COLLINS WORD EXCHANGE.

Collins has a site they call the Word Exchange:

Is there a word or phrase you would love to see in the dictionary?
Well, now’s your chance as Collins Word Exchange revolutionises the way words are collected and enter the dictionary – throwing open the doors of language research and recording to embrace words from anybody and everybody!
At Collins Word Exchange not only can you search… the Collins English Dictionary, texting abbreviations, internet links and SCRABBLE® scores, access a wealth of advice on grammar and usage, and test your language skills, but you can also add your own words to the dictionary.
It couldn’t be easier to get your new words online – just register on the site, suggest a word for inclusion, enjoy the discussion as other users battle over its validity, and wait for your word to be added to the Living Dictionary. You’ll be contributing to a fantastic and ever-growing online resource and may even see your word entering the next edition of the Collins English Dictionary.

A nice idea, and I’ve already learned the word galactico.

Comments

  1. I, for one, will be very interested in following the evolution of the word “galactico”. Will it be used for other teams who, in the future, might buy a similarly impressive array of supposedly world-class footballers? Or will it become a synonym for “under-achieving overpaid divas” (Real Madrid haven’t been particularly stellar in the Spanish Liga)?

  2. has anyone added eggcorn yet?

  3. Speaking as a foopball fan of some months’ standing, my understanding is that galáctico is very much still a Real Madrid thing. It is perceived and used as a Spanish word, although often ironically.

  4. vivien horler says

    African English as spoken in South Africa often comes up with some very useful and lively expressions. One that I’ve heard several times, but never seen in print is the verb gunpoint, as in:
    “He came up to my car window, gunpointed me, and told me to get out and surrender my keys.”
    It’s economical, instantly comprehensible, and graphic – better than: “pointed a gun at me…”

  5. That is a useful verb, and it’s not in the OED — if you ever see it in print, tell them about it!

  6. Richard Bond says

    ‘Banjaxed’ as mentioned on BBC Breakfast show is NOT a new word. It has been in use for at least 35 years as a slang word for surprised or thwarted as in ‘When I was suddenly told I was out of a job I was Banjaxed’ (Poss. Irish origin)

  7. The Cassell Dictionary of Slang says:
    banjax v. [1930s+] to batter, to destroy, to ruin, to get in the way of. [usu. in Irish use; f. ? Dublin sl.]
    banjaxed adj. [1930s+] broken, ruined, smashed up. [BANJAX]
    Interesting word; I wasn’t familiar with it.

  8. i cant find the word ‘discluded’ in any dictionarys and i’ve heard it and used it. so, i did a google search(just typing in the word ‘discluded’) and its used alot.it means-included. it also may have other meanings, cause i noticed that even doctors used it too, like the ‘discluded tooth’, or one bone discluded from another. words are fun. thanks for listening. prbudd

  9. i did a boo-boo. i said ‘discluded’ means ‘included’ i meant to say , ‘discluded’ means ‘excluded’. thankyou.

  10. Interesting — it gets 3,800 Google hits, not many but enough to make it clear some people use it as if it were a word. I guess if enough people pick it up it will eventually be in the dictionaries. What’s odd is that there’s a perfectly good word already at hand. Since you use it yourself, let me ask you: do you use it in preference to “exclude,” or did you learn it instead of “exclude”?

  11. jim mirdock says

    can you please help me. ihave tried too get your texying dictionary bt all the shops—mainly easons dont have it
    i,m an oap disabled and wonder if u have it in your gift to send me a complimentary copy, for which i would thank u very sincrly for this pocket edition–jim murdock, 46 annagora rd., portadown, bt62 4je n.ireland uk.

  12. Rosalind says

    Collins Dictionary & Thesaurus states that ‘should’ is the past tense of ‘shall’ and in ‘usage note’ it says, “Should, has, as its most common meaning in modern English, the sense ‘ought’ – as in “I should go to the graduation – but I don’t see how I can”

    If the word ‘should’ is the past tense of ‘shall’ then the Bible verse John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him ‘SHOULD NOT’ perish but hath everlasting life” is indicating that everlasting life is a certainty for anyone that believes in God’s only begotten Son because according to Collins’ definition – the word ‘should’ is the past tense of ‘shall’ so ‘should not’ must accordingly be the past tense of ‘shall not’ (a certainty) and the last part of the verse confirms this, for it continues, “But hath everlasting life” (a certainty).

    Whereas contrary to all of the above, I have always thought the word ‘should not’ meant conclusively that there is an element of uncertainty built into it.

    In other words, I have taken ‘should not’ to mean that they ought not to perish but there’s a small chance that they might for some reason because ‘should’ in my books means – ‘ought to’ so ‘should not’ therefore, means that they ‘ought not to’ – but that implies in my mind that there exists a reason that they might!

    After all, the words ‘should not’ do not exactly give a certainty that THEY WILL NOT PERISH, for THEY COULD if the words ‘should not’ actually mean ‘ought not to’ since that suggests they could for some reason! – and in that case, the next half of the verse should not read “but hath everlasting life” because it’s not a certainty – and if it is a certainty, then surely the previous phrase should read “……That whosoever believeth in Him ‘SHALL NOT’ perish but have everlasting life” – not “should not perish” (John 3:16)

    Have I been incorrect all these years in assuming that the two words “should not” (perish), put a tad of uncertainty into the promise? Or does it absolutely mean SHALL NOT PERISH? – If so, I have been labouring under a misapprehension of the meaning of the words “should not” for the whole of my adult life!

  13. @Rosalind: The verb should is, morphologically, the past tense of shall, but since shall is a modal verb, things are rather complicated. Many modals in Germanic languages have subjunctive or irrealis uses, and this is especially true of their past tenses. This can lead to the the morphological past tense of a modal developing senses that are not merely past versions of the present tense modal. For example, in German, the morphological past tense of mögen is möchten (and this manifests itself clearly in the way the finite forms of möchten are conjugated), but while the principal meaning of mögen is “like,”* the principal sense of möchten is not “liked” but “would like.”

    So should has a number of senses. It can be a straight past tense of shall, although this is uncommon. However, would is also the morphological past tense of will, and just as shall can be used as a less-common equivalent of will to construct a synthetic future tense in English, shall appears as a less common equivalent of would in the the normal (subjunctive/irrealis) senses of would. These senses include the use as the morphological past to indicate uncertainty (or potential uncertainty) in an otherwise present of future construction. For example, “He will be fine,” is unambiguously a future construction, while, “He would be fine,” may be future or present, but either way, it indicates a level of uncertainty; it anticipates an additional conditional: “He would be fine, if….” (This use of the past tense for irrealis is not limited to “will” and “shall” either, but is found in other English modals—could to indicate uncertainty or conditionality in place of can, or might for may. Of the inherited English modal verbs,** the obvious exception is must, which has lost its morphological past tense entirely.)

    The substitution of should for would in any such situations is typically suggestive of high-register communication; saying, “I should like to be there, but I am afraid I cannot,” sounds more formal than, “I would like to be there, but I’m afraid I can’t.” Of course, The most common sense of should is the well-know one meaning, essentially, ought, and an impression of obligation can tend to influence other senses of should as well. (This applies to the plain form shall as well. “I shall not fail,” can sound more like a personal commitment—possibly a moral commitment—than, “I will not fail,” which may be purely factual.)

    This all ties into what is connoted in that Biblical passage. The, “should not perish,” from John 3:16 can be read as simply meaning that the believers “would not perish,” etc. The should (or alternative would) here is primarily a subjunctive of shall (or will). However, with the use of should, there is also a strong suggestion of a moral or metaphysical imperative behind the grant of eternal life, that would not necessarily be present if the wording were merely, “would not perish.”

    * In addition, mögen has some other irrealis senses itself, although they are mostly archaic. However, the standard German equivalent of English, “That may be,” has the etymological German cognate of may: “Das mag sein”—mag being the third person (and first person, the two typically being identical for modals in both German and English) present form of mögen.

    ** I mean the verbs that were already modals in Proto-(West)-Germanic. The English verb do is a full-strength modal, but not in other related non-Anglic languages. There are also other verbs used to form modal-like constructions in English (like ought itself) that still can generally only take an infinitive with a required to complement—although there can be certain particular constructions in which that to may be omitted.

  14. Real Madrid haven’t been particularly stellar in the Spanish Liga

    My, 2004 was a long time ago. (Also, Galácticos.)

  15. Bathrobe says

    @ Rosalind

    Brett has explained in some detail so I won’t repeat what he said.

    There are at least two uses of English modals: deontic mood and epistemic mood.

    From Wikipedia:

    Deontic modality is a linguistic modality that indicates how the world ought to be according to certain norms, expectations, speaker desire, etc. In other words, a deontic expression indicates that the state of the world (where ‘world’ is loosely defined here in terms of the surrounding circumstances) does not meet some standard or ideal, whether that standard be social (such as laws), personal (desires), etc. The sentence containing the deontic modal generally indicates some action that would change the world so that it becomes closer to the standard or ideal.

    This is the ‘should’ that you are talking about.

    Epistemic modality is a sub-type of linguistic modality that encompasses knowledge, belief, or credence in a proposition. Epistemic modality is exemplified by the English modals may, might, must. However, it occurs cross-linguistically, encoded in a wide variety of lexical items and grammatical structures. Epistemic modality has been studied from many perspectives within linguistics and philosophy. It is one of the most studied phenomena in formal semantics.

    “Will” and “shall”, apart from expressing predictions and obligation, also express knowledge or belief.

    The past tense forms of the modal auxiliaries have their own particular modalities, but they also retain residual past tense uses. For example, in direct speech: “He said ‘You shall go'”; indirect speech (shift to past tense): “He told me I should go”. The thing is that not many people say “You shall go” anymore.

    With regard to Brett’s comment that ““He will be fine,” is unambiguously a future construction”, I beg to disagree. We’ve discussed this before at LH. “Will” is used to indicate determination (“I will go”) and to make predictions about the future (“It will come crashing down the moment you turn away”). But it’s also used to make predictions about the present:

    “What’s that noise?” “Oh, that will be our son coming back from the party”.
    Reported speech: “I asked what the noise was and he told me it would be our son coming back from the party. He was right.”

    Also about personal proclivities (usually as observed in person other than the speaker). “He’ll build himself a nice wall with his blocks, then he’ll knock it down”.
    Past tense: “He’d build himself a nice wall with his blocks, then he’d knock it down”.

    Also: “He said ‘I will be there'”;
    reported speech: “He said he would be there”.

    (I repeat my assertion that “will” is NOT Future Tense in English; it is a modal auxiliary and acts like a modal auxiliary. The argument that “will” is required when expressing futurity in English, advanced at LH by a person who considered themselves an expert, is nonsense. Futurity in English can be indicated in a number of ways, and “will” is just one of them. The modal auxiliaries themselves can be used for future events, e.g., “I shall go”, “I may go”, etc. Neither of these can be used with “will”, because it’s a modal auxiliary, not a tense, and can’t be used with other modal auxiliaries (“*I will shall go”, “*I will may go”.) It expresses predictions and also expresses futurity, but it is NOT Future Tense.)

    Similarly for “can” and “could” as Present vs Past:

    Also: “He said ‘I can be there'”; reported speech, “He said he could be there”.

    Of course there are other modal uses of the past tense modal auxiliaries, but the characterisation as past tense still holds.

  16. Bathrobe says

    My, 2004 was a long time ago.

    I know how you feel.

    At Language Log I just linked to something I’d written in 2003 and had to pause when I found myself typing “18 years ago”.

    But that was just yesterday, right?

  17. Bathrobe: The argument that “will” is required when expressing futurity in English, advanced at LH by a person who considered themselves an expert, is nonsense.

    Which thread do you refer to?

    In any case, I did not mean to suggest that will necessarily refers to future events; I just tried to pick an example (“He will be fine.”) that has to encode a future meaning. (I can’t envision a situation in which that “will be” could have a present referent, although I suppose it’s possible there’s an unusual situation where that would work.)

