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Re: Jovian's Verbs From Hell

From:Christophe Grandsire <christophe.grandsire@...>
Date:Friday, August 30, 2002, 11:44
En réponse à Christian Thalmann <cinga@...>:

> > I presume that's because you were already speaking a Romance language > with similar grammatical features as a native language... we had to > learn a whole range of new grammatical concepts in Latin class because > our German lessons hadn't taught them to us. >
Strangely enough, because German has about as many tense/aspect/mood/voice distinctions as French. The fact that German has most of them analytic rather than synthetic doesn't change anything about what they are and how they are used. Even with Latin you can make a pretty good one-to-one correspondence between both verbal systems, at least with the finite forms.
> > In your romlang-native point of view, that is. =P >
Of course, I never pretended that a speaker of Japanese wouldn't find it difficult ;)) .
> > I'm a non-native speaker too, and I find the isolation helpful.
For the written form yes. I was talking about spoken language, where usually half the syllables are swallowed in English. Makes your isolated forms rather difficult to recognise... The
> "strong verbs" are a difficulty, of course, but you have them in > most romlangs too. At least in English you only have to recognize > four forms of the verb (present, past, and the two participles)... >
With Latin you need only five forms: 1st person singular present indicative, 2nd person singular present indicative, infinitive, first person present perfect indicative, supine (and of course remember the personal endings, but in English once you know the four forms you know nothing unless you know the whole extent of helping verbs, so the difficulty is very much alike). All the other forms are straightforwardly derived from them. Latin is not as synthetic as most of its descendants, and most of its conjugations are actually pretty much agglutinative. You mustn't get scared that the words are written in one piece if they are easily parsed.
> > If only it were that simple. The first person imperfect and future > of |amâre| are |amâbam| and |amâbô|. But the pluperfect and future > perfect forms are |amâverô| and |amâveram| -- just the other way > round! >
Except that you are wrong. The pluperfect *is* |amâueram|. It's the future perfect which is |amâuerô|. Rather than an example of how Latin is complicated, you just showed an example of how Latin conjugations is straightforward ;))) . True enough, things are slightly more complex in the subjunctive. But still it's easily remembered with a few mnemonic rules.
> > Another difficulty is that the subjunctive present forms of one > conjugation often look like the indicative forms of another > conjugation. /=P >
You find that a *difficulty*? I think on the contrary that it's one of the things that make it easy to remember the subjunctive present! Just switch conjugations! (or rather, take the 1st person present indicative, get rid of the |o|, and replace it with the endings of the opposite conjugation - with the opposition -ARE/-ERE,-IRE. Of course, it's a bit simplistic, but as a mnemonic rule it's extremely easy to remember). Of course, it may be more difficult when you read a text and you don't know the verb. But even then the shape of the endings on the verb and its situation in the sentence will give you more than enough hints to reconstruct its infinitive and look it up in a dictionary. Of course it might help to have some experience in it, and I can understand that English students will have difficulties with synthetic conjugations. But that's mostly because they get scared as soon as they see verbal forms which are more than two syllables long. They don't realise that the equivalent in English would probably be at least as long, if not longer, because written with three of four words rather than one. It's all a matter of choosing the right point of view. Christophe. Take your life as a movie: do not let anybody else play the leading role.


bnathyuw <bnathyuw@...>
Thomas R. Wier <trwier@...>