All Romance languages - Creation of the Conditional Tense

Discussion in 'Etymology, History of languages, and Linguistics (EHL)' started by SerinusCanaria3075, Jan 12, 2008.

  1. SerinusCanaria3075

    SerinusCanaria3075 Senior Member

    United States
    México, D.F. (Spanish)
    I'm interested to know and get a more detailed etymology on the creation/origin of the Conditional tense in all neo-Latin languages. It’s a no brainer that Classical Latin did not have this tense, which seems to have originated in Vulgar/Late Latin, my question is… how?

    Iberian (Spanish, Portuguese, Galician):

    In theory, these languages seem to have adopted a similar ending to that of their Imperfect Indicative, that is, by using the desinence of the verb “haber/haver” in the imperfect.

    Imperfect Indicative:
    Galician: había, habías…
    Spanish: había, habías…
    Portuguese: havia, havias...

    Conditional (Present):
    Gal: cantaría
    Esp: cantaría, cantarías…
    Por: cantaria, cantarias…
    This would explain the stress on the –i.

    Yet according to Wikipedia, the Latin Pluperfect Indicative evolved into a Conditional in Catalan (true or false?);

    The only way I see that possible is if an –i- was directly inserted to the Pluperfect: cantaveram -> cantaveriam?

    But I really doubt this, I mean, it’s unlikely to have happened like so without any influence from Spanish/Portuguese or Occitan. Therefore, I’m curious to know if Catalan (or Valencià) created its conditional tense from the imperfect of haver like the rest of the Iberian languages.

    Imperfect Indicative of aver: aviái, aviás,aviá, aviam, aviatz, avián
    Conditional: cantariái, cantariás…

    Strangely, Old Occitan had 2 synthetic forms for the conditional. One that resembled that of Spanish (cantaríam, cantaríatz…) and another that looked dangerously close to the Imperfect Subjunctive in modern Spanish and thus similar to the Latin Imperfect Conjunctive (cantéra, cantéras, cantéra, canterám, canterátz)

    While Venetian seems to have adopted something similar in sound to that of the Iberian ones, without the influence of Italian (since Venetian apparently lost its Preterite, yet its endings don’t come from the Imperfect either):

    Conditional (Present) -> scoltarìa, te scoltarisi, el scoltarìa, scoltarìsmo, scoltarisi, i scoltarìa.
    (Along with many dialects spoken in Italy [that don’t share the Italian ending] such as corso, napulitanu, padovano…)

    Yet this “Iberian” theory would not apply to Romanian:
    Conditional (Present) -> aş asculta, ai asculta, ar asculta, am asculta, aţi asculta, ar asculta.

    Nor Italian, which apparently used the Preterite (simple past) form of avere.
    Passato Remoto: ebbi, avesti, ebbe, avemmo, aveste, ebbero
    Conditional -> avrei, avresti, avrebbe, avremmo, avreste, avrebbero.

    But Sardinian (Logudorese) is perhaps the most interesting, since it seems have been “frozen” in time.
    It might hold the answer to how the conditional was formed and once used as a periphrastic form (which apparently is how it’s still used in Sardinian):

    Conditzionale = imperfect indicative form of depere (dovere) + Infinitive.

    Imperfetu Indicativo (depere):
    dio-dia, dias, diat, diamus, diazes-is, diant.
    Conditzionale (Presente):
    Dio caentare, Dias caentare, Diat caentare, Diamus caentare, Diazis caentare, Diant caentare.

    Can someone confirm, deny or add something useful that might explain how the conditional tense began (or when)?
  2. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    If this page is correct, then in Catalan the conditional has two alternate forms. One is analogous to those of Spanish, French, etc., while the other seems to be derived from the pluperfect indicative. Just like what you say about Old Occitan, unsurprisingly:

  3. SerinusCanaria3075

    SerinusCanaria3075 Senior Member

    United States
    México, D.F. (Spanish)
    True, there are two variations for "ser" in Catalan: seria/fóra, series/fores...

