Russian Past Tense as Imperative

Discussion in 'Etymology, History of languages and Linguistics (EHL)' started by Encolpius, Feb 19, 2013.

  1. Encolpius

    Encolpius Senior Member

    Prague
    Hungarian
    I wonder why there is a phenomenon (only?) in Russian they use Past Tense to express "let's go". Are there any other languages using something like that? There is something like that in Hungarian, but it's less common and not the same. Russians say: Пощёл! Пошпи! Поехали! [it's all Past Tense, meaning Let's go]....
     
  2. LilianaB Senior Member

    US New York
    Lithuanian
    I think it may come form the subjunctive possibly, or conditional tense, but the "by" is dropped. There is something similar in Polish but without dropping the particle. Poszlibysmy juz. Just poszli -- would resemble the past form, but it is really not. It is mediunk in Hungarian, right? Is that a past tense?
     
  3. Encolpius

    Encolpius Senior Member

    Prague
    Hungarian
    No, in Hungarian, you can say: Én mentem! [megy > mentem Past Tense], but it is not the same standard as in Russian. Hard to explain.
     
  4. origumi Senior Member

    Hebrew
    We have this phenomenon in informal modern Hebrew. For example "רואים את הפיסטין ההוא בקו האופק? שלושים שניות הייתם שם". It expresses the speaker's (a superior) wish to see the action already achieved (by his inferiors) thus be in the past.

    No relation to Russian. Doesn't look like compensation for lack of coniunctivus iussivus in Hebrew.
     
  5. LilianaB Senior Member

    US New York
    Lithuanian
    Yes, I don't think it is really the Past Tense in Russian -- the form only resembles the Past Tense.
     
  6. rusita preciosa

    rusita preciosa Modus forendi

    USA (Φιλαδέλφεια)
    Russian (Moscow)
    In Russian it is the same: the past tense generally expresses a rude command where the action is considered accomplished the moment (or even before) the command is uttered.

    Commands like Пошли! Поехали!, addressed to a group of people including the speaker, are an exception, because in most contexts they are not rude.

    Commands like Пошли! Пошёл!, Встали!, Быстро оделся! addressed to a group of people not including the speaker or to a single person, are very authoritative and most often purposively rude.

    P.S. in Russian for command in the army, court etc... the infinitive is used rather than the imperative.
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2013
  7. tFighterPilot Senior Member

    Israel - Hebrew
    Might point out that it exists ONLY in the army.
     
  8. bibax Senior Member

    Czech
    In Czech we have the same phenomenon: the past tense (grammatically rather past participle, both in Czech and in Russian) can express a rude command. In the past it was used mostly by the members of the upper class to their servants and maids. Nowadays, as we have neither lords nor servants in our country (we all are evenly poor :(), we use it exclusively in the jokes about the lords:

    - Žán, přinesl (past part. instead of imp.) mi piáno! (Jean, bring me the piano!)
    - Jeho Lordstvo bude hrát? (His Lordship will be playing?)
    - Ne, mám na něm doutník. (No, I have a cigar on it.)
     
  9. rusita preciosa

    rusita preciosa Modus forendi

    USA (Φιλαδέλφεια)
    Russian (Moscow)
    In Russian partriciple would be пoехавший; поехали is past tense of the verb поехать.
     
  10. bibax Senior Member

    Czech
    It is a matter of terminology. Generally the participles express the number and the gender, but not the person. The (past active) participles like поехал, хвалил, jel, chválil, etc. are often called l-participles.

    From Wikipaedia: OCS grammar
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2013
  11. rusita preciosa

    rusita preciosa Modus forendi

    USA (Φιλαδέλφεια)
    Russian (Moscow)
    My point is that this may be right for Czech, but certainly not for Russian.

    Even if you consider that the Russian past tense does not really express person (?), it still does not make it a participle:
    я поехал, поехала, поехало
    ты поехал, поехала, поехало
    он поехал, она поехала, оно поехало
    мы / вы / они поехали

    In modern Russian all that is past tense, I'd be hard pressed to call it a participle, L- or otherwise.:)
     
  12. LilianaB Senior Member

    US New York
    Lithuanian
    Are you sure it is really the Past Tense or just a similarity on the surface, with some particle dropped, (historically). Re: Russian.
     
