Constructed languages

dojibear

Senior Member
English (US - northeast)
The thing is, the Polynesian languages mentioned above (at least for the most part, I cannot vouch for all of them) have none of those distinctions.
Oh good! That means they don't have both T and D, or both P and B, or both K and G.

There is also a phonetic problem between the new language and the learner's native language. How difficult is it for them to hear and speak sounds that don't exist in their native language? But that isn't avoidable, and only means it will be harder for some people to learn than for others.
 
  • dojibear

    Senior Member
    English (US - northeast)
    Hawaiian phonology - Wikipedia
    -------------------------------------------------------------
    "Hawaiian has only eight consonant phonemes: /p, kt, ʔ, h, m, n, lɾ, wv/. There is allophonic variation of [k] with [t], [w] with [v], and [l] with [ɾ]. The [t]–[k] variation is highly unusual among the world's languages.

    "if the long vowels and diphthongs are treated as separate, unit phonemes, there are 25 vowel phonemes. The short vowel phonemes are /u, i, o, e, a/. If long vowels are counted separately, they are /uː, iː, oː, eː, aː/. If diphthongs are counted separately, they are /iu, ou, oi, eu, ei, au, ai, ao, ae, oːu, eːi, aːu, aːi, aːo, aːe/

    "Phonological processes in Hawaiian include palatalization and deletion of consonants and the raising, diphthongization, deletion, and compensatory lengthening of vowels.
    -------------------------------------------------------------

    Esperanto is looking better and better... :D
     

    rarabara

    Senior Member
    Kurdish
    At least there definitely may be a language with the simplest phonology and an entirely regular grammar.
    By default, Arabic language is the best language , lets learn some Arabic.
    (I do not know what simple & regular grammar (also entirely?) mean? hahaha )
     

    rarabara

    Senior Member
    Kurdish
    "Entirely regular grammar" means that all words follow the same rules. It means there are no exceptions.
    then be sure , including mines , all of artificial implementations (i.e. constructed languages) will be NOT the best prototype. :)

    Do you know Arabic?
    I think in B1 level or higher, yes.
    inshaAllah I shall learn it up to C2 (including C2) . I am hopeful really.
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    By default, Arabic language is the best language , lets learn some Arabic.
    (I do not know what simple & regular grammar (also entirely?) mean? hahaha )
    "Entirely regular" means certain grammatical relations are expressed in a totally uniform manner. No different conjugation and inflection paradigms, no empty categories like grammatical gender, etc.
    Also I'd add that simple grammar would normally persume avoiding morphological fusion (granted, it potentially makes the language more compact, but also tends to multiply morphemes beyond necessity).
     

    rarabara

    Senior Member
    Kurdish
    "Entirely regular" means certain grammatical relations are expressed in a totally uniform manner. No different conjugation and inflection paradigms, no empty categories like grammatical gender, etc.
    Also I'd add that simple grammar would normally persume avoiding morphological fusion.
    :) :) :)
    and is not this an artificial implementation or idea? (which is NOT good)
     

    rarabara

    Senior Member
    Kurdish
    Not good for what?
    simply for everything.
    (i think that it would be good to define what I have meant by "artificial" here by my personal implication.
    it means "an implementation done by a human"
     
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    Penyafort

    Senior Member
    Catalan (Catalonia), Spanish (Spain)
    Simple phonology for everyone is doubtful. Different languages have different phonetic features.

    For example, some languages distinguish (use to distinguish different words):
    - plosive vs. non-plosive consonants
    - voiced vs. non-voiced consonants
    - retroflex vs. non-retroflex consonants
    - short-duration vs. longer duration vowels
    - different kinds of consonants (harsh, lax, doubled, emphatic...I don't know the linguistic terms)
    - syllable timing: stress-based or syllable-based

    If your native language lacks a distinction, it is difficult to even hear that distinction in a new language, much less reproduce it clearly. I've noticed the issues listed above in just 4 languages (including English). Imagine how many other distinctions other languages have!

