BCS: Aorist tense

Discussion in 'Other Slavic Languages' started by TheTruthWSYF, Dec 8, 2012.

  1. TheTruthWSYF Junior Member

    Canadian English
    How does the aorist tense (ie. ja bih) differ from the perfect (ie. ja sam bio) or imperfect (ie. ja bijah)?
  2. Vanja Senior Member

    Here's the table of past tenses (in Serbian), if you don't understand it, say, I'll translate it.

    Perfekat (ja sam bio - complited action) is the most used past tense in BCS.

    Aorist is used now and then, mainly for an action that has been just complited. Samo što izađe - He has just gone out.
    But in standard spoken language, aorist is almost always replaced by perfekat. Aorist of the verb to be (bih) is rarely (if ever) heard.

    Imperfekat is used - almost never. It exists chiefly in written literary forms, a pencraft style.
    Ja bijah, for Ekavian dialect - Ja bejah
  3. TheTruthWSYF Junior Member

    Canadian English
    I see. So,
    Perfekat: ja sam bio means I have been
    Aorist: ja bih means I have just been
    Imperfekat: Ja bi(e)jah means I was being
    Davnoprošli: Ja bio sam means I had been

    Is there any way to say, simply, "I was," or does the Perfekat mean that as well? (ie. Perfekat means I have been and I was)?
  4. Tassos

    Tassos Senior Member

    To summarize
    As far as I know, no.

    Example: Translation of the title When I was young in BCS - Kad sam bio mlad
  5. TheTruthWSYF Junior Member

    Canadian English
    Great, thank you!
  6. Vanja Senior Member

    Translation of the tenses depends on the context. I was could be translated as Bio/Bila sam (Dok sam bila sam na putu do X, ...While I was on a trip to X,...)
    Or Were you there then? Yes, I was. = Jesam.

    ( The Past Perfect Tense, Eng) of the verb biti is maybe logically imposible (
    "I had been before I was"). It expresses the idea that something occurred before another action in the past or shows that something happened before a specific time in the past.

    (Thread: Što je aorist pripit)
    Ja bejah (beh) pijan. I was drunk.
    Ja bejah pio. I was drinking. Possible translation: I had been drinking.
    Ja popih malo. I just had/took a few sips. (I'm tipsy) (or drunk-as-a-lord,
    someone may object)
    Popio sam malo. (The same meaning but less humorous, perfekat implies seriousness)

  7. VelikiMag Senior Member

    Serbian - Montenegro
    I advise you not to use Google Translate to translate whole sentences. It gave you a translation of the adjective tense, not the noun.
    The proper question should be: Što je aorist?

    The verb biti is an auxiliary verb and the aorist of it is nowadays used almost exclusively to form the conditional mood. Very rarely can it be used to express the past. For this particular verb you should always use perfekat.
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2012
  8. sesperxes

    sesperxes Senior Member

    Burgos (Spain)
    If I'm not wrong, one fixed expression with aorist is the beginning of tales (once upon a time.../ había una vez...):

    Bjehu/behu jednom kraljević i prinzesa...
  9. Duya Senior Member

    Not in WR world
    That is imperfect :). Aorist is biše. But yes, it is fixed.

    Now that you mention it, form [on] bješe/[oni] bjehu is indeed rather common in tales and poetry. However, grammar books say that the imperfect is [on] bijaše/[oni] bijahu (I wouldn't know for sure because it's not in my normal native vocabulary, it's archaic). I suppose it's a doublet (and hr Wikipedia confirms, although it's not particularly reliable).
  10. Vanja Senior Member

    And in the Bible (Imperfekat and now and then aorist)

    U početku beše Reč, i Reč beše u Boga, i Bog beše Reč.

    Jovan svedoči za Njega i viče govoreći: Ovaj beše za koga rekoh: Koji za mnom ide preda mnom postade, jer pre mene beše.

  11. jadeite_85 Senior Member

    italian, slovene
    I saw that aorist is pretty common in modern songs, but I didn't find any imperfekt as for now. It is interesting that it is mostly used in the first person singular. Is this use normal also in colloquial language or is a prerogative of literature, even if modern?

    Bijelo Dugme - Selma (htjedoh; rekoh)
    Bijelo Dugme - Ako Ima Boga (čekah)
    Aca Lukas - Lična Karta (rekoh)
  12. Duya Senior Member

    Not in WR world
    Aorist is actually pretty common in spoken language (well, in some areas more than in others). It tends to express speaker's emotional attitude towards the event: surprise, anger, laughter. It also expresses a sudden nature of event. For example, when one saws a stranger on the street dropping his keys, one would probably tell him "Ispadoše vam ključevi." than "Ispali su".