    Yet I imagine it's up to the speaker to choose one of them (like Spanish estuviera/estuviese) and both would express the same thing but I don't think Old Occitan had "alternatives" and instead it seemed to have Conditional I and Conditional II (like Impertative I and II in Latin) thus Old Occitan's eser: sería (I) and fóra (II) would convey different meanings, right?

    Furthermore, "èsser" in modern Occitan has the Conditional Present and Passat of modern French:
    French: serais and aurais été.
    Occitan: seriài and seriái estat.

    So I'm guessing the Langue d'oc served as a bridge which would explain (or not) why many Italo-Dalmatian dialects (like Neapolitan, Sicilian and Corsican) have similar forms.

    Yet we all know this, so my question is how does the Imperfect and Pluperfect (if indeed Catalan/Occitan inherited it from this tense I would love a native Catalan's opinion) play a role in the origin and beggining of the conditional in Romance languages (perhaps with influence from another Indo-European family).
    After all, it's unikely that the conditional came out of the blue and all of a sudden decided to mimic the endings of past tenses, right?

    (considering that Romanian and Sardinian still use periphrastic constructions)
  4. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    That's just a matter of terminology. I'm sure you can say both in Catalan too (and Spanish: sería vs. habría sido). It's just that Catalan grammars don't bother to give a name to the one on the right.

    I would love to understand that better, myself. One impression I get is that in some times and places the conditional was interchangeable with some subjunctive tenses. So my guess is the evolution was as follows:

    1. Classical Latin: subjunctives only; the subjunctive was used for most modern functions of the conditional, for instance in conditional sentences.
    2. Vulgar Latin (Middle Ages): the meanings of various tenses become quite fluid. An idea of "conditional" begins to emerge, but it's often confounded with the idea of subjunctive. (The indicative itself may have been counfounded with the subjunctive, in some cases.)
    3. Romance languages: the conditional is clearly distinguished from the subjunctive.

    I have no definite answers to your question, but here's something else to make you think.
  5. SerinusCanaria3075

    SerinusCanaria3075 Senior Member

    United States
    México, D.F. (Spanish)
    Yes, I agree, since the conditional was purely a Romance invention (well, almost, since Ancient Greek had an optative tense but Classical Latin only had Indicative or Subjunctive).

    Point #3 - Of course. In Galician the conditonal can be perceived as "Futuro hipotético", sort of like mixing the Indicative and Subjuctive into one.

    Furthermore I think it's a matter of interpretation when it came to choosing the auxiliary verbs which eventually attached to the infinitive, like the example from the thread:

    I didn't know these sort of constructions were still in use in modern Portuguese, quite interesting:thumbsup:.

    Similar to that of Sardinian:
    diat essere = debía ser/devia ser (sería/seria).

    Anyway, I'll wait for other theories or responses.
  6. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    I think the conditional always doubles as a "conditional proper" (the tense for the consequence in a conditional sentence) and a future-in-the-past. At least, this is true in English and the Romance languages that I am acquainted with. From future-in-the-past, it's not a big step to the notion of unfulfilled past, and then to hypothetical or conditional past.

    :warning: I don't know whether they are ancient or a modern reanalysis, though.
  7. demalaga Member

    España castellano
    Mybe the creation of the conditional in romance languages has somwething to do with the formation of the future in those languages.The future in Spanish, and other language does not derive from de Latin future but is a new creation. Examples "amabo" I "will love "gives "amaré"" contration of "amar hé" or I" have to love".
    "amaría" is a contraction of "amar había" .
    The Catalán fora I think derives from Latin "fuerat".This form is used mainly in Valencia region.Standard Catalan is "fos" which derives from "fuisset".Both mean the same.But those forms I see them not as conditional but subjunctive,
  8. OBrasilo

    OBrasilo Senior Member

    Koper, Slovenia, Central Europe
    Brazil, Brazilian Portuguese
    I think you're right. It seems to have happened similarly in Italian, just using the preterite (past) of avere (to have), instead of the imperfect, as in the Iberic languages: amare ebbi -> amerei, amare avesti -> ameresti, amare ebbe -> amerebbe, amare avemmo -> ameremmo, amare aveste -> amereste, amare ebbero -> amerebbero. Same for the future: amare avrò -> amerò, etc. ;)
  9. SerinusCanaria3075

    SerinusCanaria3075 Senior Member

    United States
    México, D.F. (Spanish)
    Both resemble the forms of the Latin Pluperfect.