    (And obviously, my “synthetic future tense” instead of “analytic future tense” was just a typo/thinko.)

  18. Bathrobe says

    “He will be fine” does express future reference, as a prediction.

    The example I gave, “That will be our son coming back from the party”, is an example of prediction concerning a present (not future) event.

    The example I gave, “He’ll build himself a nice wall with his blocks, then he’ll knock it down”, isn’t future time; it’s habitual behaviour.

    The thread I refer to was sometime in the last two years, if I remember rightly. The whole idea that “will + verb” isn’t actually Future Tense was greeted with incredulity by everyone here. People appear to be so wedded to school/traditional grammar and tense symmetry (past-present-future) that they can’t see the structural reasons for characterising “will” as just another modal auxiliary.

  19. One thing to keep in mind is that a lot of what is normally called future tenses in grammars of other languages show similar modal uses. The future is not yet fact, that’s why future reference is often expressed by modals, and even synthetic future tenses often have modal uses that simple past and present tenses don’t have. So from a comparativist / typological point of view the question is not “does English have a future tense”, but “how does what is usually called future tense in English differ from future tenses in other languages”?

  20. Bathrobe says

    “What is usually called future tense” is putting the grammatical category before the horse. It’s akin to deciding that the language has a future tense (a grammatical category), and then choosing one particular form as canonical. (This is a reflex of the old worship of Latin grammar — if Latin has it, English has to have it too).

    In fact, the key question is, “How is future time expressed in a language”. It won’t necessarily be expressed through a formal “tense” at all; it may be expressed in other ways.

    English has two simple tenses. Futurity is expressed in a number of ways: one with a modal auxiliary “will”, one with other modal auxiliaries “can, might”, etc., one with the Present (Non-past) tense, one with Present Continuous (sometimes with “will” added), one with “be going to” (sometimes with “will” added), one with “be about to”. They all express futurity, but not all of them use the modal “will” — some don’t even permit the use of the modal auxiliary “will”.

    The grammatical patterns (and they are quite extensive) clearly show that “will” is a modal auxiliary. Calling a modal form Future Tense because you’ve already decided that every language “has to have a Future Tense” completely distorts, and overcomplicates, the conjugation of verbs in English.

  21. Bathrobe says

    One argument, of course, is that English has developed periphrastic forms to circumvent the problem that you can’t say “will can do it“, namely “will be able to do it“. But the same periphrastic forms are used for other modal auxiliaries: “might be able to do it“, “could be able to do it“, “should be able to do it“, and yes, “would be able to do it“. So again, “will” is a modal auxiliary like the other modal auxiliaries.

    Get rid of the (so-called) Future Tense and you have a much slimmed down verb conjugation in English: just Past and Present (Non-past), with continuous and perfect forms. The “will” forms can then be handled in a separate table into which all the other modal auxiliaries fit.

    If you have “will + verb” as Future Tense you get a sprawling conjugation that simply parallels the modal + verb forms, with strange forms like “Future in Past”.

  22. PlasticPaddy says

    There is a future anticipatory tense in Irish/ (Irish) English I have only seen expressed with adverbs in other languages. Here is an example showing what I mean.
    -He’ll be coming back in half an hour.
    -Then he’ll be wanting his tea.
    In Irish:
    Beidh sé (ag teacht) arais i gceann leath-uair(e).
    Beidh a thae ag teastáil uaidh, mar sin.
    From the Irish this is not subjunctive, the sense for me is “I anticipate that he will…”

  23. Bathrobe says

    @Plastic Paddy

    I think the peculiarity of your example is due to “be wanting”. In non-Irish English, you might say “Then he’ll want his tea”.

    Although, to be honest, I don’t find your example particularly strange in my own Australian English.

    “He’ll be coming home in half and hour.”
    “Then he’ll be wanting something to eat” (although “He’ll be wanting his tea” also works fine for me). And the sense is predictive.

  24. David Eddyshaw says

    Kusaal and its close relatives have been misdescribed as having a future tense, but in fact they normally express future time with modal constructions, like English.

    Tense particles precede the verb. Superficially,

    O na zab na’ab la. “He will fight the chief.”

    looks just like

    O daa zab na’ab la. “He fought the chief.”

    but although tense particles are mutually exclusive, the particle na can co-occur with tense particles:

    O saa na zab na’ab la. “He’ll fight the chief tomorrow.”

    including past tense markers, giving a meaning which is not future-from-past-standpoint, but contrary-to-fact:

    O daa na zab na’ab la. “He would have fought the chief [but didn’t.]”

    (The example sentences were not chosen for their admirable republican sentiment but because both zab “fight” and na’ab “chief” have intrinsic low tones, the changes of which in context reveal another systematic difference between na and tense markers.)

  25. January First-of-May says

    for their admirable republican sentiment

    IIRC (from your previous discussions) the Kusaasi don’t really bother with chiefs in the first place, and any nearby chiefs would originate from some other tribe.

    OTOH, my mental idea of “fight” is closer to a practice fight and/or a martial arts bout (which makes the situation distinctly less republican); I’m not sure why, or how much sense it means in the context.

  26. @Bathrobe: I am in no way invested in stating that English has a future tense and in claiming that this is the form with “will”. The questions that interest me are what range of temporal and modal uses the English forms have; whether these uses pattern with what uses future tenses normally show in other languages, what is its “central” use from which the others radiate (if that can be established), whether and in which forms future reference is grammaticalised in English, etc.

    The equivalence to Latin grammar is a distraction – expecting a future tense to be encoded in a similar way to past and present could also be called a holdover of Latin worship. This approach reminds me of Hewson & Bubenik’s treatment of tense in Indo-European, where they basically deny tense status to every periphrastic formation they encounter, labelling them all either moods or aspects.

    Now, my take on English is that it has grammaticalised two formations to express future reference, the one with “will (/shall)”, and the one with “be going to”, with differing scope on what kind of future event can be expressed by them. It has moved there from a state, like all Germanic languages, where there was no grammaticalised formation for that purpose, and has gone further than e.g. German in making expressing that future reference by one of these formations obligatory (in German, the simple present can be used with future scope much more widely than in English). So, functionally, English is a language with two future tenses; whether one sees the tense function or the modal functions of the “will” formation as primary is a separate question (you may have guessed by now that I think that formations in language can belong to several categories at the same time).

  27. David Eddyshaw says

    the Kusaasi don’t really bother with chiefs in the first place

    That was so originally, but they have chiefs now; in particular, there has been continuing conflict over the chieftainship of Bawku itself. The current chief is a Kusaasi, as was his father, who was originally a tindana “earth-priest.” Before that, the Bawku chiefs were Mamprussi.

    I don’t think this is so much because the Kusaasi have decided that they like monarchy, so much as a realistic adaptation to the fact that chiefs in northern Ghana retain considerable power; so if there is going to be a chief, he should be One of Us.

    Zab is basically “hurt”; you would use the same verb in e.g. M zugu zabid “My head hurts.”

    In fact, although zab + human direct object is acceptable for “fight (with)”, it’s more usual to use “with”, as in O daa zab na’ab la “He fought with the chief”; the examples I cited are from my grammar, where they are used to illustrate the tonal changes I mentioned. Informants were OK with them, but I was trying to sort out the tone rules rather than concentrating on natural idioms at that point; I should probably fix that.

  28. Bathrobe says

    @ Hans

    Diachronically the questions you raise and the approach you’ve adopted are interesting. English has, indeed, moved to grammaticalise at least two forms (actually more, but anyway) to express future meaning.

    But to approach a language typologically by ignoring the way it is actually structured and patterned and fitting it into some kind of “standard template” is not really very interesting — unless, of course, you are either looking at trends/drivers of change (English is developing set forms for expressing futurity) or conducting a contrastive analysis (in this aspect, English differs from x language or standard). As you note, there is more than one “Future Tense” in English, and even among the “Future Tenses” there are differences.

    I’ve seen plenty of typology, and people who do that sort of work first struggle to fit everything into a neat framework — it never works very well — and then arbitrarily adopt some crosslinguistic standard that will allow them to categorise phenomena the way they want. Unfortunately, not everything can be fitted into a single template of the linguist’s choosing.

    “Future tense” looks easy enough, at least from the perspective of European languages. What about more exotic concepts like “evidentiality”? I’m sure that evidentiality is a valid crosslinguistic concept, and you could even come up with a group of forms that express evidentiality in English. But would you really want to say “This is the Evidential Form in English” when English doesn’t actually have an “evidential form”?

    Some languages have “adversative passives” (i.e., passives that are interpreted in a way that is detrimental to the patient). I’m sure you could pick a group of forms that could be interpreted that way, e.g., “got” passives (which are interesting enough), and then say “Grammatically, this is the Adversative Passive form in English”. How far can you go asserting and imposing crosslinguistic categories on languages that don’t actually have a corresponding category?

    I’m sure that among related languages like German and English the differences and contrasts are interesting and constructive because the two are actually so close, perhaps with a diverging trajectory. Positing the emergence of a ‘Future Tense’ in one but not (so much) the other is naturally of interest. Doing the same for widely separated languages such as Japanese and English is much less interesting. You can express future time in Japanese but not future tense. To pick a particular form in Japanese and say, “Yes, this is the Japanese Future Tense” isn’t actually very interesting. It might be useful for teaching students but it isn’t very interesting. Contrasting the linguistic systems of the two languages is.

  29. John Cowan says

    you can’t say “will can do it“

    There are plenty of people in Scotland, the North of England, and the Southern U.S. who might could use double modals in any given sentence even though they know they shouldn’t ought to. The construction is not fully productive, though: Gale has no trouble with might could, but may can sounds weird, maybe ungrammatical, to her.

  30. David Marjanović says

    If the word ‘should’ is the past tense of ‘shall’

    It is two historically separate things: the past tense of shall, and what is unfortunately called the “past subjunctive” of shall. The “past subjunctive” is formed from the past-tense form, but it doesn’t actually have a past-tense meaning. (Or at least it didn’t use to until recently, see below.)

    the morphological past tense of mögen is möchten

    Nope! The morphological and actual past tense of mögen is mochten*, without umlaut: das mochten sie nicht means “they didn’t like that”. The “past subjunctive” (Konjunktiv II) is möchten.

    And that brings us to the one verb where the more formal registers of English still distinguish the past tense from the “past subjunctive”: was is past tense, if I/he/she/it were is “past subjunctive”. That’s exactly as in the German equivalents, war > wäre.

    With this distinction lost in all other verbs, the two meanings of the same word form have been blending and merging in English; often both meanings are intended to some degree. That goes twice for should, because the non-subjunctive shall is basically extinct in the wild. (Here, too, German is more conservative: sollen remains a very common verb that basically means “be supposed to”.)

    So, the meaning of 16th-century English He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him ‘SHOULD NOT’ perish is actually really hard to explain in 21st-century English. Should is “past subjunctive”, and it’s used here because it talks about something counterfactual.

    Let’s try it this way:

    He is giving His only begotten Son. Therefore, anyone who believes in Him will not need to perish.
    He is giving His only begotten Son so that nobody who believes in Him will need to perish anymore.
    He is giving His only begotten Son lest anybody who believes in him would need to perish anymore.

    Then the past tense of that, plus 16th-century vocabulary like whosoever and shall, and the rest of 16th-century southern English grammar like -eth, and there we go.

    * …if mögen is the 1st/3rd person plural here. The simple past and the subjunctives don’t have infinitives.

    English […] has moved there from a state, like all Germanic languages, where there was no grammaticalised formation for that purpose, and has gone further than e.g. German in making expressing that future reference by one of these formations obligatory (in German, the simple present can be used with future scope much more widely than in English).

    It’s not obligatory in as many situations in English as in, say, French. You do get things like I’m coming tomorrow (future expressed only by semantics) or we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it (future expressed by grammatical means, but only once per sentence). But of course you’re still right that the use of future tenses is obligatory in a lot more situations in English than in German.

