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Thread: Romance languages : Auxiliaries

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    Romance languages : Auxiliaries

    Some Romance languages use two auxiliaries, to have and to be for compound tenses, as ho caminato (Italian), j'ai marché (French) , but sono andato, je suis allé. There are few verbs requiring the auxiliary to be, but they are very common. Instead Romanian, Catalan, Spanish, Portuguese use just one auxiliary. I've also read that some intransitive verbs were conjugated in old Spanish with ser, as in Buen, don Guido, ya eres ido y para siempre jamás.
    I wonder if texts of old Spanish and other Romance languages show this feature and, if so, from what period the auxiliary a avea, haber ... has prevailed.

    Thanks to all of you.

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    Re: Romance languages : Auxiliaries

    Quote Originally Posted by J.F. de TROYES View Post
    Some Romance languages use two auxiliaries, to have and to be for compound tenses, as ho camminato (Italian), j'ai marché (French) , but sono andato, je suis allé.
    Some verbs in Italian can take both auxiliaries depending on their meaning (I'm not talking about active and passive forms).
    For example:
    È volato in cielo (he flew to heaven, i.e. he died), intransitive, motion towards.
    Ha volato con Lufthansa (he flew with Lufthansa), intransitive, neither motion towards nor motion from.
    Beti egongozera uda berrikua, lore aintzinetako mantxa gabekoa.

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    Re: Romance languages : Auxiliaries

    There are some differences in the use of the auxiliaries between French and Italian:
    J'ai réussi - sono riuscito
    le temps a changé - il tempo è cambiato, but ho cambiato l'auto - j'ai changé de voiture
    Il a neigé - è nevicato
    il a plu - è piovuto
    j'ai vécu à Paris - sono vissuto a Parigi.
    tu as été - sei stato and many others.
    As a matter of fact, the use of the verb to be as an auxiliary is more common in Italian than in French.
    Last edited by olaszinho; 8th November 2012 at 10:57 PM.
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    Re: Romance languages : Auxiliaries

    There is a good theory explaining what occurred in the process from Vulgar Latin to Modern Spanish. I'm writing from memory so I might inadvertently leave something out. I'll check my books and complete it later.

    1) The compound tenses that developed out of VL had both "habere" and "essere".
    The transitive verbs came about out of the structure... Haber + direct object + (passive) past participle.
    My VL is bad so I'll write what the equivalent would be in Spanish and English.

    *He dos cartas escritas. Literally, I have/ possess now two letters that have been written. Changing word order and making *He escritas dos cartas didn't change anything.
    "Have" and "(having been) written" are two independent actions that are not linked together. "Have" has a literal sense and the past participle matches and agrees with "letters" in gender and number because "letters (having been) written" go together.
    Take out "cartas" and replace it with the direct object pronoun "las" and you get "*las he escritas". Add any other element like adverbs or negation, the word order is flexible but they commonly go in the middle. *Las he ya escritas. I have them already written.

    *Soy [a Italia] ido. I am/existing now [in Italy] (having) gone there. I am the exiting now [in Italy] as a result of the process of having gone there. You cannot use "habere/have" because there is no active process and no direct object that is being acted upon. You cannot say I have.... something.... (having) gone. This structure was used for all intransitive verbs.

    2) In Old Spanish "haber" slowly over time loses it's active meaning of "have, own, possess". It is replaced by "tener" originally "have, hold, get" that takes over the meaning of "possess". *He una casa. *He veinte años become Tengo una casa. Tengo veinte años. Similarly "ser" with the meaning of "state resulting from a process" loses this meaning to keep only "exist". "Estar" takes over these meanings. "La casa está construida" (the house is built after the process of building it) replaces "La casa es construida".
    Both "Haber" and "ser" lose their original meaning in these structures with past participle.

