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  #31  
Old September 24, 2012, 09:12 AM
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Nil desperandum

aleC - can you also give a rational explanation for this construction with a subjunctive which I have just read?

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El sábado por la mañana Elizabeth y Collins se encontraron a la hora del desayuno unos minutos antes de que aparecieran los demás;...
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  #32  
Old September 24, 2012, 12:48 PM
BenCondor BenCondor is offline
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I'd like to back off from "Spanish ownership" of the subjunctive for a moment and point out that English does have the subjunctive and that it functions similarly to (though certainly not identically to) the Spanish subjunctive. Let's look at some examples first (source:http://www.ceafinney.com/subjunctive/examples.html) :

I wish it were summer.
Subject line, email spam (2004-01-04)

The ultimate goal of the Arabs is that the distinction be made ...
News, National Public Radio (USA) (2001-01-19)

It's not really vital he be involved in this call.
Conversation (2001-04-03)

It seemed fated that the project take its name from the Scripture celebrating renewal.
Ed Marcum, The News-Sentinel (Knoxville, Tennessee) (2001-03-21)

If it were not for the pleadings of my granddaughter, you would be dead already.
If you weren't a Doone, I could almost like you.
From the movie, Lorna Doone (2000) (A&E, US television) (2001-03-11)

Most English speakers are not grammarians, yet most speakers who are reasonably educated (or at least well-spoken) would sense that things were amiss if the subjunctive were not used in the above examples.

Imagine hearing the following:
"It seemed fated that the project takes its name from the Scripture celebrating renewal."

Wow. That would really sound wrong. Very wrong. But why? Though we do use the subjunctive regularly and even detect bad usage instantly, we don't know why the sentence sounds wrong when it is replaced with a verb conjugated in the indicative mood.

I think, in any language, articulating rules (or even good guidelines) for the subjunctive is a tricky business. The human mind is an immensely powerful language processing machine, but we often don't understand how it actually detects flaws and produces grammatically correct phrases with such an astonishing rate of accuracy.

Just some perspective. Though I'd certainly like to hear some discussion of why the subjunctive is being used in the above examples.

Last edited by BenCondor; September 24, 2012 at 12:55 PM.
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  #33  
Old September 24, 2012, 12:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JSK View Post
Are you kidding?
I am kidding not!

Quote:
Originally Posted by JSK View Post
Right. I am aware of the underlying principle of subjunctive. However, that was not my question. You see, I take this exact princinple and attach it to theory texts and to the example sentences in the book I am supposed to fill out: I was (and still am) asking myself in the first instance how come there are situations in which you start a sentence with a concessive construction but STILL end it with the indicative. What's the difference between
Aunque es/sea verdad, no lo admitirá
and
Por mucho que sea verdad, no lo admitirá
?
There must be SOME difference, but which is it? Why does although allow indicative but no matter how doesn't ?? They, in general, express the same idea of improbability....jeez
My personal memory hook here is that in English I tend to combine no matter how with the modal verbs, whereas although for me is followed by a main verb. But I'm not sure....
Aunque es verdad, no lo admitirá --> I declare it to be the truth to me / I inform others that it is true

Aunque sea verdad, no lo admitirá ---> All the people involved in the conversation is supposed to know that to be true.

Por mucho que sea verdad, no lo admitirá --> it could be also "que es" but it is not so common, because it means the person never accepting it as a fact, so there's no possible world where that is true and that person admits it. The concessive nature of "por mucho que" is regarding the conversation with the other party and not the person that they are talking about. "Aunque ..." is far more a general purpose concessive clause, while in fact "por mucho que" is used as an introduction of an "inefficient cause" so subjunctive comes absolutely natural.

