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sergiogomez / Moderator

Aug 15, 2009, 2:38 PM

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If you could change Spanish...

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Here's a random thought that popped into my head the other day: If the language learning gods gave you an opportunity to change one thing about the Spanish language, what would you choose?



Rolly


Aug 15, 2009, 3:21 PM

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Re: [sergiogomez] If you could change Spanish...

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I'd get rid of reflexive verbs.

Rolly Pirate


La Isla


Aug 15, 2009, 8:53 PM

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Re: [sergiogomez] If you could change Spanish...

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I know this is asking for a lot, but what about getting rid of the subjunctive?


Peter


Aug 16, 2009, 6:03 AM

Post #4 of 50 (19424 views)

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Re: [sergiogomez] If you could change Spanish...

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I would get rid of verb conjugations altogether and make the distinction with pronouns. English does fine like that. English does fine without a future tense. Spanish without subjunctives would just not be Spanish. Is it not the language that uses them the most extensively? Without reflexive verbs what would we use instead to really be confused?


esperanza

Aug 16, 2009, 8:16 AM

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Re: [Peter] If you could change Spanish...

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Wait...Peter, English makes do with pronouns rather than verb conjugations? English has no future tense? Ay ay ay!

There's a little book that I would recommend for every native English speaker who is studying Spanish: http://www.amazon.com/...arning/dp/0934034303. Part of the reason Spanish is sometimes difficult for native English-speakers is that most folks slept through or have forgotten grammar classes in grade and high school. This book explains what you need to know so you can learn Spanish more easily.

Here's an example of the subjunctive in English: "If it were me, I'd go to the movies instead of that party he planned to attend."

Peter: here's an example of how verbs change in English, just as they do in Spanish:
I run.
You run.
(He, she, it) runs.
etc.

Peter: here's an example of the future tense in English: "We'll be there tomorrow night at about 7:30." (We'll is a contraction of we shall, definitely the future tense.)

Order that book! It's a huge help.


http://www.mexicocooks.typepad.com









(This post was edited by esperanza on Aug 16, 2009, 8:18 AM)


Peter


Aug 16, 2009, 9:17 AM

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Re: [esperanza] If you could change Spanish...

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Yes, a long time since school days and I'm sure I've forgotten a bunch. But learning Spanish has been a great refresher, and an eye-opener.

Add "s" to third person present singular, English conjugation. It's not that difficult in past tense, do nothing. Infinitives are like the present tense, add "to" to make the infinitive. Notice I didn't say present indicative, no need, there really isn't a subjunctive. To go, I go, you go, he goes, we go, y'all go, they go. Spanish ir, voy, vas, va, vamos, van. But that's here, in Europe I have to say vais if I don't want to be too formal with y'all.

Of course there are irregular verbs in English. English "Be" is the verb it seems we most conjugate. There is I AM, you ARE, he IS, but then it's once again, we ARE, y'all ARE, they ARE. And "be" also contains our subjunctive "were," but English does not use much subjunctive. Be that as it may (a subjunctive phrase) most English subjunctive is in the form of word construction.

Much of English is word construction, it is how we differentiate past tense from imperfect, there is no conjugation or tense that does it. I went to the park, once. I went to the beach often as a kid.

I might say I am going to learn Spanish, I will learn it. Those are examples of how I express the future, but those are examples of word constructions and not actual verb tenses, not conjugations. In Spanish, voy a aprenderlo, o, lo aprendere'.

Though we share a lot of common phrases, word constructions i.e., voy a..., tengo que..., etc., you cannot compare Spanish grammar with English. It is difficult to compare any language with English. Its simplified grammar is in part why it is the number one second language in the world, that and that it is the world language of money.

But have I forgotten that much? Is there some future tense to English I have forgotten? Example, please.


(This post was edited by Peter on Aug 16, 2009, 11:22 AM)


wandita

Aug 16, 2009, 4:20 PM

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Re: [esperanza] If you could change Spanish...

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Actually, many adults today never studied any grammar at all. They were taught English with a different system than the older people who took old-fashioned grammar classes. I'm so thankful I studied grammar because it has helped me a lot in Spanish and I couldnt' imagine not knowing it.


esperanza

Aug 16, 2009, 4:55 PM

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Re: [Peter] If you could change Spanish...