    3) At the end of the process (16th century) "haber" cannot exist without the past participle as it no longer means anything tangible. The two become joined together (orally at least) in the same way as the future "infinitive + haber" does. Hablar he (hablaré). He escrito could have been written (Heescrito). "Haber" loses its tonic accent and is pronounced as a kind of prefix preceding the participle. No element can go in the middle anymore. "Ya he comprado" (I already bought).
    Both "haber" being identified as a marker for the compound tenses and "estar" taking over "ser's" meanings brings about "haber" becoming universal. This apparently is also fueled by "haber/ hay" developing some connotations of "to be" in set expressions too. For example: "Hay dos casas" (there are two houses). "He aquí dos cartas" (Here are two letters).
    "Ser" was kept for the true passive, a function "haber" never had. "La casa es constuida por los albañiles". The emphasis is on the building not the result per se.

    4) "Haber" + becomes a full fledged verb tense and is universal for all verbs. Therefore past participles don't have to agree with objects anymore in the same sense that they never agree with any other verb tense in Spanish.
    "He escrito las cartas" (I wrote the letters). "Ya las he escrito" (I already wrote them).
    "Tener" emerges with a similar active meaning with the past participle that "haber" originally had back at the beginning.
    "Tengo dos cartas escritas" (I have two letters that have been written). "Las tengo escritas" (I have them written). Also "tener que" replaces "Haber de" (mostly) to express obligation. "Tengo que irme" formerly only "He de irme" (I have to leave). Fossilized expression like "He sed" become "Tengo sed" (I'm thirsty) as "haber" is relegated only to the use in verb tenses.

    Following this scheme, I remember linguists saying that French would be considered less evolved than Spanish, but Portuguese would be more so.
    "Avoir" still has all its original active meanings, and past participles are seen as autonomous because they agree with direct objects. Adverbs and negation go in the middle, still separating the "avoir" from the participle. "Être" retains all its meanings and is used with intransitive verbs.
    Portuguese however has gone beyond "Tengo duas cartas escritas" and "ter" has managed to replace "haver" in all of its meanings and uses. "Tenho escrito duas cartas". "Tem duas cartas na mesa" (There are two letters on the table)

    Catalan as spoken in French Catalonia uses the two auxiliaries in a way similar to French. In Spain however it parallels Spanish with "Haver" as the universal auxiliary for compound tenses. This is a rather recent development though.

    ** I cannot remember at all how reflexive verbs fit into the pattern though. I'll fill in the gaps later when I find the information.
    Last edited by merquiades; 9th November 2012 at 1:22 PM. Reason: making it flow better

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    Re: Romance languages : Auxiliaries

    We recently had a copious discussion of this issue in :
    Verbes qui utilisent être aux temps du passé


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    Re: Romance languages : Auxiliaries

    As for Portuguese, the verb "ter" has not replaced "haver" in all its meanings and uses hitherto. For instance, the form há = there is/ there are is still vital in European Portuguese, "tem" is used essentially in Brazil. Even the verb "haver" as an auxiliary is not completely disappeared, particularly in formal and literary Portuguese. As a consequence, eu tinha dito, eu havia dito and eu dissera can be translated into the English verb form " I had said".
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    Re: Romance languages : Auxiliaries

    Quote Originally Posted by J.F. de TROYES View Post
    Instead Romanian, Catalan, Spanish, Portuguese use just one auxiliary.
    Romanian does not divide verbs into two classes like Italian and French, but it does use both have and be as temporal auxiliaries.
    Quote Originally Posted by merquiades View Post
    3) At the end of the process (16th century) "haber" cannot exist without the past participle as it no longer means anything tangible. The two become joined together (orally at least) in the same way as the future "infinitive + haber" does. Hablar he (hablaré). He escrito could have been written (Heescrito). "Haber" loses its tonic accent and is pronounced as a kind of prefix preceding the participle. No element can go in the middle anymore. "Ya he comprado" (I already bought).
    The future/conditional forms are more grammaticalized than the participial structures. For example, the infinitive has undergone phonetic changes in forms like vendré, haré, and you can say He escrito y enviado la carta (where you do have some elements in between the auxiliary he and the participle enviado), but not *Escribir y enviaré la carta.
    Quote Originally Posted by merquiades View Post
    ** I cannot remember at all how reflexive verbs fit into the pattern though. I'll fill in the gaps later when I find the information.
    Reflexive verbs in early Romance are thought to have combined with be, either because they are structurally similar to intransitive verbs, or because they have a semantic affinity with the mediopassive deponent verbs that were the original source for compound perfects of the form esse + participle.