    So "simple/easy phonology" varies widely around the world.
    It all comes down to what feature is regarded as simple by a majority.

    A simple phonology should be then understood, for instance, as that one which uses the most common phonemes in most languages, which means, /m, k, j, p, w, n, s, t/ (then judge if we should extend it to /b, l, h, ɡ, ŋ, d/).

    This means, the two main nasals (m, n), the three main stops (p, t, k), the two main approximants (j, w), and a fricative (s).

    If such was the case, the fact that some speakers would make them aspirated or retroflex wouldn't really matter, as that would not hinder communication at all. For instance, a Spanish speaker understands English speakers perfectly when they speak Spanish aspirating the stops in [pʰero], [tʰakʰo] etc.

    Obviously the inventory of phonemes being so restricted would mean that either new ones should be incorporated (perhaps an l/r, h, and ŋ in non-initial position) or create a language which would not absorb much in international vocabulary, as those words could get as distorted as some from English or French do in the Polynesian languages.

    Vowels should be restricted to the three/five 'basic' ones (i/a/u + e/o), so that making them a bit more open/close, back/front, lax/tense or short/long didn't really matter.
     

    pimlicodude

    Senior Member
    British English
    If simplicity were required, why not Spanish? Cardinal vowels, no weird sounds, the accent normally on the penultimate, a lot of conjugations, but mainly regular, a small vocabulary compared with English. It could be the ideal world language (and nearly did become so under Philip II). You could even argue it will become that again, once America becomes part of Latin America.
     

    rarabara

    Senior Member
    Kurdish
    If simplicity were required, why not Spanish? Cardinal vowels, no weird sounds, the accent normally on the penultimate, a lot of conjugations, but mainly regular, a small vocabulary compared with English. It could be the ideal world language (and nearly did become so under Philip II). You could even argue it will become that again, once America becomes part of Latin America.
    :) :) :)
    and you suggest that Spanish was simple. Good.
    And I do not believe that. :) :) :)

    NOTATION: unfortunately I do not know anything about Spanish language, but at the same time I do not believe that it would be simple. In fact, there is no simple or difficult property for any language (because these are relative as you know or stated. )
     
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    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English (US - northeast)
    Phonetically, I think Spanish is simpler than most languages.

    Obviously the catalogue of phonemes being so restricted would mean that either new ones should be incorporated (perhaps an l/r, h, and ŋ in non-initial position) or create a language which would not drink much in international vocabulary, as those words could get as distorted as some from English or French do in the Polynesian languages.
    In general, English isn't a good language to copy phonemes from. English has too many uncommon sounds.
    - English R is different from (almost) every other language's R.
    - Some English vowels (i in hit, e in bed) are uncommon.
    - English L is hard to pronounce.
    - English Y and W are diphthongs (glides between two vowels) in some languages, not consonants.
    - English restricts ŋ to non-initial positions, but other languages do not.

     

    Hulalessar

    Senior Member
    English - England
    The White Queen sometimes believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast, but I think even she would have had difficulty persuading herself that the verbal system of Spanish was simple. This page sets out all the possible (non-continuous) forms a Spanish verb can take. There are 18 different finite categories and you have to know which one to use, though in modern Spanish the future subjunctive forms will only be found in legal or other highly formal texts and a few of the other forms might be regarded as more literary than everyday. The compound forms on the right are all formed in the same way by using the appropriate category of the auxiliary verb and the past participle. The simple forms present 56 different endings, 48 if you discount the first and third person singular being identical in some forms. However not all conjugations have the same endings; compare comer with amar.

    That is just the start. You also have radical changing verbs where the form of the root depends in whether it is stressed. Whether a root will change and if so how is not predictable. And then there are irregular verbs. Some are no more than verbs requiring changes to comply with the rules of Spanish orthography and some are only slightly irregular. Even so, you need to know them. Over all my Spanish grammar gives 65 different forms.

