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Auxiliary verbs

From:Alain Lemaire <alargule@...>
Date:Saturday, May 6, 2006, 19:40
Hi all,

I'm new to this site, so an introduction might be a good start. I'm Alain
Lemaire, Dutch (don't ask about the French name), I live in Amsterdam and
I'm 24 years old.
My interest in developing conlangs started some 10 years ago. I've sticked
to two languages, one of which is currently under development and called
'Franaderoan'. It has no webpage (and it probably won't have one in the near
future) - so I can't link you to a detailed description of the language.

Anyway, I ran into a problem when I came to developing auxiliary verbs - or
should I say modal verbs. English, for example, has modal/aux. verbs like
'want to', 'have to', 'should', 'may', 'ought to' etc. My native tongue,
Dutch, features them as well: 'moeten', 'kunnen', 'willen', '(niet) hoeven
te' etc. The problem arises when it comes down to negations of those modal
verbs - and then especially the modal verb that expresses an obligation
('must', 'have to', 'should').
A negation of this verb can mean two things. For example (in Dutch):

je moet gaan (you have to go/you must go);

je hoeft niet te gaan (you don't have to go);

je moet niet gaan (you must not go/you shouldn't go).

In the first negating sentence, the modal verb is being negated (it is not
mandatory to go); whereas in the second, it's the action itself (it is
mandatory not to go).

My question is as follows: is this distinction between two possible forms of
negation of the modal verb 'have to'/'must'/'should' (Dutch 'moeten') a
typical feature of European (German, Latin) languages? Or is it a
distinction that is made universally - so every language has it's own way of
saying either 'je hoeft niet te gaan' or 'je moet niet gaan'? Are there
languages that don't make that distinction (and have only one negating form
of the verb 'have to')?

And: could somebody give me some examples of how it is (not) being done in
other (preferably non-European) languages - or (your own) con-langs?

Maybe it's a difficult question to answer - it's a very specific one at
least. However, I do hope that someone could shed some light on this matter.


Philip Newton <philip.newton@...>
Philip Newton <philip.newton@...>
Nik Taylor <yonjuuni@...>