hard to say (adjective+to+infinitive)

Theternitend

New Member
Spanish - Catalan
The examples go first so that we all understand what we're talking about :D

(EN) Hard to say -> (ES) Difícil de decir
(EN) Easy to remember -> (ES) Fácil de recordar
(EN) Impossible to do -> (ES) Imposible de hacer

So you get the point. In Spanish the prepositional phrase introduced by "de" clearly modifies the adjective, so it's a complement of the adjectival phrase... arguably. I'm not by any means a linguist, so I may be talking nonsense, but let me support this with a possible example:

(ES) Aquellas fueron unas palabras [muy difíciles de decir] --> (EN) (??) Those were [very hard to say] words
Hopefully a native English speaker may clarify if the latter is grammatical or not. At the very least I've never run into a similar one. Assuming it is not grammatical, what would that mean? Is the adjective there modifying a "to" infinitive that acts as a verbal noun?

Out of curiosity, it would be very helpful if you could provide similar phrases in your language :)
Thank you in advance!
 
  • 810senior

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Japanese, we use no proposition for it but the verb is connected directly to adjectives equivalent to those in English, in which they are treated as an adjective composed anew.

    e.g. 言いづらいiizurai(hard to say, lit. say-hard): i-i(inf. i-u to say) + tsurai(hard, tough, 'ts' becomes voiced when connected)
    覚えやすいoboeyasui(easy to remember, lit.remember-easy): obo-e(inf.obo-eru to remember) + yasui(easy)
     

    ger4

    Senior Member
    German
    In German this is very similar to English:

    schwer
    zu sagen
    = difficult/hard to say/tell
    schwer auszusprechen = difficult to pronounce

    On the other hand:

    ein schwer auszusprechendes Wort
    , literally "a difficult to-be-pronounced word" = a word that (which) is difficult to pronounce
     
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    Theternitend

    New Member
    Spanish - Catalan
    Japanese, we use no proposition for it but the verb is connected directly to adjectives equivalent to those in English, in which they are treated as an adjective composed anew.

    e.g. 言いづらいiizurai(hard to say, lit. say-hard): i-i(inf. i-u to say) + tsurai(hard, tough, 'ts' becomes voiced when connected)
    覚えやすいoboeyasui(easy to remember, lit.remember-easy): obo-e(inf.obo-eru to remember) + yasui(easy)

    That's quite interesting. You are using the infinitive form of the verb instead of the stem, aren't you? Usually when a language allows compound words it takes both stems, puts them together and optionally adds a suffix indicating the class of the new word. Well, at least that's how indo-european languages work. Japanese is amazingly surprising :)

    In German this is very similar to English:

    schwer
    zu sagen
    = difficult/hard to say/tell
    schwer auszusprechen = difficult to pronounce

    On the other hand:

    ein schwer auszusprechendes Wort
    , literally "a difficult to-be-pronounced word" = a word that (which) is difficult to pronounce

    I looked up the conjugation table of aussprechen and if I got it right (I've no idea of german whatsoever :oops:) it's the present participle of the verb declined in nominative and neuter, agreeing with Wort. So, let's see, the participle is a verbal adjective. It has to be so in order to modify "Wort". So far so good.
    I was looking for the declension of "schwer" here: schwer: German adjectives
    If "schwer" agreed with "Wort" would'nt it had to be "ein schwerstes"? Do I have to assume then that "schwer" is somehow modifying "auszusprechen"?

    Thank you all for your time and unvaluable help!
     

    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    As for German, I can give part of the answer: schwer is used as adverb there ("I can pronounce it difficultly", literally), not as an adjective.

    Dutch can use the inf. as an adj. too: een moeilijk uit te spreken woord.
     

    Ghabi

    Senior Member
    Cantonese
    In Arabic, a verb ("to be difficult") or the partitive ("of/among the difficult") is often used for this type of expressions:

    كلمة يصعب نطقها kalimatun yaS3ubu nuTquhaa "a word is difficult its utterance"
    كلمة من الصعب نطقها kalimatun mina-S-Sa3bi nuTquhaa "a word [is] of the difficult its utterance"
    -->a word difficult to utter

    A pseudo-possessive ("difficult of ...") structure can also be used (as an adjective):
    كلمة صعبة النطق kalimatun Sa3batu-n-nuTqi "a word difficult of utterance"
    -->a difficult-to-utter word
     

    ger4

    Senior Member
    German
    I was looking for the declension of "schwer" here: schwer: German adjectives
    If "schwer" agreed with "Wort" would'nt it had to be "ein schwerstes"?
    ThomasK explained it already but one detail I should add is that in informal speech we often simply say ein schweres* Wort (implying that something is difficult about it). In that case, schwer is used as an adjective and agrees with the noun.

    * or ein schwieriges Wort, meaning the same
     

    Theternitend

    New Member
    Spanish - Catalan
    As for German, I can give part of the answer: schwer is used as adverb there ("I can pronounce it difficultly", literally), not as an adjective.

    Dutch can use the inf. as an adj. too: een moeilijk uit te spreken woord.

    Well, then that explains a lot :) An adverb modifying a participle phrase, which is a complement of the noun phrase, makes a lot of sense.

    In Arabic, a verb ("to be difficult") or the partitive ("of/among the difficult") is often used for this type of expressions:

    كلمة يصعب نطقها kalimatun yaS3ubu nuTquhaa "a word is difficult its utterance"
    كلمة من الصعب نطقها kalimatun mina-S-Sa3bi nuTquhaa "a word [is] of the difficult its utterance"
    -->a word difficult to utter

    A pseudo-possessive ("difficult of ...") structure can also be used (as an adjective):
    كلمة صعبة النطق kalimatun Sa3batu-n-nuTqi "a word difficult of utterance"
    -->a difficult-to-utter word

    Haha it's pretty difficult for me to understand what's going on if I have no clue about the language in question :D However, I've done some research about Arabic and this is what I figured:
    Arabic has a VSO basic alignment. Relative clauses are introduced by relative pronouns but only when the antecedent is definite, otherwise it's omitted.

