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Re: [Lambengolmor] Aorist across verb classes

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  • G. Dyke
    I m afraid I have no Greek to add, but Ivan s remark that the latter is typical of lexical innovations reminds me of the French infinitive forms: the older
    Message 1 of 7 , Jun 5, 2002
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      I'm afraid I have no Greek to add, but Ivan's remark that "the latter is
      typical of lexical innovations" reminds me of the French infinitive forms:
      the older and most "basic" words may have several endings such as -ir -aire
      -endre etc, while "innovations" (along with a majority of other verbs) are
      always formed with the "-er" ending, in effect making them "regular".

      I'm not sure whether the other endings are due to the influence of a
      language from which French used to take words or just a natural shift from
      (say) latin which is no longer used because we have taken all the words we
      are ever likely to get from Latin.

      The point being that the more recent or "lingosyncratic" (ie. which are
      derived using methods particular to that language) words tend to be regular.

      This could mean that derived stems either have no aorist; or that their
      aorist is identical to their "present continuous".

      So although I know of no other languages with aorist, it does not seem
      particularly strange that some verb classes should have a particular form
      which others don't.

      This is an effect that also happens in some more "archaic" tenses like the
      German subjunctive: which has forms only for the auxiliary and modal verbs
      (and for some strange reason the verb "to know") all the other verbs having
      this tense formed with the assistance of a the modal "werden".

      Do we explicitly know:
      - what this tense is for
      - of texts where both aorist and continuous co-habit
      - whether it really _is_ comparable to the Greek aorist

      I would also like to ask another question: Do the perfect and ?simple past
      (tulle, utuulie) coincide with English tenses? I see no reason for this to
      be so as English has one of the oddest tense systems of the European
      languages I know. It also seems that throughout most of the corpus, these
      tenses are not consistently translated into English (even within LotR)

      Greg

      [The relevant source for the aorist in Quenya is Tolkien's "Notes on _Óre_",
      published in _Vinyar Tengwar_ 41 (see esp. pp. 15-16, n.5; p. 17 n.11; and
      p. 18 n.14). To answer your questions: 1) The aorist denotes punctual,
      habitual, or otherwise durationless action; 2) Yes, that just cited; and
      3) Yes, in the features just listed, though as I understand it, the Greek
      aorist is used exclusively of past action. Carl]


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    • NiennaSorrowing@aol.com
      In a message dated 6/5/2002 11:43:55 AM Pacific Daylight Time, ... If this is continuing the example of French, Greg, I would like to point out that, as far as
      Message 2 of 7 , Jun 5, 2002
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        In a message dated 6/5/2002 11:43:55 AM Pacific Daylight Time,
        gordon.dyke@... writes:


        > This could mean that derived stems either have no aorist; or that their
        > aorist is identical to their "present continuous".
        >

        If this is continuing the example of French, Greg, I would like to point
        out that, as far as I know, there is no distinction made in French between
        the present indicative (close to Quenya's "aorist") and the progressive
        present ("present continuative"). Admitedly, I am nowhere near fluent in
        French, so I might be incorrect.

        _Je regarde_ translates to both "I watch" (present indicative or "aorist")
        and "I am watching" (progressive present). The circumlocution _en train
        de_ "in the middle of" is often used if a more exact "progressive present"
        is desired.

        I'm afraid I'm not polyglot enough to make any more contributions to this
        subject, but using the example of French given, it would certainly seem
        that a distinction between aorist and progressive present is not always
        necessary.

        --Inga


        [Certainly there are many languages -- actually, all the ones I've studied,
        other than Quenya! - that make no _formal_ (i.e. _structural_) distinction
        between present continuative and present indicative. Usually, if the
        distinction is important to the meaning (as it very often isn't), these
        languages will employ periphrasis to express the difference, or rely on
        context, or other extra-structural strategies. The question at hand,
        though, is, in those languages that _do_ have a formal distinction of
        aorist vs. non-aorist, or even present continuative vs. present
        indicative, is the distinction maintained across all verb classes. Carl]
      • G. Dyke
        [Greg had written:] ... I m sorry, I was going back to Quenya on that one. I talked to a greek studying friend of mine who assures me that in ancient greek at
        Message 3 of 7 , Jun 6, 2002
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          [Greg had written:]

          > This could mean that derived stems either have no aorist; or that their
          > aorist is identical to their "present continuous".

          I'm sorry, I was going back to Quenya on that one.

