On solecism

The Latin text is also available.

Solecism is an error in combining parts of speech contrary to the rules of grammar. The difference between solecism and barbarism is that solecism contains clashing and non-agreeing phrases, but barbarism happens in the pronunciation or writing of single words, so that many err when they think that solecism can be committed in one part of speech, as when we point out a man and say `she', or a woman and say `he'; or, being asked where we are going, we say `of Rome', or answering a greeting we say `hello', where the pointing out or questioning or greeting has the force of connected discourse. Many also wonder as to whether scala `stairs', quadriga `four-wheeled wagon', scopa `broom' (all of these, in the singular here, should be in the plural) are solecisms or barbarisms, whereas it may be easily be seen from the definition of the error itself that this type of utterance is barbarism.

Solecism comes about in two ways, either through the part of speech or a characteristic of the part of speech (accidence). Solecisms are made by part of speech when one is used for the other, as torvumque repente clamat `suddenly she fiercely shouts' (Aeneid 7.399) for torve `fiercely'; a noun is used in place of the adverb. This error occurs in the same part of speech when it is placed improperly or not as it should be, as cui tantum de te licuit `who had the power to deal with you like that?' (Aeneid 6.502), for in te, and apud amicum eo `I am going to see [chez] my friend' for ad amicum, and intro sum `I am inside' for intus sum, and foris exeo `I am going outside' for foras. Through the characteristics of the part of speech (accidence) solecism is brought about in as many ways as there are characteristics. But of these we shall show only a few as examples. Now, solecisms are caused through the qualities of the noun, as:

hauriat hunc oculis ignem crudelis ab alto Dardanus
`Let the cruel Dardan's eyes drink in this fire from the deep' (Aeneid 4.661) for Dardanius `Dardanian'; a proper noun is placed for an appellative; through gender, as validi silices `big rocks' (silex is feminine in Virgil), amarae cortices `bitter barks' (cortex is usually masculine), and collus collari caret `the neck is without its collar' (Plautus Captivi 2.2.107; Loeb l. 357). by numbers, as pars in frusta secant `some cut it into pieces' (Aeneid 1.212; pars requires a singular verb), for secat; by comparison, as
respondit Iuno Saturnia sancta dearum
`Juno, daughter of Saturn, hallowed among goddesses, answered' (Ennius, Annals, 1.65 [Loeb 1.62]) for sanctissima; by case, as
urbem quam statuo vestra est
`the city I build is yours' (Aeneid 1.573), for urbs quam statuo; by mood, as
itis, paratis arma quam primum, viri
`go, prepare arms immediately, men' for ite, parate; the indicative is put for the imperative; by meanings, as
spoliantur eos et corpora nuda relinquunt
`they despoil them and leave their nude bodies' for spoliant; by tenses, as
cediditque superbum
Ilium et omnis humo fumat Neptunia Troia `proud Ilium fell, and all Neptune's Troy smokes from the ground up', for cecidit et fumavit `fell and smoked' (Aeneid 3.2); by person, as
Danai, qui parent Atridis, quam primum arma sumite
`Greeks who obey Agamemnon, take up your arms immediately' for qui paretis sumite; by adverb, as intus eo `I go in' for intro, and foras sto `I am standing outside' for foris, and Italia venio `I come from Italy' and ad Romam pergo, since a preposition is to be added to the noun, not an adverb; by prepositions, since one is put for the other or subtracted though needed; one is put for the other, as sub lucem for ante lucem `before dawn'; needed ones are left off, as
silvis te, Tyrrhene, feras agitare putasti
`Did you think yourself, Tuscan, to be chasing beasts in the forest?' (Aeneid 11.686), for in silvis; by conjunctions, as subiectisque urere flammis `burn with flames piled beneath' (Aeneid 2.37) for subiectisve; and autem fieri non debet `for it should not be done', when we ought to say: fieri autem non debet (autem must be the second element). Other solecisms are made in various ways, which we may note more in rejecting them than imitating them. Solecism it is called in prose, in poetic speech it is called schema.