Many western European languages have a perfect tense, formed by combining an auxiliary verb (meaning ‘have’ or ‘be’) with a past participle. Different languages use this verb form in different ways. A recent paper used translations of a well-known French novel to explore those differences. The aim was to see which tense the translators used…… Continue reading Using translation to show how the perfect differs across languages
Tag: Tense: perfect
What is the perfect and where does it occur?
The World Atlas of Linguistic Structures (WALS) is a useful resource for looking at similarities and differences between languages. I’ve recently looked at WALS to get more information on the verb form known as the perfect. This post is based on Chapter 68 of WALS The Perfect. Meaning of ‘perfect’ in WALS Chapter 68 of…… Continue reading What is the perfect and where does it occur?
The president has died
One common use of the present perfect tense is to report recent news (‘hot news’). An example would be if someone states ‘the president has died’. At first sight, this use of the present perfect is surprising. Other uses of this tense require some clear connection to the present time. I discuss the following below:…… Continue reading The president has died
Why is the past tense in Russian so odd?
The past tense of verbs in Russian looks very odd. It marks the gender and number of the verb’s subject, but does not mark whether the subject is 1st person (I / we), 2nd person (you) or 3rd person (she / he / it / they). In this respect, the Russian past tense differs from…… Continue reading Why is the past tense in Russian so odd?
Passive in Japanese
This post looks at the passive in Japanese. In earlier posts, I: explained 3 features of the passive construction, focusing on English https://languagemiscellany.com/2022/03/what-is-the-passivelooked at how 2 Bantu languages (Swahili and Chichewa) implement those 3 features. https://languagemiscellany.com/2022/04/the-passive-in-2-bantu-languages Background: passive In my earlier post, I explained that the passive construction: deletes or demotes the subject of the…… Continue reading Passive in Japanese
German and English Academic Usage and academic translation
I have just started reading German and English Academic Usage and Academic Translation (2021), by Dirk Siepmann. This starts with an exercise of translating a short passage of German academic text. It is only one paragraph, though quite a long one: Seit Mitte der 1980er Jahre hat Michel Espagne sukzessive das Themenfeld des interkulturellen Transfers…… Continue reading German and English Academic Usage and academic translation
Negating a verb using an auxiliary verb
English, like many other verbs, uses an invariable particle or adverb (not) to turn a positive verb into a negative verb. But Finnish does this differently, using an auxiliary verb for this task. Present tense In the present tense: a positive verb ends in a suffix showing the number (singular / plural) and person (1st…… Continue reading Negating a verb using an auxiliary verb
Existential Perfect in Hungarian
Hungarian uses only stress and a change in word order to express a meaning sometimes called the existential perfect. This meaning refers to an event that occurred at least once in the past or will occur at least once in the future. The number of times the event occurred (or will occur) is indefinite). Background:…… Continue reading Existential Perfect in Hungarian
Perfect tense: lifetime effects
The perfect tense in English reports past events that continue to have an effect in the present. This leads to some interesting effects that are sometimes called lifetime ‘effects’. This name is used because whether a sentence is acceptable (felicitous) depends on whether it relates to a person or subject that still exists. For example,…… Continue reading Perfect tense: lifetime effects
Scandinavian language challenge day 29
Today I worked through chapter 9 of Swedish in three months, covering: indefinite and negative pronouns and adjectivesformation of adverbscomparative and superlativeinfinitive with and without attother words Indefinite and negative pronouns and adjectives The following are both pronouns and adjectives: någon (neuter: något, plural: några): something, someone, some, anything, anyone, anyingen (inget, inga): nothing, no-one, no…… Continue reading Scandinavian language challenge day 29