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CONLANG  October 2006, Week 1

CONLANG October 2006, Week 1

Subject:

Re: How to kick the infinitive habit

From:

Henrik Theiling <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Constructed Languages List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 4 Oct 2006 11:43:36 +0200

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Hi!

R A Brown writes:
> Henrik Theiling wrote:
> > Sounds like a gerund (also the examples above seem to indicate a
> > gerund-like nature).  And GND is for gerund I suppose, so what's the
> > difference to INF?
>
> None - 'tis only the baleful influence of Latin grammar.

I admit that it was Latin I was influenced by indeed.

> In Latin, as I have explained, although the infinitives were neuter
> verbal nouns (e.g. ), they could be used only as nominatives &
> accusatives, and the latter only if not preceded by a preposition. To
> 'fill in the rest of the gaps', the gerund was used. But *this is
> peculiar to Latin only*!

Ok.

BTW, do you happen to know a source for telling me exactly when the
accusative infinitive was used in Latin and when the gerund?  I don't
have any intuition and failed to find any helpful information in my
Latin grammars -- the respective sections are not contrastive enough
to enlighten me.  E.g. in 'He likes to drink' or 'He links drinking.',
both constructions seem possible in English.  What did Latin allow
here?

> Cheguei   sem     saberem = I arrive without their knowing.
> I-arrived without know-INF-1S
> As the 1st & 3rd persons have no ending, it is necessary to use
> subject pronouns, e.g.
> Chegaram       sem   eu    saber = they arrive without my knowing
> They-arrived without I-NOM know-INF

Yes, Portuguese has quite some interesting differences compared to
other Romance langs. :-)

> As I wrote in an earlier mail, if you have only one type of verbal
> noun in your language. you may call it a 'gerund' but IMO you have an
> infinitive called by a different name   :)

Ok.  My Latin bias would call an verbal noun uninflected by case an
infinitive and one that is inflected by case a gerund.

>...
> But there is a habit I dearly think should have been kicked long ago:
> that of regarding only a sequence such as 'to come' as "the
> infinitive" in English. Trask says of this habit:
> "...but this view is indefensible."
> Amen!
>
> The word 'come' in sentences such as "I can come tomorrow", "She must
> come and see this" etc is infinitive. ...

Yes, I fully agree.  (Strongly agreeing here might, for me, be an
influence from German grammar. :-))

**Henrik

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