-ed past tense marker

Discussion in 'Etymology, History of languages, and Linguistics (EHL)' started by PedroGrazalema, Dec 27, 2012.

  1. PedroGrazalema New Member

    What info do you have on the past tense marker '-ed' ? English sometimes uses -t. Chinese uses 了 le and 过 guo

    onlinetymology.com has it related to PIE *-to-

    I can't find Pokorny's Dictionary as a pdf. I used to have it before I reformatted. Anyone know where I can find it again?
  2. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    Do you mean the past tense or the past participle marker? In your post you write "past tense marker" while the etymonline entry you cite is only concerned with the past participle marker.
  3. PedroGrazalema New Member

    Actually, I was thinking of the origin of the "ed", not the origin of the past tense per se. How can we speak about the origin of the past tense? That lies in our necessity to express events that may or may not have happened in a past time. How we mark this idea on words is what I was thinking of. 'ed' is the aorist past tense marker für schwache Verben in Englisch. Weiß du was?

    'listened' is not just a past participle, but also Präteritum.
  4. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    You misunderstood. I didn't speak of the past tense and the past participle as such but of the respective endings -ed and -ed. These two endings are not the same thing and do not have the same origin. They just happen to be spelled alike.

    - According to etymonline, the past participle marker is derived from a PIE suffix and is cognate with the Latin suffix -t-.

    - The past tense marker of the Germanic weak verb is probably derived from an enclitic past tense verb ("did"). The assumption is that weak verbs were lacking a "proper" past tense in pre-Proto-Germanic and the past tense was constructed with an auxiliary verb, i.e. he loved her originally meant he love-did her. Compare the OE weak verb endings (example lufian = to love) and the corresponding past tense forms of don (=to do):
    ic lufode
    þu lufodest
    he lufode
    we/ge/hie lufodon

    ic dyde
    þu dydest
    he dyde
    we/ge/hie dydon

    ic/þu/he lufode
    we/ge/hie lufoden

    ic/þu/he dyde
    we/ge/hie dyden
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2012
  5. PedroGrazalema New Member

    Danke schön!

    Also, "-ed" = did is the assumption. Do you know that old song from The Beatles: "Love love me do, You know I love you, So plee ee ee ease, Love me do oo!" Makes sense now!!

    You seem to be saying the "ed" in "listened" past tense (Präteritum) is not the same as the "ed" in "listened" past participle. (Partizip II) How will you defend this statement?

    Do you have an origin for German "ge-" (gehört)??
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2012
  6. PedroGrazalema New Member

    Nachdem ich es mir überlege, ist was du sagst ist ziemlich unwahrscheinlich. If we work backwards, you suggested
    ic dyde
    þu dydest
    he dydewe/ge/hie dydon
    these are the past tense forms of don = "do" and this past tense is formed using the OE past tense form of "did", which you have written bold "de". Given the assumption, "de" is the past tense form of do, it is entirely unnecessary to write "dyde", when one could easily resort to "de". Therefore, whatever "de" is or was, it cannot have been the past tense of "don"

    Wouldn't it seem more reasonable to assume, "de" or "t" or "ed" is just a particle added to indicate past tense, when there is no vowel change as in strong verbs?
  7. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    First of all, it is not my theory but the oldest and still most popular theory about the origin of the Germanic weak verb.

    I didn't say anything like that. I said þu dydest (to pick one form, the 2nd singular, as an example) was the past tense of don. Don itself is a strong verb and not composed. The end part of this verb is found in the OE weak preterites. I used OE as an example, the actual development happened in pre Proto-Germanic where modern English thou lovedest was, according to the theory, was expressed as þu lubojanaN dedez (=thou live didst), i.e. the infinitive + the finite form of donaN. These expression now contracted: lubojanaN dedez > luboþez. which then developed in OE into þu lufodest.

    This construction of new forms through contraction of enclitic auxiliaries has an important parallel in Romance: When the Latin future tense became extinct, a composite form with the auxiliary habere was used. Instead of tū amābis (thou wilt love) they said tū amāre habēs (literally: thou to love hast). Now, in Italian the 2nd singular habēs became hai and tu amare hai was contracted to yield the modern form tu amerai.

