At 6:42 pm -0500 8/1/00, Nik Taylor wrote:
>Raymond Brown wrote:
>> Yes, particularly if you stray into the odd by-ways and find things like a
>> preterite in Catalan formed by 'to go' + infinitive. So that we, e.g. :
>> vaig trobar un amic = I met a friend
>> BUT
>> vaig a trobar un amic = I am going to meet a friend    :)
>Interesting!  Do any forms of "to go" end in an {a},

Yes, 3rd person sing. _va_

>if so, how would
>_va a_ (or whatever) be distinguished from _va_?

Good question.  How does one distinguish
'va a tancar la finestra' (he is going to close the window)
'va tancar la finestra' (he closed the window)   ?

I don't know.  Maybe a lengthened /a/ - maybe context??

I understand the 'anar a' + infin. is not used as an alternative for the
future as seems often the case in French; IIRC it tends to be used when
motion is actually implied, i.e. we expect now to see him move over to the
window & close it.

I have read how 'vaig tancar' (literally: I go to-close) came to be used as
aperiphrasis for the preterite, but I'm afraid I've forgotten the
explanation.  But it remains a peculiarity of Catalan.  However, 'go' used
a the preterite auxiliary has obviously come to be felt to be different
from the full verb 'anar'; cf. the present of 'anar' and the auxiliary:
       vaig                          vaig
       vas                           vas  (_or_ vares)
       va                            va
       anem                          vam  (_or_ vārem)
       aneu                          vau  (_or_ vāreu)
       van                           van  (_or_ varen)

It seems strange to us who use 'go' differently that a preterite auxiliary
could have evolved from 'to go'.  But I'm reminded that "I'm after meeting
her" has very different meanings in different dialects of English this side
of the pond; to some it refers to the past (i.e. 'I have met her') and to
others it has a future meaning ('I want to meet her'/ 'I am trying to meet

"I'm after meeting her" has long been noted in Irish English & in some
Scots varieties as meaning "I have met her"; it reflects the use of 'after'
plus the verb-noun in Gaelic. (BTW exectly the samr construction is used in
Welsh but AFAIK the construction does in occur in AngloWelsh.)

When I returned to the south east of England just over 10 years ago after
my 22 years sojourn in Wales, I was surprised to hear people saying things
like "I'm after meeting her".  I simply do not recall hearing such phrases
before I left the south east.  At first I assumed they were past in meaning
like the Celtic forms, but soon learnt that they had future meanings!


I wonder if it is more common than I thought that phrases or forms one
language or dialect uses for the past has a future meaning in a related
language or dialect.


A mind which thinks at its own expense
will always interfere with language.
                   [J.G. Hamann 1760]