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I don't know of any langs that use only word position to show verb tense,
but it seems like a great idea.


On Sun, Feb 15, 2015 at 6:06 PM, kechpaja <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Hello!
>
> For a while, I've been playing around in my head with the idea of a
> Germanic-derived conlang in which verb tense (present versus perfect/past)
> is marked, not by an affix or ablaut, but by the position of the verb alone.
>
> First, some background: in Swiss German ("Mundart", as the Swiss say), the
> morphological simple past has disappeared entirely, and past time is marked
> solely by the perfect, formed by the verb "to have" + the past participle.
> In addition, since Swiss German uses V2 word order*, with non-finite forms
> at the end of the clause, the past participle is always at the end of the
> clause, with the auxiliary in second position, whereas the present-tense
> verb (which does not require an auxiliary) is located in second position.
> Additionally, for many verbs, the traditional German prefix for the past
> participle ("ge-") is lost or nearly lost.
>
> Thus, as my idea went, what would happen if both the auxiliary verb and
> the remaining past participle inflections were also lost? The auxiliary is
> already reduced to "ha" in many cases, and it wouldn't be too hard to
> imagine it being deleted entirely (this happens in some colloquial
> Englishes already). I imagine that, in the absense of any morphological
> indication of tense, the language might end up with a system in which tense
> was distinguished by word order only.
>
> Anyway, does anybody know of natlang (or conlang) precedent for this? It
> seems like the kind of thing that one might come up with when playing
> around with ideas, but I don't think I've ever seen a language proposed
> that does it.
>
> -Kelvin
>
> *Note: Swiss German, like Standard Germen, only uses V2 word order in main
> clauses; it's SOV elsewhere. However, V2 word order in subordinate clauses
> is not unheard of (I believe Icelandic uses it), so the issue of how tense
> would be distinguished in subordinate clauses is not necessarily a problem.
>
> --
> kechpaja <[log in to unmask]>
>