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Does the simplicity of Esperanto verb tenses make its verbs too imprecise?

by MarcDiaz, September 6, 2016

Messages: 88

Language: English

Vestitor (User's profile) September 18, 2016, 1:22:07 PM

Why did this not happen at the old Lernu?

Roch (User's profile) September 18, 2016, 9:40:28 PM

novatago (User's profile) September 19, 2016, 8:37:34 AM

Vestitor:Why did this not happen at the old Lernu?
Because this a website totally new and the programmers has to do everything from zero (more or less). The system that protects the forum from spam is not ready yet but spammers are always ready. What I don't understand of spammers is whether they realise that spam is actually useless when they kill a forum with spam.

Ĝis, Novatago.

Vestitor (User's profile) September 19, 2016, 12:34:46 PM

It wasn't a real question, it was a mock lament like: 'Why did I ever buy this bicycle?'

Roch (User's profile) September 19, 2016, 4:05:55 PM

novatago: What I don't understand of spammers is whether they realise that spam is actually useless when they kill a forum with spam
I can only suppose that some spammers are paid for the amount of spamming-posts they posted... no matter where or how pertinent they were.

In my opinion one (or two) like in this thread would be enough to publicize their product or service...

Vestitor (User's profile) September 19, 2016, 5:16:45 PM

Perhaps they need to pick better targets, how many in these English/German/Spanish threads can read Chinese?

nornen (User's profile) September 19, 2016, 7:16:48 PM

Vestitor:Perhaps they need to pick better targets, how many in these English/German/Spanish threads can read Chinese?
I don't think this really mattes. Normally spammers get paid per back-link, but this isn't the case here because they don't link back to any site.
I suppose the only aim is to push their offers in search engines. So when some Chinese guy googles "studying abroad in Manchester visa requirements" (in Chinese obviously), the spam information shows up before any other match.
Just a wild guess though.

mkj1887 (User's profile) December 18, 2016, 3:43:54 AM

bartlett22183:Please be aware that compared to those in some languages, the English verb system is a little "strange," we might say, even a little "muddy," considering that it mixes up tense, aspect, and mood, which some other languages delineate more clearly. It is all too familiar that when individuals (specifically adults or post-pubescent adolescents) begin to learn another language, they tend to think, incorrectly, that it should just mirror all the forms in their own language.

"If my native language has such and such a feature, then obviously international auxiliary language X must also have that feature." This is ever so common a misunderstanding of beginners. When I was a beginning learner of French so many decades ago, there were some students who were completely baffled why "Je suis allant" was not a perfectly good rendering for English "I am going." It took them a long time to wrap their heads around the idea that French is just not English with strange corresponding words substituted one for one.

The same applies to Esperanto. I do not claim expertise, but I have over time read several scholarly connected texts in E-o with no problem, most specifically including the E-o verb system. One just has to get used to a different way of thinking and doing things and realize and accept that different languages simply are not relexifications of one another.
Thomas Hardy makes the same point, in passing, in his novel Jude the Obscure.

Miville (User's profile) December 18, 2018, 9:48:44 AM

Actually Esperanto verbs are of two types : verbs of action, that indicate something that has a beginning and an end in time together with a result, and verbs of state, which indicate a state of things with no definite beginning and end nor result. Esti, to be, is the best known and most general verb of state, whereas fari and agi, to make and to do, and the most general and typical verbs of action. When the present tense is used, all verbs are more or less considered as verbs of state, as the present state indicates a rather short slice of time beginning somewhat after the action has begun and ending much sooner than the action in process will : a series of present verbs following one another closely nearly always imply simultaneous actions or states. For instance "Mi parolas kaj krias, li aŭskultas kaj kuiras, kaj la vetero beliĝas" means more or less, "I am talking ans screaming, (meanwhile) he is cooking and listening, (while) the weather is getting beautiful ". But with past and future tenses are used, the action implied is the whole action having taken place or about to take place if the verb conjugated is one of action ; a series of action verbs in the past or in the future nearly always indicate actions following one after another.

