Revisiting the Subjunctive mood

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TrentinaNE
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Revisiting the Subjunctive mood

Post by TrentinaNE » Wed Sep 14, 2005 3:02 pm

Carlo ha scritto in un altro "thread":
briefly, according to prescriptive grammar you should always use the subj. with verbs indicating opinion, hope etc. The only exception which is allowed(not surprisingly!) is "Credo che Dio esiste" since, as one book puts it "it's not a matter of opinion".
According to statistics, the use of the subj. is on the decline, with more and more people saying "spero che vieni" instead of "spero che tu venga" or "penso che lo conosci" instead of "penso che tu lo conosca". Some modern grammarians state this is acceptable in colloquial speech. But teachers keep correcting these forms and those who do follow the rules regard those who don't as "uneducated".
As you can see I've cleverly avoided stating my position. I've merely described current usage and the different attitudes. On other forums I've seen Italians fighting over this and since I'm "conflict-avoidant" I can do without it .
Maybe we can explore the various uses of the subj. in more detail in the grammar section later on.
Anche i miei cugini in Trentino me hanno detto che tanti italiani non sanno il proprio uso del congiuntivo. Io provo di usarlo bene, ma non è la mia prima priorità -- ho tante altre cose di imparare! :shock: In ogni caso, mi piace sapere quelli errori che faccio sono notevoli (e.g., sentono sbagliati alla maggior parte della gente) e quelli sono un po' più sottile.

Grazie e saluti,
Elisabetta
Last edited by TrentinaNE on Thu Sep 22, 2005 9:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Carlo
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Re: Revisiting the Subjunctive mood

Post by Carlo » Wed Sep 14, 2005 8:43 pm

TrentinaNE wrote: Anche i miei cugini in Trentino me hanno detto che tanti italiani non sanno il proprio uso del congiuntivo. Io provo di usarlo bene, ma non è la mia prima priorità -- ho tante altre cose di imparare! :shock: In ogni caso, mi piace sapere quelli errori che faccio sono notevoli (e.g., sentono sbagliati alla maggior parte della gente) e quelli sono un po' più sottile.

Grazie e saluti,
Elisabetta
Elisabetta

Quello che posso dirti, come insegnante di lingue straniere, è che nel teacher training ci viene detto che gli errori più gravi sono quelli che rendono impossibile la comprensione o causano equivoci. Ad esempio, poiché "mancare a" e "miss" si usano in modo opposto un inglese dirà "ti manco'"(you miss me") quando invece voleva dire "I miss you"(mi manchi).
I agree that these are indeed much more serious mistakes than not using the subjunctive(now I'll get lynched by the purists).
You have no idea how many foreign learners end up producing odd-sounding sentences because they are so keen on using the subjunctive that they use it where it doesn't belong.
I couldn't agree with you more - ci sono cose ben più importanti da imparare.
Carlo

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Peter
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Re: Revisiting the Subjunctive mood

Post by Peter » Thu Sep 22, 2005 9:40 pm

moodywop wrote:You have no idea how many foreign learners end up producing odd-sounding sentences because they are so keen on using the subjunctive that they use it where it doesn't belong.
I couldn't agree with you more - ci sono cose ben più importanti da imparare.
Carlo
Sono d'accordo completamente con te. Io uso il congiuntivo solo quando so che è corretto di farlo. Più spesso uso l'indicativo (sono invece di sia) e non presenta un problema.

Peter

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Re: Revisiting the Subjunctive mood

Post by Carlo » Thu Sep 22, 2005 9:46 pm

Peter wrote:
moodywop wrote:You have no idea how many foreign learners end up producing odd-sounding sentences because they are so keen on using the subjunctive that they use it where it doesn't belong.
I couldn't agree with you more - ci sono cose ben più importanti da imparare.
Carlo
Sono d'accordo completamente con te. Io uso il congiuntivo solo quando so che è corretto di farlo. Più spesso uso l'indicativo (sono invece di sia) e non presenta un problema.

Peter
Ciao Peter

Non ci conosciamo da WR? Sì hai ragione - se usi l'indicativo comunque verrai capito perfettamente. Invece il congiuntivo al posto sbagliato può creare molta confusione.

