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 =to
> > keep the distinction, but only in "to be"...? Are there other langua=ges
> > 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=ms
> > 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
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
"A speaker of the Secretary of State said on Tuesday in Washington
[that] the US government *is* against a further escalation of the conf=
[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=
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
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:
war "was" w=E4re
hatte "had" h=E4tte
sang "sang" s=E4nge
schwamm "swam" schw=E4mme
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
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...
Tom Wier <artabanos@...>
ICQ#: 4315704 AIM: Deuterotom
"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_