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Originally Posted by JSK View Post
Apart from this, I am still confused about the person who feels deep regret for his/her friend who was late...why is it impossible for everyone in class to say Sentí que no llegabas a tiempo ?
I am again aware that one possible answer here could be that the friend in fact didn't make it on time, so action not happening, so subjunctive. I want to note at this point that the sense of the exercise was to practice the difference between verbs like sentir, decir, acordar, recordar, etc. dependent on the use of subjunctive or indicative. With that background, it just can't be the exclusive one-and-only-idea -that comes to everybody's mind except mine- to use sentir with subjunctive, expressing regret.
Sentí que no llegaras a tiempo ---> I'm sorry you were late
Sentí que no llegabas a tiempo ---> I felt intuitively that you were going to be late/ that you haven't enough time
Sentí que no llegabas a tiempo ---> I was sorry that you were arriving late at that time (I thought "darn! she is going to be late" and I felt sorry about that)---> this sentence is pretty much informal, and a pragmatic one

que no llegaras a tiempo ---> the outcome (a thing) ---> nominal clause
que no llegabas a tiempo ---> a process (an action, that is, also a thing) ---> nominal clause

That is clearly in the speaker's mind at the very millisecond of starting to conceive the idea, way before that is cast into one mood or the other.

Subjunctive doesn't call for verbose solutions, por más que me encanta (addressed to you)/encante (for instance, addressed to Perikles). You have to develop a logic that is before casting the ideas into words and no the other way around.

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Nil desperandum

aleC - can you also give a rational explanation for this construction with a subjunctive which I have just read?



¡Qué pícaro que eres! ¡Cómo si no supieras!

All the "antes de que" phrases have a logical structure like this time line:

|---- se encontraron ---|) xxxxxx (----aparecieron los demás ---->

so both actions exclude each other, then no reality can have both happening at the same time. The focus is in "se encontraron", so the other action -just a reference (adverbial clause)- is shown muffled. If the focus was in the latter action, the phrase has to be:

Elizabeth y Collin ya se habían encontrado unos minutos antes, cuando aparecieron los demás

(se habían encontrado | ------------------------------------>
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (---- aparecieron los demás --->
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  #34  
Old September 24, 2012, 02:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aleCcowaN View Post
IAll the "antes de que" phrases have a logical structure like this time line:

|---- se encontraron ---|) xxxxxx (----aparecieron los demás ---->

so both actions exclude each other, then no reality can have both happening at the same time. The focus is in "se encontraron", so the other action -just a reference (adverbial clause)- is shown muffled. If the focus was in the latter action, the phrase has to be:

Elizabeth y Collin ya se habían encontrado unos minutos antes, cuando aparecieron los demás

(se habían encontrado | ------------------------------------>
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (---- aparecieron los demás --->
I accept your logical explanation, it makes complete sense, thank you.

In my previous post, I said native grammarians can justify their own use of the subjunctive and make it sound totally logical. Here is a good example. You see, the justification of the subjunctive is based on focus, with one verb being muffled, hence subjunctive. But analysis of the sentence is the same in all languages:

(main clause)
Elizabeth and Mr Collins met for breakfast
(subordinate clause: adverbial clause of time)
before the others appeared

It is obvious that the focus is on the main clause: the sentence structure with the subordinate conjunction 'antes de que' demands this, thus the subjunctive mood is redundant. It adds colour, but in English and German etc. the indicative is used because the conjunction provides the focus.

My point is that the rational explanation is stretched to incorporate a grammatical point, when really it is just a convention. In this case, the 'antes de que' justifiably takes a subjunctive for a possible future action, but the extension to past and completed actions is a convention, and actually unjustifiable.

Just my opinion.
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  #35  
Old September 24, 2012, 03:18 PM
BenCondor BenCondor is offline
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Sorry to interrupt the titans, but I have a small, practical question:
Normally you use the indicative in expressions beginning with "creo que" for reasons I think we've hashed over quite thoroughly, but if my intention is more to say, well, it is only my belief, in the sense that I am actually stressing my lack of assurance, could I use the subjunctive to stress this. For example: "Al menos, creo que (es/sea) verdad". I have this sense this could shade into the meaning of "es posible que" which is normally conjugated in the subjunctive mood. Please, I'm asking not to get embroiled in a fist-fight over whether degrees of certainty have a place in subjunctive discussions, but simply because I'm writing something and I'd like to know.