    If you want an example of a Germanic variety that really doesn’t have a grammaticalized future tense, I offer my dialect. The usual construction with werden is sometimes used to mean future, probably under recent standard influence; but by far its most common use is to make predictions about the present, exactly like the “That’ll be our son” example above, except much more often – so often that words like “probably” are pretty rarely used. Rather than being expressed by grammatical means, the future belongs to the vocabulary: you put “then” somewhere into the sentence. (Das mache ich dann schon “don’t worry, I’ll (probably) do it”.)

    English is actually growing a third future tense right now: an immediate future with is about to, again with its own future-in-the-past, was about to. It’s already more grammaticalized than anything remotely similar in German, where the only ways to express immediate future belong to the vocabulary. (My spontaneous translation of “I’m about to leave” would be ich gehe gleich, with “I leave” in the present tense and a word that means “very soon”.)

    Schoolchildren over here are formally taught when to use will and when to use going to. They’re tenses – their meanings aren’t compositional like those of modal constructions with can or should or may, which you can all understand by learning those words as vocabulary items. The meaning of the about to construction is still largely compositional, but stretching it.

    …Oh, speaking of future-in-the-past tenses (was going to, was about to): in German, this kind of thing is expressed with the “past subjunctive” (of the actual past this time) because it refers to something counterfactual. “She was about to leave” comes out as sie wäre gerade gegangen, more literally “she would have gone right then”.

  31. January First-of-May says

    You can express future time in Japanese but not future tense.

    …Good luck formulating that in Russian, where the usual grammatical term for “future tense” is just будущее время.

    (IIRC the usual Russian future-representing forms are also analytic, though there are cases like сделает where the perfective forms imply a situation in the future. I’m not sure if either technically qualifies as future tense as such.)

  32. And of course tense is just French temps in disguise.

  33. @Bathrobe: I don’t have time to answer you in detail now, maybe I’ll be able on the weekend. Just two points:
    – Of course you can point at all kinds of constructions that express concept XY in English and say “that’s the XY category in English”. That’s not what I’m trying to do here. The question is not “what are the ways to say something about the future in English”, but which of them are grammaticalised in the sense that the meaning cannot be derived from the constituents anymore (as DM mentioned), and which are obligatory (i.e., if you talk about future reference and don’t use one of these formations, the sentence is ungrammatical). If these formations have other uses, e.g. modal, one has to check what are the default meanings of this formation, what is the basic meaning (not historically, although that can give an indication sometimes, but in the synchronic system) from which the others are derived, if one can establish that. The fact that something acts like a modal formally and historically is a modal doesn’t preclude that it now functions as a tense; whether we have a tense with modal uses or a mood with temporal uses must be established based on analysis of usage.
    – On the combination of “will” with other modals: you have the same issue with all other periphrastic constructions. If you use that to argue that “will” must function as a mood, you would have to argue that “be” in the continuous aspects and “have” in the perfects are also modals, and the respective constructions aren’t tense-aspect combinations, but moods, because they can’t combine with forms of “can”, “must”, “may”, etc.

  34. David Marjanović says

    I was taught in school to treat сделает – morphologically the perfective aspect of the present – as the perfective aspect of the future tense, and будет делать as the imperfective aspect of the future tense. AFAIK this fits how grammaticalized these forms are.

    Logically, it follows that *будет сделать is either ungrammatical or means something very unusual. Is that the case?

  35. David Marjanović says

    what is the basic meaning (not historically, although that can give an indication sometimes, but in the synchronic system) from which the others are derived

    Case in point: the restaurant use of I’ll have the…. Historically, this is will in its original meaning as “want”: “I want to have the…”. I’m sure every user of this phrase today thinks of it as a special conventionalized use of the future, even though it sounds oddly impolite if you think about it.

  36. Indeed it does, even if everyone does it. I associate “I’ll have the…” with men asserting their class and gender at the waiter’s expense, and avoid it.

  37. While we’re at it, I’m trying hard to shed “the…” before the names of dishes, which sounds pretentious to me. “The Beef Wellington”, maybe, but “the pancakes”? No. When did this start, anyway? The ’80s? Anyway, I’m not there yet. It’s a hard habit to shed.

  38. Indeed it does, even if everyone does it. I associate “I’ll have the…” with men asserting their class and gender at the waiter’s expense, and avoid it.

    That is a splendid literalization of what is called on MetaFilter “overthinking a plate of beans.”

    As for “the” + name of dish, that goes back well before my birth, and I’m no spring chicken. (Have the spring chicken, it’s bouncy!)

  39. Googling “have the chicken,” I found the following delightful set of sentences from 1852 (irrelevant here, but irresistible):

  40. David Eddyshaw says
  41. Here’s one from 1865 that is perhaps more to the purpose:

  42. “Darling, save the last veal for me.” “Yes, my pretty pepper.”

  43. David Marjanović says

    but “the pancakes”? No.

    That’s the definite article being definite: “I’ll have those, uh, pancakes that are mentioned in your menu.”

  44. Logically, it follows that *будет сделать is either ungrammatical or means something very unusual. Is that the case?

    Ungrammatical. The only form of this kind I ever heard is будем посмотреть, jokingly saying “we’ll see”. There is a verb form in Russian which acts somewhat like perfect in the present, for example читает (“reads”, present imperfect) has a perfect counterpart прочитает which shifts action into the future, but another form прочитывает, though theoretically present imperfect as well has the same perfect counterpart and has a strong undertone that the action of reading is being completed. Like она читает 5 книг (she is reading 5 books at the same time either habitually or right now) but она прочитывает 5 книг в день (she reads 5 books in a day, habitually, and reads them through).

  45. My preference would be to say, “may I have/I’d like some blueberry pancakes,” and presume that the waiter will understand that I’m referring to the stack of three, as listed.

  46. January First-of-May says

    Here’s one from 1865 that is perhaps more to the purpose

    I wonder what was actually intended by “Will they have nothing? Yes, they will have something.” At first glance it sounds so ridiculous as to be almost ungrammatical.

  47. “Will they have nothing?”

    Are you sure they don’t want anything?

  48. David Marjanović says

    The “no future” thread is very informative.

    прочитывает

    Ah! “Reads through”, imperfective. 🙂

    “Future tense” looks easy enough, at least from the perspective of European languages. What about more exotic concepts like “evidentiality”? I’m sure that evidentiality is a valid crosslinguistic concept, and you could even come up with a group of forms that express evidentiality in English. But would you really want to say “This is the Evidential Form in English” when English doesn’t actually have an “evidential form”?

    As chance would have it, the distinction between the will future and the going to future is often evidential: will is used to mark beliefs about the future, going to is used for safe predictions about what you think you know for sure.

  49. Don’t you mean the opposite? “It’ll rain tomorrow” is a little more definite than “It’s going to rain tomorrow”, though I wouldn’t call the distinction one of evidentiality.

  50. Bathrobe says

    you would have to argue that “be” in the continuous aspects and “have” in the perfects are also modals

    I think that, apart from using the word “modal”, that’s how Pullum and Huddleston analyse those “tenses”.

    @Y

    “I’ll have the pancakes” sounds perfectly ok to me. It’s referring to a choice on the menu.

  51. Bathrobe says

    Poor mab. Right to the end of the “No Future” thread she didn’t understand the point. The point of Pullum’s arguments is that the so-called “will future” is actually one kind of “modal auxiliary plus verb” construction, not a tense at all. His arguments that the “will future” doesn’t necessarily refer to futurity are just part of his effort to pull the whole “will future” myth apart. And if you took only those arguments, you would think, like mab, that Pullum would also want to pull the rug from under the Russian future tense. Which he most certainly wouldn’t, since the Russian future tense is morphologically sound, even if it doesn’t refer solely to the future.

    I do like this thread we’re on now because it shows how difficult languages can be to pin down. I still support Pullum’s view because it is coherent. But Hans is right with his point that English is moving towards grammaticalisation of “will + verb” as a tense, especially since English is coming to treat the expression of futurity as obligatory. It totally screws up the morphological system of verb forms but he is right in putting the focus on diachronic changes and syntactic categories that aren’t morphological. Then DM, who knows his history, points out that Hans has got it wrong about German. So everyone’s right in their own way because, of course, language can be viewed differently depending the angle that you want to view it from or the emphasis you want to place. I’ve even heard of a gentleman who believes that everything in language can be explained with “Merge” and “Move”…

  52. marie-lucie says

    Y: “the…” before the names of dishes, which sounds pretentious to me

    I would say this is a French custom, certainly much earlier than the 80’s. I have seen this in set menus for special occasions for families or other groups, therefore not inormally in restaurants, where people choose their own dishes from the complete menu. It seems to suggest that the dishes will be the cook’s extra special recipes, as shown by their fancified names, like (I invent) Le Boeuf à la Tonnerroise instead of Le Boeuf Bourguignon, the well-known plebeian dish (Tonnerre is a small town in Burgundy). So this custom does sound pretentious to me too.

    On the other hand, I don’t find English I’ll have the … objectionable, or indicating an assertion of male supremacy! (In French I would probably say Je prendrai le … or Je vais prendre le ….

  53. David Eddyshaw says

    I think I pretty much always say “I’d like the …” in English restaurants. I am naturally mortified to discover that all this time I have been asserting my class and gender at the (usually male) waiter’s expense. It just goes to show that you can never be too careful. In future I shall take care always to order in French, so as not to give offense.

  54. DE, to me it’s the “I’ll have…” that sounds unpleasantly imperious; “the” sounds to me just a hair snooty, and doesn’t bother me as much. Where I am the land is awash with full-of-themselves rich guys, and self-superior behavior has become a bit of a sore spot for me.

    marie-lucie, I’m sure you’re right, “the” is a gallicism. That’s why I imagine it came into English, in the US at least, either in the days of Julia Child and such (late ’50s/early ’60s), or during the ascent of the yuppies, along with California wines and quiche, in the early ’80s.

  55. Tosh. From Lenore Glen Offord, Murder on Russian Hill (1938), page 111: “‘The things you girls eat!’ he said shaking his head. ‘I’ll have the ham hocks, coffee, and apple pie. And rush it, please.'” It’s no gallicism, it’s perfectly natural English. This is why we can’t rely on our own Sprachgefühl and memories.

  56. David Eddyshaw says

    In a restaurant, I would expect there to be a relatively elaborate menu with pretensions (at least) to being non-bog-standard, and as this would constitute a shared point of reference between the hapless downtrodden proletarian waiter and myself*, I would refer to items on said menu with “the” in accordance with the usual English syntax of the definite article (“the soup of the day”, like “the sun”, “the Queen”**); whereas in a cafe, I would anticipate ordering more-or-less generic food items, not heavily trailed in advance for their unique virtues, and would probably say “I’d like a coffee and a currant bun.***”

    * Hapless downtrodden proletarian eye surgeon
    ** Gawd bless ‘er.
    *** Actually, I don’t much care for currant buns, but this is a purely linguistic thought experiment in the spirit of Noam Chomsky Himself. We can safely leave aside the merely anthropological aspects of the question.

  57. LikeCurrantBun is a universal constraint. In your case NoCurrantBun is promoted.

    What I hear in coffeehouses, where people order from the cashier, is “a bagel with cream cheese” but “the morning bagel” (that would be a bagel with rubberized egg within.) The difference being that the first is identified by sight, the second is an item on a menu.

    Drinks never take “the”, I don’t think. A coffee. A mimosa. An ovaltini (I made this up. ™©®. Void where prohibited. We take no responsibility etc.)

  58. The Russian future does not always express future, as in ‘вы откуда будете? ‘Where do you come from?’

  59. Jeffry House says

    Way up at the top, Hat (if I may) identifies “galactico” as a newly-learned English word. It has a further, niche, use beyond soccer/football, though.

    It’s used by Venezuelans, in English, in exile, to refer ironically to Hugo Chavez. Supposedly, Chavez’s supporters once praised him using that word in Spanish.

    But now it’s all bitterness: “Did you see the minimum wage in Caracas has fallen to $3 a month? Good work, Galactico!”

