Romance languages : Auxiliaries

Discussion in 'Etymology, History of languages and Linguistics (EHL)' started by J.F. de TROYES, Nov 8, 2012.

  1. J.F. de TROYES Senior Member

    francais-France
    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.
     
  2. Montesacro Senior Member

    Roma
    Italiano
    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.
     
  3. olaszinho Senior Member

    Italy
    Central Italian
    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: Nov 8, 2012
  4. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    France
    USA Northeast
    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: Nov 9, 2012
  5. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
  6. olaszinho Senior Member

    Italy
    Central Italian
    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".
     
  7. CapnPrep Senior Member

    France
    AmE
    Romanian does not divide verbs into two classes like Italian and French, but it does use both have and be as temporal auxiliaries.
    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.
    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
     
  8. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    France
    USA Northeast
    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.

    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: Nov 9, 2012
  9. Youngfun

    Youngfun Senior Member

    Pekino, Ĉinujo
    Chinese/Italian - bilingual
    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"?

    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...
     
  10. J.F. de TROYES Senior Member

    francais-France
    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 ?
     
  11. CapnPrep Senior Member

    France
    AmE
    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).
     
  12. J.F. de TROYES Senior Member

    francais-France


    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 habeo how 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).
     
  13. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    France
    USA Northeast
    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: Nov 13, 2012
  14. CapnPrep Senior Member

    France
    AmE
    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).
     
  15. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    France
    USA Northeast
    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: Nov 13, 2012
  16. olaszinho Senior Member

    Italy
    Central Italian
    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: Nov 14, 2012
  17. Youngfun

    Youngfun Senior Member

    Pekino, Ĉinujo
    Chinese/Italian - bilingual
    Could be "è bruciata" passive? I always get confused.
     
  18. olaszinho Senior Member

    Italy
    Central Italian
    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: Nov 14, 2012
  19. J.F. de TROYES Senior Member

    francais-France
    1. 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.
     
  20. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    France
    USA Northeast
    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?
     
  21. Youngfun

    Youngfun Senior Member

    Pekino, Ĉinujo
    Chinese/Italian - bilingual
    You are mostly right.
    "Ho corso la maratona" and "L'ho corsa" are right. The same for "correre" used in the figurative meaning: "Ho corso un grande rischio".
    And:
    Sono corso a casa.

    But there is a strong tendency to use "avere" when expressing duration.
    So:
    Stamattina ho corso per due ore. (durante = during)
    Also:
    Ha nevicato per due ore.
    Ha piovuto per tutta la notte.

    The passive "venire" can only be used in the present tense.
    "La carne viene mangiata dai lupi." = The meat gets eaten by the wolves, or is usually eaten by the wolves.
    I think "venire" usually implies a habit.
     
  22. olaszinho Senior Member

    Italy
    Central Italian
    "I think "venire" usually implies a habit":confused: Really??

    Venire can be used with "Passato remoto" and the future tense, too. It is quite common: il ponte fu/venne distrutto the brigde was destroyed or la scuola verrà/sarà chiusa = the school will be closed. In Italian both essere and venire are commonly used to form the passive voice.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 13, 2012
  23. Youngfun

    Youngfun Senior Member

    Pekino, Ĉinujo
    Chinese/Italian - bilingual
    Yes... I was wrong... Actually, "venire" can be used in any simple tense (presente, passato remoto, imperfetto, futuro semplice), but not composed tenses.
     
  24. CapnPrep Senior Member

    France
    AmE
    I don't think a detailed discussion of passive auxiliaries in modern Italian really belongs in this thread about the history of Romance temporal auxiliaries… Besides, this topic is already covered in many, many threads in the Italian forums. For example:
    Venire (auxiliary) as 'to become' in the passive voice

    una regola va rispettata vs. viene rispettata

    Venire descritto

    Passive voice with essere or venire

    Venire v Essere nel passivo

    Ti verrà chiesto di eseguire l'attivita nuovamente

    verrà vs sarà

    andava(no) + participio passato

    Andare as an auxiliary in the passive voice

    viene usato
     
  25. J.F. de TROYES Senior Member

    francais-France
    It's the same for French for verbs that can be transitive or intransitive as changer, brûler, descendre and so on : je suis descendu en courant ( I ran down ) , but J'ai descendu tous les sacs ( I've taken down all the bags) . However , as it was said, verbs using the auxiliary être are less numerous than in Italian.
     