  13. Ben Jamin Senior Member

    Norway
    Polish
    The so called “past tense” in the Slavic languages is actually a compound tense, analogical to English present tense, but with the auxiliary verb “to be” not “have”. In different Slavic languages the development was diferent: in Czech, Slovak, Serbian the two elements (past participle and the auxiliary verb) are clearly discernible, in Polish the auxiliary verb has become an ending fastened to the past participle, while in Russian the auxiliary verb disappeared leaving only the past participle.
     
  14. LilianaB Senior Member

    US New York
    Lithuanian
    Yes, this is what I thought. I think it sounds right.
     
  15. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    France
    USA Northeast
    So would an analogy of what may have happened in Russian be something similar to:

    I (was) born

    Then over time the auxiliary verb in parentheses was dropped out and it ended up leaving just: I born?
    Я родился
     
  16. Ben Jamin Senior Member

    Norway
    Polish
    Yes, it's that that happened, but a new form was coined to make the function of the past participle. The words ending with an 'L' are not used as partciples any longer and not perceived as ones either.
    The new past participles are:
    Past active: слышавший [ˈslɨ.ʂɐf.ʂəj] "who heard", "who was hearing"
    Past passive: слышанный [ˈslɨ.ʂɐn.nəj] "that was heard", "that was being heard"
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2013
  17. CapnPrep Senior Member

    France
    AmE
    How do you know these are "new"? Don't all of these participles go back to Common Slavic (and beyond)? The l-participle has a very limited distribution (used only in the nominative case in copular constructions), but I don't think one can say that these limitations led to the creation of the other past active participle.
     
  18. LilianaB Senior Member

    US New York
    Lithuanian

    I personally don't think so -- the Russian phrase implies that the person did it himself rather than someone else has caused his birth, so it just uses a regular reflexive ending, as "I washed myself". In makes sense, in fact. I think it is an active, intransitive verb here.
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2013
  19. Ben Jamin Senior Member

    Norway
    Polish
    In fact I don't know if they existed at the same time as the "old ones". May be they did, but their functions were different. My point was, however, that the "old ones" have lost their role as participles.
    It may be interesting to look at the contemporary Bulgarian system (the only Slavic language to preserve the Aorist tense).
    Verb: правя (pravja) (to do, imperfective aspect)
    Present active: правещ (pravešt)
    Past active aorist: правил (pravil)
    Past active imperfect: правел (pravel) (only used in verbal constructions)
    Past passive: правен (praven)
    Adverbial present active: правейки (pravejki)
    Here we have both types of participles side by side (but the -ший ending of the Russian active past participle is not there).
     
  20. Gale_

    Gale_ Junior Member

    Russia
    Russian
    I don't know whether I have any right to answer questions since I'm not a Senior Member (perhaps I've missed some rule), but I have to add one point.
    If you pretend to speak Russian correctly and politely, then to express "let's go" you should ruther use Present or Future Tense. :) You should say "идём" or "пойдём" instead of "пошли", and "едем" or "поедем" instead of "поехали".
    Concerning Past Tense "пошли/поехали", it's informal speech (not absolutely correct).
    But it's really Past Tense. It implies that "we have already started" although really we have not yet. :)
    Like intentions passing ahead of acting.
     
  21. Ben Jamin Senior Member

    Norway
    Polish
    There was actually no doubt about this being past tense, but there was a discussion about the form being an old past participle, as it is not recognized as such by Russian speakers today (probably by no other Slavic speakers either, except Bulgarians). in Bulgarian the form is an aorist participle, and it probably was the same in Common Slavic.
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2013
  22. Gale_

