"Livia has four beds."
Translation:Livia quattuor lectos habet.
Is "Livia lectos quattuor habet." also possible? Must the number be before of the word it refers to. Should it stand in front?
Since most words use endings to communicate what they are doing in the sentence, Latin word order is pretty free.
Most numbers however, are indeclinable (that is, they do not change forms). For this reason, it is best to keep them before the word they are modifying, as in "quattuor lectos."
True, but given that the word following is a verb, it wouldn't get confusing as to which word it modifies. I like to think Romans had a pretty decent RAM for storing words until the sentence was finished.
I mean I’m also telling you what the Romans did, not just a “best practice.”
Most numbers come before the nouns they modify.
By no means do I actually disagree with you. The Romans when casually speaking probably stuck to a consistent word order. My only point is that in prose it could appear that way, not necessarily that it should.
Latin word order did go more by guideline, than rule. There were some guidelines that were firmer however. Prepositions coming before their objects is one of them. Numbers coming before words they modified is another.
I disagree (respectfully) here, Magister Smith. Numbers do follow their noun with significant frequency in the literature. It think it's better to say that the number must be next to the noun, either before or after. Moreover I think numbers ending in unus -a -um follow their noun even more often, to avoid the awkward "viginti et unum crustula" apparent lack of agreement.
Did you mean numbers preceding? I didn’t say follow.
I can’t find a source right now or a percentage of uses, but I have seen them before more often than after, at least in prose. Poetry is a whole other beast, of course.
Caesar puts numbers after their noun about 50% of the time. Cicero heavily favors preceding. And because everyone wants to be Cicero, that nasty stereotype spread.
Yes--you stated that numbers preceding the noun they refer to/modify is a "firmer guidline" and I am disputing whether that is really true. Put IIII into the PHI (Packard Humanities Institute Latin Texts search engine) and see what comes up in the De Agri Cultura of Cato.
I also don't think that the meter dictates word order to Latin poets categorically either. But that's another topic.