    By contrast, the morphology of nouns is simple. They do not inflect except for plural and the rules are straightforward with very few exceptions.

    So, is Spanish simple or complex? Like any language some aspects are simple and others complex. Complexity is difficult to measure, but from what I have read, most linguists consider all languages to be more or less equally complex. When it comes to learning, some languages are "front end loaded" and some jestingly characterised as "you have to know everything before you can say anything". Others may appear deceptively simple when you start, only for you to realise they are trickier than you thought when you get into them.
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Phonetically, I think Spanish is simpler than most languages.
    As far as its phonetic inventory is concerned, sure. Spanish phonotactics, on the other hand, allows many consonant clusters totally unpronounceable for, say, Japanese (including -str-, which may be considered a typical IE phonetic marker; at least it doesn't occur word-initially anymore, but that's of little help).
     
    onjugations, but mainly regular, a small vocabulary compared with Englis
    The Spanish Subjunctive is a pain in the neck and the sequence of verb tenses too. Besides, prosody is completely different in the two languages: English is a stress-timed language, while Spanish is a syllable-timed language.
    By the way, English is far from being easy for me:
    the use of articles is so tricky,
    verbs + ing, to, both or base form,
    countable and uncountable nouns,
    some verb tenses are not that straightforward,
    a lot of quantifiers,
    the proper order of words in a sentece is also complicated.
     
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    pimlicodude

    Senior Member
    British English
    By the way, English is far from being easy for me:
    the use of articles is so tricky,
    verbs + ing, to, both or base form,
    countable and uncountable nouns,
    some verb tenses are not that straightforward,
    a lot of quantifiers,
    the proper order of words in a sentece is also complicated.
    But you can get all of those things wrong and still be understood...
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English (US - northeast)
    I like the subjunctive in English. I understood it better after studying Latin and Spanish in high school.

    English is syllable-timed language, while Spanish is a stress-timed language.
    That is backwards, but their syllable timing is different, which is a significant issue.

    Isochrony - Wikipedia

    Wikipedia has a whole article about the 3 main different syllable timings in languages.

    Syllable timed: French, Italian, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, Icelandic, Cantonese, Mandarin Chinese, Georgian, Romanian, Armenian, Turkish and Korean.

    Stress timed: English, Thai, German, Russian, Danish, Swedish, Catalan, Norwegian, Faroese, Dutch, European Portuguese, and Persian.

    Mora timed: Japanese, Gilbertese, Slovak and Ganda.
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    I like the subjunctive in English. I understood it better after studying Latin and Spanish in high school.
    And I like the subjunctive in Russian much more. :) English still produces tense differences which aren't really much relevant for situations that are by definition irreal. Russian doesn't, and uses the same mood for irreal conditions to the top of it (with the simplest morphology as a bonus - just бы + preterite). One of those few cases when Russian grammar is actually easier for a change.
     

    Dymn

    Senior Member
    It's true a language is much more than communication, but of course people who like discussing languages on WordReference ascribe too much importance to other "idealistic" factors. People outside the Anglosphere rarely learn English to read Jane Austen and Walt Whitman, or be marveled by the quirks and intricacies of the language. They are pragmatic and learn it to communicate with people from other countries. That's why most don't really care about honing their English past a given stage, they can already do that.

    In that regard, a minimalistic auxlang with no initial culture is a plus, because it gets the job done in an easier way and on top of that doesn't give an unfair advantage to a single ethnic group.

    Devising such a language with, say, the top 10 most representative languages in mind shouldn't be difficult.
     

    Penyafort

    Senior Member
    Catalan (Catalonia), Spanish (Spain)
    Devising such a language with, say, the top 10 most representative languages in mind shouldn't be difficult.
    That depends on what one understands by 'most representative'. Because if it's about the ten most spoken or widespread, we'll also benefit a reduced number of families, so that a particular set of features and vocabulary is going to prevail.
     