  60. David Marjanović says

    Don’t you mean the opposite? “It’ll rain tomorrow” is a little more definite than “It’s going to rain tomorrow”

    Huh, is it? We may have stumbled over a bit of diversity here.

    “In the future, we’ll have flying cars.”
    “In the future, we’re going to have flying cars.”

    The second strikes me as sarcastically overconfident.

    The point of Pullum’s arguments is that the so-called “will future” is actually one kind of “modal auxiliary plus verb” construction, not a tense at all.

    My point, and apparently mab’s, is that a verb construction with a modal auxiliary that has been grammaticalized to express time is a tense.

    Part of the confusion comes from the fact that Pullum was, at the same time, fighting a different myth, namely that the will construction is the only future tense English has. It’s not; the going to construction is another, and the about to construction is about to become an immediate-future tense.

    Then DM, who knows his history, points out that Hans has got it wrong about German.

    …The only time I thought I was disagreeing with him in this thread was when I misread his statement that English “has gone further than e.g. German in making expressing that future reference by one of these formations obligatory” as saying that English has actually made it obligatory; it hasn’t, so I pointed out some exceptions. That said, those exceptions are very easily categorized; you could say they’ve become grammaticalized, too.

    What someone got wrong about German was the misidentification of möchten as indicative instead of subjunctive; but that wasn’t Hans, that was Brett way up there.

    I’ve even heard of a gentleman who believes that everything in language can be explained with “Merge” and “Move”…

    “Wait, it’s all Merge?”

    “Always has been.”

    LikeCurrantBun is a universal constraint. In your case NoCurrantBun is promoted.

    Ooh, Optimality Theory. ^_^

    The Russian future does not always express future, as in ‘вы откуда будете? ‘Where do you come from?’

    I’m beginning to suspect that using a grammaticalized future, if such there be, to make “predictions about the present” is much more widespread than I used to think. Yesterday I remembered I once interpreted a Latin sentence that way (and never got feedback on if that was wrong) and added a footnote to my translation (in school) to make that explicit; of course I have long forgotten that sentence.

  61. – Ребята, вы откуда будете?
    – А прямо из горлА и будем…

    A bit reminiscent of Boku wa unagi da.

  62. I’ve wondered if there’s a (rare) present habitual will, parallel to the (common) past habitual would. Pullum and Huddleston (§9.5.2 b) call it ‘propensity’, e.g. “He will lie in bed all day, reading trashy novels”. Quirk notes (I hadn’t thought of it) that habitual would requires specifying a time (“we would go to the beach on weekends”), and perhaps the same is true for habitual will. There are much stronger limits on the present form than on the past one, which is why it’s rarer, but I haven’t figured them out.

  63. David Marjanović says

    I don’t think I’ve encountered the present one before. Maybe I misinterpreted it as a prediction about the present. I suspect it has largely died out precisely because it can be mistaken for the future or a prediction about the present as grammaticalization of will as a future tense is being completed.

  64. It hasn’t died out, it’s just used in limited circumstances, and always has. It might also connote disapproval.

  65. John Cowan says

    The problem of future tense can be solved with Haspelmath’s capitalization convention: English does not have a Future Tense construction (language-specific category), but it does have a future tense (comparative concept), presumably like all languages. (Then again, there is Damon Runyon’s fiction: his narrator knows only the Present, which may sometimes express the past or the future.)

    My preference would be to say, “may I have/I’d like some blueberry pancakes,” and presume that the waiter will understand that I’m referring to the stack of three, as listed.

    Of course that doesn’t work if you are at an IHOP: you have to say “I’ll have the full stack” (5 pancakes) or “I’ll have the short stack” (3 pancakes).[*] I would say that if bagels are on the menu and you can pick your fillings, I’d say “I’ll have a bagel with cream cheese”, but if “bagel with cream cheese” is listed specifically, I’d say “I’ll have the bagel with cream cheese”, or even (Ghu forbid) “I’ll have the bagel with cream cheese with mustard”, which is probably not on the menu. I would expect that to be provided at the “bagel with cream cheese” price, and that I would get a bottle or jar of mustard.

    hapless downtrodden proletarian waiter

    In Europe, as I understand, the waiter is respected professional like the eye surgeon, whereas in the U.S. they are a temporarily distressed millionaire (which is why there is nothing much like a proletariat in this country). I, however, am not a TDM, but a worker in intellectual production, also known as a member of the haut-proletariat.

    “In the future, we’re going to have flying cars.”

    In the future, we’ll still be going to have flying cars.

    [*] A hot dog joint in Newark at 312 Bloomfield Avenue, just outside the entrance to Branch Brook Park, was known as Louis and Ting-a-ling (whether this referred to the nearby trolley line or a former Chinese co-owner I don’t know). It had a large board on the wall with two columns labeled “What You Want” and “How To Order”. I remember that plain hot dogs were to be called “naked”, those with sauerkraut only were “K. O.”, and similarly “M.O.” for “mustard only” and “M.K.” for “mustard and kraut only”. The “hot works” had everything including hot relish; if you wanted sweet relish instead, you ordered a “sweet works”. The hot dogs themselves stuck several inches out of both ends of a standard six-inch hot dog bun, and were known with pardonable exaggeration as “foot-longs”. I haven’t been there in a long time, and you are probably better off with Hebrew National anyway.

  66. David Eddyshaw says

    It doesn’t seem obvious to me that all languages have a future tense (whether capitalised or not), unless the term is interpreted as meaning no more than “ways of expressing the future.” There are certainly languages where such reference, if not just implied by context, is expressed simply by time adjuncts; it seems a pretty considerable stretch to call that “tense.”

    Even in Kusaal, which is not tense-allergic at all, and omits tense-marker particles only under specific circumstances (for example, in non-initial clauses in the main line in narrative), the default way of expressing the future is with a construction which from a language-internal point of view is clearly an “irrealis” mood, marked in a way which neatly cuts across the tense-marking system; while you could forcibly call that a “future tense”, that seems to me to be on a level with finding Latin cases in English.

    Philosophically, it seems to me that the idea that “the future” is actually the same kind of thing as the past, but just extending in the opposite “direction”, is quite culture-bound. (In fact, the idea could even turn out to be false, if Lee Smolin is to be believed.) Accordingly, on first principles, an irrealis mood seems every bit as “logical” a way of referring to “the future” as a future tense, and interpreting the former as being the latter in disguise is just cultural imperialism, not to say arrant Chomskyism.

  67. Jen in Edinburgh says

    Drinks never take “the”, I don’t think. A coffee. A mimosa.

    ‘The coffee’ is possible in the situation where a cooked breakfast includes either-tea-or-coffee. ‘Coffee’ is more likely, ‘a coffee’ would be silly.

    I don’t think I’ve encountered the present [habitual will] before.

    You have to say ‘he WILL lie in bed all day’, which might make it more likely in speech than writing.

  68. Bathrobe says

    Quirk notes (I hadn’t thought of it) that habitual would requires specifying a time (“we would go to the beach on weekends”), and perhaps the same is true for habitual will.

    I don’t think you need to actually specify a time, as long as it’s implicit in the context. My feeling is that “we/he used to”, while vague, similarly implies that there was a certain time or period of time in the past when “we/he would do something”. As for the present use of “will”, it’s a normal present describing the propensity of the person to do something as of the time of speaking, but definitely with a specific situation in mind. For instance, my example with the building blocks suggests a specific play situation. And yes, it’s usually critical.

    My apologies to Hans over möchte. As DM points out, it wasn’t his error.

    The problem of future tense can be solved with Haspelmath’s capitalization convention: English does not have a Future Tense construction (language-specific category), but it does have a future tense (comparative concept), presumably like all languages.

    That is precisely my interpretation.

    My point, and apparently mab’s, is that a verb construction with a modal auxiliary that has been grammaticalized to express time is a tense.

    Mab’s objections concerned Pullum’s consistent raising of examples of “will” that are not future in meaning. She objected that that would disqualify the Russian future, because it often refers to other times than future. Many of Pullum’s examples are actually designed to show that “will” doesn’t necessarily refer to time per se. Which relates to its use as a modal. Several of the other modals are also refer to the future but we don’t call them Future Tense.

  69. @DM way upthread: Should is “past subjunctive”, and it’s used here because it talks about something counterfactual — is it? I think it’s simply the backshifted / sequence-of-tenses version of shall. (He gives his son that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish –> gave … should.) I don’t see anything counterfactual about the sentence.

  70. Thackeray, Men’s Wives:

    “What imperence!” said that worthy lady; “you’ll lay hands on my daughter, will you? (one, two). You’ll insult a woman in distress, will you, you little coward? (one, two). Take that, and mind your manners, you filthy monster!”

  71. Bathrobe says

    In the Thackeray example, “will” is used in the original sense of “want to, exercise one’s will”.

    Another example (not Thackeray) is:

    “Well, you will tease the dog! You can only blame yourself if it bit you!”

    This ain’t future time.

  72. David Marjanović says

    I certainly agree that not every language has a future tense in the sense of “a verb construction […] that has been grammaticalized to express [future] time” – neither at least one, nor at most one.

    I think it’s simply the backshifted / sequence-of-tenses version of shall.

    …Stupid me. That’s by far the most likely interpretation.

    In the future, we’ll still be going to have flying cars.

    Thread won.

    In fact, the idea could even turn out to be false, if Lee Smolin is to be believed.

    Interesting – I didn’t know what he’s been up to since cosmological natural selection/Fecund Universes.

    You have to say ‘he WILL lie in bed all day’

    Oh, that. “If you let him, he’ll lie in bed all day” – in the future and by implication also the present and the past? That I have seen.

  73. Bathrobe says

    You don’t have to stress the WILL in the habitual. A woman might complain of her son: “You’ll have just finished mopping the floor and he’ll walk in and tramp all over it in his muddy shoes.” Notice that the first part about the wife’s own actions is not disapproving.

  74. Philosophically, it seems to me that the idea that “the future” is actually the same kind of thing as the past, but just extending in the opposite “direction”, is quite culture-bound. (In fact, the idea could even turn out to be false, if Lee Smolin is to be believed.)
    Indeed. And that’s why languages very frequently encode the future tense (when they have them) in different ways from the past tense, and why the constructions used for the future tense often have uses like expressing assumptions or predicting behaviour, independent of their historical origins.
    I think that, apart from using the word “modal”, that’s how Pullum and Huddleston analyse those “tenses”.
    As I don’t have P&H, how do they call them? (And no need to put tenses in quotation marks, as long as you stay within a classical / school grammar framework, where both pure tenses with only a time reference and tense-aspect combinations are labelled “tense”.)

  75. Bathrobe says

    I put “tenses” in inverted commas to reflect Pullum and Huddleston’s analysis, nothing more.

    I will quote what P&H (The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language) say about “auxiliary verbs” (p 51):

    Our analysis of auxiliary verbs departs radically from traditional grammar in that we take them to be heads, not dependents. Thus in “She is writing a novel“, for example, “is” is a head with “writing a novel” as its complement; the constituent structure is like that of “She began writing a novel“. Note, then, that “is writing” here is not a constituent: “is” is head of one clause and “writing” is head of a non-finite subordinate clause.

    Their arguments for not regarding “will + infinitive” as Future Tense are independent of, and do not presuppose acceptance of, this analysis of auxiliary verbs.

    We have discussed this issue in the past, when you professed that you hadn’t read or referred to The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language. It might be useful to try to get hold of it. Even if you don’t agree with their arguments (which is fair enough), it is one of the standard reference works in the field of English grammar.

    Incidentally, the Longman Grammar of Spoken and Written English (Biber, Johansson, Conrad, Leech, and Finegan) also notes (p 453) that “From a structural point of view, English verbs are inflected for only two tenses: present and past” and (p 456, under “The marking of future time”) “As noted above, there is no formal future tense in English. Instead, future time is typically marked in the verb phrase by modal or semi-modal verbs such as “will“, “shall“, “be going to“…”

    This does not by any means invalidate your approach. Scholarship should surely be concerned with questioning the received wisdom, not mindlessly repeating it. Nevertheless, it might be useful to be familiar with these works.

