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Verb before the subject

 

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  #1  
Old August 03, 2012, 12:16 AM
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Question Verb before the subject

For practice, I'm reading the Reina Valera, which is a Spanish translation of the Bible. (By the way, for those who are looking for a long text with Spanish and English translations for practice and cross-checking, I suggest the Bible. It's legally free, and available just about anywhere.)

I observed that, at least in the Book of Genesis, the verb often went before the subject. For example:

En el principio crió Dios los cielos y la tierra.
(In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.)

Y dijo Dios: Sea la luz: y fué la luz.
(And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.)

And God blessed the seventh day.
(Y bendijo Dios al día séptimo.)

At first, I chucked it to the Bible's more liberal and poetic language; but then I checked out the Spanish Wikipedia and saw these:

1911 - Muere Reinhold Begas, pintor y escultor neobarroco alemán.

1944 - Nace Nino Bravo, cantante español.

So when should the verb go before the subject? Or can it be used as commonly as the subject-before-verb position?
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Old August 03, 2012, 02:05 AM
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It's always possible to use verb-subject order, but it's not common in speech as that order is more common in questions and commands, so it sounds a bit ambiguous and a bit bookish:

Nino Bravo nace .... (adequate in an article about Nino Bravo)
Nace Nino Bravo .... (in efemérides, with assorted facts, when you need to state first why some fact is important -the fact of being born in this case-)

Rheinhold Begas muere ... (historic present ---> Rheinhold Begas died ...)
Muere Rheinhold Begas ... (idem)
Muere, Rheinhold Begas (Drop dead, Rheinhold Begas)

Sometimes that order is used in long texts just to remind the readers without boring them that we continue to talk about the same subject. Even, as a matter of style, you can use this order to contrast with the traditional one and make the latter live by introducing changes of scene:

Y fue Peperino Pómoro a las montañas. Y encontró al pastor. Y Peperino Pómoro dijo al pastor: "¡Yo soy el calabacificado!" Y por su calabacificación dio Peperino Pómoro gran alegría al pastor.

[Common parody of midnight televangelism]

It is a bit literary, but it can be also popular style:

Al primer grito de los valientes
huyó Sobremonte con sus parientes.

[A popular rhyme during the first British invasion of Buenos Aires (1806) mocking the viceroy who fled to Córdoba (de la Nueva Andalucía) with the public treasure and left his capital city to her fate]

I have to say that verb-subject is the right order in texts referring constantly to the same subject, because is less "bumpy" and boring than the traditional subject-verb order.

Dios hizo. Dios creó. Dios envió... (bumpy)
Dios hizo. Y creó Dios. Y envió Dios... (the text flows)
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Old August 04, 2012, 04:46 AM
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¡Clarísimo! Gracias, Alec.
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Old August 04, 2012, 05:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Coffee Kitten View Post
For practice, I'm reading the Reina Valera, which is a Spanish translation of the Bible. (By the way, for those who are looking for a long text with Spanish and English translations for practice and cross-checking, I suggest the Bible. It's legally free, and available just about anywhere.)
Cuidado con los anacronismos. Hay algunos cambios muy evidentes entre el español de las versiones libres de la RV y el español actual (igual que con las traducciones libres ingleses de la Biblia y el inglés actual). Incluso la revisión de 1960 de la RV usa el subjuntivo futuro, que no existe en el español actual.
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Old August 05, 2012, 04:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pjt33 View Post
Cuidado con los anacronismos. Hay algunos cambios muy evidentes entre el español de las versiones libres de la RV y el español actual (igual que con las traducciones libres ingleses de la Biblia y el inglés actual). Incluso la revisión de 1960 de la RV usa el subjuntivo futuro, que no existe en el español actual.
You're right. I did find some odd words in the RV (e.g. the "crio" that I cited in the first example, which is from my personal copy of the RV, apparently should have been "creo" if I remember right. I'll keep your advice in mind as I read it, thanks.
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Old August 06, 2012, 03:21 AM
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Hola Coffee,
El verbo tiene que ir después del sujeto, pero si quieres poner el énfasis en el sujeto, los cambias de posición. Por ejemplo:
"Viaja Elena a Francia" tiene más énfasis en la palabra "viaja" que en la palabra "Elena"
Lo más normal sería: "Elena viaja a Francia"
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Old August 06, 2012, 12:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Profesoradeespañol View Post
Hola Coffee,
El verbo tiene que ir después del sujeto, pero si quieres poner el énfasis en el sujeto, los cambias de posición. Por ejemplo:
"Viaja Elena a Francia" tiene más énfasis en la palabra "viaja" que en la palabra "Elena"
Lo más normal sería: "Elena viaja a Francia"
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Old August 06, 2012, 02:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Profesoradeespañol View Post
Hola Coffee,
El verbo tiene que ir después del sujeto, pero si quieres poner el énfasis en el sujeto, los cambias de posición. Por ejemplo:
"Viaja Elena a Francia" tiene más énfasis en la palabra "viaja" que en la palabra "Elena"
Lo más normal sería: "Elena viaja a Francia"
Quote:
Originally Posted by pjt33 View Post
I'm glad you said that. Where is the emphasis in a 'normal' word order: "Elena viaja a Francia" ? With a change in word order, what is emphasized?
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Old August 06, 2012, 05:06 PM
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@Perikles & Pjt: I think Profesoradeespañol meant "el énfasis en el verbo".

"Elena viaja a Francia" is the usual word order of a sentence, with a natural stress on the subject. But using the verb at the beginning of the sentence puts an emphasis on the action. Same kind of thing with "A Francia viaja Elena", which would emphasize the place.

Certainly, neither "Viaja Elena" or "A Francia viaja" would be commonly heard sentences, but they are grammatically correct, and this kind of formulas can be found in literary texts, with a specific purpose.
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Old August 07, 2012, 12:19 PM
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A mí me parece que "Viaja Elena a Francia" podría poner más énfasis en el verbo o en el sujeto según el contexto. Lo único que me parece posible decir de la frase suelta es que hay una comparación o algo fuera del normal que el autor o interlocutor quiere señalar.
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