    See also:
    Origin of Germanic and Romance perfects using auxiliaries to be and to have

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    Re: Romance languages : Auxiliaries

    Quote Originally Posted by CapnPrep
    The future/conditional forms are more grammaticalized than the participial structures. For example, the infinitive has undergone phonetic changes in forms like vendré, haré, and you can say He escrito y enviado la carta (where you do have some elements in between the auxiliary he and the participle enviado), but not *Escribir y enviaré la carta.
    There has been a big change since Old Spanish. There were numerous verbs with irregular futures. They dropped the vowel before -r and adapted the phonetic modifications necessary for that time: combré, bebré, escribré, mobré, perdré, doldrá but strangely enough they all became regular again. That must mean the speakers no longer made the link between the future stem and the infinitive and then later on they realized it again. If I'm not mistaken nowadays there are only twelve irregular future/conditional stems in Spanish.
    Yes, I didn't think about the series of past participles. If "haber" were to be considered a functional prefix perhaps the prefix doesn't need to be repeated before each element. I don't think that can be answered though and I'm not sure taking the discussion that way is productive.

    Quote Originally Posted by CapnPrep
    Reflexive verbs in early Romance are thought to have combined with be, either because they are structurally similar to intransitive verbs, or because they have a semantic affinity with the mediopassive deponent verbs that were the original source for compound perfects of the form esse + participle.
    Right, but they still came to take "haber" in Spanish.

    It is an interesting coincidence that Germanic languages use "haben" for transitives and "sein" for intransitives like French and especially Italian. I wonder if there was influence in one direction or another. Berndf's post in the other thread you quoted gives food for thought.

    Edit: I just realized that German uses the Vulgar Latin structure: have/ be auxiliary + object + past participle
    Ich habe ein haus gekauft. Ich bin ins kino gegangen.
    Last edited by merquiades; 9th November 2012 at 7:04 PM. Reason: Edit

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    Re: Romance languages : Auxiliaries

    Quote Originally Posted by olaszinho View Post
    There are some differences in the use of the auxiliaries between French and Italian:
    J'ai réussi - sono riuscito
    le temps a changé - il tempo è cambiato, but ho cambiato l'auto - j'ai changé de voiture
    Il a neigé - è nevicato
    il a plu - è piovuto
    j'ai vécu à Paris - sono vissuto a Parigi.
    tu as été - sei stato and many others.
    As a matter of fact, the use of the verb to be as an auxiliary is more common in Italian than in French.
    But also "ho vissuto" when transitive:
    ho vissuto la mia vita

    I don't know if "ho vissuto a Parigi" would be correct in Standard Italian.

    Also: ha nevicato, ha piovuto
    At the elementary school, I was taught that for "atmopheriscal" verbs, we must normally use "to be", but "to have" when we want to indicate a duration.
    So: Ieri ha nevicato.
    But: Ha nevicato tutta la notte / Ha nevicato per tre ore.

    What do you think?
    I think this reasoning work for the verb "vivere" too.
    sono vissuto a Parigi - ho vissuto a Parigi per 10 anni.
    Or shoud I say "sono vissuto a Parigi per 10 anni"?