  76. Bathrobe says

    The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language can be downloaded for free from the Internet. Google “download the cambridge grammar of the english language pdf”. The first result should be https://kupdf.net. You can download it from there.

  77. David Eddyshaw says

    CGEL’s analysis of auxiliary verbs as taking non-finite subordinate clause complements is very illuminating; I found it very helpful in working out what is really going on with what have previously been called “serial verb constructions” in Kusaal and other Western Oti-Volta languages: they actually have a lot more in common with what Huddleston and Pullum take to be non-finite subordinate clauses in English. (The fact that the traditional analysis is wrong-headed is already apparent from Alexandra Aikhenvald’s typically thorough treatment of serial verb constructions in her monograph on the subject.)

    This is indeed orthogonal to the question about whether English has a future tense (though, personally, I agree with CGEL about that too.)

  78. PlasticPaddy says

    @Bathrobe
    I do not understand why “began writing” and “is writing” are considered analogous. You can say “began to write” with little or no semantic alteration, but “is to write” is (haha, yet another) “(immediate/indefinite) future tense”. But maybe this is irrelevant. Note that I would say that “is writing” is more analogous to “keeps (on) writing”, where *”keeps (on) to write” is for me impossible, unless you are L1 French speaker etc.

  79. David Marjanović says

    And what a small file it is! It’ll probably take me months to read on the side… but… 🙂

    “From a structural point of view, English verbs are inflected for only two tenses: present and past

    …that doesn’t say if English has tenses that aren’t made by means of inflection.

  80. Bathrobe says

    @ DM

    Yes, there is lots of room for indeterminacy or vagueness about this.

    The Longman Grammar of Spoken and Written English doesn’t provide any argumentation for their treatment, which leaves you wondering exactly why they chose that analysis.

    Both The Longman Grammar of Spoken and Written English and The Longman Student Grammar of Spoken and Written English (which is more orderly and easier to understand) can be downloaded from the Internet. Just Google around for a pdf download of the two books. They are big books.

    I also found Quirk et al’s Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language, which is older and more conventional.

    @PlasticPaddy

    That particular analysis is possibly Huddleston’s. (Edit: it might have been Pullum). The analysis is based on structure (tree structures), complements, and adjuncts, not the kind of semantic intuitions you might have.

  81. @Bathrobe: The CGEL has been on my reading list for a long time. I’m going to retire about 10 years from now, maybe there’s a chance to get round to it then. 🙂

  82. PlasticPaddy says

    @bathrobe
    Ok then there is some context where begins writing/is writing / keeps (on) writing are all analogous constructions but the transformation writing->to write is possible only for begins, and not for is (is to write then being a Gallicism or separate development) and keeps (on). Is this clear from the tree model or is it separately postulated? I am genuinely curious, but if your answer is “Go read XYZ and stop pestering me”, that is OK ????

  83. Bathrobe says

    I find the CGEL maddening to read. Their arguments are enlightening but you have to reorient your brain to accept a different way of looking at structures from traditional grammar — e.g., Plastic Paddy’s objection to treating “is doing” the same way as “begins doing”. You have to analyse every single construction in terms of “complements” and “adjuncts”, which doesn’t come natural to me.

  84. Bathrobe says

    @PlasticPaddy

    CGEL don’t adopt a transformational framework. It has a complex section about ‘catenative verbs’. Their classification is like this (abbreviated) [Note: simple = no object, complex = having object]

    Class 1: catenative verbs appearing only in the simple construction

    a) bare infinitival complement (can, dare, do, had better,…)

    b) to infinitival complement: ordinary subject (decide, choose…); raised subject (seem, appear…).

    c) to-infinitival or gerund-participial complement (attempt, bother….)

    d) gerund-participial only: ordinary subject (avoid, complete, consider…); raised subject (be = continuous, end up, keep…)

    e) past-participle only (be, have, get)

    Class 2: catenative verbs appearing in both simple and complex constructions

    a) to-infinitival but not gerund-participial: plain-complex, with ordinary subject (ask, help….); plain-complex with raised object (expect, claim, desire…); for-complex (long, clamour, pine….); oblique-complex (motion, signal)

    b) to infinitival or gerund-participial: both form-types can be simple or complex, genitive allowed (hate, like…); both form-types can be simple or complex, no genitive (need, want); to-infinitival simple or complex, gerund-participial permitted only in simple construction (intend, want).

    c) gerund-participial only: simple construction has control by subject (abhor, anticipate, abhor, delay, enjoy…); simple construction has non-syntactic interpretation of the missing subject (advocate, include…)

    Class 3: catenative verbs appearing only in complex construction

    a) infinitival but not gerund participial: plain-complex with ordinary object (urge, accustom, assist, remind….); plain-complex with raised object (assume, accept, cause, allow….); oblique-complex (appeal, bank (on)….).

    b) infinitival, gerund-participial, or past-participial: no matrix passivisation (get (to), have); matrix passive allowed (feel, hear, notice…).

    c) gerund-participial only: genitive possible (prevent, excuse, pardon….); no genitive (catch, discover, smell…).

    This is highly simplified, the merest skeleton. It’s remarkable how minutely they’ve divided these quite intricate patterns up. Once you see this you can understand how much non-native learners have to put up with to learn English. Not a simple language.

  85. Pullum and Huddleston are usually right and (in my experience) never actually wrong. Sometimes their way of describing grammatical categories seems unnecessarily complicated in particular instances, but that level of complexity will have definite advantages elsewhere. I don’t know much about Huddleston’s background, but I have imagined that the book’s flexible grammatical format may have been influenced by Geoffrey Pullum’s intimate exposure to multiple regional standard Englishes.

  86. Huddleston started it, Pullum continued it, a lot of other people participated in it. Read all about it.

  87. Stu Clayton says

    Once you see this you can understand how much non-native learners have to put up with to learn English. Not a simple language.

    Molecular biology is not easy to learn. Nevertheless living is simple.

  88. Just as speaking your own language is.

  89. Bathrobe says

    I erred above. CGEL does recognise the traditional tenses (apart from the Future tenses). What is different is their “constituency analysis” (that is what I’d call it), which is ruthless in its adoption of the head-complement-adjunct analysis. This is what leads them to make a number of innovations, such as reclassifying conjunctions like “before” as “prepositions” heading a clause. (“Prepositions”, of course, are the head of the PP.)

    (I’m writing this off the top of my head so my presentation/terminology might not be totally accurate. But I think I’ve captured the spirit and why I find it so hard to wrap my head around it.)

    I should make a declaration of “interest” here: I studied under Huddleston in 1972-1974. At that time I was exposed to his proof that the Future Tense is actually just a modal + verb. It was very persuasive and I’ve never had cause to doubt it since, although in a comparison with, say, German, it does appear that English has a much stronger requirement of explicitly expressing futurity (of time), and that there is a tendency towards “grammaticalising” the modal. But morphologically, the so-called Future Tense is still a modal, which is shown in the way it interacts with the rest of the verb system. (This would appear to vary with the dialect, as demonstrated by examples like “will can” that were pointed out above.)

  90. marie-lucie says

    Plastic Paddy: I would say that “is writing” is more analogous to “keeps (on) writing”, where *”keeps (on) to write” is for me impossible, unless you are L1 French speaker etc.

    I am an L1 French speaker and I would never say keeps (on) to write instead of keeps (on) writing. What makes you think that I (or another similarly described person) would say it? Oh, continue à écrire? But I am a linguist and I know better than to slavishly follow the individual words of a sentence.

  91. Tangentially, are the huddle in Huddleston and the hiddle in Hiddleston somehow related?

  92. David Marjanović says

    But morphologically, the so-called Future Tense is still a modal, which is shown in the way it interacts with the rest of the verb system.

    Yes, as beautifully illustrated above by the fact that in the future we’ll still be going to have flying cars! My point is that to define tenses morphologically is an error. This particular modal construction is so grammaticalized it should be considered a future tense – though it was clearly less grammaticalized just 300 years ago.

    will can

    I think that’s a different innovation: the creation of an infinitive for can. After all, will be able to is unremarkable. (And German has had highly irregular* infinitives for all the preterito-presents since time immemorial – können, müssen, dürfen, wollen, wissen – so that “I’ll be able to” is simply ich werde können.)

    (* With just as irregular variation as to what those irregular forms are in different dialects.)

  93. Bathrobe says

    My point is that to define tenses morphologically is an error. This particular modal construction is so grammaticalized it should be considered a future tense

    When “will” leaves behind its origins as a modal auxiliary, maybe. But what is the difference from:

    “in the future we could still be going to have flying cars”

    “in the future we might still be going to have flying cars”

    “in the future we shall still be going to have flying cars”

    “in the future we can still be going to have flying cars, as long as someone in your story hasn’t already invented them”

    They all indicate futurity, and they all act like modal auxiliaries. It’s true that “will be” has become a very common collocation; that does not mean it has been “grammaticalised”. “Grammaticalised” implies that it is a grammatical unit that has in some way become detached from its morphological origins. In the above case it manifestly has not. It still operates within its original parameters as a modal auxiliary. The only basis for saying that “will + verb” is a tense is that you have decided you want it as a tense. As it is, your grammar is going to have to have a special rule for those cases where “will” can’t be used for indicating futurity, i.e. when you already have “could”, “might”, “shall” etc. fulfilling that role. A rule like, “‘Will’ is the Future Tense in English, as long as there isn’t already a modal auxiliary in that position”.

    I haven’t read the Declerck paper yet, but from a glance it looks like he is basing his classification on something more elaborate than the superficial observation that “We use ‘will’ to indicate futurity in English”.

  94. David Marjanović says

    highly irregular* infinitives

    …in a way, not at all, because they’re all identical to the 1/3pl as expected. Those, in turn, are irregular because they’re preterito-presents.

    But then, this identity (with the single exception of sein, 1/3pl sind) has held for the last 500 years or so, just like in English…

    They all indicate futurity

    But in these examples that’s marked (grammatically) by going to and (lexically) by future, not by could or might.

    We could still have flying cars
    We might still have flying cars

    are about the present, unless context suggests they’re actually about the future.

    Shall does mark the future, but it’s purely literary by now, and retreating to archaic status even there: it competed with will, and will has won.

    Like this:

    Stage 1 (16th century?): no future
    I will “I want to”
    I shall “I’m supposed to”
    I’m going to “I’m physically moving my ass somewhere else in order to do stuff there”

    Stage 2 (18th century?): the English become so polite to each other that “supposed to” is a more common thing to express than “want to” about the first person, but the inverse about the second and third person. Another effect of this is the loss of thou and its verb forms.
    will ~ shall: sort of indefinite future; segregated by person except for melodramatic expressions like I shall do my duty
    going to: sort of definite future, avoided in literary registers because Latin has only one future tense

    Stage 3 (present): shall for future loses out to will because it’s less common overall; at the same time, shall for “supposed to, ought to” loses out to its own subjunctive should, contributing to a general decrease in the frequency of shall that may even contribute to its loss from the future-marking expression
    will: sort of indefinite future
    going to: sort of definite future

    Similar shades of grammaticalization can be observed elsewhere. The example that comes to mind exhibits them in space rather than just time, so we don’t need to reconstruct any from philological study or whatever. All along the Rhine, German has a progressive aspect in its grammar:

    ich bin am Lesen “I’m reading” (literally “I’m at the reading”)
    ich bin das Buch am Lesen “I’m reading the book”

    For many people the use of this rheinische Verlaufsform seems to be obligatory. There are people who have called for this phenomenon to be taught as a part of German grammar like any other when German is taught as a foreign language, even though the construction with an object is, so far, strictly kept out of the written standard.

    But farther east, the construction with an object is wholly unknown; the construction without an object is much less often used than in the west in the same situations, and when it is used, am is used maybe half as often as beim, and the word gerade* “right now” is often used with it and at least as often instead of it; it also remains the only option to explicitly mark “right now” when there’s an object – and it’s not obligatory to express that at all whether or not there’s an object involved.