    Dymn

    Senior Member
    I was thinking: Mandarin, Swahili, Arabic, Indonesian, Tamil, Turkish, Japanese, Vietnamese; Hindustani, Spanish, English, and Russian. That covers all primary language families with more than 100 million speakers, and includes four Indo-European representants from four different subfamilies with more than 100 million speakers too.
     

    merquiades

    Senior Member
    PA
    English (USA Northeast)
    I doubt Catalan is a stress-timed language. Whereas it is true that Eastern dialects neutralized unstressed vowel sounds, each syllable does get its due beat. You don't reduce and drop syllables or rush through unimportant words like in Portuguese, English and Russian. Nothing like "chokl't cov'rd d'zirt". No one would say "g'ron" or "brs'lon".
    *Apostrophe for a very weak schwa.
    @dojibear
     

    Hulalessar

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I like the subjunctive in English. I understood it better after studying Latin and Spanish in high school.
    I will be the first to agree that "What does he of English know, who only English knows?" but only in the sense that learning foreign languages can give you insights into your own language, making you realise that there is more than one way of saying things. No one needs to "understand" their own language. Every language should be considered in its own terms, and not in the terms of any other. If you start to think of the subjunctive in English in terms of Latin or Spanish you run the risk of wondering if, or insisting that, the subjunctive, such as it is which is not much, is needed where it does not belong.

    The subjunctive in English is moribund, but not quite so moribund in the US as in the UK. Ignoring the verb "to be", the subjunctive as a form only exists in the third person singular present tense, so its operation is very limited. That rather deflates the arguments put forward for it. Take:

    A. John insists that his son behave well.

    and

    B. John insists that his son behaves well.

    An advocate of the subjunctive will tell you that A means that John requires his son to behave well, while B means that John is confirming his son behaves well. However, if we put an "s" on "son" it has to be:

    C. John insists that his sons behave well.

    The distinction cannot be made and the supposed ambiguity is not avoided. In practice, ambiguity is in any event not going to arise because utterances are not made in isolation. A is likely to be preceded by an assertion that John is a strict father and B by some suggestion that John's son is not well behaved.

    When I was a teenager at school in England in the sixties the word "subjunctive" never came up in (otherwise generally traditional) English lessons and examples such as A and B were never given for us to follow. It barely gets a mention in The Cambridge Encyclopaedia of the English Language.
     

    Penyafort

    Senior Member
    Catalan (Catalonia), Spanish (Spain)
    I was thinking: Mandarin, Swahili, Arabic, Indonesian, Tamil, Turkish, Japanese, Vietnamese; Hindustani, Spanish, English, and Russian. That covers all primary language families with more than 100 million speakers, and includes four Indo-European representants from four different subfamilies with more than 100 million speakers too.
    Well, I find that much more balanced, although IE still is predictably going to prevail.

    I've always considered the five macrocultural ones (Latin, Greek, Arabic, Sanskrit and Chinese) to be a first to consider when it is about borrowing vocabulary, since the five of them have been the ones to affect the lexikon of most languages.

    I doubt Catalan is a stress-timed language. Whereas it is true that Eastern dialects neutralized unstressed vowel sounds, each syllable does get its due beat.
    There have been some studies about it, with no conclusive agreement reached. It is clearly not a typical syllable-timed language like Spanish or Italian, but it's not so stress-timed either as English. The position seems to be intermediate. Vowels suffer from reduction and one can notice this very clearly when the word is the same as in Spanish: patata is pronounced PA TA TA in Spanish, while the Catalan patata is more similar to the way an English speaker would say it if he didn't aspirate stops.

    You don't reduce and drop syllables or rush through unimportant words like in Portuguese, English and Russian. Nothing like "chokl't cov'rd d'zirt". No one would say "g'ron" or "brs'lon".
    Many schwas are dropped in speech, specially when merging with a following vowel, so that segments like Quina hora és? ('What's the time?') becomes /kinɔ'ɾes/. (Pronouncing it without dropping/merging reveals you're not native). Words such as taronja, caramel, etc. are commonly pronounced tronja, c'rmel. In some cases, even the variant has eventually become accepted (caragol and cargol).
     
