Re: THEORY: Temporal Auxiliaries, Aspectual Auxiliaries, Modal Auxiliaries
|From:||Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>|
|Date:||Wednesday, July 6, 2005, 19:59|
On Tuesday, July 5, 2005, at 06:07 , Tom Chappell wrote:
> [TEMPORAL AUXILIARIES]
> If the auxiliary is there to show the Tense, which is not carried on the
> lexical verb, then it may reasonably be called a Temporal Auxiliary.
> Example: English's future tense is analytic or periphrastic. Lexical
> verbs like "speak" cannot carry any inflection for future tense in
> English. Instead, the future tense is formed by a Temporal Auxiliary,
> "will" or "shall", together with the untensed content-verb.
"will" and "shall" (for those of us who still use the latter for futurity
in certain situations) are _not_ normally classified as temporal
auxiliaries. Indeed to do lands you with problems when the past tense of
the auxiliary is used. This is used in English for two distinct purposes:
1. the "shifted future" cf. "She says she will come" --> "She said she
2. in certain types of condition: "If he had come on time, he would have
The usual analysis of English is that it has a two tense system: past ~
non-past (see Trask on 'tense'). This is actually quite a common system in
the world's languages. It is only a hang-over from Latin grammar that
leads people to think that tense must be past~present~future.
"will" and "shall" behave exactly like the the _modal_ auxiliaries such as
"can", "may" etc. and are classed as modal auxiliaries. They express what
is often called the _irrealis_ mood ("shall" also expresses jussive
mood) - the future is a set of possibilities. The present of "will" leaves
the possibility open; its past suggests greater doubt about or in fact
> 1) Example? The most frequently used past tense of Modern French is the
> composite past, made out of a form of the verb "avoir" and the
> active-participle of the lexical verb.
Passive participle, in fact. The construction occurs occasionally in
classical Latin, as I have shown two or three times in past threads, where
the participle always agrees in number, gender & case with the direct
object. In French the participle must still agree with the object if the
object precedes the verb.
> This is analytic or periphrastic, to be sure, but does the "avoir" count
> as a Temporal Auxiliary here? I
> think maybe it does not.
You think correctly.
Then on Tuesday, July 5, 2005, at 11:18 , tomhchappell wrote:
> Hello, Max. Thanks for writing.
> --- In firstname.lastname@example.org, # 1 <salut_vous_autre@H...> wrote:[snip]
>> In French:
>> J'aurais mangé = I'd have eaten
>> The auxiliary "avoir" caries Past Tense, Perfective Aspect, and
No - the French forms with _avoir_ (or _être_, see below) are not so clear
cut. Consider _j'ai mangé_; it may mean:
- I ate - simple past indicative
- I have eaten - present perfect indicative.
The past perfect is _j'avais mangé_ "I had eaten".
With _j'ai mangé_ all we can say, I think, is that the auxiliary carries
the mood (indicative). If the phrase is understood with the perfect
meaning, the the auxiliary may be considered as also carrying the tense
(present), while the participle carries the aspect (perfect). If however
it means "I ate" then we must surely say that the auxiliary & participle
form a composite past tense.
Just to confuse things, the simple past in English and the French
composite past tense does have a perfective meaning. But as Trask says:
"NOTE: be careful not to confuse perfective aspect with perfect aspect;
they are entirely distinct."
>> But this is the only only one I can think of since the other French
>> I know carry only 2 of them with the third represented by a zero
>> like "J'aurai mangé" = "I'll have eaten" that carries future tense
>> perfect aspect and in which the indicative mood is implied but not
I agree with perfect aspect and, possibly, future tense. Also with
_j'aurais mangé_ the aspect is perfect, not perfective. But we have to
remember that _j'aurais_ is the past form of _j'aurai_ (it has the same
endings as the imperfect tense), and is used not only in conditions but
also to express the "shifted future" just as "would" is used in English:
il dit qu'il l'aura mangé --> il a dit qu'il l'aurait mangé
he says he will eat it --> he said he would eat it.
I will say no more than that it could be argued that the stem aur- denotes
_irrealis_ mood :)
> (It occurred to me after my original post that the participle used in
> French's passe' compose' might be not an active participle but a past
It is in fact the _perfect passive_ participle.
> English's participles are best distinguished as passive
> vs. active, but I don't know that that's true for French.)
Exactly the same. If however French uses the perfect _active_ participle
then the auxiliary _must_ be être and not avoir; also the participle must
agree with the subject:
je suis venu = I came; I have come
If I were female, then I should write _je suis venue_.
>> The situations in which one tense, or one aspect, or one mood,
>> is "marked by zero", or "unmarked", makes questions such as this one
>> yet more interesting, and answering them yet more complicated; or at
>> least I think so.
Not really per_se. The problems with interpreting the French examples are
however interesting, as I have shown above ;)
To return to Tom's original mail:
> [QUESTIONS ABOUT TEMPORAL AUXILIARIES]
> 2) Does anyone know of any natural languages where one or more tense(s)
> is (preferably) always (or failing that, almost always) shown by means of
> a Temporal Auxiliary verb?
> 3) How about NatLangs where most tenses are so shown?
Yes - Welsh (and the other Insular Celtic languages).
In spoken Welsh practically all the tenses & moods are expressed by using
the verb "to be" with:
- YN followed by the verbnoun (gerund) for non-perfect aspect.
- WEDI (after) followed by the verbnoun (gerund) for perfect aspect.
The only common exception in the south is the simple past tense which,
like English, is a single word:
canais i = I sang (Welsh is VSO)
But in the north, they even avoid this in speech and use instead a strange
formation that may give conlangers ideas:
ddaru i mi ganu
happened to me sing-VN (verbnoun) = singing happened to me = I sang :)
> 13) Are there NatLangs where almost all Mood or Mode is expressed only on
> Modal Auxiliaries?
On Wednesday, July 6, 2005, at 03:39 , Tom wrote via Jeff Jones:
> [NEW QUESTIONS: DEVERBAL NOUNS AND DEVERBAL ADJECTIVES]
> [DEVERBAL NOUNS]
> N1) How many kinds of DeVerbal Nouns are their cross-linguistically?
> N2) Are there others besides gerunds, infinitives, and supines?
Gerunds, infinitives, and supines are _verbal nouns_, they are *not*
deverbal nouns. Confusing the two categories is not helpful.
Verbal nouns are those nouns, formed from verbs, *which still retain some
verbal functions* - they can be given direct and indirect objects, are
modified by adverbs (not adjectives) and very often show tense.
Deverbal nouns are, as the name implies, noun formed from verbal bases (de
verbo). They are purely nouns and cannot take objects; they must be
modified by adjectives (because they are nouns, pure amd simple). Cf:
(a) After hurriedly consuming ten plates of spaghetti he was violently
(b) After the hurried comsumption of 10 plates of spaghetti he was
In (a) 'consuming' is a verbal noun; we see it is a noun because it is
governed by the preposition 'after'. But it retains certain verbal
functions also. In (b) consumption is a deverbal noun and behaves as a
noun and retains no verbal functions.
Verbal nouns are usually called infinitives. In some languages like Latin
& English, there is another verbal noun with practically the same meaning
as the infinitive, but used in different situations (often in English the
choice is a matter of style); this is then called the gerund.
> N3) What is a supine, anyway?
Strictly it is a feature of Latin grammar only. In Latin it is possible to
form deverbal nouns of the 4th declension; in the nominative case they are
identical to the masculine singular form of the perfect participle, e.g.
uisus = sight; auditus = heating; tactus = touch etc.
In pre-classical Latin it seems they could be treated as verbal nouns
rather than deverbal nouns. Classical Latin retained this only with the
accusative case and, less commonly, the ablative in certain restricted
constructions. These two relicts of the older usage are called 'supines':
(a) the accusative could be used in association with verbs denoting motion
in order to express purpose. For example:
pacem rogatum uenerunt = they have come to ask for peace.
We see that 'rogatum' (to ask for) is a verbal noun as it has the direct
(b) the ablative could be used to qualify an adjective. For example:
difficile est dictu quanto simus in odio = it is difficult to say how much
we are hated (lit: we are in hate).
We see that 'dictu' is a verbal noun as it has the noun clause
'quanto....odio' as its direct object.
The term supine is occasionally used in the grammars of some other
languages for non-finite parts of the verb which vaguely resemble in some
way the Latin supine.
> N4) An "agentive" noun --- what's the right way to say that?
> [DEVERBAL ADJECTIVES]
> N5) Is every DeVerbal Adjective a Participle?Never.
A participle is always a verbal adjective. 'laughable' is a deverbal
> N6) Is the biggest difference between Participles Voice (Passive vs
Not sure what you mean. Tense differences are quite common.
> N7) Is there a real Aspectual difference between Participles (Perfect
> vs Imperfect) over and above the Voice difference?
Yes - in languages where aspect marking is important, for example the Slav
and semitic languages.
> N8) Is there a real Tense difference between Participles (Past vs
> Present) over and above the Voice and/or Aspect difference?
Latin even had a future participle: scripturus = going to write, about to
> [BACK TO ORIGINAL TOPIC]
> N9) In my original question 8), is the "content word" always or
> almost always one that could best be, or would have to be, translated
> as a deverbal noun or deverbal adjective, if not a verb, in any
> language in which the entire phrase existed as a non-analytic lexical
Sorry - I do not really understand the question - altho _deverbal_ is
> [INFINITE VS FINITE VERBS AND UNTENSED VS TENSED VERBS]
> An "infinite" form of a verb is, classically, one which does not
> have to agree with any of its participants (a subject or one or more
> objects or both) in number, person, or gender.
> A "finite" form, on the other hand, is one which must agree with
> some participant (a subject or one or more objects or both) in number
> or person or gender.
> Technically speaking, then, "classical infinitives" could have a
> tense, aspect, voice, and mood specified.
They most certainly had tense and voice in classical Latin and even more
so in Greek. In Greek they had aspect as well, and must surely do in
languages where aspect is important and marked.
> Classically, then, many uses of English verbs are "infinite" forms
> of the verb in question, although we are not taught to regard them
> as "infinitives".
> Mostly we think of non-tensed, non-"aspected" verbs when we think
> of "infinite" verbs in English.
> This is probably incorrect,
The term 'infinite' is incorrect. We talk about about non-finite verbs.
> N10) Can anyone give me examples of Tensed Infinite Verbs?
> I prefer multiple different forms in the same natural language, for
> multiple different languages; but any example at all will count as
> a contribution.
amare = to love
amavisse = to have loved.
amari = to be loved
amatus esse = to have been loved
> and Voice specified. In fact, I am not sure how much sense it
> makes to call anything with an unspecified voice a Verb.
You'll have problems Chinese and other Sino-Tibetan languages then :)
ta1 xie3le xin4
he write-PERF letter = he wrote the letter
xin4 xie3le = the letter was written
> If the
> Voice is open to question, then maybe it's a de-verbal Noun or
> Adjective or Adverb or Adposition or something.
> [DOES THE NOTION OF "VOCAL AUXILIARY" EVEN MAKE SENSE?][snip]
> I conjecture that the idea of a "Voice" auxiliary -- an auxiliary
> verb in an aux&lex construction whose main purpose for inclusion
> was to carry the marking-for-voice that wasn't going to be carried on
> the main verb -- doesn't even make sense.
Do you indeed? I do not see for the life of me why it does not make sense.
> N13) Does anyone know of, or can anyone come up with, a proof or
I can come up with a disproof - its called Welsh :)
The auxuliary is 'cael' (get, receive) is used with the good ol' verbnoun
(indifferent as to voice!)
Rhoedd ffilm newydd yn cael ei dangos neithiwr
Was film new YN receiving its showing last-night = A new film was
being shown last night
Roedd yr arian wedi cael ei gasglu ganddo fe.
Was the money after receiving its collecting with him = The money had
been collected by him
> NOMINALS VS VERBALS]
> Some linguists have proposed that the fundamental division between
> Nominals and Verbals is this:Which linguists?
> Nominals denote whatever must be bounded in Space;
> Verbals denote whatever must be bounded in Time.
Umm - no place for God then. Besides I thought modern physics held that
time is dependent upon space.
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