    Quote Originally Posted by olaszinho View Post
    As for Portuguese, the verb "ter" has not replaced "haver" in all its meanings and uses hitherto. For instance, the form há = there is/ there are is still vital in European Portuguese, "tem" is used essentially in Brazil. Even the verb "haver" as an auxiliary is not completely disappeared, particularly in formal and literary Portuguese. As a consequence, eu tinha dito, eu havia dito and eu dissera can be translated into the English verb form " I had said".
    I think that in colloquial Brazilian, "ter" has already replaced "haver" in all its meaning, including tem/têm = there is/there are

    Btw, if a thread about this topic already exists, maybe this thread will be merged to that one...
    "Ĉokolado". Do you know how to say "chócoleit" in "Espanis"?

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    Re: Romance languages : Auxiliaries

    Quote Originally Posted by CapnPrep View Post
    Romanian does not divide verbs into two classes like Italian and French, but it does use both have and be as temporal auxiliaries.
    What I mean is that Romanian does'nt use to be as an auxiliary to form compound past tenses, but just to conjugate the passive voice . Is it right ?

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    Re: Romance languages : Auxiliaries

    Quote Originally Posted by J.F. de TROYES View Post
    What I mean is that Romanian does'nt use to be as an auxiliary to form compound past tenses, but just to conjugate the passive voice . Is it right ?
    It is also used in some active tenses, but only in the base form fi, usually in combination with another conjugated auxiliary: future perfect (voi fi), past subjunctive (fi), past conditional (fi), past presumptive (oi fi).

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    Re: Romance languages : Auxiliaries

    Quote Originally Posted by merquiades View Post
    There is a good theory explaining what occurred in the process from Vulgar Latin to Modern Spanish. I'm writing from memory so I might inadvertently leave something out. I'll check my books and complete it later.

    *Soy [a Italia] ido. I am/existing now [in Italy] (having) gone there. I am the exiting now [in Italy] as a result of the process of having gone there. You cannot use "habere/have" because there is no active process and no direct object that is being acted upon. You cannot say I have.... something.... (having) gone. This structure was used for all intransitive verbs.


    Thanks a lot. Your paper is highly relevant. I was aware of how the lexical verb habere has gradually turned into an auxiliary, but comparing it in French, Spanish and Portuguese is really enlightening. The periphrase P.P.+ habeo was already used in the old latinity (Plautius :res omnes relictas habeo), but I had'nt read anything about the parallel evolution of esse/essere. I wonder if there are Latin examples showing as accurately as with habeohow this verb has become the auxiliary used in current Italian, Occitan , Corsican or French. Unlike habere, esse was usual as an auxiliary in Latin, especially for deponent verbs . From the early times their infectum tenses were conjugated as active verbs in the spoken language and their perfectum tenses using esse remained : nascitur/natus est was changed into nascit/natus est, ingreditur/ ingressus est into ingredit/ingressus est and so on . They finally vanished in Late Latin ( Flubius Minon nascit prope Pereneum [the Minho river has its source near the Pyrenees, 9-10th century, in Díaz y Díaz]. Italian Sono andato, French Je suis allé use the same pattern as deponent verbs . Many deponent verbs were transitive, but your above explanation is convincing, showing the auxiliary habere couldn’t fit intransitive verbs. However modern Italian and French don’t use to be with all intransitive verbs ; far from it they are just about 25-30 in French, most of them being semantically perfective and expressing move or change.
    ( Je suis venu , I’ve come but J’ai couru, I’ve run ). It is unclear why such verbs and only those are conjugated with être (to be).

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    Re: Romance languages : Auxiliaries

