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Latin/Adjective/Noun Word Order

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Question
Dear Michael!

I found a discussion in Latin (http://latindiscussion.com/forum/latin/declining-adjectives-nouns.9933/) and found out that both the expressions "porta magna" and "magna porta" (large door/gate) were used. Which is actually the correct form? Which is the correct order of the adjective and the noun in the expression?

Respectfully,
Robert

Answer
Because Latin is an inflected language, the endings of words (inflections) tend to carry the syntactical meaning (how the words relate to one another in a sentence).  Word order is, therefore, left much more flexible to express emphasis, sentence rhythm, or rhetorical balance.

In general, adjectives tend to follow the nouns they modify (as in French and Spanish), but not always, for the reasons given above.  Moreover, adjectives of quantity or size tend to precede the nouns they modify.  Thus, there is no unique "correct form" or "correct order," as you put it.

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Michael

Expertise

Ph.D. Cand. in Classical Languages. Conversant with all forms of the language: classical, mediaeval, and modern.

Experience

I have 50 years of teaching at all levels of Latin from high school through university postgraduate. I read, write, and speak Latin daily.

Organizations
American Classical League, American Philological Association

Education/Credentials
A.B., M.A., Ph.D. Cand. in Classics.

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