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Subjunctive in FS

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  • Moritz Macke
    The handling of the subjunctive still seems rather undecided in FS so here are my thoughts on it. So far I have been doing it rather arbitrarily (but simple)
    Message 1 of 40 , Dec 2, 2005
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      The handling of the subjunctive still seems rather undecided in FS so
      here are my thoughts on it.

      So far I have been doing it rather arbitrarily (but simple) by just
      adding an "-ad" suffix to verbs to express the irrealis (I think
      that's what it's called) aspect of the subjunctive. Model for that is
      how German and English use the past subjunctive for this purpose, so
      the "d" is the normal Germanic past suffix of weak verbs. The "a" I
      just inserted to tell it from the normal past and after the model of
      how it is done in Bavarian where "-at" is used.
      Now I guess there probably are better ways to handle this.

      I couldn't find out much how the Skandinavian languages handle it
      unfortunately so I focused on what I know about the West Germanic
      The subjunctive present does still exist in English in a few cases and
      as well in German and Dutch.

      God help us all.
      Gott helfe uns allen.
      So be it.
      So sei es.
      Long live the king.
      Lang lebe der König.

      As you see the subjunctive ist not really recognizable as such anymore
      in English in this case while it still is in German. For FS a
      subjunctive form of verbs is not necessary here though since those
      sentences can almost as well be expressed with auxiliary verb

      God may help us all.
      Gott möge uns allen helfen.
      So shall/may it be.
      So soll/möge es sein.
      Long may live the king.
      Lang möge der König leben.

      The past subjunctive in English looks like the normal past mostly
      except "were" is used for both singular and plural, though that seems
      to be falling out of use too. In German it's the same but many verbs
      still show Umlaut and sometimes a different Ablaut level for strong
      verbs in cases where the the vowel of the singular was copied to the
      plural in the indicative past. The subjunctive past originally used
      the same Ablaut as the plural indicative past in both singular and
      plural. "sterben" - ind. past "er starb", subj. past "er stürbe"
      though that's pretty archaic. Most obvious, still commonly used
      examples of this are the preterito-presents where this is Ablaut-vowel
      change often was preserved fully: ind. sing. "er kann, mag, weiß"
      plur. "sie können, mögen, wissen", subj. sing. "er könne, möge,
      wisse". From what I could gather it's very similar in Dutch.

      The past subjunctive is often used to express the irrealis like in
      some "if" sentences.

      If I were(was) the king, ... / Were I the king, ...
      Wenn Ich der König wäre, ... / Wäre Ich der König, ...
      If I had this much money, ... / Had I this much money, ...
      Wenn Ich so viel Geld hätte, ... / Hätte Ich so viel Geld, ...

      Though this can too be expressed with an auxiliary and often is in
      both English and German.

      If I would be the king, ... / Would I be the king, ...
      Wenn Ich der König sein würde, ... / Würde Ich der König sein, ...
      If I would have this much money, ... / Would I have this much money, ...
      Wenn Ich so viel Geld haben würde, ... / Würde Ich so viel Geld haben, ...

      It's neither very good English or German in these examples, but it's
      very much possible and is standard for the second part of conditional
      sentences (of some types) in English.

      If I <were> king, you <would be> queen.
      Compare German:
      Wenn Ich König <wäre>, <wärst> du Königin.

      That brings me to the topic of what I call the general subjunctive
      auxiliary, that is "would" in English, "würde" in German and
      "zou/zouden" in Dutch which can be used to express unreal subjunctive
      (irrealis) mood of all verbs. Interestingly the word used is the past
      subjunctive form of the general future auxiliary in all three
      languages, "will" in English, "werden" in German and "zal/zullen" in
      Dutch. So since I use "werða" in my dialect in this function,
      subjunctive auxiliary would be something like "wurð" which
      conveniently looks not dissimilar from "would" even though unrelated.
      Now is the question do we need any more subjunctive auxiliaries? I
      think not, sure you could form some more common ones like "could",
      "should", "were", but then why stop there? German has also "hätte",
      "täte" (which is in fact what is more commonly used in Bavarian in
      place of "würde") and some more. Fact is though that all those can be
      expressed by just preceeding them with the subjunctive auxiliary and
      turning them into the infinite like you would do with a normal verb as
      shown above in the examples already. So "wurð wesa" - "would be/würde
      sein" instead of "were/wäre", "wurð hava" - "would have/würde haben"
      for "had/hätte", "wurð skalla" - "would shall/würde sollen" for
      "should/sollte", "wurð kanna" - "would can/würde können" for
      "could/könnte", as also "wurð dôa" - "would do/würde tun" for "?/täte"
      and so on.
      This may seem not very pretty in all cases but makes for a much
      simpler language. Making the subjunctive easy to use enables us also
      to ommit in many cases that pesky "if"-word which has always been a
      bit of a problem in FS.

      "Wurð Ig nig kanna skrîva, ðu wurð nig kanna lesa niðing her."

      So to summarize, I think we need not more than one extra auxiliary to
      express unreal subjunctive and possibly one more for the "may/shall"
      type, if not normal "mag" is used here. A subjunctive form of it
      possibly like in German, "mog/mug" or the like, though I don't like
      the sound of that...

    • wakuran_wakaran
      ... Já, sêr wár... Ic over-ein-stem dhat et is ên sêr ével ge-wón-hêd...
      Message 40 of 40 , Dec 4, 2005
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        --- In folkspraak@yahoogroups.com, "David Parke" <parked@x...> wrote:
        > > In dhis tîd fon dhe jár, ic plég som-tîd tu sláp for-bî all dhe lict
        > > úren fon dhe dág. Waenaer dhat scé, ic fúíl wónlik-wîs taemelik
        > > slect/ill...
        > >
        > In dies tîd av de jâr selvmorde manig swedischers, fordat de ontbering
        > av liucht mak dêm sêr deprimer'd.
        > Du môt upwacke êrer Håkan!

        Já, sêr wár... Ic over-ein-stem dhat et is ên sêr ével ge-wón-hêd...
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