  26. olaszinho Senior Member

    Italy
    Central Italian
    This is true and I'd like to add another very common verb in French: sortir - to go out, Je suis sorti - I've gone out, but elle a sorti la voiture du garage - she took the car out of the garage. Anyway, some Italian verbs work in a different way from the French ones, for instance: le temps a changé - il tempo è cambiato - the weather has changed;
    les prix ont augmenté - i prezzi sono aumentati.
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2012
  27. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    France
    USA Northeast
    I just remembered another particularity about Italian that doesn't exist in other Romance Languages (unless they do it in Romania, I don't know). The auxiliary verb has to agree with the infinitive when modal verbs are used and not with the conjugated model verb. So if that infinitive verb takes "essere" the whole structure changes to match that:
    Sarei dovuto andarci.
    È voluta venire da me.
    Si sono potuti vestire da streghe.
     
  28. Angelo di fuoco Senior Member

    Germany
    Russian & German (GER) bilingual
    Mi dispiace, ma devo darti torto: per dire che si tratta della voce passiva non è necessario che appaia l'agente. "'È bruciata" può dunque essere due cose: forma della voce passiva nel presente (!) oppure una forma del passato prossimo. Comunque proprio per la sua ambiguità semantica, per non complicare troppo le cose si suole dar preferenza ad altre forme: brucia o viene bruciata per il processo, è (stata) bruciata per il resultato.
     
  29. Angelo di fuoco Senior Member

    Germany
    Russian & German (GER) bilingual
    No, essere per il passivo "di stato", venire per la voce passiva "d'azione".
     
  30. Youngfun

    Youngfun Senior Member

    Pekino, Ĉinujo
    Chinese/Italian - bilingual
    Grazie, Angelo. Mi sembra una spiegazione ragionevole.
     
  31. olaszinho Senior Member

    Italy
    Central Italian
    Mi riferivo all'esempio, in quel caso era attiva. Chiaro che può essere sia attiva sia passiva, ma ovviamente dipende dal contesto.
     
  32. olaszinho Senior Member

    Italy
    Central Italian
    Angelo, ora vuoi venirci ad insegnare la grammatica italiana? :)Certo ogni suggerimento e segnalazione sono ben accetti, ma qui la differenziazione mi pare stucchevole, tale distinzione l'ho trovata soltanto in qualche vecchia grammatica, ma certamente non in tutte. Ne avrò almeno una quindicina a casa. Il dato di fatto è che nell'italiano contemporaneo tanto venire come essere possono fungere da ausiliari nel passivo, senza alcuna differenza considerevole, naturalmente come ha precisato Youngfun, solo coi tempi semplici. Gli esempi: il ponte fu/venne distrutto; la scuola sarà/verrà chiusa sono perfettamente corretti e si trovano normalmente nell'italiano.
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2012
  33. J.F. de TROYES Senior Member

    francais-France
    Unfortunately I am unable to write properly in Italian :confused: , but I can read it. So can you confirm that expressing an agent is as usual with venire as with essere ? Is the following sentence right : il ponte fu/venne distrutto da un bombardamento ?
     
  34. olaszinho Senior Member

    Italy
    Central Italian
    Oui, bien sûr. C'est un exemple que j'ai trouvé dans un livre de grammaire. De plus, on peut lire des phrases pareilles dans tous les livres d'histoire.
    La chiesa venne distrutta da una bomba tedesca - l'église fut détruite par une bombe allemande.
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2012
  35. Angelo di fuoco Senior Member

    Germany
    Russian & German (GER) bilingual
    Cosí spiegò la differenza tra essere e venire la mia docente d'italiano all'università, precisando comunque che mentre il verbo essere può usarsi in tutti i casi, il verbo venire è solamente limitato a proposizioni passive "d'azione".
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2012
  36. J.F. de TROYES Senior Member

    francais-France
    One more question about venire used as a passive auxiliary. Is this usage as old as that of essere ? Can this grammatization can be traced back ?
     
  37. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    France
    USA Northeast
    Here they say it goes back at least to Dante and Boccaccio's time.
     
  38. Angelo di fuoco Senior Member

    Germany
    Russian & German (GER) bilingual
    Vale a dire: fino alla nascita della lingua letteraria italiaana.
     
  39. CapnPrep Senior Member

    France
    AmE
    It can apparently be found before Dante, but no earlier than the 13th century: "La costruzione con venire ha origini incerte, e non è attestata prima del Duecento, al più presto" (Maiden 1998, p. 167).
     
  40. Youngfun

    Youngfun Senior Member

    Pekino, Ĉinujo
    Chinese/Italian - bilingual
    Volevi dire: sin dalla nascita della lingua italiana letteraria? :rolleyes:
     
  41. Angelo di fuoco Senior Member

    Germany
    Russian & German (GER) bilingual
    Credo non abbia senso combinare "è rintracciabile" con "sin da".
     

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