Latin was a language which predominant order was Subject-Object-Verb, as in the example proverb Errare Humanum Est

So, why all its modern descendents are predominantly Subject-Verb-Object order? Or are there some that I don't which order is not that?

I can assert the SVO order on Portuguese, Spanish, Catalan, French, Italian and Romanian, which are the most represented in Europe. May be there is some not so popular language that is not SVO.

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    Since the descendents lost the case system, they had to introduce a kind of a new separator that separarates the 2 nominal parts of the sentence, subject and object. The only way to do that was to do it syntactically, that's to insert the verb between the subject and the object, no other way was possible. That's it. – Yellow Sky Sep 11 '14 at 14:38
  • Ah, by the way, do the French 'Je t'aime', Portuguese 'Eu te amo', Spanish 'Eu te amo' (I love you) seem really SVO to you? :) – Yellow Sky Sep 11 '14 at 14:42
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    @jlawler - Romance personal pronouns keep the subject vs. object forms, that's why, if the object is expressed by a personal pronoun, the sentence is still SVO. But this doesn't work if the object is expressed by a noun. That's all that I meant. – Yellow Sky Sep 11 '14 at 15:32
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    Humanum is not an object in Errare humanum est, but a predicate. – TKR Sep 11 '14 at 17:19
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    @YellowSky, I don't understand your arguments. Why do you need a separator? Why can't SOV order be a syntactical way to mark the subject and object? – dainichi Sep 17 '14 at 14:46

It is a superstition to think that all languages are predominantly SOV, SVO, VSO or some other combination of these hieroglyphs. This is not true of Latin, and certainly not true of ancient Indo-European languages like Sanskrit or Avestan, where the word order is almost completely free.

As TKR has very rightly pointed out, the “proverb” “errare humanum est” is not an example of SOV because humanum is not an object but a predicate adjective. By the way, this “famous proverb” is not actually quoted by any ancient author; the oldest attested version of it is in St Augustine of Hippo, who in fact wrote “humanum fuit errare”, so: predicate + verb + subject.

This said, I would actually agree that in the modern Romance languages the usual sequence is SVO. In cases like “je t’aime” one could argue that “t(e)” is not a direct object but part of the verb complex; it is not a word in its own right. We also say things like “Toi je t’aime”, which you might want to analyse as OSOV, though I would analyse it as topic + (clitic+clitic+verb). Neither “je” nor “te” can be used as an isolated statement in French. The response to the question “Whom do you love?” is not “te” but “toi”.

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