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I posted at length in response to Peter's second post, but that post has disappeared. Anyone know where it went?


http://www.mexicocooks.typepad.com









sergiogomez / Moderator

Aug 16, 2009, 8:39 PM

Post #9 of 50 (19354 views)

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Re: [esperanza] If you could change Spanish...

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I haven't seen it. Same thing has happened to me a couple times, where I post something and the computer mysteriously swallows the post somewhere along the way. It's incredibly frustrating.


Peter


Aug 16, 2009, 9:32 PM

Post #10 of 50 (19352 views)

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Re: [sergiogomez] If you could change Spanish...

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That only happens to me when I post at length, or so it seems. A power bump swallowed a post I had already been working on half an hour today for another thread.


robrt8

Aug 17, 2009, 6:55 AM

Post #11 of 50 (19342 views)

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Re: [Peter] If you could change Spanish...

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In Reply To
... Is there some future tense to English I have forgotten? Example, please.


I'm fixin' to...

I've got another tip for ya', Peter. Download a Mexican dictionary to your spell-checker. Type without the accents and see what happens.
You can switch between the two idiomas on a page.


mazbook1


Aug 22, 2009, 1:37 PM

Post #12 of 50 (19259 views)

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Re: [La Isla] If you could change Spanish...

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I'm with you, La Isla. I fear I won't live long enough to master the correct usage of the subjunctive as used by native Spanish-speakers. I more-or-less understand it, but use it in conversation…¡no way!…ain't happening.


La Isla


Aug 22, 2009, 2:24 PM

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Re: [mazbook1] If you could change Spanish...

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When I wrote that I'd like to get rid of the subjunctive in Spanish, it was said mostly tongue in cheek because, as a former Spanish teacher, I was always telling my students how important the subjunctive is in Spanish and, yes, it's used a lot, and, yes, it's used in everyday conversation, not just in writing and formal speech. I can use it when I speak and write, but except for certain situations where it's always used (like after "para que" and "cuando" when you're talking about the future and sentences beginning with "quiero que...."), I often have to stop and think to myself, "Do I need the subjunctive here?" It's always a challenge, but I am proud of myself every time I use the subjunctive correctly without thinking. It takes time, mazbook1, but eventually it will happen!


La Isla


Aug 22, 2009, 2:41 PM

Post #14 of 50 (19253 views)

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Re: [robrt8] If you could change Spanish...

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In Reply To

In Reply To
... Is there some future tense to English I have forgotten? Example, please.



If by future tense you mean that the verb changes form to express a future time (as verbs do in English for present and past), then, no, strictly speaking, there is no future tense form in English. But there are several ways to express a future idea in English, and learning which ways to use when is actually quite difficult for those learning our complicated language.

There are four basic ways:

1) "going to" + infinitive without "to": "We're going to leave for Mexico next week"

2) "will" + infinitive without "to": I'll give you a call later."

3) present continuous tense: What are you doing tomorrow afternoon? I'm meeting with my lawyer.

4) present simple tense [mostly for timetables]: My flight leaves at 3:00.

Hope this helps, Peter!


(This post was edited by La Isla on Aug 22, 2009, 2:44 PM)


mazbook1


Aug 22, 2009, 3:45 PM

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Re: [La Isla] If you could change Spanish...

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La Isla,

Well, I am a depression baby rather than a baby boomer, so I'm generally a bit older than many on this forum, and I honestly believe that I probably won't live long enough to master the Spanish subjunctive.

When a Spanish teacher and translator says, "…I often have to stop and think to myself, "Do I need the subjunctive here?", I know that foreign-language-stressed folks like me definitely don't have enough years left. Besides, who, in normal conversational give-and-take, has time to "stop and think"? For me it's more like "say and regret"!

You would think that someone who wrote a book on speaking Mexican Spanish for new expats and tourists would speak it better, but I write it a whole lot better than I speak it, as when writing, I have the time to "stop and think".


La Isla


Aug 22, 2009, 4:28 PM

Post #16 of 50 (19242 views)

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Re: [mazbook1] If you could change Spanish...

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La Isla,

Well, I am a depression baby rather than a baby boomer, so I'm generally a bit older than many on this forum, and I honestly believe that I probably won't live long enough to master the Spanish subjunctive.

When a Spanish teacher and translator says, "…I often have to stop and think to myself, "Do I need the subjunctive here?", I know that foreign-language-stressed folks like me definitely don't have enough years left. Besides, who, in normal conversational give-and-take, has time to "stop and think"? For me it's more like "say and regret"!

