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Full text of "The Loom Of Language"

io6                The Loom of Language
Spao:sh5 and Italian have two past tenses and one future, making four
m ail One of the French past tenses has died out m conversation
The examples cired show that the French future is not much like the
Latin form The latter ceased to be used in the later days of the Roman
Empire It made way ior an idiom analogous to our way of expicssing
future action when we say. "I have to go to town to-morrow " This is
just what St Augustine docs Wilting about the coming of the King-
dom of God, he declares, pctant aid non petant venire hdbet (whether
they ask or do not ask, it will come) The combination of the infinitive
venire (to come) with the common Aiyan have verb (fiabere in Latin)
means what the French or the Italian future conveys in a slightly more
compact form. Fusion took place m the modern descendants of Latin
You can see this if you compare the flexions of the present tense of the
Fiench verb "to have" with tLe future forms The present tense of the
verb have in French is as follows
PLRSON                       SINGULAR                                           PLURAL
1                (j*)    ai    I have               (nous)  avons   we   1
2                (tu)   as   you have           (vous)   ave^     you  > have
3,              (il)    a     he has              (ils)      ont       they]
We can get four out of the six personal forms of the French future
tense by simply adding the appropriate foims of the present have to
the "infinitive" form aimer (to love) as follows *
aimer   h ai  aimerai             aimer + (av)ons       aimerons
aimer 4 as - aimeras             aimer + (av)ez    ~ aimcrez
aimer + a   = aimera              aimer + ont        ~ aimeront
This example, representative of the origin of the future tense and
conditional mood forms of the verb in other modern Romance dialects
(P- 339)> shows that ten<$e fleKion, like flexion ot person, can originate
from a process of contraction like what we see at work in such words
as you're and don't It is likely tliat the Latin plupeifect and future
perfect endings correspond to personal derivatives of the arc root of
our verb to fee, because all their endings are identical with corresponding
personal forms of tenses of its Latin equivalent tacked on to the same
stem* i e amav in the example cited To anyone who is English-speaking
this is not surprising, because we use our verb to "be in expressions
which signify past and future tune, eg/ was coming or / am going
Indeed it is not improbable that the BE root turns up m the past imperfect
(e.g. amabam) and the simple futxire (e g. amdbo}
f
Tense flections with the same common meaning may have begun by
agglutination of the root to different elements which decay to a greater