Languages without tenses

TheCrociato91

Senior Member
Italian - Northern Italy
But I find passato remoto more practical in texting, so I personally would prefer it. It is shorter to write mangiasti than hai mangiato.
I don't think it's a good idea to use it whenever you want to shorten words in texting :D ("5 minuti fa ho mangiato una mela" :tick: vs. "5 minuti fa mangiai una mela" :confused: ).

But you probably shouldn't take my advice; Northern Italian is definitely inferior to Central and Southern Italian :rolleyes:
 
  • Olaszinhok

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Oh, my Gosh, so do I have to memorize them?! :D I have thought that is the best part in Italian grammar you do not need to learn passato remoto forms (unlike Spanish).But I find passato remoto more practical in texting, so I personally would prefer it. It is shorter to write mangiasti than hai mangiato
    Foreigners can only use the Passato Prossimo if they fancy doing so… but they should be able to recognize its forms if they want to read something in Italian, even on Wikipedia, Remember, the Italian Simple Perfect is far more irregular than in Spanish… o_O
     

    newname

    Senior Member
    Vietnamese
    Vietnamese doesn’t have tenses or inflection. We have adverbs to tell the time an action happens. English is unnecessarily confusing. Here’s an example to illustrate it:

    Hitler decides to attack Russia on December 1944.
     

    Olaszinhok

    Senior Member
    Italian
    English is unnecessarily confusing. Here’s an example to illustrate it:

    Hitler decides to attack Russia on December 1944
    That is actually possible in many European Languages:
    Italian: Hitler decide di attaccare la Russia nel dicembre del 1944, using the Present Tense instead of the Past Simple
    Hitler decise d'attaccare la Russia nel dicembre del 1944.
     

    bibax

    Senior Member
    Czech (Prague)
    The so called historical (narrative) present is common in Czech as well, e.g. in TV popular documentaries. It makes the narration more dramatic.

    V dubnu 1911 se Einstein stává profesorem na pražské německé universitě.
    (Einstein becomes/is becoming a full professor at the German Charles-Ferdinand University in Prague in April 1911.)

    Během svého pobytu v Praze píše 11 vědeckých prací.
    (During his Prague stay, he writes/is writing 11 scientific works.)
     

    newname

    Senior Member
    Vietnamese
    Thank you bibax. I can almost hear a native speaker of English repeat that sentence ‘the historical present tense makes the narrative more dramatic’.

    Do you actually feel it? I once asked a native speaker of English on this forum. He didn’t tell. I think whether a narrative is dramatic or not depends on the teller’s talent and the plot.

    I watch Natgeo every day and I like Air crash investigation. But it never thrills me until a plane starts to fall and the pilots frantically try to regain control of the plane.
     

    newname

    Senior Member
    Vietnamese
    Languages are full of redundancies. I wasn’t criticizing English you know. It’s for discussion’s sake. When I started to learn English, I found its inflection interesting but later I wondered why the heck do they have to change the form of a verb when the adverb is doing its job well. For example I did it yesterday. A long long time later I watched documentaries and heard I do it yesterday. The sentence works fine, you see. There can never be any confusion. Why make us learners memorize a new word if it’s not necessary.
    If I could make a time machine, I’d ask your ancestors to drop the tenses.☂
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Redundant use of adverbs is hardly any better than redundant marking of tenses.
    Anyway, PIE didn't have actual tenses, or at least they cannot be reconstructed (but it did have a complex system of verbal aspects).
     

    AlekssBgd

    New Member
    Serbian
    Serbian language has it quite difficult, and as I remember it is:

    1 present tense
    4 past tenses
    2 future tenses
    1 imperative
    1 potential.

    Last 2 are not tenses though but do inflect the verbs, just like the tenses. So, it's quite difficult for a non-native speaker to remember these huge number of varients/changes depending on the tense.
     
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    AlekssBgd

    New Member
    Serbian
    Thank you for the replies!

    So, the languages without tenses so far are:
    -basically all Southeast Asian languages
    -Chinese
    -Arabic
    -Austronesian languages
    -Haitian
    -Nepali

    Any more?
    Greenlandic and some more Inuit (Eskimo) languages use no tenses at all.
     

    Olaszinhok

    Senior Member
    Italian
    So, the languages without tenses so far are:
    -basically all Southeast Asian languages
    -Chinese
    -Arabic
    -Austronesian languages
    -Haitian
    -Nepali
    Doesn't Arabic have verb tenses??! As far as I know verbs in Arabic are highly inflected and there shoud be at least two basic tenses: the present and the past.
     
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    symposium

    Senior Member
    Italian - Italy
    When I started to learn English, I found its inflection interesting but later I wondered why the heck do they have to change the form of a verb when the adverb is doing its job well
    I was wondering: how does it work when there are no adverbs? A conversation like this one:
    "Did you do it?" "No, I didn't"
    about something that happened in an unspecified past: how would you say this in Vietnamese?
     

    Doraemon-

    Senior Member
    "Spanish - Spain" "Catalan - Valencia"
    The use of inflected tenses is a characteristic of indoeuropean languages.
    It doesn't mean that this can only be found in this family or languages, or that they must keep it forever: grammatical gender (generally with 3 genders) is an indoeuropean characteristic too but English has almost lost it. This means that you should expect to find it in most (if not all) the languages of the family, since they all have evolved from a common language which had this. There's a relationship between all these languages, but it's not a common trait not having it. It would be like trying to enumerate which animals don't have four legs; it's a characteristic of tetrapods (although some have lost it, like snakes), not a common characteristic not having it.
    And yes... this can be strange for other languages, why we use this even when there's a time adverb; just as it's strange for us how can other languages not be like this, and use always adverbs instead. The main indication of time for us in the verb itself, the adverb only specifies time a bit more when needed, but it's the verb the one which indicates future/present/past/mode/...
     
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    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    This means that you should expect to find it in most (if not all) the languages of the family, since they all have evolved from a common language which had this.
    Ironically, most scholars agree that PIE didn't have tenses. IE tense systems demonstrate too much diversity which cannot have some common morphological origin; therefore the original tense system cannot be reconstructed and it's usually supposed it simply didn't exist. Instead, PIE had a sophisticated system of verbal aspects, which IS reconstructed and, in principle, could have been sufficient indeed.
     
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