the history of "to have" in East Slavic languages

Discussion in 'Etymology, History of languages and Linguistics (EHL)' started by Encolpius, Mar 6, 2013.

  1. Encolpius

    Encolpius Senior Member

    Prague
    Hungarian
    Hello, do you know why only East Slavic languages and (OK, Irish, too - I know nothing about that) of Indo-European languages dropped (OK, not completely)the typical "I have a book" form of possession (OK, it is still used in some cases) and prefers existential clause like Hungarian, and other non-Indo-European languages? What I am interested is, what form did Old Church Slavonic use, and how about the Russian of former centuries, if "я имею карие глаза" is archaic, I suppose, "to have" was common in older Russian (I think you will speak about Russian mostly and I am most interested in Russian, but I think the same refers to Ukrainian and Belarusian).... Or was there any influence of any non-Indo-Euroepan, maybe Turkish language? I haven't found any similar info in this forum, so I hope I am not repeating any question. :)
     
  2. Gale_

    Gale_ Junior Member

    Russia
    Russian
    Hello, Encolpius!
    Concerning Modern Russian such turn of speech as "я имею" still is used as you noticed, so it's not so archaic, but you're right: it tends to be supplanted by the expression "у меня есть". We often say "я имею намерение" (I have the intention), "я имею предположение" (I have a suggestion), "я имею право" (I have a right), "я имею интерес" (I have an interest), "я имею в виду, что..." (I have in sight that... - i.e. I mean that...), but we don't use to say "я имею карие глаза" (I have hazel eyes). Usually we say "у меня карие глаза", and it means "у меня есть карие глаза", but "есть" ("to be" or here "are") is just dropped as it uses to be with the verb "быть"/"to be" in the Present Tense now.
    So I don't know for sure why it has happened, but I can guess that if you can say the same by means of two or three words, it's quite natural that you will prefer a shorter way. Compare "я имею проблему" with "у меня проблема". Of course the preposition "у" in the last expression is the third word, but it's just a preposition, it "weighs" not as much as a verb, if you know what I mean.
     
  3. Encolpius

    Encolpius Senior Member

    Prague
    Hungarian
    That's the question. :)
     
  4. Gale_

    Gale_ Junior Member

    Russia
    Russian
    I meant also that generally speaking in Russian language auxiliary verbs tend to be omitted, because in many cases the corresponding agreement of other words' endings is quite enough to keep sense, and they imply the verb by themselves.
    It's just shorter )
     
  5. bibax Senior Member

    Czech
    The "existential" construction existed in Latin as well.

    Athamanti et Nebulae (dat.) duo liberi (nom.) erant, Phrixus et Helle. = Two children were to Athamas and Nebula, ...

    (Athamas et Nebula duos liberos habent = Athamas and Nebula had two children)
     
  6. CapnPrep Senior Member

    France
    AmE
  7. swintok Senior Member

    English - Canada
    The situation is not quite the same in Ukrainian. The verb "to have" is much more widely used in Ukrainian than in Russian. You can equally say Я маю карі очі as У мене карі очі, though the western Ukrainian dialects favour the former construction and the eastern favour the latter.
     
  8. Giorgio Spizzi Senior Member

    Italian
    I suspect that in the development of the majority of natural languages there is a first phase when possession is expressed by existential clauses (Classical Latin: "Mihi est amicus"). Later, there is the passage to a complete transformation of the structure by means of:
    1. the use of a personal pronoun subject (Ego) which substitutes for the oblique case (Mihi)
    2. the use of a "new" verb (Latin "habere") to substitute for "esse"
    3. the "thing possessed" becomes the object of the new verb "habere"

    So we have the following scheme:

    "Mihi est amicus" —> "(Ego) Habeo amicum"

    What is not easy to understand is why the "possessed" should be in the accusative: "habere", "have", "haben", "avoir", "tener", etc., far from being transitive verbs, fulfil the function of describing not an action, a process, or an event but rather a state of things.

