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Subject: Alternative Verb Conjugations
Question: I am looking for examples of two alternative sets of verb conjugations for the same tense, aspect, or mood that co-exist in a language. As an example, modern Spanish has two distinct conjugations for the imperfect subjunctive. The older conjugation ends in -se and comes from Latin's pluperfect subjunctive. The newer conjugation ends in -ra and comes from Latin's pluperfect indicative. The -ra set is more popular in the spoken language but -se is still used in written Spanish, and I have occasionally heard it spoken. There are some minor differences in usage but when it comes to the primary functions of the imperfect subjunctive, -se and -ra are interchangeable. Do you know of other examples? Thanks, Judy Hochberg, Fordham University
Reply: It's not uncommon for languages to have parallel inflection between dialects or registers. Although the Spanish imperfect subjunctive forms are taught as being identical, your comment that the -ra form is more current suggests that the -se form is being phased out for whatever reason. The meaning is the same, but the register is different with -se being considered more literary ("old fashioned"? archaic? formal?) than the -ra form. Other examples of this kind of phenomenon include the French simple past (passé simple), which corresponds to the Spanish preterite, becoming a written tense only. It is being replaced by the "passé composé" (similar to present perfect in other languages). Both mean roughly the same thing, but the passé composé is definitely more modern. However, French students still had to learn the passe simplé to read older texts/newspapers - newspapers were still using the passé simple in the late 80s. English also has future tense "will" and "shall". In the U.S., "will" is much more used than "shall" which is generally considered more "British" or more old-fashioned. Americans can use and understand "shall", but it may not be the same as using "will". A particularly interesting case is Connemara Irish (now the basis of "Standard Irish") vs Munster Irish. Munster Irish preserves a lot of verbal endings lost in other dialects. Finally, I should add that South American Spanish verbs are being restructured depending if the pronoun "vos" is being used or not. Hope this is helpful.
Reply From: Elizabeth J Pyatt      click here to access email
Date: 10-Jun-2013
Other Replies:
  1. Re: Alternative Verb Conjugations    Herbert Frederic Stahlke     (10-Jun-2013)
  2. Re: Alternative Verb Conjugations    Henrik Joergensen     (10-Jun-2013)
  3. Re: Alternative Verb Conjugations    Geoffrey Richard Sampson     (10-Jun-2013)
  4. Re: Alternative Verb Conjugations    James L Fidelholtz     (10-Jun-2013)

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