You would think that someone who wrote a book on speaking Mexican Spanish for new expats and tourists would speak it better, but I write it a whole lot better than I speak it, as when writing, I have the time to "stop and think".


I'm not technically a baby-boomer since I was born a few months before the "official" cut-off year for that generation, but I take your point. Age does play a big role in second-language learning. I tell my adult students that after the age of 15 or so, it becomes increasingly difficult to learn to speak a new language, especially if one wants to acquire a native accent. Something to do with certain brain circuits that are not as receptive to new languages after the mid-teens. That's why someone who grows up bilingual finds it fairly easy to pick up a third and fourth language, while those of us who haven't had this good fortune struggle while learning a second language as adults.


esperanza

Aug 22, 2009, 6:08 PM

Post #17 of 50 (19235 views)

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Re: [La Isla] If you could change Spanish...

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It took me almost five years of trying to figure out how and when to use the Spanish subjunctive. Once I started trying to master it, I could count the time almost to the day from the beginning of huge frustration to the "AHA!" moment when it clicked into place.

And click into place it did. One day, I was riding with three friends in a car, heading for a forgotten destination in Tijuana, still trying to puzzle out the blankety-blank subjunctive while listening to their mile-a-minute Spanish conversation. Suddenly, without struggling, I knew. I knew how to use it, and use it I did. I don't know what happened, but it felt as if a switch was pulled in my brain and I got it. I got it, by George, I got it.

And if it happened to me, it can happen to you.


http://www.mexicocooks.typepad.com









mazbook1


Aug 22, 2009, 6:53 PM

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Re: [La Isla] If you could change Spanish...

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La Isla,

You may be correct when you say, "Age does play a big role in second-language learning. I tell my adult students that after the age of 15 or so, it becomes increasingly difficult to learn to speak a new language, especially if one wants to acquire a native accent," but there are studies that refute that.

However, that was not what I was refering to when I said I was "foreign-language-stressed". I had just as much problem learning German when I was 18-20 years old as I have had learning Spanish after 60 (after 70 now), and I nearly flunked out of Latin when I was 14. No, foreign languages and I just don't seem to get along with each other. Fortunately, I have a very understanding Mexican wife, Mexican kids and extended Mexican family and they put up with my bad (but extremely polite!) Spanish.


tashby


Aug 23, 2009, 4:31 PM

Post #19 of 50 (19190 views)

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Re: [sergiogomez] If you could change Spanish...

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...change one thing about the Spanish language, what would you choose?

Too many words.


robrt8

Aug 24, 2009, 9:53 PM

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Re: [sergiogomez] If you could change Spanish...

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False cognates.


mazbook1


Aug 25, 2009, 6:08 PM

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Re: [tashby] If you could change Spanish...

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tashby,

Too many words? Gosh, English has nearly 4 times more words than Spanish. I'm just glad I'm learning Spanish as a second language and not English.


mazbook1


Aug 25, 2009, 6:12 PM

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Re: [robrt8] If you could change Spanish...

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robrt8,

By golly you're right! English has far too many false cognates with Spanish. I'll bet they're even derived from Latin as are nearly all Spanish words. ;-)


La Isla


Aug 25, 2009, 7:44 PM

Post #23 of 50 (19099 views)

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Re: [mazbook1] If you could change Spanish...

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I believe that most if not all false cognates between English and Spanish come from Latin. I love them because they are one constant theme of my English classes. My students are always so surprised when I explain, for instance, that "actual" does not mean the same thing in English as it does in Spanish. Since there are so many true cognates, the ones that break this pattern can be quite disconcerting to them!


zaragemca

Nov 12, 2009, 11:53 AM

Post #24 of 50 (18265 views)

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Re: [La Isla] If you could change Spanish...

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Greeting, I think somebody said that there is no future in the English language. Well, I think that the future forms in English are formed with the words, WILL and WOULD, like, 'I WILL GO, and, I WOULD GO. Gerry Zaragemca
International Club of Percussionists


norteño

Sep 23, 2010, 5:04 PM

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Re: [zaragemca] If you could change Spanish...

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I am surprised that no one has wished for the elimination of gender in Spanish--a totally pointless complication, and one that continues to create difficulty in learning vocabulary long after all rules of grammar have been mastered.
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