    GS
     
  9. francisgranada Senior Member

    Slovakia
    Hungarian
    A possible explanation is that these verbs were originally "normal" transitive verbs and their abstract meaning of possession is due to a later evolution/interpretation. This is clear in case of the Spanish "tener" that practically means "to hold", even today. But also e.g. the English "to have" goes back to an Indo-European *kap- "to grasp".

    If so, then I should reduce your 3 points into one:
    1. the use of an "old" transitive verb (hold, get, keep, grasp ...) in a "more abstract" function (i.e. habere)

    So "mihi est amicus" and "(ego) habeo amicum" might be parallel forms, but the "habeo" structure was "felt" as a "stronger" expression for the possession (because the subject is the owner), thus in many (IE) languages only the "habeo" structure has survived.

    In case of the Russian the tendency seems to be opposite and I wouldn't exclude the Turkic influence in this case.

    Ciao, Giorgio :)
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2013
  10. Gale_

    Gale_ Junior Member

    Russia
    Russian
    Then to be honest I have to say... I'm not sure that this statement is correct:
    I've said, but I don't know whether there was any supplanting in Russian. I mean that I don't know whether there were two parallel forms and one of them has become dominant, or there was one prevailing form and then another has come instead of the first. :confused:
    So if you think that accusative isn't suit, then what case would you prefer? Genitive?
    As for me I also think that "иметь" ("to have") was a transitive verb formerly and expressed not just a state, but implied some possibility of operating with the object of possession.


    It seems you're right. It really feels stronger )

    And if I compared "я имею" with "у меня есть", I would say that the second expression sounds more static.

    Concerning the idea of the ergonomic principle
    it has some semantic restraint of course. I want to say that expressions "у меня есть есть карие глаза" and "у меня карие глаза" have a bit different sense. The first statement expresses more the fact of availability (presence) of something (eyes), and the second one accents on the quality of the object (my eyes are hazel).
    Compare also "у меня есть велосипед", "у меня велосипед" and "велосипед у меня". It's all the same (I have a bike), but at the same time there are different nuances here. The thirst phrase expresses the fact of possesion, that's why here the verb "есть" (are) can't be dropped. The second phrase accents on the object. I would use it for example in the case of opposition or explanation of the reason such as "Я не езжу на автобусе, у меня велосипед" (I don't use to go by bus, I have a bike").
    The third phrase accents on the subject of possession. It means that "it's me who has a bike". If somebody asks who has that concrete bike, the answer will be "велосипед у меня".
    So it’s not that simple...
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2013
  11. francisgranada Senior Member

    Slovakia
    Hungarian
    I don't know if the following is an answer to what you say, however, I try to explain my opinion:

    Giorgio Spizzi has expressed a “general hypothesis” or "scheme", not especially for the Russian or Slavic languages. I.e. he has told that constructions like "mihi est (Latin)", "у меня есть (Russian)", "nekem van (Hungarian)" ... seem to be generally "primary", that is, chronologically/historically/naturally more "ancient" than the appearance of verbs meaning habere, to have, иметь ... etc.

    In the present-day Slavic languages the the correspondig forms of the verb иметь (imieć, mať, mít, imati, ...) generally prevail (as far as know, surely in the Western Slavic languages). This practically confirms what Giorgio is speaking about. On the other hand, the present-day Russian prefers the construction "at/to me is" even though the verb иметь ("habere") does exist, and it was used in the past more frequently than today. That's why I think that the Turkic (or Uralic etc ... where the "habere" verb does not exist) influence is a possible explanation for this phenomenon. In other words, the construction “у меня есть” (literally so) is not common in the Slavic languages in the sense of “to have”.

    By the way, I think that the Latin "mihi est" (and e.g. also the Hungarian "nekem van") does not correspond exactly to the Russian "у меня есть", but rather to "мнe есть" (dative). I don't know if it is important here, but from the point of view of a possible Turkic (or other) influence this may be relevant.
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2013
  12. Gale_

    Gale_ Junior Member

    Russia
    Russian
    I see...
    :)
    Thank you for the explanation. I guessed what you were talking about, but it has clarified something. At least before I didn't know that Turkic and Uralic hadn't the "habere" verb.
     