    Quote Originally Posted by J.F. de TROYES View Post
    However modern Italian and French don’t use to be with all intransitive verbs ; far from it they are just about 25-30 in French, most of them being semantically perfective and expressing move or change. [/FONT][/COLOR]( Je suis venu , I’ve come but J’ai couru, I’ve run ). It is unclear why such verbs and only those are conjugated with être (to be).
    *Soy [a Italia] ido. I am/existing now [in Italy] (having) gone there. I am existing now [in Italy] as a result of the process of having gone there. You cannot use "habere/have" because there is no active process and no direct object that is being acted upon. You cannot say I have.... something.... (having) gone. This structure was used for all intransitive verbs. (corrected bad sentence!)
    Yes, it is puzzling to me why a good number of intransitive verbs now use "avoir" in French. I think in Italian the number is much higher, but I hesitate to say all. Perhaps in an earlier stage of the language after the common knowledge of vulgar Latin logic was lost, there was an attempt to regularize the pattern like in Spanish. Maybe it wasn't completely successful because the most common verbs using "être" as an auxiliary were so ingrained into the average speaker's mind it was impossible to change. "Je suis allé" is a daily expression. So common are these verbs that anglophone learners of French don't even learn the reason why "être" is an auxiliary verb anymore. They learn the made up expression "Dr. & Mrs. Vandertrampp" that has all the common verbs in it (devenir, revenir,mourir, revenir, venir, aller, naître... etc.) and take it just as an irregularity to get over. Regular means "avoir".

    By the way, this is the perfect opportunity to post something astonishing that happened to me last week. A neighbor (monolingual French speaker, with bts degree, born and raised in Lorraine of a non-immigrant background) who went to Turkey for a week posted a message on my facebook page. Here it is.. Là je suis dégouté. Il pleut tous les jours. Si j'avais su, je n'aurais pas venu. I couldn't believe my eyes.
    Last edited by merquiades; 13th November 2012 at 8:37 PM.

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    Re: Romance languages : Auxiliaries

    Quote Originally Posted by merquiades View Post
    A neighbor (monolingual French speaker, with bts degree, born and raised in Lorraine of a non-immigrant background) who went to Turkey for a week posted a message on my facebook page. Here it is.. Là je suis dégouté. Il pleut tous les jours. Si j'avais su, je n'aurais pas venu. I couldn't believe my eyes.
    There are speakers who produce such forms spontaneously, but this particular example is almost certainly a joke (it's a misquotation of a well-known line from La Guerre des boutons).

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    Re: Romance languages : Auxiliaries

    Quote Originally Posted by CapnPrep View Post
    There are speakers who produce such forms spontaneously, but this particular example is almost certainly a joke (it's a misquotation of a well-known line from La Guerre des boutons).
    Thanks for the info. I would never have got that cultural reference. It's beyond me. Well, at least I know it's not his mistake! Reading about it, it turns out that I'm the one who is inculte.
    Last edited by merquiades; 13th November 2012 at 8:53 PM.

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    Re: Romance languages : Auxiliaries

    Other common Italian verbs using the auxiliary to be instead of to have like in French.

    sono cresciuto = J'ai grandi
    sono ingrassato = j'ai grossi
    è dimagrita = elle a maigri

    The use of the auxiliaries may be tricky sometimes. Some verbs take EITHER essere or avere as the auxiliary verb in compound tenses. It depends on the context of the sentence. Here are a few examples of verbs functioning both transitively and intransitively:
    bruciare (to burn)
    Hai bruciato la torta? (Did you burn the cake?) Durante la notte scorsa la cascina è bruciata. (During the night,the dairy burned.)
    diminuire (to reduce, decrease)
    Abbiamo diminuito il consumo d'energia in casa. (We reduced energy consumption athome.)
    I prezzi della carne sono diminuiti questa settimana. (The price of meat has decreased this week.)
    finire (to finish)
    Il professore ha finito la conferenza alle tre. (The professor finished the conference at three o'clock.)
    La conferenza è finita alle tre. (The conference finished at threeo'clock.)
    The following table lists commonly used verbs that can be both transitive and intransitive, depending on their use.
    VERBS THAT MAY BE TRANSITIVE AND INTRANSITIVE
    Affogare (to drown)
    aumentare (to increase)
    b
    ruciare (to burn, to sting)
    finire (to finish, to complete)
    incominciare (to begin, to start)
    iniziare (to begin, to initiate)
    mutare (to change, to alter)
    passare (to pass, to go by)
    raddopppiare (to double)
    salire (to ascend, to climb)
    sfuggire (to avoid, to escape)
    terminare (to finish,to end)
    vivere (to live, to be alive) and many others.
    Last edited by olaszinho; 14th November 2012 at 9:49 AM.
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    Re: Romance languages : Auxiliaries

    Could be "è bruciata" passive? I always get confused.
    "Ĉokolado". Do you know how to say "chócoleit" in "Espanis"?