    If you want to dive deeper into the etymology of the Germanic weak verb, you could start by reading this.

    The participle prefix ge- expressed, or rather reenforced, the perfect aspect of the past participle. English lost it in Middle English (gedon > idone > done).
  8. Scholiast

    Scholiast Senior Member

    Greetings once more

    I am sorry to take issue with so expert a philologist as berndf, but...

    ...the Romance legacy languages tend to derive their conjugated future stems from the Latin Future Perfect, amerai > amaveris, &c.
  9. francisgranada Senior Member

    No. See e.g. the Spanish future, it's quite clear:
    amar hé > amaré
    amar has > amarás
    amar há > amará
    amar hemos > amaremos
    amar habéis > amaréis
    amar han > amarán
  10. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    Do you have any source for this theory? I haven't found any. By contrast, the theory that the Romance future is derived from infinitive+present tense of habere and the conditional is derived from the infinitive+imperfect of habere (or, exceptionally, from infinitive+perfect tense of habere in modern Italian) can be found in every text book (example, example, example).
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2012
  11. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    Or in French:
    aimer + ai > aimerai
    ‎aimer + as > aimeras
    ‎aimer + a > aimera
    ‎aimer + avons > aimerons
    aimer + avez > aimerez‎
    ‎aimer + ont > aimeront‎

    aimer + avais > aimerais
    ‎aimer + avais > aimerais
    ‎aimer + avait > aimerait
    ‎aimer + avions > aimerions
    aimer + aviez > aimeriez‎
    ‎aimer + avaient > aimeraient‎

    Or in Italian:
    amare + ho > amerò
    ‎amare + hai > amerai
    ‎amare + ha > amerà
    ‎amare + abbiamo > ameremo
    amare + avete > amerete
    ‎amare + hanno > ameranno‎

    amare + ebbi > amerei
    ‎amare + avesti > ameresti
    ‎amare + ebbe > amerebbe
    ‎amare + avemmo > ameremmo
    amare + aveste > amer‎este
    ‎amare + ebbero > amer‎ebbero

    The almost (two exceptions in Italian: amare + abbiamo > ameremo & amare + ebbi > amerei) perfect alignment with the endings of the respective versions of habere suggests that periphrastic nature of the forms must have remained transparent relatively long.

    Also the unusual stress patterns in Spanish and Italian (amaré, not amare; amerò, not amero) make a direct derivation from Latin amāverō practically impossible.
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2012
  12. PedroGrazalema New Member

    Ach, bitte vielmals um Entschuldigung! Hatte ich voll im falschen Hals!

    From a certain point of view, this is even more interesting for me. Tell me if my conclusion seems correct please: A long time ago, weak verbs had no paradigm. They acquired a paradigm by merging the verb stem with something like the paradigm of "do" or "have", then losing bits.

    How and why strong verbs acquired a paradigm is then another question. You know that Chinese has no kind of paradigm whatsoever?
    Thanks for the link, very interesting pdf!

    And one last well meant, if somewhat flippant remark, (nicht böse werden): Is it correct to speak of "pre Proto"?
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2012
  13. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    The strong verbs are older, their Ablaut-series being directly derived from PIE. This should get you started.
    Thanks for the link, very interesting pdf!
    Proto-Germanic is by definition of the term the youngest common ancestor of all Germanic languages. Because the weak verb paradigm exists in all Germanic languages, its development must already have been completed in Proto-Germanic and must, hence, have occurred before ("pre") Proto-Germanic.
  14. PedroGrazalema New Member

    One last question for now if you don't mind: if one assumes the past tense was formed by saying "love did" , it seems to me logical to assume the present would be formed “love do". Do people assume thus?
  15. Youngfun

    Youngfun Senior Member

    Bắc Kinh
    Wu Chinese & Italian
    Corrected some typos.

    These two "exceptions" can be solved using the... Romanesco (Rome dialect).
    amare + avemo > ameremo
    amare + ebbi > amerebbi

    And berndf, I needn't tell you that the first isn't really an exception: abbiamo < habemus.
    It's rather the present tense abbiamo that changed more, while the desinence of the future tense remained more similar to the Latin.
    In Romanesco verb conjugations are usually more conservative than Italian.