Se sei a WR avrai già visto gli esempi che ho elencato lì.

ciao e salutami l'Inghilterra(manco da troppo)

Carlo

Tom S. Fox
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Re: Revisiting the Subjunctive mood

Post by Tom S. Fox » Thu Feb 08, 2018 4:10 pm

Carlo wrote:briefly, according to prescriptive grammar you should always use the subj. with verbs indicating opinion, hope etc.
That’s not true. The indicative mood is actually obligatory after the imperative. I don’t think anyone disagrees with that.
Carlo wrote:The only exception which is allowed(not surprisingly!) is "Credo che Dio esiste" since, as one book puts it "it's not a matter of opinion".
If it’s not a matter of opinion, then why say “credo”?
Carlo wrote:According to statistics, the use of the subj. is on the decline…
Could you show me these statistics?
Carlo wrote:…with more and more people saying "spero che vieni" instead of "spero che tu venga" or "penso che lo conosci" instead of "penso che tu lo conosca".
In those cases, the indicative mood is only used to dispense with the subject pronouns. That doesn’t mean the subjuctive mood as a whole is disappearing.

I’d also like to see evidence that “more and more people” are doing that (again, you didn’t cite those statistics), because I can find examples of “credere/pensare + indicative” throughout history, going all the way back to Dante himself:

1878
1862
1842
1828
1827
1824
1813
1581
1521
1320

In fact, according to the Google Ngram Viewer, “credo che è” peaked around 1864.

And let’s not forget that in other Romance languages such as French and Spanish, the indicative mood is the only possible choice in these cases, so if the Italian subjunctive mood is really dying, it’s doing so at a much slower rate than that of its sister languages.
TrentinaNE wrote:
Wed Sep 14, 2005 3:02 pm
Anche i miei cugini in Trentino me hanno detto che tanti italiani non sanno il proprio uso del congiuntivo.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say your cousins were talking about people who speak a dialect, not Standard Italian.
Carlo wrote:
Wed Sep 14, 2005 8:43 pm
Quello che posso dirti, come insegnante di lingue straniere, è che nel teacher training ci viene detto che gli errori più gravi sono quelli che rendono impossibile la comprensione o causano equivoci.
Carlo wrote:
Thu Sep 22, 2005 9:46 pm
Sì hai ragione - se usi l'indicativo comunque verrai capito perfettamente.
You don’t think that using the wrong mood can cause misunderstandings? You think that, “Magari era vero,” means the same thing as, “Magari fosse vero”? Or that, “Io ho divorziato da mia moglie perché è una donna libera,” means the same thing as, “Io ho divorziato da mia moglie perché sia una donna libera”?
Carlo wrote:
Wed Sep 14, 2005 8:43 pm
You have no idea how many foreign learners end up producing odd-sounding sentences because they are so keen on using the subjunctive that they use it where it doesn't belong.
How is that worse than producing odd-sounding sentences because you use the indicative where it doesn’t belong?

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Re: Revisiting the Subjunctive mood

Post by Tom S. Fox » Thu Feb 08, 2018 6:27 pm

Tom S. Fox wrote:
Thu Feb 08, 2018 4:10 pm
Carlo wrote:According to statistics, the use of the subj. is on the decline…
Could you show me these statistics?
Actually, I just found the results of a survey you posted in another thread. I’m not sure if that was what you were referring to, but it states the exact opposite of what you claim here:
Non si può proprio parlare, quindi, di scomparsa del congiuntivo dal paradigma dell’italiano (come a volte si sente dire da parte di non specialisti) …

Dylan Thomas
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Re: Revisiting the Subjunctive mood

Post by Dylan Thomas » Wed Feb 14, 2018 7:54 pm

(A) Carlo wrote: briefly, according to prescriptive grammar you should always use the subj. with verbs indicating opinion, hope etc.
Tom wrote: That’s not true. The indicative mood is actually obligatory after the imperative. I don’t think anyone disagrees with that.

(1) I’m not going to disagree with that, Tom. I just want to add that the sentence you refer us to,

“Creda che sono veramente mortificato”

is correct (there’s no doubt about it), but you won’t hear it that easy. It’s very formal and hardly ever used in everyday conversation. The usual way of putting it is:

“Mi creda: sono veramente mortificato.”


(B) Carlo wrote: According to statistics, the use of the subj. is on the decline…
Tom wrote: Could you show me these statistics?

(2) I agree with Carlo. We live in Italy, Tom, Italian is our mother tongue, we speak and hear it every day. I don’t think we need to show statistics. By the way, what’s your native language?


(C) Carlo wrote:…with more and more people saying "spero che vieni" instead of "spero che tu venga" or "penso che lo conosci" instead of "penso che tu lo conosca".
Tom wrote: In those cases, the indicative mood is only used to dispense with the subject pronouns. That doesn’t mean the subjunctive mood as a whole is disappearing.

