Inversion is generally understood to be the reversal of a thing, which is why the term, in mathematics and also in numerous natural sciences, means certain inversions and is used in language as a rhetorical stylistic means. Inversion here means the conversion of the usual and regular word sequence of a sentence. In particular, the change of subject and predicate is meant. The inversion serves to emphasize a word and to reinforce what has been said. Since in German, however, there is no strict order of the sentence members, and the wording depends on the weight of the individual parts of the speech, it is difficult to recognize inversion and dispute whether it can exist in German at all. In most cases, this is about abnormalities (see Anastrophe).
The word goes back to the Latin noun inversio, which can be translated with inversion or translation (of the words). Thus the translation already refers to what is at stake. Namely, a reversal [of the usual order of words].
One of the first proofs of the word in the spelling indicated could be found in the work of Centvria IV. Variarvm Quæstionvm (1660). This word is also used in the dictionary of the high German dialect (1793) by Johann Christoph Adelung. It can not be ruled out that the word already appears in German.
Conversion of the word sequence
In order to recognize the peculiarity of the inversion, it must be clear what is meant by changing the usual and regular word sequence at all. We must take a look at the typical structure of a German sentence.
In German, a simple sentence with a subject and a predicate can be formed. This is the least and is therefore also referred to as sentence minimum or supplementary sentence. The predicate is, in most cases, a verb, the subject a thing that does something and can be asked with who or what (nominative, case).
This gives us two possibilities in German: either it is a core sentence, where the finite verb form is the second and the subject in the first place, which results in a statement of excitement. Or it is an end-sentence, in which the finite verb is at the beginning and thus a question-sentence is formed.
Core set: The sun is shining.
Headpiece: Does the sun shine?
Here it is clear that both variants are common in German. To illustrate the inversion, however, we continue to focus on the core principle. This is the basic form of all German demonstrations. By definition, this is a sentence in which the finite verb is at the second position in the sentence. Almost all the other members can be arranged before.
Now, such a two-word sentence, as shown above, is certainly a correct sentence, but as a rule there is still an object in German. Objects are sentence additions that complete the minimum sentence consisting of subject and predicate.
The dog bites the girl.
Structure: subject predicate object.
This example is used to describe the subject, predicate, and object (SPO). This sequence is typical in English. In contrast to other languages, however, it is not absolutely necessary.
We have been recognized in the German language, the verb is second, or the subject is in the first place or the subject, is not fixed in German. Nevertheless, the order SPO is most frequent. This is the case, which was previously referred to as a regular regular word sequence.
The girl bites the dog.
The above sentence deviates from the “usual” order, since the object is in the first place. This is a break with the usual word sequence – in German but completely in order (!). The order is now object, predicate, subject (Master Yoda speaks by the way).
This was the first time that I had ever been. The most important thing, which is usually in the first place, is thus the noun girl. Whether stylistically means is debatable.
Note: In principle, the inversion means a conversion of the usual and regular word sequence of a sentence, but this is not always considered as stylistic means, but only if it is conspicuous and very unusual. There are, however,
Inversion with predicatives
It is the usual word order in German is SPO. This is not mean, however, that other sequences are not used as well and in other languages, French or German, grammatically correct. It is therefore disputed.
A companion of the predicate is called predicative. Search a predicative can specify a property of the subject or object. They are called subject or object predicative.
You are beautiful.
In the example above, there is again a subject and a predicate. New is the adjective beautiful, which is used here as a predicative. It is so called because of it. Predicatives are always associated with copula verbs.
Copula verbs are verbs, which stand alone almost meaningless. Only together with the predicative, copula verbs, such as, will be or become a real meaning. They are the same as in the case of a sentence with an adjective in a non-inflected form, as in the above example, or with a noun.
Search a predicative is usually found in the last place in a sentence. In any case, this is the usual word sequence. In the above example, we do not differ from the usual order of subject and predicate. However, if the predicative slips into the first place in the sentence, the predicative is very strongly emphasized.
You are pretty.
The above theorem is now an inversion of the usual order of the propositional clauses. Particularly in the case of multi-part predicates, which are formed from predicate and predicative, an inversion becomes clear, and has a strong effect, since the predicative is enormously emphasized. The same can be found in Goethe:
Great is the Diana of the Ephesians
The above example is the title of a poem of the poet. The sentence starts with the predicative large, followed by the predicate, and then the subject stands. This greatly enhances the effect of the word.
Note: The inversion has hitherto been shown by the inversion of SPO to OPS and in the second part by the reversal of subject-multipartic predicate to multipart predicate subject. A reinforcement can be, in particular, by the conversion of multi-part predicates to the beginning.
Basically, however, it is simply a question of the predicate being placed before the subject in both cases. The following is a list of the most important aspects of the subject.
Principal inversion, secondary inversion,
An inversion of the current word sequence is called an anastrophy. The concept is thus understood to mean a figure in which, in deviation from the usual grammatical word-setting, two coherent words are converted. Consequently, the terms inversion and disaster can be used synonymously.
However, there are often uncertainties as to whether there is a difference between the two. Above all, German books tend to lead the disaster and inversion as separate stylistic means. Of course, this leads to confusion and difficulties.
In the first place, the word anastrophy goes back to Greek. The term inversion comes from Latin. Already in ancient times, the disaster prevailed rather straightforward spread and mostly it is mentioned as a style figure only on the edge. Aristotle is simply an unusual language usage.
However, this is certainly due to the fact that ancient Greek and Latin, ie the classical languages, are distinguished by a free word. As a result, the inversion could only appear prominently in a few places. This changed later.
Above all, languages which are characterized by a binding position of subject, predicate and object, or at least have a customary word sequence, can play with the inversion more playfully. In some grammars, the inversion was then distinguished from major inversion and secondary inversion (J. C. A. Heyse, Theoretical-Practical German Grammar […], 1849).
The main inversion meant the conversion of the predicate as shown in the examples, and the secondary inversion meant the conversion of all other members of the sentence and their attributive internal structure. This could be the cause of the confusion.
Conclusion: If the inversion is only understood as the conversion of the predicate, as it was formerly defined as the main inversion, the anomaly would differ from the inversion because it means all the conversions of the usual syntactic sequence within the sentence. If inversion is combined with the main inversion and the secondary inversion, inversion and anastrophy can be used synonymously. This view is common!
Short overview: The most important thing about the Stilfigur at a glance
Inversion is the conversion of the usual word sequence of a sentence. In particular, the change of the subject and the predicate is meant. The term is synonymous with an anomaly.
It is controversial whether there can be any inversion in the German sense at all, since there is no fixed word order scheme. The sequence of the sentence members depends on the desired weighting. Consequently, it depends partly on the reader whether the respective conversion seems so unusual that he would interpret it as stylistic means.
In other languages, such inversions are therefore easier to find. These are partly based on a fixed sequence of the individual sentence members. If these are consciously converted, this can be interpreted as a stylistic figure or as a bad language usage.
The inversion is mostly used for metric reasons or because a rhyme scheme is to be observed. In addition, the figure can focus on a certain sentence part, thus reinforcing the statement or underlining the importance of a sentence part.
Note: The hyperbaton describes a sentence conversion, in which two words that are syntactically connected are artificially separated by a plug-in. In a broader sense, however, all the figures that reconstruct the theorem for emphatic or poetic reasons are included under the term. These include Anakoluth, Anastrophe, Inversion, Hysteron-Proteron and Parenthesis.