Verbal System

Finally I shall give a survey of the chief parts of the Novial verbal system.

me protekteme bli protekte
me protekted (did protekte)me blid protekte
me ha protekteme ha bli protekte
me had protekteme had bli protekte
me sal protekteme sal bli protekte
me sal ha protekteme sal ha bli protekte
me vud protekteme vud bli protekte
me vud ha protekteme vud ha bli protekte

The most composite of these expressions will not occur very frequently in actual speech, but are given here solely for the sake of completeness.

I may here call attention to an advantage springing from the invariable use of the simple stem-form, namely the possibility of such combinations as these: me non ha e non sal responda I have not answered and shall not answer. Ob vu ha manja? Have you eaten? No, non ankore, ma men fratre ha ja e me sal bald, No, not yet, but my brother has eaten, and I shall soon. In E it is generally looked upon as incorrect to write, as Byron does in a letter: "I have not and shall not answer ... whatever I may, or have, or shall fell." In Novial such constructions are easy enough, as are also combinations like Me ama la kom me ha men matra e kom me sal men filies, I love her as I have my mother and shall my children.

It has been objected to my extensive use of the unchanged stem that combinations like "me ha lekte e studia" and "lo bli ama e adora" are ambiguous, because the second verb may be taken either as dependent on the auxiliary or as a present. This looks more dangerous in theory than it is in practice, as will appear from a comparison with English, where put is just as ambiguous: "I shall read and put back the book" and "I have read and put back the book" (the two different pronunciations of read have no bearing on our question). In both sentences shall and have will naturally be taken as governing both verbs, and the same is true of "I shall read the book and put it back" and "I have read the book and put it back," although the distance from the auxiliary is greater. If a speaker or writer wants the second verb to be taken as an independent present, he will naturally show this either by inserting now (nun) or else by repeating the pronoun:"Me ha (sal) lekte li libre e nun retroposi lum." Thus also "Me ha omnitem estima e nun ama lo. Me ha lekte e me studia lon libres kun intereso." The other sentence "Lo bli ama e adora" cannot be misunderstood, for if it is to be taken as meaning "he is loved and adores" a continuation with an object is naturally required, and "lo bli ama e adora sen fratres" cannot be misunderstood. (Here "lo bli ama da omnes e ..." is more natural than the bare verb.) "Lo ha bli konverte e kreda a Deo" - likewise unambiguous; and thus we see that the use of the stem without endings creates no difficulties worth speaking of in natural sentences - and language is only meant for such.

I had at first thought of using vird from D as auxiliary of the passive, but changed my mind, though bli is familiar to fewer people than vird, because I was afraid of misunderstandings arising from the active use of D wird: lo vird vida could easily be understood as `er wird sehen' instead of `er wird gesehen.'

The Ido synthetic forms videsas, videsis, videsos, etc., are not good, because the most important element, that which should show the passive, is eliminated, and only the empty verb `be' is included. There are further difficulties with the verbal noun in -eso: as vinkeso means `being beaten,' but richeso `being rich,' we should, according to the principle of "réversibilité," be justified in inferring a form vinka = `beaten,' which of course is absurd. Again, as profetesar means `to prophesy' and is a transitive verb, we are allowed to form profetesesas = is prophesied (N bli profetira). On the whole the synthetic forms of Ido are often cumbersome: it is possible to form such passives as naturaligesabis, elektrizadesabos, which are not far from outdoing certain Volapük formations.

The chief differences between the Esp-Ido system and ours are (1) that in Novial the elements are separate words, in Esp-Ido inseparable word-elements: it is true that Z claimed that each of his suffixes, etc., was independent and separable (which leads to the curious use of suffixes like inda and igi as words in themselves), but this is not true of the verbal endings as, is, u, i etc. The separability of our auxiliaries is shown by the possibility of inserting adverbs, etc.: le ha non vida; le sal unesmim veni e aftru parla kun nus. (2) The arrangement of the elements, which naturally is exactly the inverse: vid-ab-os = sal ha vida.

Latino sine flexione and Occ have some analytic verbal forms somewhat similar in function to ours, but not very well chosen. Peano thus with his usual preoccupation with etymology uses the Aryan augment e for the preterit, without thinking that this element disappeared from most of our languages a couple of thousand years ago: he has not discovered that what we want in an international language is what is still living and in actual use; for the future he uses i, also an old Aryan root, but never, so far as I know, used in any language by itself to signify future time. Occ has fe for the past: though this is the present tense of a F verb which is never used in that sense, he supports his choice by a reference to E did: why not then take that form ready-made? For the future he has va, from the F, and for conditional vell, probably from L vellem.

Return to Contents Page

This page is hosted by Yellow Internet.