          I talked to a greek studying friend of mine who assures me that in ancient
          greek at any rate, there are no whole verb classes which do not have an
          aorist, although you do come across the odd verb or two which don't

          Greg
        • Ivan A Derzhanski
          ... Roughly speaking, the presence of more derivational morphology in lexical innovations may conflict with whatever inflexional morphology distinguishes the
          Message 4 of 7 , Jun 6, 2002
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            "G. Dyke" wrote:
            > I'm afraid I have no Greek to add, but Ivan's remark that
            > "the latter is typical of lexical innovations" reminds me
            > of the French infinitive forms:

            Roughly speaking, the presence of more derivational morphology
            in lexical innovations may conflict with whatever inflexional
            morphology distinguishes the two stems in the verbs of the core
            vocabulary.

            [...]
            > although I know of no other languages with aorist, it does not seem
            > particularly strange that some verb classes should have a particular
            > form which others don't.

            Going back to Quenya: If it is the case that the present stem
            is obtained from the aorist one by lengthening the root vowel
            and replacing the final vowel by _-a_ (as in the pair _quete_
            `says' vs _quéta_ `is saying'), what shall we expect if (as in
            the case of _-ta/-ya_-verbs) the aorist stem already ends in _-a_
            and the root vowel can't be lengthened, because it is in a closed
            syllable? -- The two stems will coincide, which the language may
            or may not do something about. I'd say that, on the whole,
            languages tend to tolerate this sort of ambiguity.

            --Ivan
          • gentlebeldin
            ... This is not entirely correct, sorry! 1. The subjunctive is not a tense, it has forms in all tenses. 2. There are two subjuntives in German. 3. Both have
            Message 5 of 7 , Jun 7, 2002
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              --- In lambengolmor@y..., "G. Dyke" <gordon.dyke@b...> wrote:

              > This is an effect that also happens in some more "archaic" tenses like
              > the German subjunctive: which has forms only for the auxiliary and modal
              > verbs (and for some strange reason the verb "to know") all the other
              > verbs having this tense formed with the assistance of a the modal
              > "werden".

              This is not entirely correct, sorry!
              1. The subjunctive is not a tense, it has forms in all tenses.
              2. There are two subjuntives in German.
              3. Both have basic forms (without auxiliary verbs) for all verbs, but
              some of them may coincide with other verb forms.

              Let's concentrate on subjunctive 2 (expressing wishes, irreal
              assumptions,...).

              Example: "singen" (sing). It's a strong verb, past tense "er sang"
              (3. sg.), past participle "gesungen" (that's called ablaut). The
              subjunctive (present tense) would be formed by umlaut mutation of the
              stem vowel in past tense: "er sänge".

              This rule was adopted for the less ancient weak verbs, forming past
              tense with suffix "-t(e)(n)", even for some without ablaut:
              brauchen -> er brauchte -> er bräuchte.

              However, there's a whole class of verbs where the forms coincide with
              past tense, because umlaut mutation is impossible (stem vowel "i/ie"
              or umlaut in past tense). In other cases, the umlaut mutated forms
              were abandoned for historical reasons ("wöllte"), or ancient strong
              forms were replaced by weak forms: "fragen" (ask) has past
              tense "fragte" instead of "frug" now, and the subjunctive 2 would
              be "früge", not "*frägte".

              In all those cases, the subjunctive coincides with forms of past
              tense, and where this could lead to ambiguity, the construction with
              an auxiliary verb ("fragen" -> "würde fragen") was introduced.
              This leads to the consequence that the original forms of the
              subjunctive are almost out of usage in vernacular now, replaced by
              the auxiliary construction even when it isn't necessary.

              They still exist in correct, literary German, however (listen to the
              news in tv :-): "Ich wünschte, Du kämest" (I wished you came).
              Since it is the continuation of an old, natural trend towards weak,
              analytical construction, the subjunctive will probably vanish in the
              standard language, too, whether one likes it or not (I don't :-).

              There's a question connected with ablaut in past tense related to
              nasal infixion: "gehen" (go) -> "er ging". The other direction would
              be "denken" (think) -> "er dachte", cf. "Gedanke" (thought).

              Since one would only expect another vowel here, this is an indication
              for ancient nasal vowel, changing into "in/en/an" later. Such nasal
              vowels remained in some other Indo-European languages (Polish), they
              aren't a mere hypothesis.

              Now nasal infixion plays an important role in Quenya. Is there any
              hint at the former existence of nasal vowels in primitive Elvish?
              (this was my first, never answered question in the Elfling list).

              Hans

              [I'm allowing this post, because it is instructive to consider these
              mechanisms, but this is getting rather far afield, both from the original
              topic and from Eldarin. I'd also like to ask Hans to repose his final
              question in a separate post, with a new topic description. Carl]
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