  13. francisgranada Senior Member

    Slovakia
    Hungarian
    Only for corectness: I don't speak all the Turkic and Uralic languages, of course (mamma mia :)...), so I cannot guarantee the total absence of some "habere" verb in all of them ... But the "existential clause" (the verb "to be") is the typical or "natural" way to express the possession in these languages (including my mother tongue).
     
  14. Giorgio Spizzi Senior Member

    Italian
    Hullo, Gale.

    You say: "So if you think that accusative isn't suit, then what case would you prefer? Genitive?"
    I must say it's not easy to answer. Maybe there's no answer; after all "habere" — and the rest of the gang — is a mid-verb which, like all transitive verbs, is followed by a NP, but this NP is not the object of "habere". :eek:

    All the best.

    GS
     
  15. francisgranada Senior Member

    Slovakia
    Hungarian
    I don't "feel" this problem with the accusative (according to post #9), but also e.g. "I (can) see the house". House is the object in accusative, but the verb "to see" does not describe any action/process/event, instead, my "status" or "capacity".
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2013
  16. Angelo di fuoco Senior Member

    Germany
    Russian & German (GER) bilingual
    In Tolstoy's time the good writers used the plural form суть...
     
  17. Angelo di fuoco Senior Member

    Germany
    Russian & German (GER) bilingual
    A case when you have to drop the copula verb (in present tense) is when you speak about the state of your health: у меня ангина, у меня рези в желудке, у меня хорошее самочувствие.

    Although it's no longer possible to use the verb to have as a verb of possession in constructions of the type "I have" except a few set phrases, sometimes (I cannot say exactly in which cases) you can say "(у меня) имеется" or, "имеется в наличии".
    "Мы имеем" is an expression when you check the items of a list.
     
  18. Giorgio Spizzi Senior Member

    Italian
    Hullo, everyone.

    Gale's three sentences offer food for thought. Although I expected for there to be some difference between

    "у меня есть велосипед" and "у меня велосипед"

    I had never reached the point where one actually sees such difference. I imagine that a possible way of rendering the difference in Italian might be, respectively, "Ho la/una bici" and "Я не езжу на автобусе; ho la bici". In other words I suspect that in the first sentence I might use either the definite or the indefinite article, while in the second the definite article would be felt as the "natural" choice.

    Regarding the third sentence, "велосипед у меня", I think we are in front of a completely different communicative scenario:

    1. most probably the tonic syllable is "ня", showing that the Predicate is Rhematic and New.
    2. differently from what happened with the other two sentences, a translation of "велосипед" — which is "Given" information would be"The bike" and not "a bike".
    3. The Italian translation would be "La bici è mia" with the tonic on "mia". In French — which is more interesting from this point of view — this would be "Le velo est à moi", which has nothing to do with either "у меня есть", or "мнe есть", both of which I imagine are appropriate when the subject is indefinite.
    I'm saying this because I know it may be tempting to translate French "... est à moi" with Russian "у меня есть...". And vice-versa. :)

    Thank you.

    GS
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2013
  19. Gale_

    Gale_ Junior Member

    Russia
    Russian
    Yes, it's true.
    They say that even Gorky was criticized for using "есть" as a plural form.
    I have to say that now суть still is used (not often) instead of есть in some cases, mostly when you want to make a semantic accent and give your speech some archaic and solemn tones.
    But now суть (v. are) and суть (n. essence) easily are confused, and I've heard that some people use this form of the verb instead of expression по сути implying that the verb являются (есть) is dropped. They say "они суть ..." as they would say "они по сути ..." i.e. "они по сути являются ..." and so they use суть even with a singular (pro)noun, although it's not correct.
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2013
  20. Gale_

    Gale_ Junior Member

    Russia
    Russian
    Yes, you're right. Translating in English it will be the bike indeed. We just don't use articles. Sometimes we use pronouns instead: "этот велосипед у меня (I have this bike)" or "тот велосипед у меня (I have that bike)", but in other cases it can be just implied.
     