    Western Catalan shouldn't be stress-timed, there is no vowel reduction in that variety of Catalan, nor in Valencian. In my view, also French is an odd syllable- timed language: when words are strung together in French to form sentences, stress is placed on the final syllable of the phrase. In a sense, French speakers treat a phrase like they treat a single word, they place the stress at the end.
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English (US - northeast)
    In that regard, a minimalistic auxlang with no initial culture is a plus, because it gets the job done in an easier way and on top of that doesn't give an unfair advantage to a single ethnic group.

    Devising such a language with, say, the top 10 most representative languages in mind shouldn't be difficult.
    I was thinking: Mandarin, Swahili, Arabic, Indonesian, Tamil, Turkish, Japanese, Vietnamese; Hindustani, Spanish, English, and Russian. That covers all primary language families with more than 100 million speakers
    Your list omits Bengali, French, Portuguese and German, which are all over 100 million, and includes some languages with only 85 million speakers. But it is a good list for "most representative" languages.

    The list covers quite a few sound systems. Without detailed research, it seems like there are many sounds that some of these 10 cannot pronounce, and very few sounds that all 10 of them use. Not to mention different writing systems: alphabets, abugidas, syllable-based, sound+meaning logographies (based on ancient sounds).

    How about teaching people to pronounce every phoneme in these 10 languages, and creating a writing system for all the phonemes? True, it will have 98 consonants and 67 vowels (plus 6 tones). Is that a problem?
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English (US - northeast)
    An advocate of the subjunctive
    Do we get badges? Is there a flag? :)

    When I was a teenager at school in England in the sixties the word "subjunctive" never came up
    When I was a teenager at school in the US in the sixties, "subjunctive" was a normal part of grammar. When I saw "grammars of AE" in the 2010s that used the term "past tense" instead of "subjunctive", I freaked out. It weakened my belief in grammars (I even turned in my badge :(), though not in the subjunctive.

    But you have already commented on the UK/US difference:
    The subjunctive in English is moribund, but not quite so moribund in the US as in the UK.
     

    merquiades

    Senior Member
    PA
    English (USA Northeast)
    Do we get badges? Is there a flag? :)


    When I was a teenager at school in the US in the sixties, "subjunctive" was a normal part of grammar. When I saw "grammars of AE" in the 2010s that used the term "past tense" instead of "subjunctive", I freaked out. It weakened my belief in grammars (I even turned in my badge :(), though not in the subjunctive.

    But you have already commented on the UK/US difference:
    Yes, I was shocked with those new grammar books from England calling it past tense and back shifting to express doubt, contrary to fact and non-existence. I had teachers teach the subjunctive and was enriched by that. It was alive and kicking, used pretty much daily. It's essential you be on time for class. Would that she learn her lesson once and for all. Were I you I'd think twice before doing that.
     

    Hulalessar

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Yes, I was shocked with those new grammar books from England calling it past tense and back shifting to express doubt, contrary to fact and non-existence. I had teachers teach the subjunctive and was enriched by that. It was alive and kicking, used pretty much daily. It's essential you be on time for class. Would that she learn her lesson once and for all. Were I you I'd think twice before doing that.
    Whether I would be annoyed by the use of "past tense" depends on whether it is used to describe form or function.

    Contrary to the belief of most literate Britons, Standard American English is in some respects (though only in very few) more conservative than Standard British English. The continued use of the subjunctive, such as it is, is an instance. That cannot be objected to and certainly not classed as incorrect. I would though raise an eyebrow if a failure to use the subjunctive where prescribed is classed as incorrect.

