Word Order

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”


About aslak122

writing novels, 7 so far; golf (again, with a titanium left shoulder) Jean, still really lovely a wife, cooks our(mostly my) noon meal, we forage separately for breakfast and evening snack. I rotate from cereal with extra raisins, banana slices, honey to 2 soft-boiled eggs (70 seconds boil over low gas) and a bagel (whole wheat). Oh, and with the cold cereal a precursor of yogurt--cherry or blueberry., and a cup or two of green tea, Lipton's if you please! And several ounces of red wine with the noon meal, opening with one of Jean's absolutely best salads. Takes a while to tell about good food, right?
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s