In the stillness is the peace (Word order)

Discussion in 'Spanish-English Grammar / Gramática Español-Inglés' started by Milton Sand, Jan 11, 2013.

  1. Milton Sand

    Milton Sand Senior Member

    Bucaramanga, Colombia
    Español (Colombia)
    Hello, people:

    I've just seen this sentence posted in Facebook: «In the stillness of your mind is the peace you seek.» (En la quietud de tu mente, está la paz que buscas.) I suppose it's the same as saying, «The peace that you seek is in the stillness of your mind» only that the other has a solemn nuance, right?

    If the subject for "is" is "the peace", how come that phrasing is valid in English? Is it the same as using "there is" (there = in the stillness of your mind)? Does it have anything to do with the adverbial "In the stillness of your mind" starting the sentence? Would we need a comma there as in Spanish?

    Thank you!

  2. danielfranco

    danielfranco Senior Member

    I think the rhetorical device is called anastrophe, used for emphasis by drawing the adverbial complement ahead of the subject, and I think you have to have the subject-verb inversion to make it work. And I don't think the comma is mandatory in Spanish, unless you put the verb all the way to the end, but it'd sound kinda funky, so I don't think it'd be valid: «En la quietud de tu mente, la paz que buscas está».
  3. Wandering JJ

    Wandering JJ Senior Member

    British English
    The way the posted sentence is written is an example of inversion rather than anastrophe. Anastrophe is used to highlight a particular word by taking it out of its usual position (which, as you well know, is pretty invariable in English) and sticking it elsewhere for emphasis. On second thoughts, it does put more emphasis on 'the peace you seek', which is clearly a phrase rather than a word, so it may be a case of anastrophe.

    In your example it's simply inversion of 'The peace (that) you seek is in the stillness of your mind.' More precisely it's called 'copular inversion'. It certainly sounds more poetic to me than use of standard word order - as you suggest, 'a solemn nuance'. There is definitely no missing 'there is' and no, you don't need a comma there - in fact it would be considered incorrect in English!
  4. Mmart Senior Member

    Spanish, Catalan - Spain
    I think in the spanish version the comma is considered an error En la quietud de tu mente, está la paz que buscas. --> En la quietud de tu mente está la paz que buscas. as noun and verb should never be separated by this kind of signs (it is different if you have a subordinate sentence in between, which you could ommit and see that noun and verb are not separated).
  5. James2000 Senior Member

    English - South Africa
  6. blasita

    blasita Senior Member

    Spain. Left more than two years ago

    I posted a similar question some time ago: North of the house was a barn-inversion. Hope it helps; the replies were very interesting and helpful.

    Some grammarians' point of view:
    I think that terminology might vary, but no matter what structure it is, the same logic applies. It's possible to move an object, complement or adverbial to initial position to give prominence to it or for other reasons, and I agree that it may sound more literary or poetic (as JJ says).

    And I agree with the others: no comma is necessary in Spanish or English. In general, it's not incorrect to place a comma after a fronted complement in Spanish (there are several cases and recommendations) , but I would not do it in this case.

    Un saludo.
  7. Milton Sand

    Milton Sand Senior Member

    Bucaramanga, Colombia
    Español (Colombia)
    Hello again,
    Thank you for your input, guys! So it is valid indeed. You got me searching those terms and it seems all of you were right in general.

    I've just learned that anastrophe would be a general name for this rethoric device; that the word inversion is a synonym; that the objective is emphasizing (by suspense) the delayed elements of the sentence; and that the inversion is impossible with a pronoun of subject; that a copular inversion is related to predicatives (attributes, descriptions); and that the actual name is locative inversion.

    A mí se me antojaba de lo más natural y hasta necesaria la coma, por pura intuición. Miren lo que he hallado: Parece que sí se usa la coma cuando se invierten elementos del enunciado <—Enlance al DPD-< en especial si se antepone el complemento circunstancial, a menos que sea corto.

    Gracias de nuevo por ayudarme a comprender.


    Blasita, I got busy and hadn't clicked the Send button, so I've just seen your comment. I'm opening your thread to give a look a it.
    Oh, adverbial fronting is another way to call it. Excellent.
    It is clear for me now that it wouldn't take a comma in English.
    Thank you! ;)
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2013
  8. blasita

    blasita Senior Member

    Spain. Left more than two years ago
    Hola, Milton:

    Como dije anteriormente, coincido en que es correcto escribir una coma cuando el complemento circunstancial va antepuesto, pero en este caso yo en principio no la usaría porque precisamente el complemento es corto. En la Ortografía de la lengua española (RAE, 2010) se pueden encontrar unas notas orientativas con referencia a estos casos (apartado Tomando alguno de ellos pienso que se puede justificar e incluso preferir la coma en este caso.

    No creo que sea cuestión de entrar en más detalles en este hilo ya que no es el tema principal. Solo añadir una advertencia que se ofrece en ese apartado por si le sirve a alguien: "Es un error considerar que debe escribirse coma sistemáticamente detrás de los complementos circunstanciales que preceden al verbo. Esta creencia errónea, bastante generalizada, justifica la presencia de la coma por considerarla la marca de que se ha producido un cambio en el orden regular de las partes de un enunciado". Luego, como dices tú, sí que se puede usar tranquilamente, pero no es obligatoria.

    Un saludo.

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