    The subjunctive, like "whom", is best described as unstable. If you have to be taught something it can probably be classed as unstable. Native Spanish speakers are not taught how to use the subjunctive just as native English speakers are not taught how to use continuous forms of the verb.

    Perhaps the difference between American and British English on this issue should be characterised as one of style rather than grammar. The English (I cannot speak for the Scottish, Irish or Welsh) are inclined to think that a good style avoids ostentation or pretentiousness. Without I hope causing offence, I have to say that the instances you give strike me as somewhat strained.

    What is historically a subjunctive is preserved in what may be referred to as minor or irregular sentences or set phrases. People are not going to stop saying "Come what may", "So be it" and "Heaven help us!" Apart from that, as a form the subjunctive barely exists. When it comes to function we should not go looking for it where it does not exist by comparing English with another language or with an earlier form of English.
     

    merquiades

    Senior Member
    PA
    English (USA Northeast)
    I have to say that the instances you give strike me as somewhat strained.
    The second example is admittedly strained, the third example purposely formal, but a structure like "to be" + adj + subjunctive" I couldn't imagine any other way. It's preferable we use subjunctive.

    I'm not sure that the objective of good English is always to avoid being ostentatious or pretentious. Journal articles often go for the opposite.

    I just read that under influence from American and Australian English the subjunctive is being reintroduced in Britain.
     
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    Penyafort

    Senior Member
    Catalan (Catalonia), Spanish (Spain)
    Western Catalan shouldn't be stress-timed, there is no vowel reduction in that variety of Catalan, nor in Valencian. In my view, also French is an odd syllable- timed language: when words are strung together in French to form sentences, stress is placed on the final syllable of the phrase. In a sense, French speakers treat a phrase like they treat a single word, they place the stress at the end.
    I was naturally referring to Standard Central Catalan, the most spoken and most taught of all the varieties of the language. But yes, the position of Western Catalan (including Valencian) would be closer to the syllable-timed ones. (I remember having read somewhere that some foreigners hearing Valencian though it was Italian)

    In the same way, European Portuguese is much more stress-timed than Brazilian Portuguese. And I'd dare say some varieties of Spanish are clearly less syllable-timed than others too.

    Your list omits Bengali, French, Portuguese and German, which are all over 100 million, and includes some languages with only 85 million speakers. But it is a good list for "most representative" languages.
    I guess Dymn omitted them in order to add only one per family. Some may debate whether it should be Spanish instead of French, though.

    The list covers quite a few sound systems. Without detailed research, it seems like there are many sounds that some of these 10 cannot pronounce, and very few sounds that all 10 of them use. Not to mention different writing systems: alphabets, abugidas, syllable-based, sound+meaning logographies (based on ancient sounds).
    It is commonplace to consider the Latin alphabet as the one more fitted for an auxlang, as it is de facto the simple alphabet known by most people who use a different one.

    How about teaching people to pronounce every phoneme in these 10 languages, and creating a writing system for all the phonemes? True, it will have 98 consonants and 67 vowels (plus 6 tones). Is that a problem?
    I still think phonemes should be restricted to the ones we mentioned above, with some possible 'expansion'. But a simple writing system which didn't privilege the Latin one would be an excellent idea, if feasible.
     

    Hulalessar

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Just out of curiosity: would you say ''was I you'' instead of ''were I you'' in the last example?
    No, but then I am not going to say "Were I you" either unless being mock pretentious. I would say "If I were you" rather than "If I was you", but would be slow to condemn the latter.

    Is the "were" in fact a subjunctive? I would say it is a conditional which employs the form of the past tense. Is "had" subjunctive in "If I had a larger house I would buy a piano"?
     

    merquiades

    Senior Member
    PA
    English (USA Northeast)
    I find nothing pretentious about "were I you...", "had I gone..." and other similar constructions.
    I always correct "If I was you...." but gently, without condemning it.
     
