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  #37  
Old 09-04-2011, 07:10 PM
dieter dieter is offline
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 237
Default Re: Simplification

Quote:
Originally Posted by kezboard View Post
I know there are some languages that have absurdly complex tenses, [...] between whether you saw it happen or whether you just heard that it happened,
Only journalists and some academics, bureaucrats and intellectuals actively use the German subjunctive forms.

I frequently notice how fellow German speakers, including myself, don't even bother to form the simple future and past tense properly and use the present tense instead.

e.g. "Morgen gehe ich in's Theater" ("Tomorrow I go to the theater")
or
"Gestern bin ich im Wirtshaus. Sagt der Franz, dass er ein neues Auto hat"
("Yesterday I am in the restaurant. Franz says that he has a new car")

It is perfectly normal to talk that way.

The Genetive case is rarely used in informal speech. On the other hand it is overused highfalutin speech.

That's what I meant, when I wrote that the notion that McWorther's musing that all of this complexity could be an elaborate joke, is partially correct. The complexity is real though and it is used to some extent in certain conditions. And these complex grammatical forms are not arcane, I don't think. They are probably in more frequent use today than in the past, before the advent of mass communication and mass university education.

The Norman conquest seems to be somewhat similar to the Teutonic Order in Prussia. The Prussians used to be a Baltic tribe. Their language died out in the early 18th century and left almost no trace whatsoever.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Prussians
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