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Full text of "The Loom Of Language"

Modern Descendants of Latin           393
conversation it is still going strong, and the student of Spanish who
has previously learned some French will therefore feel tempted to say
he comprado un sombrero (French j'at achete un chapeau) where the
Spaniard would use the preterite (compre un sombrero)
THE INFINITIVE VERB
We have seen (p 263) that the Anglo-American equivalent of the
verb form called the infinitive of Teutonic languages is identical with
the first person present, and is recognized as such whenever it imme-
diately follows (a) the particle to> or (6) any one of the helper verbs shall,
mil, may., must., can> let, make (meaning compel}, (c) the verbs see, hear,
help, and (somewhat archaically), dare The infinitive of a modern
Romance language, like that of a typical Teutonic language, has its own
characteristic terminal and has the same relation to our own usage That
is to say, it is the verb form which occurs after a preposition, or after
one of the following auxiliaries, which do not take a preposition
SPANISH                                                         FRENCH
querer   (want to)                                 voidoir
deber    (shall;, must)                           devoir
poder    (can, be able to)                     pouvotr
osar      (dare)                                      oser
saber    (know)                                     savoir
hacer    (make, cause)                         faire
dejar    (let, allow)                                laisser
The infinitive without a preceding preposition can also occur after other
French and Spanish verbs A second group which do not take a preposition
includes verbs of seeing and hearing, French voir (see), entendre (hear),
sentir (feel), Spanish ver, oir, sentir. Of the remainder the more important
are. French aimer mteux (prefer), compter (count on), desirer (desire), en-
voyer (send),esperer(hope), failhr (to be on the point of\parahre (appear),
Spanish parecer (appear), desear (desire, want), temer (fear), esperar (hope)
One of the helper verbs given in the two columns printed above calls
for comment The Spanish-French couplet DEBER-DEVOIR, like
the Portuguese DEVER and Italian DOVERE literally mean to owe,
but they can be used as helpers in a compulsive sense by a process of
metaphorical extension parallel to the formation of our word ought,
originally a past tense form of owe The French present, je dois, may
mean / owe or I must, the past j'ai du, I had to, the future je devrai, I
shall have to, and the conditional je devraisy I ought to To use either
devoir and pouvoir or then: equivalents in other Romance languages
correctly, we have to be on the look-out for a pitfall mentioned in
N*