Example : "Mi parolis kaj kriis, li aŭskultis kaj kuiris, kaj la vetero beligîs" is felt as meaning "I talked, then screamed, he listened, then he cooked, and the weather got beautiful". This unless the verbs are verbs of state. If I replace "kaj la vetero beliĝis" by "kaj la vetero belis", I rather imply that while I and he were doing those actions one after another the weather was beautiful. Verbs of state are quite numerous : mi bezonis, mi interesis, mi malĝojis : when they follow one another in a text in past tense as well as in present tense, they mean several states happening at the same time. Verbs of action can be easily turned into verb of state indicating a longer action being done or the action being habitually repeated by the means of the suffix -adi. If I write for instance "Mi paroladis, mi kriadis, li aŭskultadis kaj kuiradis " I mean "I was talking, I was (also) screaming, (as) he was listening and cooking ", but there are other such prefixes and suffixes that turn a verb of action into a verb os state of more precise nature : one can also use an English-like progressive form : mi estis dancanta, or mi dancantis, or mi dancemis, I used and loved to dance...

Conversely there are quite a few prefixes and suffixes that will turn any verb of state into a verb of action, of the most used being the prefix ek, which indicated the brisk beginning of an action of state, fin which indicates the end of it, and also igi and iĝi which also have the meaning of a change of state, not of a state being continued. Nearly all E-o verbs fall into one or the other category. The simple conditional in us generally indicates a definite imaginary past event when the verb is a perfective one, while an imaginary present state when the verb is one of state : mi farus, mi ekbezonus generally means I would have made, I would have come to need unless a future adverb is used, whereas a verb of state such as mi faradus, mi bezonus generally mean an imaginary present situation : I would now do, I would be in need of... A like difference of time applies to infinitives in i and volitives in u : when perfective verbs are used future or near future are meant, and present when imperfective verbs are used.

In the slavic languages verbs are likewise to be divided between perfective verbs, indicating a definite action, period of action, or change of state, and imperfective verbs, indicating a constant and rather prolonged state. Z. was accustomed most to Polish, and also to Russian, two languages making a clear difference between perfective and imperfective aspects, and he made it very clear both by his own statements and examples of writing that the principle had to be kept in Esperanto : he introduced the adi suffix in a very explicit and well-detailed way for that purpose of turning a verb with perfective meaning into an imperfective one, while also making it clear to speakers of romance language that the adis ending was tantamount to their past imperfect (a long action being done or repeated in the past at the time of another shorter one) in most cases, together with the progressive form in anta estis (or antis to take a shorthand Z allowed but refrained from using).

This means that Esperanto has actually not only three main tenses but five, like Russian and Polish : present (always imperfective by definition) future definite, future imperfective, past definite, past imperfect, not counting the compound tenses in esti + anta, inta and onta that may be used for more precision when absolutely needed. But as Esperanto came to be used by more native speakers of American English, German and other languages that make a less clear distinction between perfective and imperfective aspects than slavic and romance ones, many authors cared less about making that distinction in Esperanto. But if you care for the aspect of verbs you will realize that Esperanto has a very refined system of tense expression even when the author restricts himself to the simple verb forms and avoids the compound ones.

Metsis (User's profile) December 20, 2018, 8:19:09 AM


I've participated E-o courses under three different instructors, all from different countries, one Polish. None of them have taken up this aspect. I'm to a degree aware, that slavic languages make a clear distinctions between the concepts of modus and aspect, while other indoeuropean languages or at least germanic ones happily mix those two concepts. My non-indoeuropean native language encodes aspects in another way*.

My admittably limited understanding is, that what Nornen said in the previous page. What one understands with an aspect is highly depended on one's native language (in slavic languages perfection of the action, in English duration, in Arabic does the verb contain movement etc.). In theory one should in E-o use only the E-o meaning of the aspect, but before we all reach the C1 level it's not practical to expect that.

*: The most important aspect in Finnish concerns the object, is it whole or partial.
Luen kirjan (accusative) : Mi legas la tutan libron.
Luen kirjaa (partitive) : Mi legas parton de la libro.

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