    I think the best example is Portuguese, which it is even more straightforward.

    amar + hei > amarei
    amar + hás > amarás
    amar + há > amará
    amar + hemos > amaremos
    amar + heis > amaréis
    amar + hão >amarão

    Same thing for the conditional: amar + habia > amaria, etc.

    I didn't notice that the future and the conditional of Romance languages were formed in this way, until I learnt Portuguese.
    Knowing the etymology of the future tense and the conditional helped me a lot in understanding the mesóclise in Portuguese:
    amar + te + hei > amar-te-ei
    amar + te + habia > amar-te-ia
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2012
  16. JuanEscritor

    JuanEscritor Senior Member

    English - AmE
    Isn't present tense just the base form plus person/number endings derived from PIE?
  17. francisgranada Senior Member

    Not only in Romanesco, but e.g. in Ligurian it's ému in Sardinian amus etc. On the other hand, in Spanish, besides hemos there exists also the form habemos. I can imagine that various forms could coexist in the past even in the same linguistical territory, at least until a certain degree. For example "longer" and "shorter" variants and perhaps also an "oscillation" between "v" and "bb" in the Italoromance vernaculars. Otherwise it would be difficult to explain the modern Italian (or Tuscan) forms like ameremo.
    It's a perfect example for the demonstration of the oginin of the Romance future.
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2012
  18. PedroGrazalema New Member

    @JE: One would think so. So do etymologists assume PIE had no past tense for (weak) verbs? Then along came the Germans and inserted a 'did' on the end to indicate that something was over. And a 'have' afterwards to show it hadn't happened yet? I suppose no one really knows.

    What I would really like to know is: when was the first verb paradigm invented, and why?

    Does it occur to you, that, given someone, long ago, must have invented verb paradigms, they simply used a regular pattern of declensions? That is to say: are you sure "amar + te + hei > amar-te-ei" was so formed? Why do you not assume, whoever wrote the paradigms just used a simple logic. It would be more difficult to think of different endings for all the various parts! The full paradigm of an Old Greek verb is something like 181 words. One would rapidly run out of suitable endings, if one tried to find radically different endings for each part, not to mention the learning of such an animal!
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2012
  19. francisgranada Senior Member

    It is a very complex question ... Your question is practically about the genesis of the grammar, which is a continuous process ...

    Exactly. Not only the Germans, of course ... The future tense is good example, because it's really not too difficult to understand. How do you say in you mother tongue when something hadn't happened yet?

    I suppose in English you say e.g. "he will go". Doesnt't "will" originally mean "to want" in English ? ... Doesn't "he will (=wants to) go" but also "I shall (=must, have to) go" and "he has (in case of Romance languages) to go" show actions that hadn't happened yet? ... These are good examples to show how various "constructions" lead to the "birth" of various grammatical categories, in our case to the "birth" of the so called future tense.
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2012
  20. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    Weak verbs were Pre-Proto-Germanic innovations, i.e. verbs "invented" during this period. Many of these verbs were Germanic causatives, like to love (to cause love) of fell (to cause to fall). Causative verbs were characterized by by the suffix -jan- and were therefore multi-syllabic and the strong preterite patterns inherited from PIE only worked for single-syllable stems. This is one of the reasons suggested in the literature why the existing ablaut-patterns weren't extended to these new verbs to form the preterite but a periphrastic form was invented instead.
  21. JuanEscritor

    JuanEscritor Senior Member

    English - AmE
    That is a pretty silly question, no offense.

    It does not occur to me that someone ever 'invented' a verb paradigm. Patterns are a natural feature of languages, and that is all a verb paradigm is.

    Verb paradigms existed long before there was any writing.

    I suppose these just come from somewhere. I doubt anyone sits down and invents them; that would be absurd.

    I don't know anything about Greek; I do know that there is no natural language too difficult for a normally-developing human brain to learn in infancy—making something even as complex as you've described linguistic child's play, pun intended.

