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Re: aspect vs. tense in semitic languages

From:Fabian <rhialto@...>
Date:Wednesday, January 19, 2000, 21:18
I'm posting this, on teh assumption that it is not just us two who are
interested in semitic languages.

> > maltese essentially has aspect in the verbs, perfective and > > imperfective. > > There is also a separate imperative form. > > He wrote - kiteb > > he writes - jiktbu > > write - iktbu > . > > In Hebrew, this would be equivalent to (phonemically, disregarding > allophones): > he wrote - katab > he will write - yiktob > write! - ktob
Mea culpa. Correct Maltese forms are <kiteb/jikteb/ikteb>. This takes certain irregularities into account. Of course, Maltese words in general have so many irregularities that it is almost meaningless to use the word in that context. Notice that these are also similar to the Hebrew forms. My least favourite part of maltese is losing count of the number of different ways of forming the plurals.
> > The perfective is geneally equivalent to the English past (in its > > many > > forms), the imperfective to the English present and future tenses. > > Auxiliaries determine the remainder of the fine graduations of > > meaning, such > > as: > > > > ser jikteb - he will write > . > > Does _ser_ mean anything by itself?
It is a contraction of the verbal noun <sejjer/sejra/sejrin> <m/f/pl>, meaning 'becoming'. A better translation is thus: He is going to write. <sa> is a variant form of <ser>. A few other future particles are: ha jikteb - he intends to write This carries a strong connotation of conscious intention, but is used in many contexts in which English would not consider using 'intends to'. ghad jikteb - he shall write This carries a connotation of a future event of great importance. ex: id-Dinja ghad tinharbat (The world shall be destroyed) I think 'shall' carries the right connotation in English.
> > kellu jikteb - he had to write (he had he writes) > > ghandhu kiteb - he has/had written (he has he wrote) > > ghandhu jikteb - he must/has to write (he has he writes) > > ikollu jikteb - he will have to write (he will_have he writes) > > Do _kellu/ikollu_ and _ghandhu_ mean the same thing? Is _ikollu_ an > actual future form?
kellu/ghandu/ikollu are either irregular verbs, or prepositions functioning as verbs. Take your pick. The root meaning of ghand is 'at'. The past/future forms of this word are only used as auxiliary verbs (afaik), but ghand is used as a preposition. Note that grammatically, they inflect exactly as prepositions.
> > kien kiteb - he had written (he was he wrote) > > ikun jikteb - he habitually writes (he will_be he writes) > > kien jikteb - he used to write (he was he writes) > > kien qed kiteb - he was writing (past continuative) > > qed jikteb - he is writing (present continuative) (1) > > ghadu ma kitibx - he has not yet written
> Does "to be" have true past and future forms, or is the future just the > imperfect?
'to be' in the simple present tense is a null verb. The 'future' form is really the imperfect form of the verb. I have begun to suspect that what I thought was a jussive in my sig may not in fact be a jussive. More later, jekk alla jrid. --- Fabian Ikun li dik il-kitba tpatti it-tieba ta' qalb ta' patruni tieghi. Ikun li ttaffi ugigh tal-Mitlufin u tal-Indannati. Ikun li ilkoll li jaqraw il-kitba, qalbhom ihobbu is-Sewwa u l-Unur. U b'dak l'ghamil, nithallas tax-xoghol iebes.