    Gale_ Junior Member

    Russia
    Russian
    Yes, I've read the thread and saw your discussion. But I answered the first question:
    I only said that in Russian it's not correct to use Past Tense to express "let's go", and that it's just an informal variant which is allowed only in oral speech.
    And I tried to explain why we use Past Tense for present and future acting ), but it's really hard to explain, because sometimes Russian language is as enigmatic and illogical as we are )))
    I think that sometimes we make no difference between our dreams and our reality, or between intentions and accomplished actings, and that's why such mess with Tenses occur.
    Concerning "the form being an old past participle", I would say that hardly it could be true for Russian "пошли/поехали". The more so that participles in Russian have endings of adjectives (пошедший, поехавший). No, in Russian it has no relation to participles.
    Concerning other languages I don't know.
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2013
  23. Gale_

    Gale_ Junior Member

    Russia
    Russian
    I've edited typos in the original post of Encolpius.
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2013
  24. Ben Jamin Senior Member

    Norway
    Polish
    How do you know that? And how come that in all other Slavic languages the analogical form actually is an old form of past participle. How could Russian develop an almost identical form in quite a different way than other Slavic languages? And why do you quote only past active participle, and ignore all others? It would be interesting if you gave your sources.
     
  25. LilianaB Senior Member

    US New York
    Lithuanian
    I don't know about the participles part here, but it is definitely not a regular Past Tense in Russian -- it is just a form that resembles the Past Tense visually, on the surface.
     
  26. CapnPrep Senior Member

    France
    AmE
    Throughout South Slavic, where the past tense is formed with an auxiliary verb in all persons, the l-form functions as a participle. The Bulgarian participle can be used more generally as an adjective or converted to a noun, but this is an innovation within Bulgarian; there is no evidence for such usage in Common Slavic (according to Meillet, for example). Anyway, general adjectival use is not a necessary condition for something to be considered a participle. In English, for example, most active past participles appear only in verbal constructions and cannot be used as adjectives, but they are still participles.

    Also, concerning the inaccurate claim that Bulgarian is "the only Slavic language to preserve the Aorist tense", see the following thread:
    All Slavic languages: imperfect and aorist

    Forms like пошли/поехали do have adjectival endings: instead of comparing them with -ий adjectives, look at short adjectives like красив. The endings are not exactly the same, but we definitely have adjectival inflection in all of these cases: agreement in gender and number but not person (whereas verbal inflection involves agreement in person and number but not gender).
     
  27. aefrizzo

    aefrizzo Senior Member

    Palermo, Italia
    italiano
    Hello.
    An old peasant (86) I know, illitterate, who speaks no Italian but only Sicilian, is used to say just before leaving (instead of bye bye):
    I left, (he means: I am leaving) or I saw you (see you later).
    Occasionally, I happen to observe such very local-colloquial use of past tense even among adult italian speakers.
    P.S.I won't report the Sicilian expressions. The Italian ones are "Me ne sono andato" and "Ci siamo visti", respectively.
     
  28. Gale_

    Gale_ Junior Member

    Russia
    Russian
    Excuse me, I don't understand what you mean.
    How do I know what?
    How do I know that participles in Russian have adjective endings?
    How do I know that "пошли" and "поехали" are verbs and not participles?
    I've learned it at school to be honest.
    Really I don't know that. I've already told that I know almost nothing about other languages.
    1) I quote past participles because we told about the Past Tense.
    If you wish I can quote present form:
    идущий
    едущий
    2) I quote active participles because I can't imagine passive form for these concrete roots. "Идти","ехать" express active doings! Passive doings will be expressed by other words as "нести", "везти". Maybe in English you can say "he goes" and "he is gone" or "he is going" and "he is being gone", but in Russian you will say "он идёт" and "он идущий", but never "его идут" and "он идомый". Sometimes replying a question "Он сам ушёл?" ("Has he gone himself?") we say "нет, его ушли" ("no, he was gone"), but it's such a joke.
    All my sources (concerning Russian grammar) are in Russian. If you wish I can give you some links. It's about participles: http://www.gramma.ru/RUS/?id=4.34

