capiamus"?


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 Post subject: Re: Word order style
PostPosted: Sun Apr 18, 2010 8:30 pm 
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Boso wrote:
perpetuae capiamus gaudia vitae

This kind of word order is very common...are there rules about what makes this better grammar or style than, say, "gaudia vitae perpetuae capiamus"?


Flexible word order in Latin doesn't mean that word order doesn't matter, and this is a good example. As you might expect, perpetuae is emphasised by its position at the front of the sentence. It's not the joys of eternal life, it's the joys of ETERNAL life.

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 Post subject: Re: Word order style
PostPosted: Sun Apr 18, 2010 9:20 pm 
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Sons of Thunder
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Is the rule, then, that the front of the clause is always the emphatic position?

somehow I think it must be more complicated than that...


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 Post subject: Re: Word order style
PostPosted: Sun Apr 18, 2010 9:46 pm 
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Boso wrote:
Is the rule, then, that the front of the clause is always the emphatic position?
No. There are no rules. It's what you want to convey that changes how you construct the sentence. So an emphatic word can be at the end of the sentence as well, or enjambed even. For example, Odes 1.5

Qui nunc te fruitur credulus aurea,
Qui semper vacuam, semper amabilem
Sperat, nescius aurae
Fallacis.

He who in his simple faith now enjoys your golden self
Who hopes that you are always available, always lovable
not knowing of the breeze.
The false breeze.

I don't think we really know how Horace formatted his poem, and the enjambment of fallacis may be a recent invention (like all the capital letters, punctuation and word spaces), but it doesn't really matter. We and the Romans read from left to right, and the first word we see is aurae, then we think aurae what? Then Horace writes fallacis, and then that entire stanza becomes cruelly ironic at the completion of just one word. Leaving fallacis to the end has a far greater impact than 'fallacis aurae', it plays with our expectations etc etc.

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 Post subject: Re: Word order style
PostPosted: Mon Apr 19, 2010 1:55 pm 
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Sons of Thunder
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The Horace example is very nice and easy to explain in terms of surprise. But I'm still not getting a firm feeling about the first example.

Looking through a few more collects, I found:

(1) perpetuae capiamus gaudia vitae
(2) omnes homines rationabili diligamus affectu
(3) digna omnes intellegentia comprehendant
(4) in suis inveniat laudibus exultantes
(5) ad intellegendum Christi proficiamus arcanum

It does seem like there's a pattern...the modifier of the noun is separated from its noun, which follows it (rationabili...affectu; digna...intellegentia; suis...laudibus; Christi...arcanum). In (4) and (5) this happens inside a prepositional phrase, so it would seem that it's the noun that gets displaced and not the modifier.

I'm just trying to get an intuitive feeling for why the authors decided to word things this way.


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 Post subject: Re: Word order style
PostPosted: Mon Apr 19, 2010 2:15 pm 
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The same goes in modern Russian:

Кошки едят мышей.
Мышей едят кошки.
Едят кошки мышей.
Едят мышей кошки.

All mean the same: cats eat mice except emphasis goes to the end of the sentence.

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 Post subject: Re: Word order style
PostPosted: Thu Apr 22, 2010 3:13 am 
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Journeyman
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Boso wrote:
The Horace example is very nice and easy to explain in terms of surprise. But I'm still not getting a firm feeling about the first example.

Looking through a few more collects, I found:

(1) perpetuae capiamus gaudia vitae
(2) omnes homines rationabili diligamus affectu
(3) digna omnes intellegentia comprehendant
(4) in suis inveniat laudibus exultantes
(5) ad intellegendum Christi proficiamus arcanum

It does seem like there's a pattern...the modifier of the noun is separated from its noun, which follows it (rationabili...affectu; digna...intellegentia; suis...laudibus; Christi...arcanum). In (4) and (5) this happens inside a prepositional phrase, so it would seem that it's the noun that gets displaced and not the modifier.

I'm just trying to get an intuitive feeling for why the authors decided to word things this way.


In poems and prayers, the syntax is often very different from what is written in prose. You can see this in English poems as well, poets do some crazy stuff that we really wouldn't do when talking normally. If you're talking to your landowner, there's no good reason to play around with word order radically.

However, the authors of these prayers may have done so for a number of reasons. If it was written to be set to music, sung or said aloud, the metre and cadence may have determined the word order. Or the authors may have purposely chosen an 'irregular' word order precisely in order differentiate religious ritual from everyday speech. Or you know, maybe it was a regular word order when these texts were composed. After all, separating words from their modifiers isn't all that uncommon (Latin's awesome like that). I can't really say for sure, although I'm sure someone who knows the context of when and who wrote your texts can tell you more.

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