Thanks
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  #36  
Old September 24, 2012, 04:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Perikles View Post
I accept your logical explanation, it makes complete sense, thank you.

In my previous post, I said native grammarians can justify their own use of the subjunctive and make it sound totally logical. Here is a good example. You see, the justification of the subjunctive is based on focus, with one verb being muffled, hence subjunctive. But analysis of the sentence is the same in all languages:

(main clause)
Elizabeth and Mr Collins met for breakfast
(subordinate clause: adverbial clause of time)
before the others appeared

It is obvious that the focus is on the main clause: the sentence structure with the subordinate conjunction 'antes de que' demands this, thus the subjunctive mood is redundant. It adds colour, but in English and German etc. the indicative is used because the conjunction provides the focus.

My point is that the rational explanation is stretched to incorporate a grammatical point, when really it is just a convention. In this case, the 'antes de que' justifiably takes a subjunctive for a possible future action, but the extension to past and completed actions is a convention, and actually unjustifiable.

Just my opinion.
I reckon you don't realise how both ridiculous and baffling sounds the sentence "se encontraron antes de que aparecieron los demás" for a native. My own parsing returns "se encontraron y aparecieron ante los demás" which mean a certain deal of meaning analysis comes to help on the grammatical travesty. A kid with little development of the language would say "se encontraron y después llegaron los demás" but never that mistake. So "subjunctive is redundant", my golf set.

After 6 years in web fora it still amazes me that a foreign learner won't take any time to learn how they look every type of mistake using verbal moods to native eyes. That is a formidable set of information. "I want you go" instead of "I want you to go" may offer a pale example of how it looks about a half of possible mistakes involving subjunctive from a native perspective, while other mistakes are rather innocent, or even just a little miscommunication, for instance "Quizá viene".

In "se encontraron antes de que aparecieran los demás" a basic feature of "the last action gets the focus" is on, and subjunctive guarantees that the right action gets the attention by muffling the other action and making it impossible to be performed in the same mental frame. There's nothing redundant in it, as it is nothing redundant in saying "quiero que te quedes" instead of "quiero que te quedas".

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Originally Posted by BenCondor View Post
Sorry to interrupt the titans, but I have a small, practical question:
Normally you use the indicative in expressions beginning with "creo que" for reasons I think we've hashed over quite thoroughly, but if my intention is more to say, well, it is only my belief, in the sense that I am actually stressing my lack of assurance, could I use the subjunctive to stress this. For example: "Al menos, creo que (es/sea) verdad". I have this sense this could shade into the meaning of "es posible que" which is normally conjugated in the subjunctive mood. Please, I'm asking not to get embroiled in a fist-fight over whether degrees of certainty have a place in subjunctive discussions, but simply because I'm writing something and I'd like to know.

Thanks
"Por ahora sigo creyendo que viene"
"Pienso que no viene, pero no estoy seguro"
"No creo que venga, pero quizá me sorprenda"

You believe or you don't believe, and that's mood specific: the notion is in your mind or it is not, no matter you doubt about it.
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  #37  
Old September 24, 2012, 04:59 PM
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Quote:
the notion is in your mind or it is not
Yes, this criterion completely baffles me. All notions that I can conjure must inhere in my mind, by definition. There are only a few ways I can think of which could point otherwise. First, you could apply a "computer terminal" theory to minds generally: it's being thought, but not by me, I'm just a "terminal". Second, we could think of something like the square root of a negative number, perhaps. Mathematicians say "we can't take the square root, but we can call it 'i' and manipulate it and study it like any other mathematical object" This kind of notion is also seen as an escape from Berkelean ontology, i.e. "To be is to be, or to be perceived". Basically you say that, no, you can't think of something which isn't thought of (to think it brings it into existence) but I can imagine books in a closet. I'm only saying they exist, but I'm not imagining them, I'm only thinking of the exterior of closet. The idea being I'm referring to the thing mentally but "it" in its entirety (the root-taking of -1, the actual books in the closet) is not in my mind.