  21. Gale_

    Gale_ Junior Member

    Russia
    Russian
    Yes. Because in these cases you accent not on the fact of possession, but describe your state or feelings.
    Of course you can. Mostly it is used in official speech such as articles, tasks, documents or reports, but sometimes in private life too (with some official accent).
    В нашем распоряжении имеется ...
    На сегодняшний день мы имеем ...

    "Имеется" is closer to "есть", but "мы имеем" is classic "we have", although it seems to me that in English in such cases the turn "there is/are" is more used.
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2013
  22. muhahaa Junior Member

    Finnish
    Proto-IE lacked the habere verb as well: all the different IE branches use a separate verb root for this purpose, however the roots have similar meanings (to take, to hold), so the different IE branches must have calqued the habeo construction from each other.

    According to WALS, the Ob-Ugrian languages (Khanty and Mansi) use a habeo construction.
    http://wals.info/feature/117A?s=20&...t=map&v1=c00d&v2=cd00&v3=cf6f&v4=cff0&v5=c000

    There is also a habeo verb arising in Finnish: omata. Its usage is marginal compared to the locative construction.

    Nominative-accusative languages don't care about the activeness of nouns. Thus, both the construction types "I like cats" (patient as subject/nominative, "agent" as object/accusative) and "Me like cats" (patient as object and "agent" as subject) are found in nominative-accusative languages, because the cases do not carry the idea of activeness. The cats cause the state of liking, so I consider them as the agent-like party of the sentence.

    Active-stative languages have active and inactive cases. Proto-IE was likely active-stative, which is why many IE languages have the grammatical gender system where neuters (nouns considered to be always inactive) lack separate nominative and accusative cases. Active-stative languages tend to not agentize the patient, so "I have a cat" and "I like cats" are unlikely in them.
     
  23. Gale_

    Gale_ Junior Member

    Russia
    Russian
    By the way, if somebody is interested, I've recollected one more "have" construction, which more describes an occurence or existence than possession. I mean the expression "иметь место" corresponding to the English "to take place" or "to have a place".
    Also there is such expression as "имеет быть" which describes some forthcoming occurence. For example "заседание имеет быть в пятницу в 3-й аудитории" i.e. "заседание состоится в пятницу ... ".
    It's an official speech as well. The first expression is more popular now than the second one.

    I really like this idea :)
    And I even think that perhaps it's not as much a linguistic influence of eastern neighbours as a part of own national philosophy, could it be so? I mean that the Orient more tends to contemplation generally, and Eastern countries including Russia are closer to it, and so their language just conforms to their mentality.
     
  24. francisgranada Senior Member

    Slovakia
    Hungarian
    I'll look up for details in my materials about the Ob-Ugrian languages, however I think that the habeo construction is not "primary" in these lanuages. But we should discuss it in a separate thread, I suggest ...
    Something similar exists also in Hungarian (the verb bír).
    I fully agree, that's why my previous posts #9 and #15 (as reaction to Giorgio Spizzi's interesting observations).
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2013
  25. Encolpius

    Encolpius Senior Member

    Prague
    Hungarian
    According to this Czech article Old Church Slavic knew the construction "it is to me", but I am not sure how common it was, but it can just explain why it STILL exists in Russian. Old Church Slavic: bǫdetъ eteru člověku sъto ovecъ [modern Czech: bude jinému člověku sto ovcí] > another man will have 100 sheep.
    bude = will be, jinému člověku = to this man (dative)
     
  26. Maroseika Moderator

    Moscow
    Russian
    Мне отмщение, аз воздам...
    Vengeance is Mine; I will repay...
    (Romans 12:19)
     
  27. Dhira Simha Senior Member

    UK
    Russian
    This is correct. The construction "я имею / ja imeju" is not good Russian: *я имею книгу / *ja imeju knigu 'I have a book' sounds foreign and is ambiguous :). The correct form is the construction with Genitive: у меня есть"/ u menja jest' 'I have'.