  22. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    They did: sing-sang-sung is a pretty regular pattern, isn't it? The root-vowel is altered according to a pattern in order to derive the preterite and participles stems.
  23. PedroGrazalema New Member

    I don't quite follow berndf: for 'Pre-Proto-Germanic' I will read 'some other language' Do you mean, 'love' in 'some other language' was a causative verb? Or in Proto-Germanic it was/became a causative verb and was given the ending -jan??

    Chinese has no verb paradigm. It is the oldest extant language. All other old languages with rich verb paradigms are dead. English and Swedish have almost rid themselves of verb paradigms. English is very successful at the moment. Do you see a trend here?
  24. JuanEscritor

    JuanEscritor Senior Member

    English - AmE

    Now this is just laughable.

    Quite false.

    Every English verb I can think of has a full paradigm (except maybe the verb beware, which seems to only occur in the imperative).

  25. PedroGrazalema New Member

    sing-sang-sung :

    sing: present tense (very badly defined/named as such, and reaching into the future)

    sang: aorist, imperfective.

    sung: perfective, most definitely over and finished

    What happens is the tongue moves down. Instead of particles, tone is used to try to indicate time. A strategy abandoned by weak verbs. I think there are more weak verbs than strong verbs.
  26. PedroGrazalema New Member

    I can you can he can we can they can : a paradigm of 1!
  27. JuanEscritor

    JuanEscritor Senior Member

    English - AmE
    ... is still a paradigm.

    Your point?
  28. JuanEscritor

    JuanEscritor Senior Member

    English - AmE
    A most definitely flawed analysis of the English verb.
  29. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    The verb to love is an invention in Proto-Germanic or one of its predecessor languages (pre-Proto-Germanic). The verb didn't exist in PIE. Or, to take an easier example: to fell. It is a causative derivation of to fall. I.e. to was produced by the suffix -jan rather than -an-, or just -j- in finite forms. So, in proto-Germanic you had the base verb *fallanaN conjugated by patterns inherited from PIE:
    Present: I fall = *fallijō
    Preterite: I fell = *fefall (reduplicating pattern; no 1st person ending in preterite)

    Now, as an innovation we have the causative derivation *fallijanaN (= to call to fall = to fall). The present tense stem for this new verb was *fallij-, a two syllable stem to which the "old" patterns weren't applicable. It therefore received the preterite suffix derived from *don:
    Present: I fell = *ik fallijō
    Preterite: I felled = *ik fallidoN

    In Old English, *ik fallijō underwent two changes: 1) the ending became -e and 2) the pattern CaCi underwent i-mutation and became CeC. Hence: ik fallijō became ic felle. The preterite ending, as explained above, changed to -ede in the 1st person singular and *ik fallidoN became ic fellede. Dropping the ending -e we obtain the modern forms: I fell - I felled.
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2012
  30. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    The oldest Greek (Mycenaean) texts are considerably older (ca. 1600 BC) than the oldest texts in Chinese. So Greek has a recorded history of about 3600 years and is still going strong. And it still has quite a vigorous system of verbal inflection.
  31. francisgranada Senior Member

    @PedroGrazalema: Please, try to take in consideration what we are trying to tell you (including my post #19 :)):

    Every language changes continouosely. For example, various vebal endings ("paradigms" in you terminology) appear and change and disappear during the centuries or millenia, eventually totally new endings take place. Nobody invents paradigms and nobody abolish them consciousely, this is a continuous process. Absolutely not "illogical" but complicated ... (to say so).

    The Romance furure is a perfect example. One might think that somebody invented some kind of "paradigms" (better: verbal endings or conjugation) to express the future tense, as follows (in Spanish):
    1.pers.sg. -ré


    Instead, this verbal endings are not invented nor created but they are result of a longer process: the infitive of various verbs plus the conjugated form of "habere" were used together "so often", that the contracted forms of "habere" really became part of those verbs and thus they became "true" verbal endigns (quasi "paradigms") from the today's point of view. We are able to understand this process because we can compare many Romance languages and the Latin (practically a pre-Proto-Romance) is well documented.

    In other cases, as for example in case of the Germanic preterite, it is not so "obvious" or clear at the "first glance", because we do not have written documents about the pre-Proto-Germanic. But it doesn't mean that we cannot analyze or understand or even reconstruct them (to a certain degree, of course).

