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Re: CHAT: Nonstandard usage (was Natural language change (wasRe:Charlie and I))

From:Thomas R. Wier <artabanos@...>
Date:Wednesday, September 29, 1999, 9:04
Don Blaheta wrote:

> Quoth Don Blaheta: > > See, this one sounds clearly wrong to me. I wonder why I've managed =
> > keep the distinction, but only in "to be"...? Are there other langua=
> > out there where some tense or mood or such is only used for certain > > verbs, leaving the other ones to drop into a different tense? Or is > > that sort of thing usually analysed as two tenses, with identical for=
> > except for one verb? > > After I sent this, I remembered that this is somewhat the case in > German, where iirc one of the subjunctives differs from the past tense > only for "sein" and maybe one or two other verbs... or am I > misremembering?
Well, you have Konjunktiv I, which operates more or less like the English present subjunctive. It's most often used for representing indirect discourse, like in the following text from Der Spiegel: "Ein Sprecher des Au=DFenministeriums sagte am Dienstag in Washington, die US-Regierung *sei* gegen eine weitere Steigerung des Konflikts und *bef=FCrworte* statt dessen den Dialog zwischen Moskau und der F=FChrung der nach Unabh=E4ngigkeit strebenden Kaukasus-Republik." "A speaker of the Secretary of State said on Tuesday in Washington [that] the US government *is* against a further escalation of the conf= lict [in Chechnya] and *advocates* instead a dialogue between Moscow and the leadership of the Caucasus republic seeking independence." The only other subjunctive use that I can think of that comes up is the counterfactual, which comes in Konjunktiv II, based morphologicall= y on the simple past tense plus umlaut where possible: "[Pat Buchanan] verbreitet in seinem neuen Buch "A Republic, not an Empire", eine abenteuerliche These: Da hei=DFt es, die westlichen Staaten *h=E4tten* es akzeptieren sollen, dass Polen geschluckt wurde. Dann *h=E4tte* sich Hitler die Sowjetunion als n=E4chstes Ziel ausgesucht und Frankreich, Norwegen, D=E4nemark, Luxemburg, die Niederlande und vielleicht sogar Italien verschont." "[Pat Buchanan] is dissiminating an adventurous thesis in his new book "A Republic, not an Empire" : according to it, the Western states *should have* accepted that Poland was swallowed up. Then Hitler *would have* picked out the Soviet Union as his next goal and might have spared France, Norway, Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and maybe even Italy." I think this second one is what you were thinking about. All regular verbs (i.e., with the dental suffix) use the same form for the subjunctive as the preterite past tense (which is what we do in English). But there are lots and lots of irregular verbs, all of which umlaut to move into the subjunctive: Preterite Subjunctive war "was" w=E4re hatte "had" h=E4tte sang "sang" s=E4nge schwamm "swam" schw=E4mme etc. There are also a few irregular strong subjunctives, whose form is not straightforwardly derived from the preterite form of the strong verb; e.g., <begann> "began" becomes "beg=F6nne" rather than the expected "beg=E4nne" (although this latter form does show up in a few colloquial dialects). Incidentally, I'd think that such similarities in irregular forms between English and German would help give it a reputation as an "easy" language. Alas, its having cases seems to distort that image... =3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D= =3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D= =3D=3D=3D=3D=3D Tom Wier <artabanos@...> ICQ#: 4315704 AIM: Deuterotom Website: <> "Cogito ergo sum, sed credo ergo ero." Denn wo Begriffe fehlen, Da stellt ein Wort zur rechten Zeit sich ein. -- Mephistopheles, in Goethe's _Faust_ =3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D= =3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D= =3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D