    So we have the same thing twice, once apparently fully grammaticalized, once much less so: once its form is fixed and its application is determined by the grammar, once its form and whether it’s actually applied when it can be depend on the whim of the speaker, and the range of situations when it can be used is restricted in a way that doesn’t make grammatical sense.

    * A single syllable in most dia- and mesolects, two in most or perhaps all of the rest.

  95. “in the future we could still be going to have flying cars”

    “in the future we might still be going to have flying cars”

    “in the future we shall still be going to have flying cars”

    “in the future we can still be going to have flying cars, as long as someone in your story hasn’t already invented them”
    All these, except for “shall” in those varieties of English where “shall” is used instead of “will” , express more than simple indicative modality of future events. It’s only “will” and the present tense forms of “be going to”, that can be used as future indicative.

  96. PlasticPaddy says

    @m-l
    I am extremely sorry for singling out French L1 speakers or giving the impression that many of these say things like *keep (on) + INF(with “to”) when they are beyond, say A2-B1 level in English.

  97. PlasticPaddy says

    @Bathrobe
    For me, a grammar is just a description with a finite set of terms and rules (i.e. relations between the terms) which allow me to label, say, any sentence (this is a term) as correct (according to the rules), incorrect (according to the rules) or undecidable (rules conflict or do not address). So one grammarian’s terms and rules are different from another’s (or the terms are the same, but have different scope or meaning). The Latin–influenced English grammarian used terms like accusative and dative case, and the corresponding rules related to e.g., placement of direct and indirect objects and pronoun declension. The Latin phraseology is probably unintuitive and would create a strange bias in someone who knows Latin well, so that such a person could create rules which are foreign to English, e.g., say “It is/am I” instead of “It is me”. But from what you have said about the CGEL treatment of “catenative verbs” (Latin phraseology!) I am not sure their approach is more intuitive than a Latin grammarian’s. I believe there are several separate issues involved, i.e. verb aspects (e.g., complete, ongoing, repetitive), sentence focus (e.g., focus on action, process or result), etc., that explain the selection between or non-availability of VERB + (to/0) INF and VERB + GERUND for a given VERB. Note also the present system has developed from a different system (itself messy!) so that sentences like I am tired of waiting, i.e., PASSIVE + of + GERUND mean the same as I am fed up waiting, PASSIVE + 0 + GERUND or I am fed up with waiting, i.e., PASSIVE + with + GERUND. So instead of creating N subclasses of catenative verbs I would prefer a rougher approach with one class and selection of alternative subject to additional concerns that are elaborated elsewhere.

  98. I am not sure their approach is more intuitive than a Latin grammarian’s.

    I suspect they were trying to be accurate, not intuitive. Intuitions, after all, often lead us astray.

  99. PlasticPaddy says

    @hat
    I agree that exhaustive treatments of messy systems have to be unintuitive. What I meant is that the unintuitive bits (edge cases, arbitrary choices or lack of choices, exceptions) go in the footnotes, so to speak, and not in the main body of the text.

  100. Gotcha!

  101. David Eddyshaw says

    For me, a grammar is just a description with a finite set of terms and rules (i.e. relations between the terms) which allow me to label, say, any sentence (this is a term) as correct (according to the rules), incorrect (according to the rules) or undecidable (rules conflict or do not address).

    For a constructed formal language, yes. No such grammar exists for any real human language, and such grammars may well be actually impossible (as opposed to “not yet available.”)

    Real grammars are exploratory works-in-progress; CGEL is an excellent example. Like poems, proper descriptive grammars are “never finished, only abandoned.”

  102. PlasticPaddy says

    @de
    Of course. You are the author of such a grammar. It is clear I would have to read CGEL in its entirety to make any informed comment. Before I succeed in annoying yet another person who has put in more years of study and work than are left to me, even if my aptitude for the study and work were equivalent to theirs:
    1. I do not think a grammar is something that an automaton should be able to read or write;
    2. I do think that one elaboration of a language’s grammar can be more concise and more cohesive than another elaboration, even when both elaborations have identical descriptive coverage. This is more what I mean by “intuitive”, i.e., conciseness and cohesion increases comprehensibility and is then more “intuitive”.
    3. I agree that using Latin terms, which denote word alterations in Latin but not English, can be confusing.
    4. I would also say that two identical English forms may need to be distinguished grammatically, e.g., what I would call GERUND and PARTICIPLE.

  103. You could also say that the important thing is what the language can express, and what it is obligated to express, and that the means to do so, whether tightly bound morphology or not at all tightly bound adverbials, are more of a side issue. In this case, futurity is much more clearly present as a category in English.

    Isn’t that the approach of some Functionalist schools and of Construction Grammar? I don’t know much about grammatical theories.

  104. David Eddyshaw says

    I do think that one elaboration of a language’s grammar can be more concise and more cohesive than another elaboration, even when both elaborations have identical descriptive coverage

    Absolutely: no quarrel with that at all, and I now see what you mean in this context (though I don’t agree about CGEL in particular: as I say, I find their analyses very helpful myself.)

    An example from my own experience: I rejigged the tonal description in my Kusaal grammar from an earlier version with two basic tones to one with three in the course of its development. The three-tone system enabled me to get rid of several tone sandhi rules, the only real downside being that the two-tone system was easier to match up with the systems of the other Western Oti-Volta languages, and clearly explained the origin of the three surface tones. I eventually came to the conclusion that, pretty as the two-tone system was theoretically, that sort of thing really belonged in a comparative or diachronic account, not in a synchronic description. But the two systems are actually isomorphic.

    (I don’t think it’s just me: there seems to be something about terracing tone systems that tempts grammar-writers into beautiful high-level abstraction; it may be an unfortunate side effect of the important role African tone languages have played in the development of modern analyses of tone, that the theory easily tends to overwhelm the actual description.)

  105. @David Marjanović: I think I agree with your description of the English future, except on one point. You seem to underestimate the continued use of shall. It is certainly much less common than will, but the two offer equally grammaticalized future constructions, and shall is not on the verge of becoming archaic. The frequency of shall varies a great deal by region and individual, but it remains, in almost all cases, unremarkable; and while shall can sometimes be used to signify an elevated register, it does not necessarily have to.

  106. From this Californian POV, I have never heard or seen shall in contemporary usage, except in very specific legal contexts, where it signifies an obligation to some future action. (Aside from jokey imitations of imagined Ye Olde or stuffy British usages and such.)

  107. PlasticPaddy says

    I thought Californians would have occasions to hear “We shall not, we shall not be moved…”. But maybe that does not qualify as “contemporary usage” (and maybe you do not want to tempt fate with these words…).

  108. will ~ shall: sort of indefinite future; segregated by person except for melodramatic expressions like I shall do my duty

    It is/was a lot more complex than that; there’s an enlightening discussion in The King’s English.

    A student once offered the following minimal pair:

    I shall drown and no one will save me: accident
    I will drown and no one shall save me: suicide

  109. PP: Sure, and “We shall overcome”, and “We shall fight on the beaches”, but no one speaks like this, not even in soul-stirring speeches.

  110. But maybe that does not qualify as “contemporary usage”

    Certainly not. TR’s minimal pair would be a good qualifying test; I’m pretty sure few if any people in the US would be able to explain the difference, let alone say “I shall drown” spontaneously. That’s irrelevant for usage in other countries, of course.

  111. David Eddyshaw says

    I use shall rather than will for first persons, except where – as usual – I just use ‘ll, but (a) I am old and British and (b) I was probably brainwashed into it as a child. I certainly remember the “rule” being taught prescriptively, though even straitlaced Scots schoolmistresses expressed some doubt about its actual validity at the time. The youngest of my children does, too, but he was at Cambridge and thus doesn’t count.

    TR’s minimal pair was customarily used for this very purpose of brainwashing (what it actually shows, of course, is a foreigner’s charitable misunderstanding of the Englishman’s notorious indifference to the troubles of people with funny accents.)

  112. David Marjanović says

    I shall drown and no one will save me: accident
    I will drown and no one shall save me: suicide

    Beautiful! But this belongs between my first two stages: both shall and will clearly express future here, but they also still have their etymological meanings or nearly so – I shall meaning “I am fated” ( < “I ought to, because a Higher Authority has decided that I ought to”), I will meaning “I want to”.

    It’s not going to occur today*, though, unless in deliberate imitations of literature from that period.

    * Definite prediction about the present.

  113. As I said, use of shall varies by region and by individual. It was not much used on the west coast when I was growing up there, nor in Boston when I was in college and graduate school—although I knew at least one Massachusetts local who used shall naturally. However, I definitely do hear it around South Carolina, still must less commonly than will, but undeniably present; moreover, I see it in writing (which obviously tends to be somewhat more formal) even more than I hear it spoken.

    I have an impression that shall is also relatively more common in some British sociolects, especially in questions where shall and will are not synonymous.* However, having never lived in Britain, I don’t necessarily trust my intuition on that point.

    * “Shall we go?” is not the same as “Will we go?” However, it might be argued that these are only incidentally future constructions and that the main function of shall or will in these questions is as a modal, not a analytic tense marker—since (unlike in German) in English a question that starts with a verb generally has to use a modal or a form of be.

  114. David Marjanović says

    It is/was a lot more complex than that; there’s an enlightening discussion in The King’s English.

    Interesting indeed, but what’s most complex about it is the convoluted explanations of why something that seems wrong by the stated rules is actually right and vice versa…

    However, it might be argued that these are only incidentally future constructions and that the main function of shall or will in these questions is as a modal, not a analytic tense marker—

    Speaking of German… it does this without even alluding to the future: Gehen wir? In English, are we going would be interpreted as explicitly present… and… oh, there’s this marginal use: So, what do we do now? Do we stay or do we go?

    Funnily enough, Wollen wir gehen? seems to be widely used somewhere in northern Germany. It strikes me as asking what your own hivemind wants.

  115. On one occasion, during my early years in the United States, I replied “I shan’t be going” in response to some question about my plans for the weekend. This induced riotous hilarity in everyone present, and I have avoided the word ever since.

  116. Bathrobe says

    Something wonky about this one:

    We might still have flying cars…. about the present, unless context suggests they’re actually about the future.”

    Not sure why you confine might to the present by default. Of course it helps your case but it doesn’t make much sense.

    I’ll go
    I might go
    I may go (not in sense of permission).

    are all about the future. See also the nuances that emerge with stress:

    I WILL go
    I MIGHT go
    I MAY go

    In the first, will is not a plain vanilla future. It’s actually not necessarily even a prediction. It’s a statement of determination in many cases.

    You are trying to establish will as a plain indicative future, but the result is to hive off all the usages and patterns that don’t fit in with your plan. That includes the usage that you haven’t satisfactorily explained: Why can’t we say I will can? Your view is that it’s “a different innovation: the creation of an infinitive for can“. But it’s not simply that: it represents the removal of can from the set of modal auxiliaries. And it’s precisely because both can and will are modal auxiliaries that your putative grammar treating “will + verb” as Future Tense needs extra rules to explain why will can, will might, will must don’t exist. The easy answer is that will, can, shall, must etc. are all modal auxiliaries. You, on the other hand, will have to make up a special rule explaining why the Future Tense has a defective conjugation.

    The fact that (i) will isn’t ONLY used as a “simple indicative modality of future events” (as per Hans) — uses not confirming will have to be explained as “exceptions”, and (ii) your rules will have to explain the defective conjugation of your “Future Tense”, both suggest that your approach is faulty.

    Then there is going to. If will is “simple indicative modality of future events”, what exactly is going to?

    Which brings me to DM’s comment on a particular German usage: There are people who have called for this phenomenon to be taught as a part of German grammar like any other when German is taught as a foreign language.