    Returning to the "let's go" theme, this question is often discussed by Russian people. For example here: http://rusforus.ru/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=721
    I have not understood this part as well.
    "Forms like пошли/поехали do have adjectival endings" - what is it?
    These words are verbs and have verb endings.
    "Красив" is really a short adjective form. Some of participles (passive ones) in Russian have a short form. But all the same they are not verbs.
    And endings are not the only part of word which has any meaning in the word formation. There are also suffixes.
    "...whereas verbal inflection involves agreement in person and number but not gender" - is it about Russian?
    In Russian verbal inflection involves agreement in gender in the Past Tense:
    masculine: он шёл, он пошёл
    feminine: она шла, она пошла
    neuter: оно шло, оно пошло
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2013
  29. Gale_

    Gale_ Junior Member

    Russia
    Russian
    We can see the same in Russian!
    Russian can say: "Я ушёл" or "я пошёл" instead of "я ухожу" or "я пойду" (when he wants to say good bye).
    It's the same case. Intentions have such great meaning for us that we can identify them with actings, or at least with their starting. If you have an idea of doing something, and it's a good idea, it's like you've already start to do it. Of course if the idea "isn't good", you won't use the Past Tense )
    For example if you want to propose to your friend to watch a film, you can say: "Пошли в кино!" ("Let's go to the cinema!"), and if he likes the idea, he will answer: "Пошли!", and it's like you've already gone (by your intention). But if he doesn't want to do it, he won't answer: "Не пошли", he won't use the Past Tense. No, he will rather use the Future Tense, he will say: "Я не пойду".
    But all the same if you want to say correctly you should choose "пойдём в кино" or "идём в кино" instead of "пошли в кино".
    By the way the word "пошли" as imperative also means "send" )
     
  30. LilianaB Senior Member

    US New York
    Lithuanian
    Hi. What do you think about a form: может пошли бы уже as the source of the other one? Reduced to пошли.
     
  31. Gale_

    Gale_ Junior Member

    Russia
    Russian
    I think that it could be a possible source (without "уже"), one of them at least, because "let's go" as imperative in Russian often has the inquiring intonation. But some "cases" sound quite affirmatively, so it's a moot point. I can't say for sure.
     
  32. Gale_

    Gale_ Junior Member

    Russia
    Russian
    Oh, I'm sorry! At first I've realized not everything in this post! Indeed if you meant that past verbs have the same form as old past l-participles, then you're right of course! I've heard about that version. And it could be the source of using past verbs as future ones.
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2013
  33. CapnPrep Senior Member

    France
    AmE
    It is about Indo-European, Slavic, and Russian (from a historical viewpoint).
    How so?
     
  34. Gale_

    Gale_ Junior Member

    Russia
    Russian
    Oh, I'm starting to understand. )
    I'm just stupid indeed and have missed the historical context, so I beg to excuse me. It's because I've been distracted. (
    I'll quote the fragment (it's in Russian, but I told that I've got only Russian sources) and then try to explain how I get it:
    It's from here:http://www.philol.msu.ru/~tezaurus/library.php?view=d&course=1&raz=3&pod=3&par=5
    And here they say that one of the future form of verbs was formed by old past l-participles and future simple forms of the verb "быти"("быть" or in English "to be"). But those past l-participles had the same form as contemporary Russian past verbs. So in this way the Future Tense could relate with the Past Tense in Russian from the linguistic point of view. I guess that it's that very possibility which was discussed above, have I understood right?
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2013
  35. CapnPrep Senior Member

    France
    AmE
    I see. Polish still forms the future tense with the l-form in combination with future forms of "be". But it only works for imperfective verbs, while the Russian imperative form in this thread seems to work only with perfective verbs (is that correct?). So it would be necessary to find some direct historical data to connect the two. For example, was it ever possible to say будем пошли in Russian to mean "we will go" or "let's go"?
     
  36. LilianaB Senior Member

    US New York
    Lithuanian
    Hi, CarpPrep -- why do you think it is the Past Tense in Polish together with the future form of to be that forms the Future Tense. I personally think it is just an external similarity between forms, and endings -- this is all. As for Russian, I relly think the form in quetsion is derived from the construction I previously quoted.
     