    Then, the aorist gets lost in everyday written language and in media: when we report events in writing or in media, we tend to erase that emotional component. And then, it resurfaces again in literature, poetry in songs, as a poetic means of expression. It is quite common in story-telling of any kind.

    On the contrary, imperfect is utterly dead in spoken language, and survives only in fine literature. Although most people would recognize it, hardly anyone would know how verbs conjugate in it, particularly exotic one like peći: pecijah. About the only verb with certain frequency in modern language is the above-mentioned biti:bješe (beše). It has an archaic sound, and it is well suited for works like Bible, Greek or Roman tales, or Lord of the Rings.
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2012
  13. TheTruthWSYF Junior Member

    Canadian English
  14. sesperxes

    sesperxes Senior Member

    Burgos (Spain)
    I'd like to appreciate your correction but it happens that in Spain, where, as you probably know, people speak Spanish since a long time ago (even before Canada or Perú existed) we say "había una vez" along with the bookish "érase una vez". I suggest you to watch in internet "Los payasos de la Tele", a Spanish circus series from the '80s where every episode started with this sentence that you tried to correct. Greetings from the cradle of the Spanish language.
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2012
  15. TheTruthWSYF Junior Member

    Canadian English
    You are quite right my good sir, thank you for your correction.
  16. Diaspora Senior Member

    Serbocroatian, English
    For all practical purposes you need to know only the Perfect as it's used for general past regardless of the situation. You do not need to know the aorist even though I hear it on television and everyday speech it's not as common as the Perfect. The aorist as I hear it is used in very recent past or to form quasi-future sentences such as Odoh po poštu (lit. means I went to get the mail but to me sounds like I will get the mail). The imperfect is basically dead, it signifies continuity but unless you are reading Gorski vijenac it is useless.

    I'd appreciate if other BCS speakers would comment on my opinion that the Aorist can sometimes imply a future meaning.
  17. Duya Senior Member

    Not in WR world
    I don't think it is a sole characteristics of aorist. For me, all of these are possible and synonymous:

    Odoh po poštu.
    Otišao sam po poštu.
    Idem po poštu.

    They all have connotation "I'm on my way", "I'm about to go". But, as far as I see, that only works with verbs of movement. You cannot say *kupih hleb meaning 'I'm going to buy bread'.
  18. mmbata

    mmbata Junior Member

    Novi Sad (Vojvodina)
    Serbian & Croatian
    Hi everybody
    Even you can hear aorist (similar to preterite simple) here and there, it is pretty archaic today and not so frequent in everyday use. You will successfully survive without it.
  19. nonik Senior Member

    Interesting, that perfecat ( ja sam bio) is in today Serbian used as a complited past action and aorist (ja bih) mainly for an action that has been just complited before now as it is in table http://abc.amarilisonline.com/wp-con...150x150_p1.jpg

    I thought that perfecat ( ja sam bio ) is/was used for describing past action that has connection to the present (action that was in past and was completed right before now, ja sam + ja bio= ja sam bio= I have just been)

    and aorist for action that was completed in past,( ja bih= I was)

    and imperfecat (ja bijah) for completed past action with some durative meaning, something like I was listening radio for 1 our.

    and the similar construction for plusqvamperfecat with durative and nondurative meaning (ja bih govorio = similar to .. I had spoke ) (ja bijah govorio= similar to .. I had been speaking )

    Very interestingly for me, thanks.
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2013
  20. mmbata

    mmbata Junior Member

    Novi Sad (Vojvodina)
    Serbian & Croatian
    I know that Serbian could be confusing, but let's be more practical.
    To express past just use perfekt (the preterite equivalent) and pluskvamperfekt (the past perfect equivalent). All other past tenses are barely used in common (contemporary) speech (news, TV...) - only in literature.
    Perfekt - completed action in recent or distant past (ja sam radio - I worked, I was working)
    Pluskvamperfekt - completedaction in long distant past usualy before some other action in the past (ja sam bio radio - I had worked, I had been working)
    We don't have the tense to express the action which started in past and still last (the present perfect in English - I have worked, I have been working), instead we simply use prezent (the present) or perfekt (the preterite) depending on what we want to emphasize (past or present).

  21. mmbata

    mmbata Junior Member

    Novi Sad (Vojvodina)
    Serbian & Croatian
  22. nonik Senior Member

  23. mmbata

    mmbata Junior Member

    Novi Sad (Vojvodina)
    Serbian & Croatian
    You're welcome
    Radim (present) u toj fabrici već pet godina. I've already been working (present perfect) in that factory for five years.

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