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    Re: Romance languages : Auxiliaries

    Quote Originally Posted by Youngfun View Post
    Could be "è bruciata" passive? I always get confused.
    Hi Youngfun.
    No, it is active. E' stata/fu/venne bruciata DA.. is passive. To be more precise, it is not a passive verb form in the above example. However, you could say: l'erba è/viene bruciata DAL contadino.
    Last edited by olaszinho; 14th November 2012 at 2:21 PM.
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    Re: Romance languages : Auxiliaries

    1. Quote Originally Posted by merquiades View Post
      Thanks for the info. I would never have got that cultural reference. It's beyond me. Well, at least I know it's not his mistake! Reading about it, it turns out that I'm the one who is inculte.
      The sentence pronounced in the film by a kid called Petit-Gibus and well known by most of French people Si j'aurais su, j'aurais pas venu ( 3 grammatical errors ) reminds me of a traditional song published in 1846 starting with these lines : J'ai descendu dans mon jardin / pour y cueillir du romarin ( I've come down to my garden / in order to pluck rosemary ) . The publisher said he had heared the song in a Paris public garden. Such occurrences may be due to children that don't yet master their language, but hesitation between either auxiliary could have happened for some verbs in the past. Maine de Biran, Journal, (1816, p. 206) writes : J'ai resté seul avec ma femme dans une grande voiture and Gide, Journal(1923) : J'ai ramené Martin du Gard à Cuverville, où il a demeuré trois jours ( Quoted in CNRTL). Maybe archaisms.

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    Re: Romance languages : Auxiliaries

    Quote Originally Posted by olaszinho View Post
    Other common Italian verbs using the auxiliary to be instead of to have like in French.

    sono cresciuto = J'ai grandi
    sono ingrassato = j'ai grossi
    è dimagrita = elle a maigri

    The use of the auxiliaries may be tricky sometimes. Some verbs take EITHER essere or avere as the auxiliary verb in compound tenses. It depends on the context of the sentence. Here are a few examples of verbs functioning both transitively and intransitively:
    bruciare (to burn)
    Hai bruciato la torta? (Did you burn the cake?) Durante la notte scorsa la cascina è bruciata. (During the night,the dairy burned.)
    diminuire (to reduce, decrease)
    Abbiamo diminuito il consumo d'energia in casa. (We reduced energy consumption athome.)
    I prezzi della carne sono diminuiti questa settimana. (The price of meat has decreased this week.)
    finire (to finish)
    Il professore ha finito la conferenza alle tre. (The professor finished the conference at three o'clock.)
    La conferenza è finita alle tre. (The conference finished at threeo'clock.)
    The following table lists commonly used verbs that can be both transitive and intransitive, depending on their use.
    VERBS THAT MAY BE TRANSITIVE AND INTRANSITIVE
    Affogare (to drown)
    aumentare (to increase)
    b
    ruciare (to burn, to sting)
    finire (to finish, to complete)
    incominciare (to begin, to start)
    iniziare (to begin, to initiate)
    mutare (to change, to alter)
    passare (to pass, to go by)
    raddopppiare (to double)
    salire (to ascend, to climb)
    sfuggire (to avoid, to escape)
    terminare (to finish,to end)
    vivere (to live, to be alive) and many others.
    This use of "avere" or "essere" depending on if there is an object seems very coherent and precise to me. I suppose with the same logic one would say: Ho corso la maratona. L'ho corsa but then Sono corso stamattina durante due ore.

    When you use the passive with "essere" or "venire" is there a nuance between them or are they strictly the same?
    La carne è stata mangiata dai lupi. La carne è venuta mangiata dai lupi.
    Does "venire" give the idea of slowness?

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