  37. Gale_

    Gale_ Junior Member

    Russia
    Russian
    Russian contemporary imperative is expressed in different ways. It may be infinitive, specific endings of verbs (perfective and imperfective), the particle "пусть" with the present and future verb endings, the verbs "пускай" or "давай" with the same (it's like English "let's"), and that very past perfective form of verbs.
    "Будем пошли" isn't correct of course.
    1) "We will go" will sound in Russian as "мы пойдём".
    2) "Let's go" will be "давай мы пойдём", or the same without "мы", or shortly "пойдём", or "пойдёмте".
    And "пошли" is used rather as an informal variant, but very often.
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2013
  38. Gale_

    Gale_ Junior Member

    Russia
    Russian
    The past perfective form of verbs (or the old past l-participles, if somebody insists) is used as imperative for the second person and addressing to yourself (singular). You may give somebody a command "пошёл!", "пошла!", "пошло!", "пошли!", and you may say "пошёл"/"пошла" to yourself. And in these cases it seems that nobody picks on. Maybe it's informal as well, but I never heard any pretensions or reproaches.
     
  39. Gale_

    Gale_ Junior Member

    Russia
    Russian
    I get that you more like the subjunctive/conditional version, don't you?
    But as I can see from the same source (http://www.philol.msu.ru/~tezaurus/library.php?view=d&course=1&raz=3&pod=3&par=5):
    It's also about old past l-participles and in this text they say that past l-participles were used to form subjunctive as well. So we come back to the Past Tense.
     
  40. Gale_

    Gale_ Junior Member

    Russia
    Russian
    But really I don't know, why old l-participles are called past. If they are called so by relatively "contemporary" language experts just because now l-forms are used as past verbs, then it may be a formal name. Maybe in Old Slavic these participles hadn't such temporal colouring at all, and were used for creating past, future and irreal verb forms, couldn't it be so?
    Does anybody know?

    Or they were called past because they described an accomplished action irrespective of that when it "was accomplished": in the past, in the future, or in some possible time (I mean irreal forms).
    If that's the case, then it's that very thing I've tried to explain to you when I told about intentions.
     
  41. LilianaB Senior Member

    US New York
    Lithuanian
    Hi,Gale. I don't know for sure -- this was more of my intuition. I relaly know more about Germanic languages (in terms of historical grammar) and Baltic. Participles are really mysterious. There are really many of them in certain languages, like Baltic, although not all of them are used all the time, thank God.
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2013
  42. Gale_

    Gale_ Junior Member

    Russia
    Russian
    Oh, I agree. )
    At least I can say the same about old participles! )))
    There were some messages (including mine) posted here before the server falling.


    So I can't say for sure what was the first: the egg or the hen )
    But I can see that -l- always meant something performed (if not in reality, then in somebody's imagination)
     
  43. francisgranada Senior Member

    Slovakia
    Hungarian
    A possible hypothesis:

    As the l-partciple in Slavic is generally used with the cojugated forms of the verb "to be" (in Russian today omitted), in the past it could be used also with the imperative of the verb "to be" to express the desire that the action be done or accomplished. An example for illustration:

    Bы (ecть) пошли ("You are gone ") – past (formally present) tense with l-partciple
    *Bы бyдeтe пошли ("You will be gone ") – future with l-partciple (today not used in Russian)
    Бyдьтe пошли ! ("Be gone!") – imperative with l-partciple

    The imperative бyдь (singlular), бyдьтe (plural) of the verb „to be“ was later suppressed/omitted. In such case this kind of imperative would be originally nothing else but a “regular” (or at least possible) grammatical construction.
     
  44. bibax Senior Member

    Czech
    In Czech we also use the l-participles as common surnames: Skočil, Vyskočil, Navrátil, Donutil, Skácel, Vychodil, Vyvadil, Pospíšil, Zapletal, Přikryl, Kvapil, Hradil, Prchal, Chytil and many others. In this case the l-participle denotes a person that has done something, for example Skočil is a person having jumped (~ Mr. "Having-jumped").

