Date of formation of "infinitive + avoir" future in French (and the Romance languages)?

Discussion in 'Etymology, History of languages, and Linguistics (EHL)' started by englishman, Mar 21, 2008.

  1. englishman Senior Member

    English England
    Does anyone know roughly when the current form of the French future tense came into use i.e. the "infinitive + avoir" form ?
  2. Conchita57

    Conchita57 Senior Member

    Madrid, Spain
    Spanish - Spain/French - Switzerland
    Do you mean: 'aller + infinitive', as in, 'On va manger un morceau'?

    Anyway, I wouldn't be able to answer your question. Let's hope someone else can.
  3. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    I think what Englishman means is the simple future:

    je parlerai = parler + ai
    tu parleras = parler + as
    il parlera = parler + a
    nous parlerons = parler + (av)ons
    vous parlerez = parler + (av)ez
    ils parleront = parler + ont
    This is a very old transformation that probably goes back to Vulgar Latin, and is found in other Romance languages, too. So, it should be, very roughly, slightly over a thousand years old.
  4. englishman Senior Member

    English England
    That is indeed what I was referring to (aller + infinitive is the futur prochain). Does this form exist in Spanish and Italian ? I don't speak either, so I have no idea. Where do you get the figure of 1000 years from ? The date of divergence of French from Spanish/Italian/Vulgar Latin ?
  5. Conchita57

    Conchita57 Senior Member

    Madrid, Spain
    Spanish - Spain/French - Switzerland
    Oh, I had never thought of the simple future that way. What a handy rule for students of French!
  6. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    The futur proche, or the simple future? For the simple future, see here.

    Yes, that's it.
  7. mgwls Senior Member

    Buenos Aires
    Spanish (Argentina)
    I hadn't noticed that before, but yes, that does happen in Spanish too.

    futuro simple = infinitivo + haber (in the present tense) (Except, it seems, in the 2nd person plural 'vosotros' form)

    yo amaré > amar + he
    tu/vos amarás > amar + has
    él/usted amará > amar + ha
    nosotros amaremos > amar + hemos
    vosotros amaréis > amar + habéis:cross:
    ellos/ustedes amarán > amar + han
  8. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    I believe heis is an old variant of habéis. I know that hemos has the archaic variant habemos, at least.
  9. Broca's Area Member

    Italian / Italy
    Hi, the first text written in a French variety we possess reads: salvarai "I will save/help" and prindrai "I will take" (Oaths of Strasbourg, 842 A.D.).
  10. englishman Senior Member

    English England
    That's pretty interesting. It suggests that this form of the future was already in use before French and Spanish diverged sufficiently to be different lanaguages. I wonder if it occurs in the Occitan languages too ?
  11. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    As far as I know, the only languages where it may be absent are the ones in the Eastern Romance branch, like Romanian.

    In some languages of Italy (like Sicilian) it seems the simple future used to exist in the past, but has been replaced with a compound form.

    These remarks are based largely on the content of this Wikipedia article.
  12. englishman Senior Member

    English England
    Right. This reminded me of the book "Le français dans tous les sens", which in fact mentions this exact example. The author suggests it must have developed earlier than the 2nd half of the 1st millenium AD, as it's common to all romance languages. I guess it must come from Vulgar Latin.
  13. brian

    brian Senior Member

    AmE (New Orleans)
    Same in Italian:

    (io) parlerò > parlare + ho
    (tu) parlerai > parlare + hai
    (lui/lei) parlerà > parlare + ha
    (noi) parleremo > parlare + abbi(amo)
    (voi) parlerete > parlare + (av)ete
    (loro) parleranno > parlare + hanno

    And h's are unaspirated (i.e. phonetically non-existent) in Italian, so it's basically the exact same thing as in French. :) (Well, except for "abbiamo" + "parlare" > "parleremo.")
  14. Hulalessar

    Hulalessar Senior Member

    English - England
    The Strasbourg Oaths need to be treated with some caution as although the date of the text is 842, the only copy dates from the 11th century. There is also the possibility that at that time the forms did not imply the future, but obligation (cf English "to have to" and Spanish "haber de").

    Since the form does not exist in Romanian and Sardinian and barely caught on in Portuguese, one theory is that it developed in a prestigious form of Vulgar Latin used in Northern France and spread from there.

    It is interesting to note that there is little evidence for an "infinitive + habere" in Late Latin, which continued to use the classical forms of the future tense.

    One puzzle is why the form should be stressed on the ending.
  15. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    I beg your pardon?! What on earth do you mean. :confused:

    No puzzle at all. The forms of the future simple have the same stress as the verb avoir and cognates.
  16. Hulalessar

    Hulalessar Senior Member

    English - England
    I assume you are referring to Portuguese. I don't speak that language and was relying on remembering something I had read a while ago. I went back to the book and it says:

    En el portugués hablado moderno, que apenas utiliza el futuro sintético...

    Not quite as I had remembered it!

    I would expect a word that had become grammaticalised to be unstressed. The real indicator of the future is the presence of the "r", so perhaps that explains it.
  17. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    Yes, and I have to wonder what they meant by that apenas...


    Not really, the conditional has the "r", too.
  18. SerinusCanaria3075

    SerinusCanaria3075 Senior Member

    United States
    México, D.F. (Spanish)
    Yes, it's all about interpretation. Different languages had (and still do) that concept.
    Romanian (like it's Greek neighbor) use the auxiliary verb "to want" plus the verb:

    Romanian: Voi dormi, Vei dormi, Va dormi...
    Greek (Modern):
    θα κοιμάμαι [tha kimáme], θα κοιμάσαι [tha kimáse]...
    θα κοιμηθώ [tha kimithó], θα κοιμηθείς [tha kimithís]...

    Which all translate as "I/You will sleep".

    Sardinian though uses the auxiliary "aere [to have]" which would be somewhat similar to the Spanish construction "he de dormir" which eventually became "dormiré":

    appo a drommire, as a drommire, at a drommire, amus a drommire...
    (ho da dormire -> dormirò
    hai da dormire -> dormirai)

    Sardinian still uses compound forms to form the future, despite the influence it has had by the Spanish and Italians in recent centuries.
  19. CapnPrep Senior Member

    That does happen a lot, of course, but a form can grammaticalize along some dimensions and not others. (Another example would be adverbs in -mente, which retains its original stress.) In this case of the future, shifting the stress to the left would have made these forms less distinct from other verb forms. And that was the whole "point" of developing the new forms using habere: the original Latin future tense wasn't distinctive enough anymore.
  20. Hulalessar

    Hulalessar Senior Member

    English - England
    Interesting. Are you saying the form is used regularly in spoken Portuguese? If so, it shows you can't believe everything you read in books!
  21. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    Oh, wait, I've been a victim of a false friend... :D

    Now I see what they mean! They're right, the simple future is barely used in modern spoken Portuguese. But notice that that very phrasing suggests it was used more, not less, in the past.
  22. bo-marco Senior Member

    Italiano Italia - Emiliano Mirandola
  23. killerbee256 Senior Member

    American English
    I got the feeling in Brazil it was only used in formal writing but never in colloquial speech.

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