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39Re: [Lambengolmor] Aorist across verb classes

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  • Ivan A Derzhanski
    Jun 5, 2002
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      "Carl F. Hostetter" wrote:
      > Helge Fauskanger notes that he "would expect A-stem verbs to be
      > able to make the same distinction between aorist and continuative
      > forms as the primary verbs can make (e.g. _quete_ "says" vs. _quéta_
      > "is saying"). Especially in a constructed language I would expect
      > considerable structural symmetry."
      > Setting aside the implication that Tolkien would be expected
      > to deliberately make his invented languages _less_ naturalistic
      > than real languages in pursuit of "structural symmetry",

      Real languages differ widely in the amount of structural
      symmetry they have: Turkish has plenty of it, for example,
      whereas Arabic has very little. It is well known, however,
      that Quenya was inspired by, and modelled on, Indo-European
      and Uralic languages with little structural symmetry.

      > I would like to explore Helge's expectation.
      > Are there languages having this formal aorist/non-aorist
      > distinction in which the distinction is observed is some
      > verb classes but not in others?

      Of course there are. The first one that comes to mind is
      (for some reason) Bulgarian. The first form in the pairs
      below is 3sg aorist, the second one is 3sg present:

      _vze_, _vzème_ `take'
      _kla_, _kòli_ `slaughter'
      _kàza_, _kàzhe_ `say'
      _sùka_, _sùche_ `suck'
      _jàde_, _jadè_ `eat'
      _ìska_, _ìska_ `want'

      As one can see, there are several ways in which the two forms
      (and their stems) can be related, from quasi-suppletivism to
      a fossilised alternation to a more recent alternation to stress
      shift to identity. The latter is typical of lexical innovations,
      esp. verbs derived by means of suffixes.

      (The Bulgarian aorist is semantically different from the Quenya
      one in that it is a kind of past tense; it is structurally
      similar, however, in that it is the morphologically simplest
      tense in the paradigm. In the other persons and numbers
      the present and the aorist differ in their endings, but in
      the 3sg, where the endings of both tenses are zero, only
      context can disambiguate the forms if the stems are the same.
      This is the case of all verbs with present stems in _-a_,
      but also part of those with present stems in _-e_ and _-i_.)

      I'll let someone else tell us about Greek.

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