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About Romance natlangs and conlangs (Re: ) (LONG)

From:Grandsire, C.A. <grandsir@...>
Date:Thursday, November 18, 1999, 12:52
Artem Kouzminykh (by way of David G. Durand) wrote:
> > This is forwarded from "Artem Kouzminykh" <ural_liz@...>, who is > still having some list problems that we're trying to resolve. > > Salvete omnes, > > my question is for the conlangers who are native romance languages speakers, > or studied them somewhere more or less professionally.
I am French, so I'll try to help.
> It's a pity because personally I prefer romance langs:(( It's probably easy > to create your own romance conlang then to learn a "natural" romance > language:((. So the information I need couldn't be found here. > At the moment, I was able to think out only these points: > - there must be grammatical genders (f, m, n) in a "natural-looking romance > conlang", and
Only masculine and feminine genders. Neuter was already moribund in Colloquial Latin at the time of the Republic. My Romance conlang Reman has in fact no grammatical gender (except m, f and n in 3rd person pronouns singular and plural) but it does have semantic gender (for sexed animals or things).
> - appropriate articles (def., indef., f, m, n)
In all Romance natlangs, the indefinite article seems to come from Latin "unus" (1) and the definite article from Latin "ille" (yonder). They come generally in front of the noun, but Romanian uses the same articles suffixed to it. Fact of liaison are very important. Reman has no indefinite article, but it has a definite article derived from Latin "iste" (that) which is 'i`' (i with grave accent) before consonnant and 't'' (t with apostrophe) before vowel. In Reman the article is invariable, but in Romance natlangs it generally agrees in gender and number with the noun. In Romanian, it even agrees in case (it is the only Romance language that conserves more than small parts -pronouns- of the casual system of Latin) and is in fact the main marker of case (like articles in German).
> As for flexions (I mean personal verb endings), Latino Moderne already has > them. > I personally suspect that important features of a "natural" (not artificial) > romance language are a bigger (than in I-a) number of irregularities (but > what are they?) and, the main thing, the tenses, that are completely
The irregularities can appear for plurals (French has some irregular plurals) and as for verbs, the most irregular verbs are always to be and to have. To go is also very irregular generally (coming in fact from the syncretion of various Latin verbs like IRE, VADERE, AMBULARE...). A special aspect of irregular verbs in Romance languages is that they can often be put in lists of verbs having the same irregularities. Except for to be, to have and to go, it is rare to find only one verb showing a kind of irregularity. Don't forget that in all Romance languages, the verb agrees in person with the subject.
> different from ones in classical Latin and in English, with wide use of > analytical forms (sometimes with verb 'to be', sometimes with 'to have' and > in future even with 'to go'). Well, I may as well be wrong. So I need your > assistance in that matter. For example, what about word order and asking > questions? Is free WO possible? Where to find simple info about Italian or > Spanish grammar in the net? What about the sequence of tenses - what must be > the rules?
