When I was the MOI at Yale NROTC some fifty years ago, I convinced the Latin professor there to allow me to audit the basic Latin course. He expressed doubt that I could learn much by just ‘letting class attendance wash over me’. But I didn’t want to be a full class student, fearing that these brainy young guys would speak circles about me, especially if I was called upon to recite, or translate, etc–I told myself I’d likely bring sneers about ‘that stupid jarhead’ and thus shame my Marine uniform.
So I did the workbook exercises and managed to learn quite a bit, practicing conjugating all four of the major verb forms once the tour of three years at Yale was over and I was back in the Fleet Marine Force.
That’s a long intro but what I’m getting at was that I learned early on that in Latin the meaning is derived by being aware of the forms of words, not their order in the sentence.
The hoary example illustrating this fact of Latin is: ‘Canis mordet hominem.’ In English, this translates as ‘Dog bites man’. AND IT DOES SO NO MATTER IN WHAT ORDER THE WORDS ARE!! If it is written: ‘Hominem canis mordet’ it still says ‘Dog bites man’ because ‘canis’ is in the nominative, and ‘hominem’ is in the ‘accusative’ case;the nominative ‘names’ the doer of the action/is the subject of the sentence, and ‘hominem’in the ‘accusative’/object case and names the receiver of the action.
Still, you say, maybe, “SO WHAT?”
Or you think, ‘Why should I keep on reading this?’
Because I ‘have something to say’, and not ‘have to say something’!
When I puzzled for years ‘when young’ over the first words in John’s Gospel, I finally made sense of them by changing the word order from ‘In the Beginning was the Word . . . .’ to ‘In the Word was the Beginning. . . ‘
BTW, the single quote marks for ‘when young’ are a hint to those who’ve read the poem of Omar Khayyam beginning
“Myself when young did eagerly frequent”