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    Latin word order

    How important is word order in Latin? I understand the basics, but I have a precocious 13 yo who is adamant word order is inessential since Latin is inflected. I'm not sure where he got that. and being the proud product of 16 years of public schooling, I can't refute it. As I read the translation checklist, "usually" is referenced many times, and it states, "exercises stick with the usual word order 'most of the time,' and so should the student." As a follow-up how strict, and in what situations, should I be grading word order?

    My apologies if this is in the archives. I did a search and couldn't find anything, and I'm not sure what I can trust on the web. Any help or advice is greatly appreciated. This wasn't a problem with his older siblings.

    #2
    Great question! I'd answer it differently to you and to your student.

    On one hand, word order in Latin is quite flexible. There are numerous things whose order are necessary (a preposition must go before the noun it governs, e.g. in oppido, in the town) but noun and verb inflection does make much of any given sentence's order variable. Roman authors played with word order to increase or decrease emphasis on certain words; we do the same thing in English, but since we're still chained to a comparatively inflexible word order, Romans could (and did!) do it to degrees that seem extreme and even comical to an English speaker.

    On the other hand, your student SHOULD become familiar with conventional word order. You don't learn to drive by ignoring all the road signs. Since the changeability of Latin word order has an emphatic effect on one's writing, choosing a more "creative" word order "just because" would be producing an effect that the student does not intend - and in the classroom, we want students to know what they're doing. So, insist on regular Latin word order whenever possible. Once a student can demonstrate they know conventional word order, then you can relax the reins a little bit. As far as grading goes, definitely count off anything that is literally wrong (e.g. prepositions as mentioned above) but fore the rest, use grading as guard rails to steer a student to learn the normal.

    - Jon
    Last edited by Jon Christianson; 05-20-2021, 10:11 AM.

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      #3
      Jon Christianson

      Is it correct to suggest students pay attention to and learn from the Latin word order shown in the translation exercises in the Forms? Usually, the English to Latin exercise follows right on the heels of multiple models of Latin sentences working with the same grammatical pieces.

      For reference I have in mind Second Form and down.
      Festina lentē,
      Jessica P

      2021-2022 • 12th year HSing • 10th year MP
      12th • AP Latin online, DE Calculus & Physics, HLN
      10th • HLN, Latin online, MPOA
      7th • HLN & Home
      4th • HLN & Home
      Me • Third Form for Adults, MPOA; teaching TFL and co-directing @

      Highlands Latin Nashville Cottage School, est. 2016

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        #4
        Originally posted by pickandgrin View Post
        Jon Christianson

        Is it correct to suggest students pay attention to and learn from the Latin word order shown in the translation exercises in the Forms? Usually, the English to Latin exercise follows right on the heels of multiple models of Latin sentences working with the same grammatical pieces.

        For reference I have in mind Second Form and down.
        Yes, absolutely. Our Latin-to-English exercises tend to follow the most conventional word order, with occasional exceptions. Practicing LTE before ETL translation, as you suggests, gives students a rough template for how to arrange their Latin translation.

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          #5
          Helpful, thank you! I had been doing this and suddenly realized I should ask if that was correct!
          Festina lentē,
          Jessica P

          2021-2022 • 12th year HSing • 10th year MP
          12th • AP Latin online, DE Calculus & Physics, HLN
          10th • HLN, Latin online, MPOA
          7th • HLN & Home
          4th • HLN & Home
          Me • Third Form for Adults, MPOA; teaching TFL and co-directing @

          Highlands Latin Nashville Cottage School, est. 2016

          Comment

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