BCS (Croatian) - Two infinitives in a row

Discussion in 'Other Slavic Languages' started by Tassos, Jan 23, 2013.

  1. Tassos

    Tassos Senior Member

    Recently, reading Jutarnji List I came upon this headline:

    Boris Tadić: 'Milanović i Dačić moraju početi rješavati naše probleme'

    Now I've read (not in my grammar I must admit, but somewhere on the net) that when you have three verbs of the same subject in a row, there can't be two attached infinitives and even in Croatian the last one must be da + present.
    Is this the rule or it depends on the particular sentence?
  2. Duya Senior Member

    Not in WR world
    Well, it isn't quite the rule. Both morati and početi are incomplete verbs, which require an action (an infinitive or a da-sentence) as an argument. Even from a Serbian standpoint, I find the sentence quite natural, and a plausible headline in Serbian press.

    I could imagine even four, as in e.g.

    ...moraju se usuditi početi rješavati probleme

    but that's a stretch. I'd break it with da počnu; some Croatian forero would have to judge its grammaticality.
  3. Purgerica New Member

    Zagreb, Croatia
    Hello, this might be a bit too late, but the title is perfectly correct. Moramo početi kuhati - we must start cooking; moram početi vježbati - I must start exercising. Moraju da počnu is not Croatian, it's not grammatically correct, everybody will understand and everybody will recognise it as not Croatian. We don't say 'moramo da krenemo', but 'moramo krenuti'.
  4. Anicetus Senior Member

    So, you're suggesting Šenoa, Matoš or Krleža didn't write in Croatian?

    Anyway, Tassos, could that rule refer to some non-modal verbs which take infinitives as their objects? I've been trying to think of a case where it could apply, and what I've come up with is, for example:

    Naučili su ga početi rješavati probleme. -> Naučili su ga da počne rješavati probleme. (In this context, naučiti means "to teach".)

    I wouldn't say the first sentence is impossible, it just sounds slightly awkward. On the other hand, Naučili su ga rješavati probleme is perfectly normal.

    However, Naučili su ga da rješava probleme doesn't sound unusual in the way Mora da rješava probleme does either. Maybe one could argue that naučili su ga da rješava and naučili su ga rješavati don't have the same meaning -- that the variant with the da-clause means "that he should solve", while the variant with the infinitive means "how to solve". Either way, two infinitives do sound odd in this context -- unless kako is added: naučili su ga kako početi rješavati probleme. That sentence sound perfectly normal again.

    Er, I think I've only succeeded in confusing everybody reading this, including myself.
  5. VelikiMag Senior Member

    Serbian - Montenegro
    Is this how you understand it or you were just speculating? How would you understand this sentence: "Naučili su ga da igra šah"? Would it be "They taught him how to play chess" or "They inspired him to play chess"?
  6. Tassos

    Tassos Senior Member

    I know that. Believe me, when you start learning BCS this is one of the first things everybody tells you.
    Still, there are some nuances even in this rule (in R. Alexander's book I read for example that, when you use hteti, in order to differentiate between I want to and I will even in Croatian you must use da + present).

    Anyway, Anicetus the article where I read about the two infinitives is this.
    There are some very interesting things in this article, but you can judge by yourself. What prompt me to create the thread is when the author writes: "you cannot just attach two infinitives to one verb, the second one must use da + present instead". He does not claim this is a proper rule though, the whole thing is not very clear to me and that's why I created the thread.
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2013
  7. itreius Senior Member

    The way I see it,

    Naučili su ga da igra šahThey taught him that he ought to play chess

    Naučili su ga igrati šahThey taught him how to play chess, They taught him chess
  8. Purgerica New Member

    Zagreb, Croatia
    I just wanted to explain this and then itreius said it for me.

    I don't think using Šenoa, Matoš or Krleža as a reference for the language we speak or should speak today is not good, it just isn't.
    To make it it very simple it would be like saying something is wrong in English because V.Woolf doesn't say it so, historical/cultural/any other reason.

    Ok, here's something interesting. Just yesterday I was listening to a radio lecture by a university professor (department of Croatian language) who was explaining some spelling, grammar rules and rules when and how to stress words. The language he was using was artificial and even to him it did not come out naturally, since he did make a few mistakes which then he corrected pretty fast.
    The situation with the Croatian language at the moment is, hm, not clear. Unfortunately.

    and like in so many languages, you have a rule and then a few exemptions.
    Of course, there are many situations where people try to avoid using this 'da' and you hear/read such nonsense.

