Bulgarian, Macedonian: non-witness mood

Discussion in 'Other Slavic Languages' started by Christo Tamarin, May 23, 2008.

  1. Christo Tamarin

    Christo Tamarin Senior Member

    The current thread is to continue a discussion which started in this thread. In my post there, I have listed some features of the balkanic languages.

    In the current thread, the feature marked as {Balkan-a4} "non-witness mood" is to be discussed.

    As far as I know, this feature exists in Slavo-balkanic (Bulgarian&Macedonian) and Turkish only. I would like to find out in which way it was developed, i.e. it would be good to choose one of the following options:
    • {Balkan-a4-option-S} "non-witness mood" was developed in Slavo-balkanic and then it infected Turkish.
    • {Balkan-a4-option-T} was developed in Turkish and then it infected Slavo-balkanic.
    • {Balkan-a4-option-A} was developed in some other language (Armenian, Kurdish, ..), then Turkish was infected, and finally Slavo-balkanic.
    I have no arguments for none of the above options.

    A more detailed description of the "non-witness mood" in Slavo-balkanic follows.
    • First, why a mood?
    • Second, what about Aorist, Imperfect, Perfect?
    • Third, about the Lambda-Participles in Slavic.
    • Fourth, about the non-witness mood itself and its genesis in Slavo-balkanic.
    Last edited: May 23, 2008
  2. Christo Tamarin

    Christo Tamarin Senior Member

    First, why a mood?

    Usually, the normal mood of verbs is the Indicative.
    Examples for Indicative: She does not worry about anything, she is happy.

    Usually, verbs have another mood - Imperative.
    Examples for Imperative: Don't worry! Be happy!

    Some languages also distinguish Conditional and/or Subjunctive. I mean languages have special forms for some moods. Romance languages, e.g., have special forms for Subjunctive.
    Some English example: If I were you, I should do it otherwise.

    Further on, only the Indicative mood is to be discussed along with the specific {Balkan-a4} "non-witness mood". In this paper, this mode is also called Inferential or Renarrative.

    When translating from Slavo-balkanic or Turkish, as most languages have no Renarrative, the normal Indicative mood should be used for Renarrative.
    Last edited: May 23, 2008
  3. Christo Tamarin

    Christo Tamarin Senior Member

    Second, what about Aorist, Imperfect, Perfect?

    Verbs in Greek, Old Slavic and Slavo-balkanic have those three basic past tenses.

    Continuous tenses in English and Spanish, e.g., are out of scope and are not to be considered here.

    Latin and Romance languages have only two of the above: Perfect and Imperfect. Instead of Aorist, Perfect is used. Imperfect is the same as in Greek, Old Slavic and Slavo-balkanic.

    German and English also have two basic past tenses: Preterite and Perfect. Preterite is used for both Aorist and Imperfect.

    Let us suppose you know {English or German} and {a Romance language}. Then:
    • If Imperfect is used in French, then Imperfect should be used in Greek and Slavo-balkanic.
    • If Perfect is used in both French and English, then Perfect should be used in Greek and Slavo-balkanic.
    • If Perfect is used in French and Preterite in English, then Aorist should be used in Greek and Slavo-balkanic.
    This was to explain the three basic past tenses which verbs in Greek, old Slavic and Slavo-balkanic have.

    Modern Slavic languages, except Slavo-balkanic, have simplified their system of verbs. First, following Romance languages, Aorist and Perfect were merged into Perfect. Second, the specific aspectology of Slavic verbs (Imperfective and Perfective aspects) allowed the loss of the Imperfect tense which was replaced by Perfect tense of an Imperfective verb. Thus, modern Slavic languages have just one basic past tense: Perfect. While Romance languages have two basic past tenses, Imperfect and Perfect, modern Slavic languages have just one past tense and two aspects in addition: Imperfective and Perfective.

    Slavo-balkanic, however, has preserved all the three basic past tenses (Aorist, Imperfect, Pefect) along with all the specific aspectology of Slavic verbs. Additionally, Slavo-balkanic has developed the non-witness mood (Inferential, Renarrative) which is the subject of this thread.

