6

I'm working my way through Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata, and I've come across something that's tripping me up when I try to write.

Example: Gallia est in Europa (pardon the lack of accents); and Arabia quoque in Asia est.

Why is "est" sometimes in the middle of the sentence, and sometimes at the end? The same goes for "sunt."

  • Welcome to the site, Sermo! I took the liberty of adding a few tags, assuming that you meant Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata. If you meant something else, please edit the question and accept my apologies. – Joonas Ilmavirta Oct 14 '18 at 17:53
  • I did mean that! Apologies, I thought I could be shortened, I didn't really think about whether or not similar titles exist. – Sermo Oct 14 '18 at 17:54
  • As Lingua Latina just means "the Latin Language", I'm sure it can be misunderstood. I had no specific title in mind; I just wanted to be sure. Misunderstanding things online is all too easy... Anyway, feel free to make any further edits if you feel like it. – Joonas Ilmavirta Oct 14 '18 at 17:56
  • Related question with relevant answers: What word order resolves the ambiguity of two nominative nouns in a sentence? – sumelic Oct 14 '18 at 22:17
7

Latin word order is very free, and the predicate — like est or sunt — can go anywhere. Any of these is valid:

  • Gallia est in Europa.
  • Gallia in Europa est.
  • Est Gallia in Europa.
  • Est in Europa Gallia.
  • In Europa Gallia est.
  • In Europa est Gallia.

The most common choice is Gallia in Europa est (and SOV in general), but the rule — if any — is not to stick to any order but to have variations across any text. An unusual word order can also be used for emphasis. I would say that the largest emphasis in a Latin sentence is on the first word and the second largest one on the last word.

  • 1
    That's unbelievably nice to hear. I was wondering why the author didn't try to make it clearer why he had chosen to move the word order. I was fearing that it would be a complicated, heavily contextual rule. Appreciate the answer and peace of mind! – Sermo Oct 14 '18 at 18:01
  • @Sermo I'm glad I could bring you some peace of mind! If you have any more questions about that book or Latin in general, I would much like to see them on this site. – Joonas Ilmavirta Oct 14 '18 at 18:02

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.