    @Berndf: thanks for your post #29, it's very intersting (at least for me :)).
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2012
  32. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    You are welcome.
  33. Youngfun

    Youngfun Senior Member

    Bắc Kinh
    Wu Chinese & Italian
    Then can we say that irregular verbs in English come directly from Proto Germanic/Old English; while regular verbs are later "inventions" or coming from other languages?
    Usually it's said that all the verbs for common every day use are irregular.
  34. PedroGrazalema New Member


    I believe, if you want to find the origin of '-ed', as I do, you will need to look for a similar particle. PIE *do- 'to, toward, upward' for example. Although the origin of English 'do' may lie in the PIE 'to' I still find the assumption we 'love did' when we don't 'love do' to be just that: an unsubstantiated assumption.

    And Happy pre-proto New Year!!
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 31, 2012
  35. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    The weak verbs was already fully developed in Old English. It was an innovation that happened before.
    Sure, those are the most basic verbs.
  36. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    Periphrastic verb forms are commonly used in languages to fill "holes". But this doesn't mean they have to change other verb forms. E.g. Modern English uses periphrastic verb forms for future, present and past perfect tenses but still retain the simple present and simple past.
  37. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    Didn't happen earlier than Old English? It's the same in Old Norse you see with the causative -ja augment so I presumed it was a common feature to West-North Germanic. Then again, I suppose if you give the languages all the tools they need to make a pretty bog-standard phonological shift (root 'a' vowel and a i/j suffix added to it) then eventually they'll all do the same thing but at slightly different times (and more importantly - independently). I hadn't thought about that before.

    @Juan: You don't have to be so scathing to others to successfully put your disagreement across. I agree with your points but this thread definitely feels academically devalued by the tone that has been devolved to.
  38. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    Yes, you are right, of course. It must have happened before West- and North-Germanic languages split but after East-Germanic separated from Common Germanic because Gothic doesn't show this feature. For the purpose of this thread it seemed an unnecessary complication to me.
  39. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    Ops I missed an "it" out of my post. Anyway, thanks for confirming. I didn't mean to go off track, just wanted to make sure I'd understood the 'ordering of events' so-to-speak!
  40. Scholiast

    Scholiast Senior Member

    Greetings all

    Sorry berndf, I think this was D-I-Y philology on my part from years ago, based on the fact that both French and Italian conjugated futures tend to form themselves from stem+r+personal ending, irrespective of the conjugational system of the original Latin verb (fecero, vincero &c., as well as Fr. je dormirai, j'écouterai, where I detect no sign of the habere root. Indeed, I have seen or read somewhere, sorry for no immediate reference, a theory that ama-bo > ama + [ha]be-re).

    If I was swimming in waters too deep for me, once again my apologies.
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2012
  41. Lugubert Senior Member

    Chinese has no tenses. It has aspect markers, like 了 to indicate for example a completed action, or a change in circumstances, like an action that is about to happen. 过 marks an action that has occurred once (Xguo = Did you ever X), and there are more, like 着 zhe for an ongoing action, which may have happened or is happening or will happen.

    It's true that Chinese verbs aren't conjugated for number and person. But a stretched definition of "paradigm" might perhaps allow a list of aspect particles like those mentioned above to be regarded as a paradigm.
  42. JuanEscritor

    JuanEscritor Senior Member

    English - AmE
    We don't need to stretch the definition of 'paradigm' at all.
  43. Dan2

    Dan2 Senior Member

    English (US)
    I'd consider the Romance verb paradigms pretty rich. In particular, have you ever looked at the verb in Portuguese (3rd most spoken "European" language)?
    a) Different vowels do indeed have different tongue positions, but there is no general lowering trend in going from "sing" to "sang" to "sung".
    b) The vowel-related change in tongue position has nothing to do with "tone". Any of the three vowels can be said with any tone.

    Certainly most English irregular verbs are Germanic, or at least (like "spend") if not ultimately Germanic were already present in Old English.
    No, many English regular verbs are Germanic (see below - almost all are Germanic).
    That is definitely not true; the following is just a sample of extremely common regular verbs.
    walk, talk, live, love, open, close, seem, want, look, help, need, ask, call, use, work...

    Happy New Year, all.

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