Monday, 16 June 2014

If I were...

Studying the subjunctive is something which, for me, at any rate, requires more than a modicum of thought and analysis. In English, it hardly exists, except for sentiments like 'long live the king', so be it, be that as it may, let there be light,  if I were you'  etc. (Further suggestions are welcome.)

In Italian, it is much more complicated. I hesitate to bore however many readers or followers my blog may have. It seems that if you want to learn another language, you must be either keen on grammar or prepared to think deeply about language and its usage. It seems that at present my Italian class is concentrating on the subjunctive, and it also seems that many of us in the class do flounder around quite a lot when trying to make the subjunctive spring readily to mind, and of course into speech.

I have been sitting perusing one of my Italian books to make the subjunctive spring fully fledged into my mind when I try to speak or write Italian. The book gives examples such as 'it is necessary that you should... Or ' long live liberty'  or ' I wonder what he wants'.  Uncertainty has a lot to do with it, as does a sentiment that expresses something that is contrary to fact. Such as 'if I were taller, I could change that light globe.' I am not tall enough and therefore I cannot change the light globe. ( This is a great shame, as it means I have to take extreme measures to get the light globe changed, or otherwise buy a longer ladder and clamber up it precipitously and have a go...)

Or, 'if I were you...' I am not you, and never could be, so  I am expressing an impossibility. Or ' if I had been at home, I would have answered your telephone call.'  I was not home, so answering the phone was impossible. Etcetera.

Part of the problem lies in the fact that in Italian we have to think through a number of verb forms snd parts. We have to think through the various tenses of the verbs (and don't even begin to think about irregular verbs ) we keen but enduringly imperfect students must conceptualise each bit of the verb.

Oh dear. No wonder I come away from the class feeling somewhat wiped out. This, allied to a severe and ineradicable dislike of ever being wrong or making a mistake (let alone more than one)  tends to increase my stress levels. And you think you have problems. Whoops, is that a sentiment that requires the use of the subjunctive in Italian., Yes, indeedy, I think that it is.

 Perhaps it is better to live and think in certainties and facts, instead of in doubt, uncertainties, and  the hypothetical. Be that as it may, I struggle on.


Elephant's Child said...

Oh dear. Any analysis of subjunctives make my brain cell hurt at the best of times, let alone foreign subjunctives.

Isabelle said...

b1094707Yes, it's funny how we often don't use the subjunctive when we should (strictly speaking). I wonder why other languages cling to its use more.

(By the way, that dratted verification thing isn't working properly - I type in the right thing and it refuses it. This happened with someone else's blog and then suddenly the comment posted six times, so apologies if this happens here. Try again...)

Nope. Try again.


Isabelle said...

I thought of a nice example today. "Thine be the glory, risen, conquering Son" - not at all the same as "Thine is the glory.. ".