    كلمة يصعب نطقها kalimatun [yaS3ubu nuTquhaa]

    Am I right to think of that as a relative clause?

    "yaS3ubu" seems to be the present form of the verb "to be difficult"... so following the alignment the subject comes next, "nuTquhaa", which root is "n-T-q", seemingly, but I'm having a hard time finding the pattern that is being used. May I ask for some help? :oops:

    EDIT: It looks like the noun "pronunciation" with a possessive 3p suffix, which is a typical way to indicate the role of the antecedent in the relative clause when dropping the relative pronoun. I still don't know if it's a verbal noun (I couldn't find it among the verbal noun patters) or something else.
     
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    Uriel-

    Senior Member
    American English
    (ES) Aquellas fueron unas palabras [muy difíciles de decir] --> (EN) (??) Those were [very hard to say] words
    Hopefully a native English speaker may clarify if the latter is grammatical or not. At the very least I've never run into a similar one. Assuming it is not grammatical, what would that mean? Is the adjective there modifying a "to" infinitive that acts as a verbal noun?

    I think it would be more common to say, "Those were very hard words to say." If we kept your word order, it would be, "Those were very hard-to-say words." The whole hyphenated phrase would become an adjective.
     
    Greek:

    Hard to say: «Δυσκολεύομαι να πω» [ðiskoˈlevome na po] --> I have difficulty to say; the verb «δυσκολεύομαι» --> to feel a difficulty, is the 1st p. sing. Present mediopassive indicative of the active «δυσκολεύω» [ðiskoˈlevo]
    --> to incommode, disturb, encumber which is a mediaeval denominative v. < Classical fem. noun «δῠσκολíᾱ» dŭskŏlíā --> discontent, peevishness, difficulty < compound; Classical inseparable prefix «δυσ-» dus- --> mis-, un- (PIE *dus- wrong, mis- cf Skt. दुर्- (dur-), first element in compounds denoting difficulty or unpleasantness, Av. duš- (idem), Proto-Slavic *dъzdjь, rain (i.e. unpleasant day) > Rus. дождь, Ukr. дощ, Cz. déšť, Svk. dážď, Pol. deszcz, OCS dъždь) + unknown second element.

    «Δυσκολεύομαι» here is followed by the verb «πω» in the subjunctive mood: ΜοGr v. «πω» [po] --> to say, speak, aphetic of Byz.Gr. «εἴπω» eípō (idem) < Classical v. found only in aorist «εἶπον» eîpŏn --> I said, spoke which supplies aorist active forms to the verbs «εἴρω» ‎eírō and «λέγω» ‎légō (PIE *h₁e-ue-ukʷ-om- I said cf Skt. (aorist) अवोचम् ‎(á-vocam), I said).

    Similar construction (we use the verb in the mediopassive voice and not adjectives) for the other examples:
    «Δυσκολεύομαι να κάνω» [ðiskoˈlevome na ˈkano] --> I have difficulty to do (hard to do it), «δυσκολεύομαι να προφέρω» [ðiskoˈlevome na proˈfeɾo] --> I have difficulty to pronounce (hard to pronounce) etc
     

    Encolpius

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    Hungarian hard to say = nehéz megmondani
    It exists in Slavic languages, too (Czech: těžké /těžko říci, Russian: трудно сказать...)
    But Russian uses adverb not adjective, while Czech uses both.
     
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    Karton Realista

    Senior Member
    Polish - Poland
    In Polish we say "(słowa) ciężkie do wypowiedzenia " for "hard to say (words)". We use adjective +to+ participle here.
    For "(It's) hard to say" we use "Ciężko powiedzieć" adverb + infinitive
     

    elroy

    Moderator: EHL, Arabic, Hebrew, German(-Spanish)
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    كلمة من الصعب نطقها kalimatun mina-S-Sa3bi nuTquhaa "a word [is] of the difficult its utterance"
    To clarify for non-Arabic speakers: "of the difficult" = "of that which is difficult," i.e. "among those things that are difficult"

    Arabic has a VSO basic alignment.
    This oft-made claim is an overstatement. VSO is common, yes, but so is SVO. It all depends on the specific sentence.

    Relative clauses are introduced by relative pronouns but only when the antecedent is definite, otherwise it's omitted.
    :tick:

    كلمة يصعب نطقها kalimatun [yaS3ubu nuTquhaa]

    Am I right to think of that as a relative clause?
    :tick:

    "yaS3ubu" seems to be the present form of the verb "to be difficult"... so following the alignment the subject comes next, "nuTquhaa", which root is "n-T-q", seemingly, but I'm having a hard time finding the pattern that is being used. May I ask for some help? :oops:
    The pattern is right there in front of you. :p

    nuTquha = its pronunciation
    It consists of
    nuTq (pronunciation) + u (nominative case marker) + ha (its)
    So in the base word nuTq, the root is n-T-q (as you say) and the pattern is CuCC, where C represents a consonant. Voilà!

    EDIT: It looks like the noun "pronunciation" with a possessive 3p suffix, which is a typical way to indicate the role of the antecedent in the relative clause when dropping the relative pronoun.
    Yes, excellent! We call it a resumptive pronoun.

    I still don't know if it's a verbal noun (I couldn't find it among the verbal noun patters) or something else.
    Yes, it's a verbal noun or gerund.

    This is impressive for someone who supposedly has "no clue about the language in question"! :p
     
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