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En réponse à John Leland :


>This message made me realize that in creating Rihana-ye, I made
>the root form of the verb the present tense active form of the verb,
>probably by unconscious analogy with English (where that is true except of
>course for 3rd sing.), whereas the Rihana-ye passive (and all other forms)
>require verb suffixes. Rationally, I suppose any verb form could be the
>root form (though the more common ones would be more likely) or, as in
>some natlangs, the root form could add something to distinguish every
>single case. It occurs to me to wonder why (and when) it was decided that the
>basic form of Latin words listed in dictionaries would be the infinitive.

Actually, all the dictionaries I know list Latin verbs by the indicative 
present first person. They also add to it the indicative present second 
person, the infinitive, the indicative perfect first person and the supine 
(except for extremely irregular verbs, and I think ESSE is the only 
example, all those forms are enough to completely conjugate the verb in all 
forms).

>It certainly would not be the most commonly appearing form of the verb in
>many contexts. Does anyone know whether this decision was made by
>Classical grammarians or Renaissance scholars or what? Likewise why do
>English dictionaries list verbs under the root (present tense active)
>form, but normally use the infinitive "to" construction in the definition?
>I followed that convention in compiling my Rihana-ye-English lexicon, but
>reflecting on it, I wonder how it arose.

It's all a matter of the "citation" form. That's to say, when you ask a 
native to *cite* a verb, what form they will give immediately. So if you 
ask an Arabic speaker to cite a verb, he will give the 3rd person past 
singular. It happens to be the simplest form BTW. A Modern Greek speaker 
will give the first person present singular. A French person will give the 
infinitive. So it's just natural to put in the dictionary what people would 
cite, since that's what they would look for. As for English, since natives 
feel that the usual citation form (with "to") is actually composed of the 
preposition "to" followed by the basic form of the verb (and they don't 
feel it as a unit, as seen by the common use of split infinitives despite 
the prescriptivist ban on them), it's just logical to put the verbs in the 
dictionary according to that basic form rather than put them all under T! 
;))) Of course, such citation form is also influenced by education. But I 
do believe that in this case, what we learn in grammar classes is 
influenced by our gut feeling about our L1. An Arabic speaker will feel 
that the 3rd person past tense form of a verb is as basic as can be, and 
they will be right.

As for the thing about Latin verbs being listed under the infinitive in the 
dictionaries you must have seen, as I said I never saw a dictionary, but I 
think the reason is simple: since the ones compiling those dictionaries 
were certainly not native speakers of Latin, they didn't have a gut feeling 
of the citation form they should use, so they just copied their L1 here. 
And if their L1 listed something that was comparable to the Latin 
infinitive, they would use the infinitive.

Christophe Grandsire.

http://rainbow.conlang.free.fr

You need a straight mind to invent a twisted conlang.