The common tenses of the Romance languages are generally as follows: - indicative mood: present: nothing to say about it, pretty similar in all Romance natlangs. preterite (also called simple past): widely used in Spanish, restrained to litterature in French, it is the biggest source of irregularities in verbs. imperfect (used for the progressive and/or habitual past): widely used in all the Romance languages I know (French, Spanish and Italian), it is generally very regular. future: in French, Spanish and Italian, it is formed by putting the ending of the present tense of to have on the infinitive of the verb. It is because it comes from the concatenation of phrases in Latin like IRE HABEO: "I have to go". In Portuguese, AFAIK, it is the analytic compound form which is still used (or is there also a synthetic form?), and in Romanian AFAIK the future is analytic and formed with the verb "to want". In Spanish, the future tense has also a value of possibility ("maybe"). In most Romance natlangs, using the equivalent of "to go" or a related form with the gerund or the infinitive makes a kind of "proximal future" tense, equivalent roughly to "to be going to". All those tenses have compounded forms, generally having a meaning of anteriority. The French passe' compose' (auxiliary in present followed by past participle) has taken the place of the simple past in the spoken language. Most of those tenses use the auxiliary to have (as in Spanish where all verbs make their compounded tenses with to have). In French, as in Italian, some verbs use to be instead. These are mostly verbs of movement or reflexive verbs (using a mandatory reflexive pronoun). Those verbs are always intransitive (as the passive of transitive verbs is made by using the auxiliary to be with the past participle, at least in all the Romance natlangs I know of). - subjunctive mood: all Romance natlangs I know have a subjunctive mood. present: nearly identical with the indicative present in French (except for heavily irregular verbs and verbs in 1st and 2nd persons plural), it is generally formed by interchanging the ending of the different conjugations in other natlangs (most natlangs have conjugations in -AR(E), -ER(E), -IR(E), plus irregular ones, French has -er /e/, -ir /ir/ and -re /r(@)/). imperfect: nearly dead in French (even more than the simple past), it is still very alive in Spanish, and is formed with the same roots as the indicative preterite, so the irregularities are the same. Those two tenses have of course the corresponding compounded forms. Note that Portuguese has developped a subjunctive future by using the subjunctive present of to have with the infinitive of the verb (like the future is formed by the present of to have with the infinitive). - conditional mood: it is an innovation compared to Latin, but AFAIK is present in all Romance natlangs. It is generally formed by putting the endings of the indicative imperfect on the infinitive (it comes there again from the concatenation of phrases like IRE HABEBAM: "I had to go" (with HABERE in the imperfect). It can be used for condition or future in the past. It is called "conditional present" and there is a "conditional past" which is simply the compounded form of the former. - imperative mood: Generally existent only in second person singular and plural. The other persons are given from the subjunctive. French is special as having an imperative at the first person plural that is not derived from the subjunctive (in fact, it has only the 2nd person singular. The 1st and 2nd persons plural are simply the indicative present without subject pronoun). There are also an infinitive, an active present participle, a passive past participle, and sometimes a gerund (French lacks one).
> Expectante vostre responsas invio vobis mi salutationes, > > Artyom Kouzminykh (Artemio de Cosma). > > P.S. I remember that the worst word for using in that list is "natural":))), > so excuse me for using it so often, but it was necessary for making the > meaning of my question clear. This times I tried to be correct in > terminology, really:))) > P.P.S. I would like to learn more about La(t)inesco and also Mr. Grandsire's > romance conlang Reman, but the information upon the last one was some months > ago available only in French :( >
It is still, unfortunately. I don't have time to translate it in English, but if you want I can give you a crash course of Reman by mail. :) At least, what I can give you now is the tense system of Reman: Reman verbs always end in -ri in the active infinitive. They have also an active complementative form (kind of participle) as well as a passive infinitive and a passive complementative form. The various tenses are: - indicative: - present. - past. - future. - subjunctive: - present. - past. - future. - imperative. There are no compounded tenses (no need for that, as tense in subclauses is only relative to the tense in the principal clause) and the passive forms are made by a different set of endings, like in Latin. All those tenses are considered punctual, and non punctual (imperfect) tenses can be made by using compounded tenses with the quasi-verb 'esi' (which has no meaning by itself) followed by the infinitive. It is very important to note that this verbal system is very different from anything you can find in Romance natlangs (no conditional, no compounded forms, a synthetic passive, no imperfect tense) but still plausible. If you want more information, as well as the conjugation tables, you can tell me or see parts of my page about Reman that (even in French) is understandable by non-French speakers. Tell me waht you prefer. I can send you privately a rough sketch of Reman if you want to.
> Valete.
Ave Artem. -- Christophe Grandsire Philips Research Laboratories -- Building WB 145 Prof. Holstlaan 4 5656 AA Eindhoven The Netherlands Phone: +31-40-27-45006 E-mail: