Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

Re: CHAT: translation (was: Re: CHAT: "have a nice day")

From:Matt Pearson <jmpearson@...>
Date:Tuesday, March 7, 2000, 0:27
Kou wrote:

>> The past indefinite specifies that the event happened at some >> time (or times) in the past. It contrasts with the past definite, >> which specifies that the event happened at a particular single >> time in the past: >> >> Past Indef: >> Sa ias-un upam >> "They ate apples (at some point)" >> "They have eaten apples before" >> >> Past def: >> Sa ias-e upam >> "They ate apples (then)" >> >> When negated, the past indefinite indicates that an event >> has not taken place yet (has never taken place), while >> the negated past definite indicates that an event did not >> take place when it was supposed to, but may have taken >> place at some other time: >> >> Sa ias-oton upam >> "They haven't eaten apples yet" >> "They've never eaten apples" >> >> Sa ias-otie upam >> "They didn't eat apples (at that time)" > >While I see obvious differences, there look to be cross-overs with the >Romance imperfect and perfect tenses. How does Tokana distinguish between: >"When I was five, we didn't eat apples (perhaps because they weren't >available, or they were worm-ridden and made us barf) (not once, but over an >indefinite period of time)". and >"When I was five, we hadn't eaten apples (before, and then the American GIs >gave us a basket of Granny Smiths)". >Does it distinguish? Adverbial qualifications?
Good question! Both of these contexts would require the past indefinite, so the resulting sentence would be ambiguous: Iteh ialat kian ume imeh, mina iasoton upam "When I was five, we {didn't eat/hadn't ever eaten} apples" The past habitual "we didn't eat apples" is the more salient interpretation, I think, but the 'not yet' reading "we hadn't eaten apples" is also possible. To explicitly indicate the second meaning, I guess you'd add an adverbial: Iteh ialat kian ume imeh, mina eima tu iasoton upam "When I was five, we still hadn't eaten apples" "When I was five, we hadn't yet eaten apples" (eima tu = still not, not yet) For the first meaning, you could also use the subjunctive auxiliary "tule" = "would/could/should" ("tulotie" = "wouldn't/couldn't/shouldn't"), which sometimes indicates a habitual action: Iteh ialat kian ume imeh, mina tulotie iasat upam "When I was five, we wouldn't eat apples" Matt.