Perhaps we could convert this into some kind of logical calculus so I can get a handle on it. The subjunctive "unthought-thoughts" might have a correlate in something like a mathematical null-space. I mean at least that I can understand!

Last edited by BenCondor; September 24, 2012 at 05:25 PM.
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  #38  
Old September 24, 2012, 05:49 PM
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I've already tried imaginaries but with subjunctive i2 come up to be 1 and not -1.

I think it is not so difficult: "a notion is or is not in your mind"

Creo que no viene ---> the notion of "no venir" is in your mind
No creo que venga ---> the notion of "venir" is not in your mind

What matters is not what has logic relevance but what has linguistic relevance. From a strictly linguistic point of view using subjunctive in this case disassociates you from the notion as the notion is not in an active form.

Each of you will understand this cuando les caiga la ficha. Formal logic is not the way, certainly. Little rules neither, like the most horrible one:

quizá/s viene
quizá/s venga
a lo mejor viene

that you are told they mean the same, when that is clearly false
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  #39  
Old September 24, 2012, 06:27 PM
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Quote:
Creo que no viene ---> the notion of "no venir" is in your mind
No creo que venga ---> the notion of "venir" is not in your mind
Sadly, I think all the reading of philosophy texts has made such a shortcut impossible. I'm just converting that to a mathematical statement like (1*(-1))=-1=(-1*(1)). Now when it is concretized and becomes a thing-in-the-world then the ontological field can be constrained enough to allow more substantive meanings. But, as I said, all things which are thought are in the mind whether negative, positive, existent, or non-existent. This is why I thought maybe we could convert it to mathematical mappings or something which I could work with....

My solution is to develop a specialized vocabulary. The first thing I propose is what I'll call Aboents. This is an acronym for Analogous Berkeleyan Ontology Escaping Non-Thoughts. These are analogs obviously to the famous "books in a closet" as a way to escape Berkeleyan ontology (as one would expect from the acronym). It has an additional analog to the mathematical object "i" representing the square root of negative one. It suggests that we accept and understand, in a sense analogous to Douglas Hofstadter's philosophy, that we can't actually understand in a meaningful way the notion of an "unthought thought" but we can "wrap" it with a linguistic cover so that we can discuss it, deal with it in some way, and eventually derive meaning. I think the challenge in deciphering this subjunctive theory is classifying the various levels and structures of mental existence. By addressing squarely the inherent contradictions (and, per Hofstadter, this is not in any way meant pejoratively) I'm hoping to at least get a handle on the basic ontology, even if all of the details aren't completely sorted out.

Just as a start we can classify the following statements:

"the notion of "no venir" is in your mind" --> logically normal, therefore not an Aboent
"the notion of "venir" is not in your mind" --> logically impossible (a notion you have must be in your mind), thus classified as an Aboent

Last edited by BenCondor; September 24, 2012 at 09:13 PM.
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  #40  
Old September 25, 2012, 12:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BenCondor View Post
Just as a start we can classify the following statements:

"the notion of "no venir" is in your mind" --> logically normal, therefore not an Aboent
"the notion of "venir" is not in your mind" --> logically impossible (a notion you have must be in your mind), thus classified as an Aboent
I never knew of a person that by developing a method to synthesise alcohol, wrote it down, drank the pages and got wasted.

Such high level ruminations are made using areas in the cerebrum that are alien to Broca's area which processes the language. This area works very fast so you have about one tenth of a second to "get it" or you're lost. Besides, each thing and its opposite are the same vectorial concept in our brains -that's why the psychological tests of pairing words- If you want to find a practical trick to make it work, you may use the visual cortex which is feature rich and also fast. The instant render is:

(Y <él viene> O) ======> creo que viene

(YO) >----< él viene ======> no creo que venga

and that's it. All the rest is turning ten times before lying down, like dogs do.
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