LINGUISTICS & CULTURE
|Data:||26/JUN/2008 2:13 AM|
|Assunto:||Trainer wheels (off)|
Off with the trainer wheels
There is certainly no suggestion that you are mistaken in terms of general discussion of languages.
However, the label primitive verb, rather like split infinitive, is misplaced if used to describe the 'engineering features' / grammatical structure of modern English.
If we talk about inflected languages such as Malay, Persian, Sanskrit, Latin, Hindu, & Albanian just to name a few, the label primitive verb has a clear role describing an uninflected, non-derived base form.
In relation to modern English it is akin to talking about dative, ablative, genitive etc in relation to substantives.
The vast majority of these categories and the need to distinguish between them with inflections, suffixes etc, are precisely the type of superstructure which modern English has done away with.
The distinguishing feature, and essential advantage, of modern English, over other languages is that, in terms of day-to-day use, these features have become superfluous and this is possible because of the streamlined, seamless structure of modern English.
The superimposition of descriptions and categories from the old, cumbersome languages to modern English serves no purpose except to feed back to learners of English from those other 'old structure' languages. So a person moving towards English from Albanian feels comfortable when things are rendered in a familiar way. But it is not a description of English, it is a transitional description for the beginner. Like trainer wheels on a bike!
Once you learn it, you don't need any of those labels, just as once you learn to ride you never forget.
It's as if you know the programming language for an old IBM mainframe, and now you have to learn how to use the latest laptop. In order to make yourself feel comfortable, you describe all the processes and functions in the latest version using the descriptive terms applicable for the old out-of-date one which you've grown up with.
I suppose primitive then becomes a very apt description for the many languages which require scores of alternatives and versions in order to express precisely the same meaning that modern English can pack into just a handful of variations.
The old structure languages also have the 'advantage' that proficient users think they are 'really smart' because they can remember 50, or 60, or whatever, ways to say 'go' instead of half a dozen or less. Wow … Che grande!! Che intelligente!! Che meraviglia!!!
The relevant verb structure of modern English is:
· Base form – go etc
(In combination with 2 aspects & a number of modals and other assorted verbals - eg 'had better')
It's not a very sentimental, comforting, technical, academic or obscure structure, but then again, that's the key to the spread of the language virus known as English; and that's why sites like this exist.
So now you can concentrate on memorising phrasal verbs, idioms and exceptions!
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