Un Mosièl de se Chinzie rRyetaniezi – IV. sŞintax pen so Tempu, iii-viii

iii. Use of the Subjunctives

The primis praisemz is used for commands, exhortations, requests, suggestions and optatives; it is also used for concessions and hypotheticals:

Te vagna il accandor…

You should speak to her

Go on, speak to her

Perhaps you should speak to her

If only you were to speak to her

Yes, you spoke to her, but…

Let us say that you were to speak to her… in that case…

It is also used for clauses of purpose or fear:

…vai te vagna lam accandor

…lest you were to speak to her

… vai te vane lam accandor

…or else you are speaking to her

… pue te vagna lam accandor

… so that you might speak to her

… pue te vane lam accandor

… because you are speaking to her

The şikundis, by contrast, is the typical tense for verb phrases that are the object of another verb, such as intentions, perceptions, and indirect speech. It is also used for plain conditions, and the consequences of hypotheticals and conditional:

T’ave accámd pue te seza lam amár

You have told her that you love her

T’ave accámd pue te sede lam amár

You have spoken to her because you will love her

T’ave accámd pue te vagna lam amár

You have spoken to her so that you might love her

Si te seza lam amár, si te sede lam accagndre

If you love her, you will speak to her

Si te seza lam amár, si te vagna lam accandor

If you love her, you should speak to her

Si te vagna lam amator, si te seza lam accagndre

If you really were to love her, you would surely speak to her

Si te seza lam amár, si te seza lam accagndre

If you were to love her, you would speak to her

The distinction between the concessive hypothetical and the conditional is not clear-cut; in general, the concessive construction has a greater degree of doubt implied, or more explicitly takes the word of the interlocutor, and assumes the condition to be true while expressing doubt about it, while the plain conditional can be used far more widely.

The other two subjunctive tenses are of rather less significance. The primis praisemz is used to denote possibility, particularly possibilities occurring before the reference time of a narration, and often evidential possibilities. The trétejis is used to bemoan counterfactuals: “if only…”.

V’avero se kkani pořát…

If only I were carrying a dog / If only I had carried a dog

Ve vanero se kkani pořator…

I could have been carrying a dog / I could be carrying a dog / I might be carrying a dog


iv. The Present Tenses

Three present tenses occur. Most common is the atátevis, which is used for all present habits and ongoing intermittent tasks. The narátevis is used only with actions that are taking place at the very moment of speaking. The preféktevis can be used with verbs of opinion, desire and the like, where it is more polite than the atátevis.

V’aio aputtát pue il siémd formosa

I thought she was beautiful (i.e. I think she is beautiful but do not wish to argue)

Ve leppo l’iphètilie

I am reading the letters (right now, as we speak)

Ve vagno l’iphètilie leppator

I am reading the letters (one at a time – I have read some, I have yet to read others)


v. The Narátevis

Aside from its present tense uses, the narátevis can also be found in the past or the present. Broadly, it ‘fixes’ preceding events: once the narátevis occurs, previous events are deemed complete, or their continuance is no longer relevant. Unlike the preféktevis, it has no connotations of completion or relevance – it denotes that completion, duration, relevance and the like are all irrelevant. In a narration, the narátevis will generally become the default tense once tense has been established, with the other tenses used only for passages where more detail is desired.


vi. Tempa Modala

The modal verbs, deure, poire, goire, ecír and segér, have the meanings ‘to have to’, ‘to have the power to, ‘to want to’, ‘to know how to’ and ‘to be able to’, respectively. Their tenses are absolute tenses.

Deure can be used for any necessity, but is most common with necessities of obligation, duty, and morality. Goire is used for volition, not necessarily for desire. Poire, ecír and segér all denote possibilities, but of different sorts: poire denotes an ability or capability; ecír, a skill, knowledge or aptitude; segér, a logical possibility:

Il ech toccár kolpiján

She knows how to play the piano

Il pos toccár kolpiján

She is able to play the piano (she has a piano, she has fingers, she has all the requisites)

Il seg toccár kolpiján

It’s possible for her to play the piano (if she took certain steps, it might happen)


vii. Copulas

Chiba has not one but three copulas: vanér, senzér and otár. Vanér, the auxiliary, is used with nominal predicates that are not predicates of identity; senzér is used with adjectival predicates; otár is used with prepositional predicates and predicates of nominal identity.

Il vagn mhyesarya

She is a banker

Il sémd formosa

She is beautiful

Il otá in una mhyesarye

She is in the bank

Il otá sa myesarya

She is the banker

One exception to this principle is that comparative and superlative adjectives, and ordinal numbers, take vanér, not senzér.


viii. Negatives

Only the narátevis, copulas, and the tempa modala may be negated. For maximum emphasis, this is done with the circumposition: ne… …non phuma. …non phuma and …phuma are less stressed equivalents. An exception to this is the negation of modals, where the less stressed version is no…

To negate past or future verbs, the narátevis is used where context is clear. Otherwise, an establishing clause with the appropriate conjugation of otár is used, followed by the negating clause:

Il ab otát e tocca phuma kolpiján

She had not played the piano (lit. ‘she had not stood and plays not the piano’)

When the modals are negated, either the modal or the infinitive may be negated:

Il no deure toccár

She does not have to play

Il deure toccár phuma

She must not play


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