    1. Latin Pluperfect Indicative:
    fuĕram, fuĕras, fuĕrat.

    Which evolved into a compound form in most languages (only Portuguese kept both a synthetic form "fora" and an analytic form "tinha sido", both in the indicative [mais-que-perfeito]):
    Había sido, Habías sido...

    2. Latin Pluperfect Subjunctive:
    fuissem, fuisses, fuisset.

    The "fos, fossis, fos, fóssim..." in Catalan seems to be a Subjunctive form like you said, not a Conditional (correct?).
    The form "fóra, fores..." is what appears to be an "alternate form" to "seria, series..."(but this only a native can confirm if it's true or not).

    So the most reasonable theory is that of "verb + Imperfect of habere"

    Debere + habebam -> Deber había -> Debería.
    Debere + habebas -> Deber habías.
    Debere + habebat -> Deber había.
  10. demalaga Member

    España castellano
    Catalan is not different from other romance that form the conditional sentences using the conditional mood in the consequence and another mood to express the condition.Fora or fos is subjunctive and the tenses in -aria -eria -iria are conditional.Si ell fos (fora) un bon amic no em tractaria aixi.S'il était un bon ami il ne me traiterait pas de cette façon .Si el fuera un buen amigo no me trataría así.
    So you cannot consider fos or fora as alternative for sería.
  11. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    A-ha! An error in Wikipedia. :D
  12. SerinusCanaria3075

    SerinusCanaria3075 Senior Member

    United States
    México, D.F. (Spanish)
    OK, I'll believe you. On the other hand I'm a bit skeptical, after looking at the Sicilian conditional tense:

    Avirrìa, Avirrissi. (second form is alternate)
    Avirrìamu, Avirrìssimu.
    Avirrìavu, Avirrìssivu
    Avirrìanu, Avirrìssiru.

    Notice anything strange? No, not at all. Sicilian seems to have borrowed from both Spanish and Italian. Why? Maybe because Spain once ruled Sicily, but then notice the alternate forms for essiri:

    Sarrìa, Sarrissi, Fora.
    Sarrissi, Fori.
    Sarrìamu, Fòramu.
    Sarriavu, Fòravu.
    Sarrìanu, Sarrìssiru, Fòranu.

    Now, why do the red forms exist (or existed)? Could it be that it may be a trace or form inherited from Old Occitan like I mentioned a while back?

    On another note, some dialects (like triestino, a variation of vèneto) tend to substitute the subjunctive with the conditional, and viceversa:

    Of course, from Wiki.
  13. franz rod Senior Member

    I think that in the "original triestino" the subjuntive didn't exist. now it's used due to the influence of Italiano
  14. Rintoul Senior Member

    Catalonia, Catalan
    Actually you can use the singular 3rd person "fóra" as a substitute of "seria" in some contexts. For instance, you can ask 'Fóra possible visitar el museu?`' This may be an slightly archaic usage but I would say everybody will understand it.
  15. raincoatandre New Member

    You're almost right. As you correctly assumed, the origins of Conditional Mood are from a periphrastic form which developed in late/Vulgar Latin. The periphrastic form consists of the infinitive + a past tense of habere. The most widely used ones are the perfect (habui, habuisti, habuit, habuimus, habuistis, habuerunt) and the imperfect (habebam, habebas, habebat, habebamus, habebatis, habebant). The evolution usually drops the final consonant of the Latin infinitive and greatly reduces the chosen form of habere, then combining them into a single verb form. (It is clear which past tense is used after [phonetically] comparing the endings in a particular romance language to the different tenses of habere.)

    There are different theories as to why the periphrastic form even appeared. It first showed up as a future tense, replacing, more understandably, an existing Latin tense with some phonetic confusion surrounding it. The periphrastic form has a logical construction, as conditional is generally accepted be be temporally "future in the past." So as the periphrastic future used habere in the present + inf., and it expressed future, so might habere in the past + inf. express "future in the past."

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