    Eastern Slavonic languages have a remarkable affinity to Sanskrit where possession was expressed in a similar way: e. g. rājasya [rāja 'king', Gen. m., sing.] kumbham [kumbha 'pitcher', Acc., m., sing.] asti (or bhavati) [as 'to be', 3 P, sing, Pres.] Literally: "Raja's is the pitcher". Compare the Rus.: "u radží jest' kubok". The construction with imet' (cp. Skr. yam- 'to hold) which became widespread in Southern and Western Slavonic languages is, in my opinion, a later development.
     
  28. francisgranada Senior Member

    Slovakia
    Hungarian
    Yes, but I can still see a "problem", as have stated it in my post #11:
    In other words, in Russian we have "u čelověka sto ovec" instead of "čelověku sto ovec", "у меня" instead of "мнe" .... that does not correspond exactly to the Old Church Slavic (IE ?) construction, but it rather seems to be an "innovation".
     
  29. Dhira Simha Senior Member

    UK
    Russian
    I need to ponder on this but I cannot quite agree with the way you set up the argumentation. Old Church Slavonic (O.C.S) is not the "proto-Slavonic" (which might be a fathom anyway). It is based on a Southern Slavonic dialect (Solun). As a literary language it did influence Slavonic dialects, particularly Southern and Eastern ones but they do not derive from it. Therefore, the existence of the dative construction in O.C.S. does not automatically mean that this was the "original" form. As I said earlier (#27), the construction with Genitive is common to Vedic which is definitely closer in time to the hypothetical IE. In the Rus. construction "u čelověka sto ovec" the"innovation" may be the use of the preposition "u" which is in line with the general increase of the role of prepositions in Slavonic. Compare the obligatory use of prepositions in combination with the old Locative which was for this reason re-named "Prepositional": дом dom [N.] and в доме v dome [Prep.] "house - in house" vs. Vedic damam [N.] and dame [L.] (id.) ).
     
  30. learnerr Senior Member

    Russian
    Hello,
    Why there is any problem with this? There are two things in this statement, they have to be said with different cases. The accusative case is the most natural one to express the "second" participant, i.e. one that does not control the situation.

    The difference there is, but it does not reflect anything with articles; for example, "у меня машина, дача, велосипед" simply means that the person is enumerating his goods. I think that there is no feature in the Russian language that would correspond in any definitive way to the notion of article. We don't express definiteness in any way. The difference was described by Gale_, and it is in what happens to be purportedly expressed, the fact of the thing's existence at my place, or the thing itself. By the way, the verb may go to the end of the sentence even more naturally: alone, with no context, "у меня штаны есть" is a lot more natural than both "у меня есть штаны" and "у меня штаны", which sound like examples from foreigners' book.
    There are three possible senses:
    1. The most literal sense: the bike is in my charge. Why it is the most literal? Because "у" means "at", so what the whole means is that the bike is currently at my position, even if it is not mine. This is the most transparent sense.
    2. I am the one having a bike (or the bike). Here the bike is a given information, but it does not have to be definite because of that; a non-definite 'idea of bike' can well be 'pregiven'.
    3. What I have is a bike (or the bike). This is possible if the stress is on the word "велосипед".
    This translation is impossible; it could be translated back only as "велосипед принадлежит мне" (or "это мой велосипед"). Mind you, the Russian construction is a regular copular phrase, it does not carry by itself the sense of possession. Just sometimes it happens to be used in the same contexts and situations where other languages would use a word that has such sense. Apart from "у", there are also other prepositions that can be used this way, their use is just less common (like "со мной эти люди", "под этими ящиками яма", "инструменты в коробке" or "эта работёнка не для меня").
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2013
  31. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    Romans 12:19 εμοι εκδικησις εγω ανταποδωσω is an explicit quotation from Deut. 32:35 לִי נָקָם וְשִׁלֵּם, with the same construction in all three languages. In my view this does not prove anything about OCS.
     

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