    Here are the forms of (Present, Aorist, Imperfect, Perfect) in the normal Indicative mood for an imperfective verb as they appear in Bulgarian:

    In Macedonian, there is an additional form of Perfect: имам пишано, following the Romance patern (J'ai écrit) and the Greek έχω γραμμένο. In Standard Bulgarian, the form имам писано is not assigned a grammatical value. Anyway, forms like имам писано may have relieved the original Perfect tense (писал съм) of some usages.
    Last edited: May 23, 2008
  4. Christo Tamarin

    Christo Tamarin Senior Member

    Third, about the Lambda-Participles in Slavic.

    Participles are forms of verbs which may be used either in attributive function like adjectives ("My spoken English is rather pure.") or as part of analytic verbal forms ("I have never spoken to him."). Thus, participles are inflected for gender (masculine, feminine, neuter) and number (singular, plural) in Slavic.

    In Old Slavic, there were two past participles for the Active voice: an active past sigma-participle and an active past lambda-participle.
    • The active past sigma-participle has always been used in attributive function. In Slavo-balkanic, archaic forms of the active past sigma-participle exist only. Examples in Old Slavic: писавъ/писавъши. Examples in Russian: писавший.
    • The active past lambda-participle was used mainly in analytic verbal forms. In Old Slavic, it was used to form the perfect tense (see above): писалъ есмь, писалъ еси, писалъ есть, ... In most Slavic languages (incl. Russian), perfect became the only past tense. In Russian, after omitting the auxilliary verb in Present, the perfect tense coincided with the lambda-participle. Thus, in Russian, it is not considered as participle anymore: it is just the past tense.
    Slavo-balkanic has lost its active past sigma-participle but has developed its lambda-participle.

    In Slavo-balkanic, let us refer to the lambda-participle as the old lambda-participle.

    In Slavo-balkanic, the old lambda-participle, has attributive functions as well since sigma-participle does not exist anymore.

    In Slavo-balkanic, as all over Slavic, the old lambda-participle is used for some analytic forms in the indicative mood: perfect and some others, not mentioned so far. So, let us refer to the old lambda-participle as perfective lambda-participle.

    In Old Slavic, verbs used to have three stems: the present stem (present and imperfect tenses), the infinitive stem, and the aorist stem. The old lambda-participle is based on the infinitive stem. Since the infinitive form does not exist anymore in Slavo-balkanic, the infinitive stem is used just for the perfective lambda-participle and thus it can also be referred to as perfective stem.
    Last edited: May 23, 2008
  5. Christo Tamarin

    Christo Tamarin Senior Member

    Fourth, about the non-witness mood itself and its genesis in Slavo-balkanic.

    In Slavo-Balkanic, Aorist and Imperfect of the Indicative mood were given additional meaning: the speaker is a witness. If the speaker is not a witness and he/she is using Indicative mood for either aorist or imperfect, then he/she is telling a lie. Non-native speakers of Slavo-Balkanic has to keep that rule in mind. It is a common mistake for Serbian speaking Bulgarian, e.g.

    If the speaker is not a witness, then (s)he has to use Renarrative mood in Slavo-balkanic instead of Indicative mood.

    The forms of the Renarrative Aorist are almost the same as those of the Indicative Perfect.

    Especially for the Renarrative Imperfect, Slavo-balkanic has developed another lambda-participle, the imperfective lambda-participle, based in the present stem. (The old perfective lambda-participle uses the infinitive stem, see above.)

    Renarrative Present is the same as Renarrative Imperfect.

    Renarrative Perfect uses Renarrative Present for the auxilliary verb.

    Here are the forms of (Present, Aorist, Imperfect, Perfect) in the Renarrative (Inferential, non-witness) mood for an imperfective verb as they appear in Bulgarian:

    Note 1: For the 3rd person singular and plural, the auxilliary verb is always omitted. Thus, Bulgarian renarrative aorist usually coincide with the Russian general past tense.

    Note 2: The imperfective lambda-participle пишел can never have attributive functions. It is used by the renarrative mood only.