    The same could be said of going to and various other tenses used for future events. “Will + verb” is taught to students (i) because of the influence of Latin grammar and (ii) the need to teach students some kind of Future Tense. Then people realised that going to / gonna is also used for future events, so adding that to the curriculum became a good idea. But in fact, the whole range of English futures, including the Non-past Tense, the Present Continuous, and the various modal auxiliaries used with future meaning also need to be taught to students if they are going to learn how to speak English. But including “will + verb” and “going to + verb” in pedagogical contexts as a handy crutch for students is not the same as writing a grammar of English.

    Japanese high-school students are taught that “will + verb” should be translated as darō for third person, and as the plain non-Past for first person. Darō is used to indicate possibilities.

    In response to a question about who is going, the answer will be translated as follows:

    “I’ll go” is translated as boku ga iku (“I’ll go”), because I can speak with certainty about myself.
    “He’ll go” is translated as kare ga iku darō (“He’ll probably go”), because I can’t speak with certainty about him.

    This says more about the modality of Japanese darō than it does about the English modals, but it also brings out the nuances that are involved in a so-called “simple indicative modality of future events”, as seen in the difference in meaning between “I’ll go” and “I WILL go”.

  117. John Cowan says

    “I’ll go” is translated as boku ga iku (“I’ll go”), because I can speak with certainty about myself.

    Only if you know the future beyond all doubt, which no one does. I remember reading about a Pacific language (I forget its name) in which the future and the present-out-of-sight are both Irrealis, because Realis and Irrealis are all there is.

  118. Bathrobe says

    Of course you don’t know. You might die tonight. But the speaker is sure of his own intentions whereas he can only surmise about someone else’s. At least that’s how Japanese treats it.

    Incidentally, I ignored the difference that using wa instead of ga might make, but it’s immaterial to the modality.

  119. Bathrobe says

    @ PlasticPaddy

    Note also the present system has developed from a different system (itself messy!) so that sentences like I am tired of waiting, i.e., PASSIVE + of + GERUND mean the same as I am fed up waiting, PASSIVE + 0 + GERUND or I am fed up with waiting, i.e., PASSIVE + with + GERUND. So instead of creating N subclasses of catenative verbs I would prefer a rougher approach with one class and selection of alternative subject to additional concerns that are elaborated elsewhere.

    CGEL doesn’t recognise the distinction between GERUND and PARTICIPLE, by the way.

    With regard to your example of “tired of” and “fed up with”, I haven’t checked but I think the prepositions would be “licensed” by the participial expression, as specified in the lexicon. (One of the problems with CGEL is that things can be so darned hard to find. I could try to find where they treat the use of expressions like “tired of” and “fed up with”, but it might take ages.)

  120. Bathrobe says

    @ DM

    Y said: “You could also say that the important thing is what the language can express, and what it is obligated to express, and that the means to do so, whether tightly bound morphology or not at all tightly bound adverbials, are more of a side issue. In this case, futurity is much more clearly present as a category in English.”

    I think I would partly agree with this. There is no doubt more to the English verb system than plain morphology suggests. But to say “that to define tenses morphologically is an error” is trying to have your cake and eat it too. If you don’t want to base your verb system on morphology, then don’t bring quasi-morphological properties into it at all. Hans seems to be saying that English has two future tenses. These appear to be identified as “constructions”, independent of the total verb system, and with a need to add ad hoc “footnotes” everywhere to explain why the exceptions occur (defective conjugation, etc).

    If you get your morphological framework right, the tenses and their peculiarities also fall into place. As Plastic Paddy said, “I do think that one elaboration of a language’s grammar can be more concise and more cohesive than another elaboration, even when both elaborations have identical descriptive coverage.” The morphological analysis is the more coherent and regular analysis and gives a better framework for dealing with the messy parts.

  121. PlasticPaddy says

    @bathrobe
    my reason for distinguishing GERUND from PARTICIPLE would be to separate the purely complementary verbal function of PARTICIPLE from the adjectival and noun functions of GERUND. But INFINITIVE (quite rarely, as in “to be …that is the question”) also can have a noun (although not adjectival) function (or is this just an affectation of authors who were forced to read little Latin and less Greek?????). So maybe it is indeed simpler to combine GERUND and PARTICIPLE. I will refrain from further comment until I have completed reading of CGEL (or, even less likely, produced my own alternative).

  122. David Marjanović says

    You are trying to establish will as a plain indicative future

    I keep telling you I’m not. I am not the people Pullum & Huddleston were arguing against.

    English doesn’t have a “plain indicative future” because it divides that function between two tenses, neither of which is “plain” or any kind of default.

    Compare the past tenses. German has two plain ones: they mean nothing more than “past”, and the difference in usage between the two depends purely on stylistic considerations. In English, there’s no such thing: every past situation is correctly described with either the Past Simple or the Past Progressive or the Present Perfect Simple, and the other two are wrong. The Past Simple is only morphologically simple; it expresses quite specifically that something happened at a point in time, is now over, and doesn’t have effects on the present situation that the speaker cares about.

    […]
    I might go
    I may go (not in sense of permission).

    are all about the future.

    That’s because a habitual present interpretation doesn’t make much sense, and to express a plain present meaning you’d use be going.

    Might go could still have a counterfactual habitual present meaning: “If things had happened differently, I might actually go there every week”… right?

    The easy answer is that will, can, shall, must etc. are all modal auxiliaries.

    Why should modal auxiliaries lack infinitives? Because they do, independent of any future-tense considerations – even though every other English verb has one.

    If you don’t want to base your verb system on morphology, then don’t bring quasi-morphological properties into it at all.

    Honest question: did I? I didn’t notice, but I’m sure I’m capable of doing that without noticing.

  123. Bathrobe says

    Honest question: did I?

    Yes, my statement wasn’t clear at all.

    What I meant was: If you want to adopt a purely semantically-based analysis, base it completely on semantics, with all the complex mappings to actual verb forms that that would entail. Maybe you can come up with a coherent system that captures covert categories — I’m waiting. Otherwise, it’s cleaner to base an explanation on morphology (and paradigms) and show how that maps to semantics.

    I’m sorry if I lumped you and Hans together. You seemed to be conveying the same message.

  124. John Cowan says

    I think what’s important to hold in mind when talking about CGEL is that there are two completely distinct groups of terms: terms that name forms and terms that name functions. As a simple instance, in black dog, dog is the head and black is the modifier, and the same is true in house dog. This is functional language. But house and dog are both nouns, whereas black is an adjective, because of the distributional restrictions on their use: the house, the dog, *the black, the house is large, the dog is large, *the blue is large. This is the language of forms (unfortunately formal language means something else). By the same token, gerund-participle is the name of a form which covers many functions, and in some sentences it is not even clear which function it serves.

    This, along with a lot of other things that will occur to Linguists (field-specific terminology) are covered in Calicover’s review.

    ======

    The latest Square Thick Book is another anthology, Sino-Tibetan, edited by Thurgood and LaPolla. Chapters:

    Overview: S-T subgrouping (Thurgood), S-T morphosyntax (LaPolla), S-T word order (Dryer).

    Old Chinese and Chinese dialects: Zhou Chinese grammar (Herforth), Chinese dialect phonology (Norman), Chinese dialect grammar (Anne Yue), Mandarin dialects (Da-han Ho), Shanghai (Eric Zee, Liejiong Xu), Cantonese (Robert S. Bauer and Stephen Matthews), Chinese writing (Mark Hansell).

    T-B languages of NE India (Burling).

    Lolo-Burmese languages: Burmese (Wheatley), Lahu (Matisoff), Lihu (David Bradley), Akha (Inga-Lill Hansson).

    Bodish languages: Classical Tibetan (DeLancey), Lhasa TIbetan (DeLancey).

    TGTM languages: Tamang (Martine Mazaudon), Chantyal (Michael Noonan), Nar-Phu (Michal Noonan), Dolakha Newar (Carol Genetti), Khatmandu Newar (Hargreaves).

    NE India: Garo (Burling), Jinghpo (Dai Qingxia and Lon Diehl), Hakha Lai (Peterson), Meithei (Shobhana Chelliah), Tshangla (Erik Andvik), Tani languages (Jacskon T.-S. Sun).

    Gyalrong languages: Cogtse Gyarong (Yasuhiko Nagano)l, Caodeng rGyalrong (Jacson T.-S. Sun).

    Kiranti languages (Karen Ebert), Hayu (Boyd Michailovsky), Camling (Karen Ebert), Belhare (Balthasar Bickel).

    Qiangic languages: Qiang (LaPolla), Prinmi (Picus Sizhi Ding), Tangut (Gong Hwang-Cherng).

    Karen languages: Eastern Kayah Li (Solnit), Pwo Karen (Atsuhiko Kato).

    Other Languages: Yunnan Bai (Grace Wiersma), Dulong (LaPolla), Kham (David Watters), Lepcha (Heleen Plaisier).

  125. David Marjanović says

    Calicover’s review

    The missing link.

  126. Bathrobe says

    Quite literally missing…. Not even Google can find it.

  127. PlasticPaddy says
  128. @Bathrobe: Just to clarify, my approach is NOT a semantic approach (*”all the ways you can talk about the future constitute a / the future tense of a language”), but it tries to identify certain combinations of form and function that are stable and obligatory. One function is to make indicative statements about the future, and in English, that is done by using the “will” construction, the “going to” construction, and, in a much more limited scope than in other Germanic languages, the simple present tense; and they are obligatory in that not using them will result in utterances that are ungrammatical or will be understood as not being indicative statements about the future. English clearly has future tenses in that expressing future indicative reference with special forms is obligatory in a lot of cases where it isn’t in other languages; the only remaining question is whether doing that is the main / basic function of the formations used for that*1). After all, grammatical forms can have several functions; the English past tense isn’t used only to refer to past facts either, but can be used for hypotheticals and counterfactuals in the present.
    *1) On which point my position isn’t fixed – it’s only that many of the other functions you mention are also found with future tenses in other languages that have different etymologies and different places in the morphological systems than the formally modal construction of English, so it needs to be checked whether their functional center is the use of the future tense for predictions or not.

  129. John Cowan says

    Oopsie. Here it is: https://www.cogsci.msu.edu/DSS/2005-2006/Culicover/CGEL%20Review.pdf

    in a much more limited scope than in other Germanic languages, the simple present tense

    I would say that both the Simple Present and the Present Progressive can express the future in the same semantic distribution as the present: I have a lesson today/tomorrow vs. The building is being demolished today/tomorrow.

  130. JC, do They demolish the building tomorrow and They are demolishing the building tomorrow mean exactly the same to you?

  131. Bathrobe says

    For me, there is a slight difference. “They demolish the building tomorrow” is a straightforward statement. “They’re demolishing the building tomorrow” implicitly means that they have decided/made plans to demolish the building tomorrow.

  132. So, for one, indefinite vs. definite they?

  133. Bathrobe says

    It could be either. But are -ing to me suggests that something is set to happen, although not as strongly as saying are going to –.

    I find the nuances slightly difficult to catch. What is the difference between:

    It rains tomorrow
    It’s raining tomorrow
    It’s going to rain tomorrow

    The first is strange unless it occurs in a subordinate clause (e.g., if it rains tomorrow). So, what is the difference between the following?

    If it rains tomorrow (we’ll have to call it off)
    If it’s raining tomorrow (at the time we want to do such and such activity or at least need to make a decision, we’ll have to call it off)
    If it’s going to rain tomorrow (we should call it off now).

    The meaning of these forms in an ‘if’ clause differs from that a main clause.

  134. It seems like even the simple sentences need to be embedded in a larger discourse to make the distinct usages clear.

  135. Bathrobe says

    I was wrong about If it’s raining tomorrow. The meaning could also be future: If it’s raining tomorrow, then why are we still making plans to go?, similar in meaning to If it’s going to rain tomorrow, then why are we still making plans to go?

    @ Hans

    the only remaining question is whether doing that is the main / basic function of the formations used for that. After all, grammatical forms can have several functions; the English past tense isn’t used only to refer to past facts either, but can be used for hypotheticals and counterfactuals in the present.

