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
> 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
preterite (also called simple past): widely used in Spanish, restrained
to litterature in French, it is the biggest source of irregularities in
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:
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.
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