Re: Bulgarian tenses vs. tense systems of Romance languages
you grew up with Slavic aspect - for you aspect is dead easy.
Let me tell you that for those who do not know something like Slavic aspect the use of aspect (not its formation, that's easily enough learned) are very hard to learn indeed.
It is already bad with those Slavic languages which only have a much reduced set of tenses.
But in Bulgarian it is even much more different (and in Macedonian for that matter, while in BCS aorist and imperfect aren't as fully functional anymore, similar - to give an analogy - to French where for spoken purposes it is mainly passé composé).
Aspect and tenses intertwine to complex meanings and constructions, you need to be very careful about aspect but also about tenses.
I am not mixing them up.
Originally Posted by mungu
What you call present perfect in Bulgarian (съм учил) is more or less equivalent to Spanish pretérito perfecto (he aprendido), further Spanish indefinido is more or less equivalent to Bulgarian aorist, and Spanish imperfecto more or less equals Bulgarian imperfect.
We should better avoid French (as the tense system isn't really preserved in the "traditional" sense) - it's more useful to use Spanish for comparison. But if you refer to the style of older literature in French then probably the French tenses more or less were used similarly to the Spanish ones; but note, even use of tenses in Spain and America differs:
For example, in Mexico (my first Spanish teacher was Mexican so I'll refer to Mexican use ) indefinido = a tense of the past with no relation to the present in Spain also may be used when Spaniards would prefer pretérito perfecto (or even would say that use of indefinido is wrong).
I think this different use also exists in southern Spanish dialects (that is, on the Iberian peninsula) but of that I'm not sure.
Anyway - the point being is: while you use imperfect tense mainly with imperfective aspect and perfect tense mainly with perfective aspect*) there is still the tense with "bil" participle (съм учил) which one can use with perfective and imperfective verbs.
And even though it seems this tense is called "present perfect" in Bulgarian (or so say English grammars) it is still a tense of the past.
*) You wrote that imperfect+perfective and aorist+imperfective are rare and have special meaning; I couldn't say anything about that as I never learned Bulgarian - but it is interesting that those special uses exist, uses which no Romance language could express quite like Bulgarian can.
I guess only Bulgarian present perfect with imperfective verbs may be more or less equivalent to Spanish pretérito perfecto, while present perfect with perfective verbs probably do not have a "direct" translation to Spanish but you need to use other means to express the same in Spanish.
The problem is that I don't know how Bulgarian tenses are exactly used - in all combinations with aspect, and that my knowledge of Spanish use of tenses is far from perfect.
So let's give an example: in Spanish, if you tell a story with no immediate relevance to the present you'd use indefinido and imperfecto: indefinido whenever something happens, and imperfecto do describe landscapes or persons or make statements which are of general relevance.
But the rules are of course more complex.
So for example, if you tell a fairy tale then the description of the castle, and the princess, will be in imperfecto while the action the princess takes (fishing the golden ball out of the water, kissing the frog) will be in indefinido.
However, when describing how the princess was playing with the ball when suddenly the frog jumps out of the water the verb for playing with the ball should be in imperfecto and the action interrupting this - the jumping of the frog - in indefinido.
What tenses would you use for this in Bulgarian, and what aspects?
I guess that in the cases above probably all uses of indefinido could go with aorist-perfective, and imperfecto with imperfect-imperfective.
But even if this were so problems are bound to arise as soon as pretérito perfecto = present perfect is involved. And even more so of course if you compare Spanish tenses according to American use.
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