    The history of learning Croatian as a foreign language is short and the methodology is still developing, so you have to take that into consideration as well.
  9. VelikiMag Senior Member

    Serbian - Montenegro
    Interesting. I wonder if all Croatian speakers (people from different regions and with different dialects) feel this difference. Because for me there isn't any. Just a different style. Both clauses mean both things by default and it is context which narrows it down. And logic.

    Naučio sam psa lajati na prolaznike - I taught my dog that he should bark at passersby (not how to bark, because it wouldn't make sense).
  10. Duya Senior Member

    Not in WR world
    I'm curious too; I don't sense that difference. For the first meaning, I might use a different verb, e.g. navikao sam psa.
  11. Purgerica New Member

    Zagreb, Croatia
    So for you two, there is no difference, which is ok since Croatian is not your mother tongue.

    Of course people see the difference, it's not a question of dialects.
    'Naučili su ga igrati šah.' - this is standard/common for 'They tought him how to play chess.' ...and then you would have versions of pronunciation/stress depending on the region.

    Naučila sam psa lajati na prolaznik. - I taught my dog how to bark at the passers-by.
    Naučila sam psa da laje na prolaznike. - I taught my dog it should bark at the passers-by.
    And Bob's your uncle.
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2013
  12. VelikiMag Senior Member

    Serbian - Montenegro
    Well, that's the catch! One cannot teach a dog how to bark, it already knows it. It can only be taught to do it or not to be doing it in certain situations. So, a sentence has to be logically possible as well.

    What if we make negation? Naučio sam psa ne lajati na prolaznike. Is it "how not to bark" or "that it shouldn't bark"?
  13. DenisBiH

    DenisBiH Senior Member

    How should one go about expressing the thoughts below in standard Croatian?

    Naredili su mu da rješava probleme.
    Prisilili su ga da rješava probleme.

    Naredili su joj da počne kuhati.
    Prisilili su je da počne kuhati.
  14. Vanja Senior Member

    Three verbs in a row sound "bombastic" and met only in media, no "normal" uses it in everyday speech.
  15. itreius Senior Member

    Well, I don't see anything wrong with any of those sentences, they seem completely natural/intuitive to me.

    The construction with three verbs in a row (2 of them infinitives) is also completely natural, whereas rewording OP's sentence as moraju da počnu sounds distinctly foreign (and/or Serbian more specifically).

    As far as I'm concerned, the da in Dennis' sentences and the da in OP's sentences don't serve the same function. I interpret the first da as introducing the complemeting phrase, while the latter examples appear to me as having da as part of the predicate.
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2013
  16. Vanja Senior Member

    Well, the construction is correct, of course, but I still say that style doesn't sound (completely) natural and it's part of a formal speech. Suviše glagoljivo ;)

    I'd say that the both sentences are synonimic and have both meanings (each). What exactly means could be drawn from the context. And distinguishing those two meanings is a bit weird - when you learn someone to play something (for the first time or not), you are learning him/her to play the game well, right?
  17. Anicetus Senior Member

    It's the way I understand it, though the difference is very subtle. In my opinion, both variants would normally be translated to English as "they taught him to...". I'd understand your sentence as the latter, but as I said, I think "teach" is still a good English translation.

    Well, fortunately, what that blog says is much simpler than what we've started speculating about. :p
    The author just wrote that no more than one infinitive in a row can be attached to one verb. In moramo početi rješavati probleme, rješavati is actually added to početi: moramo [početi (rješavati)]. In his example, moram se vratiti da kupim auto, the verb vratiti can't take an infinitive (although many other verbs of motion can), so he's saying that you can't just slap kupiti after it as referring to moram. However, note that moram se vratiti i kupiti auto is perfectly okay.

    Just like that, of course. I think the infinitive may be technically acceptable too, but it would sound unusual. More conservative Čakavian and Kajkavian dialects probably would use the infinitive in those sentences, though.
  18. Duya Senior Member

    Not in WR world
    In the meantime, I had a word with the blog author, pointing him to this thread, as you can see on that link. He agreed that he made an oversight and said that he'd correct it. Nonetheless, I think that it's a great resource.

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