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CONLANG  March 2006, Week 4

CONLANG March 2006, Week 4

Subject:

Re: "to be" and not to be in the world's languages

From:

Rob Haden <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Constructed Languages List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 28 Mar 2006 12:02:40 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (65 lines)

On Tue, 28 Mar 2006 17:22:48 +0100, Stephen Mulraney
<[log in to unmask]> wrote:

>On 28/03/06, Isaac Penzev <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> 
>> East Slavic langs (Russian, Ukrainian, Belarusian) are odd. They tend to
>> avoid using the verb "to be" in the present tense. But nevertheless, the
>> very verb does exist even in the present tense form, and may be used for
>> emphasis, for poetic purposes etc.
>
>
>
>Oh? Pray, elaborate!  What's the Russian present
>tense to be? I thought there was just "jest'" (which,
>with the soft sign looks like an infinitive rather than
>the 3rd singular I thought it was).

Russian actually has two declensions for "to be" in the present tense.  The
inherited (from Indo-European) declension is:

1s jesm' < *ésmi
2s jesi < *és(s)i
3s jest' < *ésti
1p jesmy < *ésmos ?
2p jestje < *éstes
3p sut' < *sónti

However, this declension is rarely used today except for the 3rd-person
singular, with the meaning "there is"
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_grammar#Irregular_verbs).  There is
also a second, more regular declension, with the stem _bud-_:

1s budu
2s budjesh'
3s budjet
1p budjem
2p budjetje
3p budut

The infinitive for both is _byt'_, from Indo-European *beuxtis.

>I'm curious about the Ukrainian one, too :)

The Ukrainian is similar (if not the same) as the Russian, except the
infinitive is _bit'_ (_y_ merged with _i_ in Ukrainian, IIRC).

>For comparison, in Polish we have:
>
>(ja) jestem    1s
>(ty) jestes'   2s
>(on) jest   3s
>(my) jestes'my    1p
>(wy) jestes'cie   2p
>(oni) sa,       3p
>
>(Can't type Polish letters here: s' = s-acute /s\/,
>a, = a-hook /O~/)
>
>s.

It seems that the 1st- and 2nd-person forms were built onto the 3rd-person
form.  The 3s goes back to *ésti and the 3p back to *sónti.

- Rob

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