(3) I strongly disagree with you, Tom. I hear people use the indicative mood all the time. It’s bad Italian and it really annoys me when people use sloppy language.
Moreover, the indicative mood is not used, as you put it, “to dispense with the subject pronouns.”
Careless speakers also say, “spero che vengono” and “penso che li conoscono”, “spero che venite” and “penso che li conoscete” instead of “penso che vengano” and “penso che li conoscano”, “spero che veniate” and “penso che li conosciate”. In these cases, the subjunctive mood doesn’t need subject pronouns.


(D) Tom wrote: I can find examples of “credere/pensare + indicative” throughout history, going all the way back to Dante himself.

(4) Let’s suppose that English is your native language. Would you ever use the English spoken by Donne or Shakespeare? Would you ever say, “thou art” / you think’st / they die not, etc.?

DT

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Peter
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Re: Revisiting the Subjunctive mood

Post by Peter » Sun Feb 18, 2018 9:44 pm

Great response, Dylan. I do wonder about this guy; he seems to be trashing anything and everything that you, and other native Italian members of this forum, say. A word about Carlo; he is from Salerno, and is/was a teacher of English at a liceo in Salerno. He also spent time here in the UK, during which time he taught Italian and acted as an interpreter. I had the great pleasure of meeting him three years ago when he took my brother and me on a tour of Naples. An extremely intelligent man, who now most unfortunately is seriously ill. He had the total respect of everyone on this forum and others he frequented. So, I find it extremely disappointing that someone whose madrelingua clearly is not Italian seems to take a delight in being so disrespectful.

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Re: Revisiting the Subjunctive mood

Post by calum » Tue Feb 20, 2018 1:39 pm

Tom S. Fox wrote:
Thu Feb 08, 2018 4:10 pm
Carlo wrote:briefly, according to prescriptive grammar you should always use the subj. with verbs indicating opinion, hope etc.
That’s not true. The indicative mood is actually obligatory after the imperative. I don’t think anyone disagrees with that.

[remaining argument snipped]
Hi Tom,

as Carlo stated:
  • "I've merely described current usage and the different attitudes. On other forums I've seen Italians fighting over this and since I'm "conflict-avoidant" I can do without it . "
so I don't see any point in demanding he justify the positions of others, particularly on something that was posted 13 years ago.

It's nice to have a bit of activity back in this forum but even though it's nowhere near frequented as it once was, I'd like it to remain the welcoming, cosy and hassle-free place the site's founder intended and would ask that you consider the tone of your messages as they are coming across as a bit abrasive.

Thanks,
Calum

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Peter
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Re: Revisiting the Subjunctive mood

Post by Peter » Tue Feb 20, 2018 10:17 pm

Well said, Calum; I could not agree more.

BTW Hope you and Pam are both keeping well.

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Re: Revisiting the Subjunctive mood

Post by calum » Wed Feb 21, 2018 11:00 am

Hi Peter,

yes, we're fine, just older and more grey!

I trust you and Maggie are well too?

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Re: Revisiting the Subjunctive mood

Post by Peter » Wed Feb 21, 2018 10:46 pm

Calum - I'll send you a PM.

Tom S. Fox
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Re: Revisiting the Subjunctive mood

Post by Tom S. Fox » Sat Feb 24, 2018 12:28 am

Dylan Thomas wrote:
Wed Feb 14, 2018 7:54 pm
(B) Carlo wrote: According to statistics, the use of the subj. is on the decline…
Tom wrote: Could you show me these statistics?

(2) I agree with Carlo. We live in Italy, Tom, Italian is our mother tongue, we speak and hear it every day.
Unless you are several hundred years old, you are in absolutely no position to judge whether or not the subjunctive mood is in decline. Heck, even if you were several hundred years old, people still shouldn’t take your word for it, because there is such a thing as the recency illusion. If you think you are qualified to make quantitative statements about a language just because you are a native speaker, you are sorely mistaken.
Dylan Thomas wrote:
Wed Feb 14, 2018 7:54 pm
I don’t think we need to show statistics.
Are you expecting me to still take you seriously after you admitted that you don’t deem it necessary to provide evidence for your claims?
Dylan Thomas wrote:
Wed Feb 14, 2018 7:54 pm
(C) Carlo wrote:…with more and more people saying "spero che vieni" instead of "spero che tu venga" or "penso che lo conosci" instead of "penso che tu lo conosca".
Tom wrote: In those cases, the indicative mood is only used to dispense with the subject pronouns. That doesn’t mean the subjunctive mood as a whole is disappearing.