    Note 3: Each verb tense existing in the Indicative mood has its narrative version. Example {Future}: (he will write) {Indicative: ще пише} {Renarrative: щял да пише}.
    Last edited: May 23, 2008
  6. vikicka

    vikicka Senior Member

    Rome, Italy
    Macedonia- Macedonian
    Hello it's actually
    имам пишано
    In contrast to other Slavic languages that have the perfect tense, it is almost universally built with the verb "to be" and a past active participle; that is also an option in Macedonian. The older common Slavic form with сум ("to be") is predominant in the east of the country, while the form with "to have" is more widespread in the west, but has spread in the younger generations due to the influence of the standard language
    The sentence "I have written" reads:
    New perfect- имам пишано (imam pishano)
    Old perfect - сум пишал (sum pishal)
    Being replaced by the new construction, the "old perfect" tends to become an expression of the renarrative mood (nonconfirmative status) in Western Macedonia and in the standard language.
  7. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    What do you mean by "perfect" in English? The present perfect?

    If so, then Spanish has three basic past tenses: preterite (indefinido), imperfect, and perfect. I've seen some authors describe the Spanish indefinido as an aorist.

    You might have some interest in a few previous threads:

    Aspects (perfective and imperfective verbs)
    Aspects across Slavic languages
    Preterite vs. Imperfect in Spanish

    I realise that this is a bit beside the point, which is to discuss the non-witness mood, but I wanted to point out that the terminology you've chosen can be confusing.
  8. Christo Tamarin

    Christo Tamarin Senior Member

    Yes, I mean the present perfect as one of the basic past tenses in English. Please note that continuous tenses are out of scope here.

    I have chosen the terminology more appropriate for Slavo-balkanic and Greek. Yes, it might be confusing when we make parallels with other languages.

    Anyway, I think that it would be better the term preterite to be used as in German or English.

    Romance languages keep the old Roman perfect and have developed a new analytic perfect but there is not the same opposition between both perfects, the old one and the new one, as the opposition between aorist and perfect in Slavo-balkanic or Greek.

    I meant French. French also have three past tenses: passé simple, passé composé and imparfait. However, passé simple and passé composé have the same meaning in French besides some stylistical distinction. There is no opposition between passé simple and passé composé in French like the opposition between the aorist and perfect tenses in Slavo-balkanic and Greek.

    What about Spanish? OK, there are also three tenses: preterite/indefinido/aorist, imperfect, and perfect. Apparently, there is an opposition between the imperfect and any of the others. However, is there an opposition between the perfect and the preterite/indefinido/aorist? At the link I provided above, it is mentioned that Mexican Spanish really distinguishes aorist while other versions of Spanish do not.

    Basically, the imperfect tense has the same value in French, Spanish, Greek and Slavo-balkanic. The thread Preterite vs. Imperfect in Spanish is rather useful for speakers of English as it explains the imperfect tense in Spanish which does not exist in English. The thread does not mention the perfect tense, however, and its opposition to the preterite/indefinido/aorist, if such opposition exists, is not discussed.

    I think I am able to explain the aspectology of the Slavic verbs to Greeks. However, explaining it to people speaking Romance languages, English or German is too difficult for me. Hence, thanks for the links above.

    By the way, in this post ireney tried to explain the Greek tenses to people speaking English. It is too difficult to me as well. In my post, I have explained the Greek past tenses (Αόριστος, Παρατατικός/Imperfect and Παρακείμενος/Perfect), basically the same as in Slavo-balkanic, to people who speak both French and English.
  9. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    It's definitely not just in Mexican Spanish. This is standard!

    Even in French, conservative writers will attempt to make a similar distinction between the passé simple and the passé composé, but only in writing, since the passé simple has become disused in speech.

    Portuguese also consistently assigns different semantic values to the preterite and the perfect, though in a somewhat different way.

    In my opinion, the term "preterite" is actually more useful in the Romance languages (several of which have perfect, imperfect, and preterite) than in the Germanic languages, where the synthetic past tense can simply be called "past" or "past simple".

    Needless to say, transposing grammatical terms from one language into another is always a task frought with danger. :)

Share This Page