Was wrong grammar a skill of the best Latin writers?

By tim05000, in 'General Latin Chat (English)', Dec 21, 2018.

  1. tim05000 Member

    It seems a strange question but I'll give you two world examples where incorrect grammar enhanced the best literature:

    1. Shakespeare. In Macbeth, Donalbain cautions "there's daggers in men's smiles" (est for a plural). It ought to be "there are daggers" (sunt), but somehow it feels and sounds more effective to say it incorrectly.

    2. The Qur'an. Sometimes the nominative and accusative are used incorrectly, singulars are mistakenly used for plurals. Sometimes the exact same sentence is written in two different chapters, but with one using the correct grammar with another using incorrect grammar. In the early days Muslim grammarians said these were trifling scribal errors of no consequence, but as the Qur'an became increasingly regarded as perfect in every single way, new reasons were proffered (like that it has a greater poetic effect, or that the Qur'an created Arabic grammar so it's impossible for it to be wrong). Translations of the Qur'an into other languages correct these grammar errors without informing the reader.

    How about the greatest Latin writers? Did they break grammar and language rules as they went along, or create new ones? Shakespeare coined hundreds of new words himself and was fluent in Latin so the occasional odd word order looks odd in today's English but normal in Latin.
  2. Dantius Homo Sapiens

    • Civis Illustris
    in orbe lacteo
    Not necessarily "wrong grammar", but colloquial constructions, Graecisms, etc. became pretty common especially in the later end of the classical era.

    Sometimes, incorrect constructions or anacolutha (sentences that break off and switch construction in the middle) occur sometimes, but not really with a rhetorical effect.

    In something slightly similar to the Shakespeare example, Propertius writes "est quibus Eleae concurrit palma quadrigae, est quibus in celeris gloria nata pedes", where sunt quibus would be the better construction. est quibus = "there is those to whom...", sunt quibus = "there are those to whom..."
    Apparently, Prop. does this to imitate a Greek construction.
  3. Etaoin Shrdlu Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Why should this be persuasive to non-Muslims? Without the spectacles of religion, it seems more logical to go with trifling scribal errors.
  4. tim05000 Member

    Because few non-Muslims are masters of old arabic grammar, so they have no reason to doubt what the clerics have responded. When a non-Muslim who has mastered Arabic grammar has said otherwise, they’re by default branded an ‘Orientalist’, and thereby not to be believed.
  5. Etaoin Shrdlu Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    That's not a reason for it to be persuasive here, though. I can't see what it adds to your argument, assuming you have one.
  6. tim05000 Member

    Tecum sentio - I agree with you.
    I was relaying others' arguments. I think it's interesting that the rules of grammar and language can change if a person needs words to be correct.

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