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    Dymn

    Senior Member
    I've always considered the five macrocultural ones (Latin, Greek, Arabic, Sanskrit and Chinese) to be a first to consider when it is about borrowing vocabulary, since the five of them have been the ones to affect the lexikon of most languages.
    The idea is these classical languages are already represented in modern ones. Each of them has loaned extensively to at least three of the languages in my list.

    Without detailed research, it seems like there are many sounds that some of these 10 cannot pronounce, and very few sounds that all 10 of them use.
    If it had to be unanimous, the phonological repertory would be ridiculously small. I would settle for 8 or even 7 out of 12.
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English (US - northeast)
    It is commonplace to consider the Latin alphabet as the one more fitted for an auxlang, as it is de facto the simple alphabet known by most people who use a different one.
    Seems reasonable. I've noticed 3 natural languages that changed their written form (in the last 100 years) to one based on the Latin alphabet.

    Even China uses uses the Latin alphabet for phonetic "pinyin" (Mandarin phonetic writing), which is what schoolchildren learn first. Learning all those characters takes years. Pinyin is also used to enter Mandarin text into computers and smartphones (for example: text chat). Type the sound in pinyin, then choose from the characters the computer pops up.
     
    In my view, (If) I were is a subjunctive just like Ich wäre in German. As far as I know, the Subjunctive only survives in a few fossilised forms in English and If I were is one of them (in my opinion). With other verbs, the Past Simple is used instead, as in If I had a house...Something similar happens in French, for instance.

    Subjunctive | Grammar | EnglishClub
     
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    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    I also think (If) I were is a subjunctive just like Ich wäre in German.
    It's the matter of definitions, but what's obvious is that the condition and the thing being conditioned utilize quite different grammatical structures in English (which is always a problem for Russian learners; even I may occasionally hold for a moment to understand what form I should actually employ).
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English (US - northeast)
    As far as I know, the Subjunctive only survives in a few fossilised forms in English and If I were is one of them (in my opinion). With other verbs, the Past Simple is used instead
    I disagree. English has very few subjunctive verbs that have different spellings than the past tense of the same verb: "were" is one of them. But English is full of same-spelling same-sounding words with different meanings, so that does not mean the subjunctive mood is rare. The subjunctive mood is quite common in English. It is a little more common in AE than in BE, but it is used in both.
     

    Red Arrow

    Senior Member
    Nederlands (België)
    I disagree. English has very few subjunctive verbs that have different spellings than the past tense of the same verb: "were" is one of them. But English is full of same-spelling same-sounding words with different meanings, so that does not mean the subjunctive mood is rare. The subjunctive mood is quite common in English. It is a little more common in AE than in BE, but it is used in both.
    Can you give an example of a subjunctive that is only distinct in spoken English?
     
    English has very few subjunctive verbs that have different spellings than the past tense of the same verb: "were" is one of them. But English is full of same-spelling same-sounding words with different meanings, so that does not mean the subjunctive
    Hello Dojibear,

    As you said, morphologically speaking, there are very few forms of the Subjunctive in English. Only were, be and the third person singular without the final s (as in I suggest that he go in American English) pop into my mind. I may be wrong, though. You can also have a look at the link I shared in my post #250. As for the Preterit/Past simple that I mentioned in my previous post, I was just referring to the second Conditional, where the Past Simple is normally used in a sentence with if: If I lived in the UK, my English would be much better.
    In addition, I have to say that I've got several textbooks of English as a foreign language (up to C1/C2), published in the UK, in which the Subjunctive is not explained at all, with the only exception of if I were. However, it is considered to be ever more formal in British English, according to the authors of these books.
     
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    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English (US - northeast)
    As you said, morphologically speaking, there are very few forms of the Subjunctive in English.
    I don't really understand what this means. There are plenty of subjunctive forms in English. They just match (in both speech and writing) indicative preterite forms.

    But that is very common in English. I eat. You eat. He eats. We eat. You(pl) eat. They eat. In many languages, that is 6 forms. In English, just 2. Are there very few forms of present tense Indicative?
     