(3) I strongly disagree with you, Tom. I hear people use the indicative mood all the time. […] Moreover, the indicative mood is not used, as you put it, “to dispense with the subject pronouns.”
Careless speakers also say, “spero che vengono” and “penso che li conoscono”, “spero che venite” and “penso che li conoscete” instead of “penso che vengano” and “penso che li conoscano”, “spero che veniate” and “penso che li conosciate”.
First of all, how does that prove that the subjunctive mood is declining?

Second of all, I tried to find evidence of your claim (something that should be your job), and came up empty. Whenever I find an example of someone using the verb pensare, credere, or sperare, they use it according to standard grammar:
Why is it that I can find numerous examples of people using the preterit, which is something that is supposedly “hardly ever” done, but I can’t find a single example of someone using the indicative mood where they should use the subjunctive mood, which is supposedly done “all the time”?
(D) Tom wrote: I can find examples of “credere/pensare + indicative” throughout history, going all the way back to Dante himself.

(4) Let’s suppose that English is your native language. Would you ever use the English spoken by Donne or Shakespeare? Would you ever say, “thou art” / you think’st / they die not, etc.?
OK, I’m seriously at a loss as to what your point here is. Are you saying that using the indicative mood after credere and pensare is archaic? Because up until now, you’ve been trying to convince me that it’s a modern barbarism.
Peter wrote:
Sun Feb 18, 2018 9:44 pm
I do wonder about this guy; he seems to be trashing anything and everything that you, and other native Italian members of this forum, say.
I trash things that are factually incorrect — whether they are said by native speakers doesn’t enter into it — and unlike the people I respond to, I support my claims with evidence.
Peter wrote:
Sun Feb 18, 2018 9:44 pm
So, I find it extremely disappointing that someone whose madrelingua clearly is not Italian seems to take a delight in being so disrespectful.
How would you know that I’m not a native speaker, and why does it matter? And how am I being disrespectful? By citing facts?
calum wrote:
Tue Feb 20, 2018 1:39 pm
Tom S. Fox wrote:
Thu Feb 08, 2018 4:10 pm
Carlo wrote:briefly, according to prescriptive grammar you should always use the subj. with verbs indicating opinion, hope etc.
That’s not true. The indicative mood is actually obligatory after the imperative. I don’t think anyone disagrees with that.

[remaining argument snipped]
Hi Tom,

as Carlo stated:
  • "I've merely described current usage and the different attitudes. On other forums I've seen Italians fighting over this and since I'm "conflict-avoidant" I can do without it . "
so I don't see any point in demanding he justify the positions of others, particularly on something that was posted 13 years ago.
Actually, he was making a factually incorrect claim about prescriptive grammar, and I’m not one to let incorrect claims unchallenged, no matter how old they are, especially since people are still reading these threads. And besides, aren’t you glad you learned something new?

Tom S. Fox
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Re: Revisiting the Subjunctive mood

Post by Tom S. Fox » Sat Feb 24, 2018 2:04 am

And by the way, this is what Carlo told me in a PM:
Carlo wrote:I'm not so sure of anything anymore, compared to those years, when I used to make wild generalisations, but on the whole I agree with your objections.

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Peter
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Re: Revisiting the Subjunctive mood

Post by Peter » Sat Feb 24, 2018 7:26 am

Tom S. Fox wrote:
Sat Feb 24, 2018 2:04 am
And by the way, this is what Carlo told me in a PM:
Carlo wrote:I'm not so sure of anything anymore, compared to those years, when I used to make wild generalisations, but on the whole I agree with your objections.
Well, given that Carlo is extremely ill now, it is no surprise that he is not sure of anything any more. As to wild generalisations, maybe he made the odd one or two - who hasn't? - but so many people have valued greatly, over many years, his advice and input to discussions, both here and on other Italian language forums. You don't know the man, a highly intelligent guy who speaks perfect English and who spent a decade in London teaching Italian and acting as an interpreter. So, I simply do not accept what Carlo may have said as any validation of your crude attacks on the advice that he, or Dylan, or any other native Italian have given. There are native Italians, they know their language just as I know English, and I certainly would never treat them with the disdain that you clearly feel, even though you are simply a learner of the language and getting your 'information' from books. A little respect would not go amiss.

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