    With regard to whether that is the main/basic function of the formations used for that: many of the other functions you mention are also found with future tenses in other languages that have different etymologies and different places in the morphological systems than the formally modal construction of English, so it needs to be checked whether their functional center is the use of the future tense for predictions or not.

    I disagree with this. I don’t think the “will” future has sufficiently broken free from its moorings to declare it a “tense”. It’s not like a Lego block that can be neatly detached from its surrounding blocks, like an independent module. When you try to detach it, you find it has organic threads and links running everywhere that tie it into the existing system, threads and links that will be left dangling if you declare it a “tense”, along with a messy hole in the system itself. That is why I keep hammering at the fact that your new tense has too many exceptions and special provisions relating to its semantics, its morphology (it has a past tense), and its syntactic behaviour (especially with other modals) to be neatly isolated as a tense. Declaring it a tense does violence to the system as a whole and, more importantly, actually complicates any description of the English tense and modal system.*

    This is not to say that the English tense and modal system isn’t gradually breaking down. But the system is still there, and “will” is still deeply embedded in that system.

    *The silly example of “will be going to” that was triumphantly trotted out only shows that “will” can be used with the verb “to be” (because “will” is a modal). It can’t be used with other modals, though, which rather screws up any simple characterisation of “will” as a future tense marker.

  136. David Marjanović says

    its morphology (it has a past tense)

    Pretty much any synthetic tense that involves a present-tense auxiliary verb inevitably has a past tense, or rather an obvious way to spontaneously form* a past tense should one be needed. German has exact analogues to the Past Perfect and the Future Perfect of English, even though the latter in particular is as rarely used as in English, rarely enough that it’s probably spontaneously coined anew at least as often as actually remembered and used deliberately.

    German does not have a future-in-the-past. The reason is clearly the auxiliary verb: while will in English is not in independent use as a verb (outside of the archaic register where you can will things into existence, perhaps by saying “I will it thus”), werden in German is the ordinary way to say “become”, so if anyone heard **ich wurde machen, they’d try to parse it as “I became to make” and produce an error message. Or perhaps they’d interpret it as the synthetic conditional, ich würde machen “I would do [X in situation Y]”, in a very foreign accent.

    * Like the previously unattested will be going to. If you had ever needed a future-in-the-future, I bet that’s how you were already going to say it before this thread. … …”Previously unattested” my ass. 😮 I just got 76 Mghits, with quotation marks. Some of them are still fake, like “‘willbe going to: what is the difference”, but most on the first page are real.

  137. David Eddyshaw says

    I was wrong above in implying that the Kusaal irrealis mood with past tense marking is necessarily contrary-to-fact: I found a future-in-the-past instance in the Bible translation, viz (John 6:71, referring to Judas)

    onɛ da na ti zam o “who would betray him” [SPOILER: he subsequently did]

    It’s still clearly a mood rather than a tense on other language-internal grounds. But it does show that the line is somewhat blurry in other languages too.

  138. @Bathrobe: Your points require a more detailed response than I have time for at the moment. Maybe on the weekend…

  139. One theory of using simple present with future reference is that it is the “timetable future”, as in “the train leaves at 7:00 a.m. tomorrow” (according to a timetable which already exists and has external authority) and therefore “I leave at 7 tomorrow (by the train)”. But if I’m planning to drive myself and have no external constraints, this feels less appropriate.
    Lots of other complications with the other constructions; “he is meeting her tomorrow” implies for me that both parties know about the plan already, whereas “he is going to meet her tomorrow” is consistent with them being ignorant of the fact (even if the speaker is confident it will happen). And there is also the use of “will” for decisions taken in the moment: “It’s cold in here” – “I’ll close the window, (even though I wasn’t going to because it’s fine for me)”. Some of this courtesy of a TEFL training course.

  140. David Marjanović says

    Pretty much any synthetic tense

    …analytic of course.

    “he is meeting her tomorrow” implies for me that both parties know about the plan already, whereas “he is going to meet her tomorrow” is consistent with them being ignorant of the fact (even if the speaker is confident it will happen).

    Another evidential creeping in!

  141. Bathrobe says

    Like the previously unattested will be going to

    I find it mystifying that you ever thought that this was unattested.

    That said, I couldn’t see a single valid example on the first page of “will + be going to + verb” (i.e., “will + be gonna + verb”) used as a double future tense. Most appeared to concern either (1) the difference between the “will” future and the “be going to” future, or (2) “will + continuous” of the verb “to go”. Sure, “will” + “continuous” both indicate futurity, which is not at all contentious. But that’s not what we’re discussing here. What we are discussing is the use of “will” + “be going to (be gonna)” as double future markers. I didn’t see any examples of this, although maybe Google is serving up different results due to “personalisation”….

    Nevertheless, while “I’ll be going to + verb” (“I’ll be gonna + verb”) is clumsy, I don’t think you can rule out its occurrence in speech. And I don’t think it necessarily means “future-in-the-future” — it could easily be used as a simple future.

  142. My favorite German future perfect sentence (which illustrates a number of other verb structures as well) has always been: Ich werde schlafen zu gehen angefangen haben.

    It always seems weird to me that the analytic future (and future perfect) using the modals werden in German and will in English are so similar, in spite of the fact that those modals are completely different. It seems like the structure was carried over completely, even as English completely switched over to using the will modal to indicate the future. Even stranger, Modern English lost the other meaning of the verb worth as well, replaced by become! According to the OED, this verb worth* has only one sense that is not obsolete, but merely “archaic and rare”: in the fixed expression “woe worth [s.t., most commonly ‘the day’].”** Of course, there are plenty of related forms that remain common; the suffix –ward is ubiquitous, and weird is common (even if the original meanings related to fate have largely been effaced by those denoting oddity; see, for example, the first sentence of this very paragraph, where I used weird to describe a peculiar contingency of linguistic development—almost the opposite of a destined occurrence).

    * There is another verb coming from the noun worth, which goes back to a different Germanic root.

    ** Check out this extended sequence of punctuation marks (made even longer, of course, by the double asterisk)!

  143. David Marjanović says

    I find it mystifying that you ever thought that this was unattested.

    I don’t live around native speakers, and never have for more than two months at a time. 🙂

    Ich werde schlafen zu gehen angefangen haben.

    Nice!

    -ward

    Huh, I never noticed, perhaps because the connection of -wärts with werden (or even the obsolete 1/3sg past ward) is not self-evident.

  144. David Marjanović says

    Pretty much any […] [analytic] tense that involves a present-tense auxiliary verb inevitably has a past tense, or rather an obvious way to spontaneously form* a past tense should one be needed.

    Here’s the tempus plusquamplusquamperfectum, three levels in the past, as used to my surprise by Luther and Goethe: hatte sich versteckt gehabt (Goethe).

  145. PlasticPaddy says

    „Mignon hatte sich versteckt gehabt, hatte ihn angefaßt und ihn in den Arm gebissen.“
    This is the problem with German heroes: they wait passively and embrace defeat, hoping perhaps for entry to Valhalla and spurning the soft landing, which older and more cynical nations might choose.

  146. David Marjanović says

    This particular hero appears to be a cat.

  147. PlasticPaddy says

    @dm
    Cat?
    Participants in scene:
    Mignon-mysterious orphan from the land where lemons bloom, whose parentage (spoiler alert) is revealed late in the novel, after the “Confession of a Beautiful Soul”
    Wilhelm Meister-titular hero who takes up with actors and other vagabonds, but is (spoiler alert!) converted to Pietism and respectability by the end of the novel, instead of becoming a terrorist, as he might have done, were Schiller or Kleist the author…

  148. David Marjanović says

    Ah. I knew nothing about Wilhelm Meister except the name and the author, and Mignon + biting sounds rather more like a cat.

  149. PlasticPaddy says

    @dm
    Yes, I agree man-on-man biting is not so common. And the name Mignon is also strange (especially for a girl). I cannot say you have missed much by not reading the book. There is also The Wrong Move, if you like Wim Wenders.

  150. Good lord, I just looked it up and discovered mignon “Delicately formed; prettily small or delicate” (e.g., Walter Pater “Bright small creatures of the woodland, with arch baby faces and mignon forms”) is the same word as minion “a follower or underling,” which is an earlier borrowing of French mignon! (For the latter, the OED says only “probably < an Old French base denoting gentleness, charm,” which is oddly reticent for 2002. What Old French base?)

  151. David Marjanović says

    minion

    Good lord indeed.

  152. David Eddyshaw says

    Mignon in yer actual French is of course basically “sweet”; I recall coming across the word first as applied to my brother by his French penfriend when she came to visit, in a fairly evident (and successful) attempt to wind him up. (He was doing the rugged teenage boy thing at the time. This was long before emo.)

  153. ktschwarz says

    mignon: According to OED, American pronunciation retains the stress on the second syllable; British pronunciation is Anglicized with the stress back-shifted to the first syllable, as with garage.

    minion: Since this is an older borrowing and much more common, all pronunciations are fully naturalized, with stress on the first syllable.

    For the latter, the OED says only “probably < an Old French base denoting gentleness, charm,” which is oddly reticent for 2002. What Old French base?

    That appears to be cribbed directly from the TLFI, which says: “Dér. d’un rad. miñ-, exprimant originellement la gentillesse, la grâce”. But other sources (Littré, Französisches Etymologisches Wörterbuch) say it’s from Germanic, cognate with German Minne ‘courtly love’ and ultimately from the same PIE root as mind. Did the TLFI and OED reject the Germanic origin for some reason?

  154. Good question.

  155. ktschwarz says

    Whoops, I didn’t read far enough in the OED; they also say: “Etymologies connecting the word with Early Irish mín soft, Welsh mwyn soft, easy, pleasant, or with Old High German minna love (see mean v.1) are now normally rejected.” Why? I guess we’ll have to do our own literature searching.

    The entry for mean (verb, ‘to intend or signify’; revised 2001) says it *is* cognate with German minna.

  156. meinen “mean” has an obsolete meaning “to love”, which still can be found in the song Freiheit die ich meine. Nowadays, people interpret this as “Freedom, which I have in mind”, but the intended meaning was “Freedom, which I love”.

  157. John Cowan says

    This is the problem with German heroes: they wait passively and embrace defeat, hoping perhaps for entry to Valhalla and spurning the soft landing, which older and more cynical nations might choose.

    Allow me to put the positive side of what Tolkien called “the theory of courage”. Heroes do not wait passively but resist unbendingly; they do not embrace defeat, they know it is inevitable: men die, nations die, causes fail, and at World’s End the gods are not the winners:

    But (and this is what makes it courage and not stupidity), “the gods, who are defeated, think that defeat no refutation.” Tolkien himself saw this courage over and over in the trenches: it was obvious to all except the generals and politicians that the war could not be won there, yet both sides fought on in increasingly Dantesque conditions until disease and starvation forced one side to give up — for the moment. Another expression of the theory is, of course, the slogan “No surrender!”, which shows that the morality of courage is in the defiance itself, not in what is being resisted.

    As for the hope of Valhalla, not only is the theory a defense against depression and despair for the “heathen and hopeless” (Tolkien again), but what is Valhalla? A place where, having been killed in MIddle-earth, you are seized by a harpy and taken to another place where you will be killed in a pointless combat, only to rise again the next day and be killed again, forever — in short, what a Christian would call Hell.

  158. As the dying aristocrat de Boëldieu says to his fellow aristocrat Rauffenstein in La Grande Illusion (certainly one of my top five movies): « Pour un homme du peuple, c’est horrible de mourir à la guerre. Pour vous comme moi, c’est une bonne solution. »

  159. Lars Mathiesen says

    Da mindes, Sw minnas now mean ‘remember’ (but is obsolescent in Danish). My go-to dictionary throws 503 just now, but it’s transparently from the noun minde/minne = ‘memory’ and surely cognate to E mind. (The d in Danish is fake as the Swedish shows, /nþ/ > /n:/ happened in ON if not before).

    It’s not far from ‘remember’ to ‘adore’ as in Minnesänger.

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