    Penyafort

    Senior Member
    Catalan (Catalonia), Spanish (Spain)
    The idea is these classical languages are already represented in modern ones. Each of them has loaned extensively to at least three of the languages in my list.
    That can be tricky, though.

    Think about all those words that Esperanto took from a Latin/French source, usually taking into account their presence too in a few other European languages:

    kuz(in)o, from French cousin (Latin CONSOBRINUS; Italian cugino, Catalan cosí, etc; English cousin, German Cousin, etc.)​
    nevo, from French neveu (Latin NEPOT-, Italian nipote, Catalan nebot, Romanian nepot; English nephew, German Neffe, Dutch neef, Swedish nevö, etc.)​
    manĝi 'to eat', from either French manger or Italian mangiare (Latin MANDUCARE, Catalan menjar, Romanian mânca, etc)​
    voli 'to want', from either Italian volere or French vouloir (Latin VOLERE, Catalan voler, Romanian vrea; German wollen, Dutch willen, Swedish vilja, etc)​
    paroli 'to speak', from either Italian parola/parlare or French parole/parler (Latin PARABOLARE, Catalan parlar; English parley, palaver)​
    preni 'to take', from either French prendre or Italian prendere (Latin PRENDERE, Catalan prendre)​
    etc.​
    Now, if we consider Spanish as the representative of the Romance languages, all of the words above would not be candidate anymore, as Spanish has primo, sobrino, comer, querer, hablar and tomar/coger instead. Not using Latin or French can be a hard decision to make, since we'd be getting rid of an important source for several languages in Europe (and beyond).

    I also find that something is missing without Persian in the list. But at the same time, I'd say the counterbalance is quite good, if we see it like this:

    "Latin" : Spanish, English, Russian
    "Arabic" : Arabic, Turkish, Hindustani, Indonesian
    "Sanskrit" : Hindustani, Tamil, Indonesian
    "Chinese" : Mandarin, Japanese, Vietnamese
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English (US - northeast)
    I'd say the counterbalance is quite good, if we see it like this:

    "Latin" : Spanish, English, Russian
    "Arabic" : Arabic, Turkish, Hindustani, Indonesian
    "Sanskrit" : Hindustani, Tamil, Indonesian
    "Chinese" : Mandarin, Japanese, Vietnamese
    There might be loanwords (due to proximity or conquest) but not derivation, for many of these:

    In phonetics and grammar, Arabic(VSO) is not similar to Turkish(SOV) or Hindustani(IE) or Indonesian(IE).

    In phonetics and grammar, Chinese (SVO) is not similar to that of Japanese (SOV).

    I don't think Sanskrit (IE) is close to Tamil (non-IE).
     

    Dymn

    Senior Member
    Think about all those words that Esperanto took from a Latin/French source, usually taking into account their presence too in a few other European languages:
    Well my idea would be to have vocabulary created mostly from scratch, and only include internationalisms when they're widespread enough.

    I also find that something is missing without Persian in the list.
    Yes, it could be a contendant too. It's the most spoken Iranian language, a subfamily with more than 150 million native speakers, which is distinct enough from Indo-Aryan languages.

    "Arabic" : Arabic, Turkish, Hindustani, Indonesian
    Swahili has lots of loanwords from Arabic too.
     

    Uncreative Name

    Member
    English - United States
    Well my idea would be to have vocabulary created mostly from scratch, and only include internationalisms when they're widespread enough.
    The main drawback to using A Posteriori vocabulary is that it provides an unfair advantage to people who speak the source languages; creating a vocabulary from scratch attempts to level the field, by making it harder for everyone. I think a better solution would be to broaden the number of languages used as sources.

    Of course, some words "belong" to a certain language - for example, most languages draw the word for "chocolate" either directly or indirectly from Nahuatl "chocolatl" /t͡ʃɔkɔlat͡ɬ/. These "Wonderworts" should definitely be present in an auxiliary language.
     
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