LINGUISTICS & CULTURE
|Data:||21/OUT/2005 12:52 AM|
· Present reality – base verb form (go, see etc)
· Present unreality – remote verb form (went, saw etc)
· Past reality – remote verb form (went, saw etc)
· Past unreality – remote verb form with perfect aspect (had gone, had seen etc)
These forms can also be combined with either or both of the two aspects (continuous and perfect) and the various auxiliaries (will, would can, could etc) and other pieces (had to, used to, going to, etc) for a range of meanings
Any ambiguity arising from the recycling of verb forms (the Present unreality and Past reality forms are identical) is resolved through adverbs and context.
In spoken English the above pattern is usually sufficient to convey meaning adequately.
So what we can say if we compare English with French, Italian, and Portuguese etc is that we can see that the English verb is a minimalist verb (no separate distinct future forms, but a range of forms for referring to the future) and that there are many other structural deficits (when compared with the range of verbs forms in those other languages)
Likewise there is no distinct subjunctive form, just a recycling of the base verb forms (go, went, had gone) without an inflection for third person singular in the present reality context. (and use of were instead of was)
The so-called English subjunctive is treated like a holy relic, a ‘sacred cow’ because it allows speakers of the hybrid ‘bastard’ tongue English to pretend that our language derived from the esteemed classical languages Greek and Roman.
The value of the subjunctive to English is that it confers a cultural credibility and prestige which would otherwise be lacking for the ‘English’ barbarians who were lucky enough to establish a ‘pretty big’ naval empire in the wake of the Portuguese, Dutch, Spanish etc) – and hence spread their lingo
So, as with the emperor’s new clothes, we can all see that the so-called English subjunctive is merely a recycling of the limited range of verb forms in situations referring to unreality, or intent
But don’t let the cat out of the bag………….
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