    Thus "já jsem skočil/skočila/skočilo" (~ I [have] jumped, past tense, common in Czech) can also be interpreted as "I am a/the person (of m./f./n. gender) having jumped"; "Já jsem Skočil" means "I am Skočil [Mr. Having-jumped]".
    In Czech there is also "já jsem byl skočil" (pluperfect, bookish, rarely used), i.e. "I was a/the person having jumped".
    Now we can understand the "Polish" future tense "já budu skočil" (sounds very strange in Czech) as "I'll be a person having jumped".
    Somewhat tricky are the present/past conditional "já bych skočil" and "já bych byl skočil" as bych (bychom, etc.) is originally the aorist of the verb "býti" (to be), the only aorist preserved in Modern Czech, but used exceptionally to form the conditional.

    And what is left to explore? Francis' imperative hypothesis:
    Buď skočil/-a/-o! Buďte skočili/-y/-a!  (not used in Czech, of course), i.e. "Be [a/the person] having jumped!"
    Perhaps it is the origin of the command "Šel/šla sem!" (Come here!) sometimes used in Czech. Who knows?

    One more joke with the l-participle used as imperative:
    Žán, přinesl mi okno! Chci se podívat do zahrady.
    (Jean, bring me the window! I want to look in the garden.)
     
  45. Gale_

    Gale_ Junior Member

    Russia
    Russian
    Is it also an l-form as imperative? :)
     
  46. CapnPrep Senior Member

    France
    AmE
    It would need to be explained why быть could be omitted in this particular construction but not in other "be" imperatives. Also, does/did Russian have 1st person plural imperative forms? What would be the source of пошли "let's go/let's be gone"?
     
  47. bibax Senior Member

    Czech
    Yes, přinesl (принёс, -l is missing in Russian) is the l-participle of the přinésti (принести, to bring). In the feminine gender: přinesla (принесла).

    ona přinesla =  она принесла;

    You can see that it is basically the same (language). We call the word přinesla by the term l-participle (or past active participle). I doubt that the Russian принесла is a newly created past tense form. And it does have an adjectival ending, принесла is like красива ("она принесла" is formally the same like "она красива").
     
  48. francisgranada Senior Member

    Slovakia
    Hungarian
    Perhaps because of (one of) the following reasons:
    1. The l-participle is today in Russian generally used without any (auxiliary) verb, thus analoguously also in this case
    2. The original function of the l-participle (past active participle) is not "felt" anymore, so the construction бyдьтe plus l-participle would sound innatural
    3. As the construction бyдьтe пошли has become to be interpreted as an imperative of the verb itself (and not of быть), the imperative of быть was spontaneously considered redundant or unnecessary
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2013
  49. francisgranada Senior Member

    Slovakia
    Hungarian
    Of course. Even more, the long forms of the l-participles are used in function of adjectives (but not possible for all verbs). An example to illustrate the difference between the “short” and the “long” forms in modern Slovak:

    Ja som zrel - I maturated (I was/have been maturating ...) - past tense with the l-participle

    but:

    Ja som zrelý - I am mature
    Ja budem zrelý - I shall be mature
    Buď zrelý! - Be mature!

    zrel – the l-participle from zrieť (to maturate)
    zrelý – the corresponding long form (mature)
     
  50. Gale_

    Gale_ Junior Member

    Russia
    Russian
    In contemporary Russian "быть" is used as imperative as other verbs, usually with short adjectives or short adjectivized participles: будь готов!(be ready!), будь обязан!(be obliged), будьте любезны!(be kind! - really it sounds politely as "would you be so kind"), будь здоров! (be healthy!). And in plural as well.
    In Old Slavic As I Can see:
    imperative was formed by adding - и-, -Ѣ- (now it's -и-, -ь- and -й-), or by means of particle "да" + a verb in present. Now we also use "да" as imperative, but with a future form of verbs: "да свершится чудо!" and "да" is like "давай" which is used oftener.
    But I have not found yet, that imperative had such forms as
    The future form had (future of "быть" + l-partciple), as I already quoted.
    язык.jpg
    The picture is not very good, but I've taken it from here:http://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/Древнерусский_язык
    There is no specific imperative form as a command (like it is for the 2nd person). Usually future or present form of verbs are used in such cases: пойдём(те), идём(те), or the same with "давай(те)": давай(те) пойдём!
    And for the 1st person singular we just use the same as for the 2d person singular: иди!
     

    Attached Files:

Share This Page