Italian present subjunctive of first conjugation verbs

ALT+F4

New Member
Italian
In latin the present subjunctive of a first conjugation verb like amāre is:
amem
amēs
amet
amēmus
amētis
ament
In many Romance languages, this is continued quite clearly:

Spanish
ame
ames
ame
amemos
améis
amen

Portoguese
ame
ames
ame
amemos
ameis
amem

Nuorese Sardinian
ame [ˈame̞]
ames [ˈame̞ze̞]
amet [ˈame̞te̞]
amemus [aˈme̞muzu]
ametis [aˈme̞tizi]
ament [ˈame̞ne̞]

Instead, in Italian the characteristic vowel "e" is substituted by "i", and the 1pl and 2pl have a structure that remind of their french counterparts aimions and aimiez:


Italian
ami
ami
ami
amiamo
amiate
amino

In some rural languages of Italy, one can still hear "che io ame, che ello ame".
What is the cause of this change?
 
  • fdb

    Senior Member
    French (France)
    amiamo and amiate have the endings of the subjunctive of Latin third- and fourth-conjugation i-stems (sentiamus, sentiatis). The other persons look as though they are formed by analogy to these.
     
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    ALT+F4

    New Member
    Italian
    amiamo and amiate have the endings of the subjunctive of Latin third-declension i-stems (sentiamus, sentiatis).
    I think what you are thinking about is the latin fourth conjugation, with ī as its tematic vowel.
    Third declension i-stems are nouns like turris, nix or sitis. I also believe that in proto-romance -iamo and -iate were the endings of the descendants of both the latin fourth conjugation and second conjugation (-iāmus and iātis, and eāmus and -eātis); this is because prevocalic e and i turned into semiconsonant /j/.
    This can be seen already in the First century C.E. graffitis of Pompey: QUISQUE AMA VALIA, instead of QUISQUIS AMAT VALEAT.
    Perhaps the -i- of -iamo and -iate wasn't lost, as was the case with others persons (Spanish and Portuguese got rid of this -i- in all persons, the only trace left like in Italian is that sometimes the stem changes when the last letter of the verb stem is a sonorant like /n r/, as in tu tienes, que tu tengas) because the stress moved to the antepenultimate syllable in these two persons.
     

    bibax

    Senior Member
    Czech (Prague)
    I think what you are thinking about is the Latin fourth conjugation, with ī as its thematic vowel.
    ... or the (3rd) mixed conjugation (capiamus, capiatis, ...). Strangely Italian has capisca- in other persons.
     
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    Zec

    Senior Member
    Croatian
    I've recently read about this in my university's library (Pavao Tekavčić: Grammatica storica dell'italiano), but I can't guarantee that I remember all of it correctly. Apparently Old Tuscan subjunctive had endings which descended regularly from Latin subjunctive: -e, -i, -e, -eno from -em, -es,- et, -ent for the first conjugation and -a, -e, -a, -ano from -am, -as, -at, -ant for other conjugations (How exactly -es and -as became -i and -e is controversial, we aren't sure if it's a phonetic or a morphological change). Later all persons in the singular were merged so that they have the same vowel. Tekavčić says the vowel was chosen so that there was no confusion between the indicative and the subjunctive: in the first conjugation -i was chosen because at the time the indicative had -e in the 2. sg, and in other conjugations -a was chosen because they had -e in the 3. sg.

    1st and 2nd person plural endings pretty clearly descend from the 4th conjugation, generalized for all verbs. Funnily enough, although modern Italian and Modern French have similar plural endings in the subjunctive, it seems that they took a different way to get there (I know much more about French than about Italian, though :)).
     

    ALT+F4

    New Member
    Italian
    1st and 2nd person plural endings pretty clearly descend from the 4th conjugation, generalized for all verbs.
    Could they also come from the -iō subgroup of the 3rd conjugation (verbs like faciō, iaciō, pariō), also called mixed conjugation, and from the 2nd conjugation in -ēre, in your opinion?
    I also include the 2nd conjugation because -eāmus and -eātis would have become -iamo and -iate due to the shift also seen from MEA to mia.
    This would make the subjunctive endings for the 1pl and 2pl:
    -emo and -ete for the 1st conjugation;
    -amo and -ate for the 3rd conjugation;
    -iamo and -iate for all the rest (apparently, these two forms later spread to all conjugations, and for the 1pl even displaced the indicative forms, something very unusual).

    As a side note, ad regards what I wrote at the top:
    the second conjugation verb HABĒRE in the subjunctive has
    HABEAM
    HABEĀS
    HABEAT
    HABEĀMUS
    HABEĀTIS
    HABEANT

    which became in modern Italian

    abbia
    abbia
    abbia
    abbiamo
    abbiate
    abbiano,
    with a shift from prevocalic e to i.


    However VEDĒRE becomes veda veda veda vediamo vediate vedano, instead of *vedia and *vediano. I believe this is due to the different placement of the stress in the word:
    véda véda véda vediámo vediáte védano.
    In the 1pl and 2pl the stress falls on the a, and this made it retain the vowel i.

    Do you think this could be right?
     

    Sardokan1.0

    Senior Member
    Sardu / Italianu
    Nuorese Sardinian
    ame [ˈame̞]
    ames [ˈame̞ze̞]
    amet [ˈame̞te̞]
    amemus [aˈme̞muzu]
    ametis [aˈme̞tizi]
    ament [ˈame̞ne̞]
    I'm not sure about "ametis" in 2nd person plural. In Logudorese, same language of Nuorese, (but with few different pronunciations) it sounds different.

    ame
    ames
    amet
    amémus
    amédas / amédes
    amen

    While for the verbs we have :

    HABĒRE -> HĀERE

    HABEAM -> HĀPPA / HĒPPA
    HABEĀS -> HĀPPAS / HĒPPAS
    HABEAT -> HĀPPAT / HĒPPAT
    HABEĀMUS -> HAPPĒMUS / HEPPĒMUS
    HABEĀTIS -> HAPPĒDAS / HEPPĒDAS / HAPPĒDES / HEPPĒDES
    HABEANT -> HAPPAN / HEPPAN

    VIDĒRE -> BĪDERE

    VĬDĔAM -> BĬDA
    VĬDĔAS -> BĬDAS
    VĬDĔAT -> BĬDAT
    VĬDEĀMUS -> BIDĒMUS
    VĬDEĀTIS -> BIDĒDAS
    VĬDĔANT -> BĬDAN
     

    Zec

    Senior Member
    Croatian
    Could they also come from the -iō subgroup of the 3rd conjugation (verbs like faciō, iaciō, pariō), also called mixed conjugation, and from the 2nd conjugation in -ēre, in your opinion?
    I also include the 2nd conjugation because -eāmus and -eātis would have become -iamo and -iate due to the shift also seen from MEA to mia.
    Yes, of course, any Latin verb which had -ea- or -ia- in it's subjunctive endings is a potential candidate for the origin of -iamo and -iate. However, things were quite complicated because in many cases the i (pronounced [j]) merged with the preceding consonant and sometimes eventually disappeared altogether, as you've mentioned for vedere. I don't remember the details, though, and I'd have to research more.
     
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