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help with Perfect tence

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help with Perfect tence

Postby Trulala » Thu Jan 25, 2007 2:56 am

Please, anybody, explain me in easy words, what are the principal differences between English perfect tenses and Latin? In wheelocs in lesson 12 is written that use is the same, as in English. I have learned English grammar fine, when I was studding it (English is not my native language) and I strongly know that you can't use present perfect when you are speaking about dead person. in that case, always must be used past simple. but in lesson 13 I see such examples:
Cicero laudavit te and translation - Cicero praised you.
According to lesson 12, translation must be Cicero has praised you.
But Cicero is dead more then 2000 years, so to use here present perfect is nonsense.

is plusperfect use in Latin the same as in English and Future perfect use?
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Postby Goals » Thu Jan 25, 2007 5:07 am

"Cicero praised you" is an okay translation of laudavit, but "Cicero has praised you" makes it more clear that the verb is in the perfect tense, indicating that the action has been completed.

In English "Cicero praised you" in the simple past tense, while "Cicero has praised you" is the past perfect.

Both phrases don't really make sense out of context. The person writing "Cicero laudavit te" would have done it when Cicero was still alive.

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In Latin the pluperfect is used to express an action that was completed before another action (usually in the perfect tense) was completed.

"I had carried (pluperfect) the water before I made soup (perfect)."
"Cicero had praised (pluperfect) Cataline before he betrayed (perfect) the republic."
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Postby Trulala » Sat Jan 27, 2007 5:29 am

you see, as I'm not English speaker and don't live in English language country, for me is not actual how to translate in English, but where use it in Latin.

as I learned from mailing list present perfect is complite past and imperfect is incomplite, like in German.
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Postby Beatus Pistor » Sat Jan 27, 2007 12:15 pm

Trulala wrote:as I learned from mailing list present perfect is complite past and imperfect is incomplite, like in German.


Try to avoid the perhaps misleading, even to English, terminology of "present" perfect, and prefer the use of just perfect.
I think you've almost got it right. German does have a ["present"] prefect tense.
Ich habe gemacht. In addition to the preteritum Ich machte.
In Latin there is no difference between these tenses, it would use "feci" for both. The perfect can be a simple action in the past: heri audivit clamorem magnum.
or an action which has just happend(1), or a past action which has implications on a present situation, which can still be detected in present time(2):
1)do tibi epistolam, quam scripsi.(I give you the letter, which I have written./Ich gebe dir den Brief, den ich geschrieben habe.
2) lego litteras, quas Cicero scripsit.

As you progress you will notice that latin is usually very strict about the sequence of tenses, and that a sentence with a main verb in perfect tense might take both primary(present) sequence or secondary(past) sequence, all in accordance to context and specific usage of the perfect/preterit. Thing would only get better as you start reading texts, and see these phenomena in context.
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Postby modus.irrealis » Sun Jan 28, 2007 6:32 am

Trulala wrote:as I learned from mailing list present perfect is complite past and imperfect is incomplite, like in German.

An off-topic question, but does German have a verb form that corresponds to the imperfect? A google search says the German past is also called the imperfect, but from what I've learned in the past, this tense doesn't seem to be specifically imperfect (in the Latin sense) at all. In fact, I thought that in many varieties of (spoken) German, there was no distinction between the past and present perfect. Am I missing anything?

But on-topic, I don't have much to add to other posts, but to make a comparison with another language, if you know French, the Latin perfect is almost exactly what the French passé composé is (in spoken French), with the imperfects of both languages being similar as well.
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Postby Trulala » Sun Jan 28, 2007 8:01 am

thank you for answers.
no I don't speak French. I have learned German but not very long time and English rather long time.
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do tibi epistolam, quam scripsi
in this sentence past action is connected to present.
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Postby Beatus Pistor » Sun Jan 28, 2007 6:50 pm

Trulala wrote:Beatus Pistor
do tibi epistolam, quam scripsi
in this sentence past action is connected to present.


Correct, but it is more recent past. This is why I told you about the sequence of tenses in Latin; from a Latin point of view there is no difference between an action which has just happened and its implications can be seen in present time, or an action which happened very long ago and its consequences can still be seen in present time. The latin tense system should look something like this:
pluperfect impf. pf. <-present.-> future future perfect
past<-----------------<-present/speaker's realm->>>>>future
The pf. sometimes can take the force of a preterit, i.e. it has both perfect(closer to current events) and aorist (simple occurrence in the past, as greek aor. ind.). If you read German, there is an excellent book on the subject, it focuses on the latin subjunctive, but has some fascinating insights on other aspects of the latin tenses:

Muller-Wetzel M., Der lateinische Konjunktive : seine Einheit als deiktische Kategorie : eine Erklarung der modalen Systeme der klassischen Zeit, Hildesheim: Olsm-Weidmann 2001.

However, this is highly technical, I don't recommended it at all for a beginning student as you, as it might confuse you. Nevertheless, the tables and illustrations given in several places clarify several points, better than any beginner's book, even if you don't read the explanations and discussion at all. I can scan and submit them upon request, if scanning 3 pages doesn't violate the copyright.

Re-imperfect in German: imperfect is sometimes used by English grammarians as an alternative name for the preterit(ich machte, I made/I was making), it should not be treated as equivalent to the Latin imperfect(e.g. amabat), or the Greek impf.(epauon), not even the English imperfect, unless the german uses several particles, which would denote the continuance of the action. Only the Latin imperfect can certainly and perhaps only be paralleled to the English imperfect(past continuous): currebat: he was running.
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Postby Trulala » Mon Jan 29, 2007 5:14 am

Sorry but I'm totally confused with all this terminology :(
I don't speak German well.

ok, let's go on easy way.

In English is nonsense to say:
Stalin has studied German because Stalin is dead. Correct is to say:
Stalin had studied German or Stalin studied German.
Can I say in Latin:
Stalin studuit Aleman (how is German in Latin I don't know)
or may it be correct:
Stalin studet Aleman

or in English correct is:
I have studied English (I'm still alive)
but
I studied English in my school years (here I show time when action happened)

If Latin has strict rules as you say... in such easy way explain please, I'm not Linguist.
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Postby Goals » Mon Jan 29, 2007 5:59 am

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Postby Trulala » Mon Jan 29, 2007 6:16 am

Trulala
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Postby Goals » Mon Jan 29, 2007 6:24 am

First a wrote a very long (and confusing) message. Were you able to read it after I had edited it, as it is now? Hopefully it is clear.

My Russian is very very bad. I am not good with the alphabet, can you translate what you said, I have trouble understanding.
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Postby Trulala » Mon Jan 29, 2007 6:29 am

Yes, your explonation is good. thank you

I said that I speak Russian.
what you mean in common? how common are Georgians who speaks russian?
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Postby Goals » Mon Jan 29, 2007 6:32 am

Yes, how common are Georgians who speak Russian?
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Postby Trulala » Mon Jan 29, 2007 6:40 am

Rather common.. Almost all who lives in cities understand Russian.
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