User talk:Stephen G. Brown/Gerund

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Hi Stephen,

You wrote: 'No, the Russian 'gerund' (деепричастие) is NOT like an adjective at is a verbal adverb with the meaning of "while doing"'

Does this also apply to Italian and isn't it the translation wrong then?

Best wishes, Wietse Zuyderwijk 13:48, 28 December 2005 (GMT)

Yes, to Italian as well, but not so strongly as Russian. In Russian the gerund is an indeclinable participle that always describes a state or condition under which an action is taking (читая) or has taken (прочитав) place. In the Romance languages, this is frequently but not always the case. I’m more fluent in Spanish, and Spanish gerunds sometimes are just like English gerunds, but not infrequently the Spanish gerund shows how an action is done:
  • Me di cuenta andando por la calle = I noticed it while walking down the street. (adverbial)
As often as not when I’m translating Spanish (I’m a professional translator), I have to translate a Spanish gerund into English with either "while -ing" or "by -ing" (adverbial phrases).
These Romance gerunds come down from the Latin, in which the gerund played an important and varied role: Aqua utilis est bibendo = water is good for drinking; Adfui scribendo = I was present at the writing; Homo ad agendum natus est = man is born for action; Mens discendo alitur et cogitando = the mind is nourished by learning and reflection. —Stephen 14:45, 28 December 2005 (UTC)
Though I know the phrase is an adverbial, it's also an elipsis. The phrase (or then rather clause) can also read: 'One shouldn’t cross a street while one is reading a newspaper.', while retaining the exact same meaning.
The Russian phrase is not an ellipsis at all. The English may be written in numerous ways and still have the same meaning, but not so the Russian. The word order can be changed rather freely, but little else may be changed or added without changing the meaning. In particular, the Russian words for 'while' (пока or в то время как) cannot be used with this construction. The Russian gerund always has this sense, and the subject of the gerund is the same as for the main verb. —Stephen 09:48, 29 December 2005 (UTC)
So, while being an adverbial, the phrase can start with a participle, noun, et cetera. What's more, while the phrase is (being) an adverbial, the phrase can start with a participle, noun, et cetera.
I don’t understand what you’re trying to say. An adverbial phrase may begin with, end with, or contain virtually any part of speech. So what? The Russian gerund is what is in question, and it is not a phrase at all. This is not about the various ways that it can be rendered in English, it’s about the Russian gerund as used in Russian. The Russian gerund is a single word, and it’s a verbal adverb. —Stephen 09:48, 29 December 2005 (UTC)
Since being and reading are connected to the subject by a copula, they are participial.
Again, we’re not talking about the English. The English is only there to show the meaning ... it does not show the semantic construction. The Russian gerund is not connected by a copula, its connection is the requirement that it have the same subject as the finite verb. The Russian gerund may be considered, as I said before, an indeclinable present or past participle, but it is adverbial in nature, and its translation into English almost always requires the use of a phrase. —Stephen 09:48, 29 December 2005 (UTC)
To make my point: sometimes a conjunction is left out just as with Spanish (mientras) in English.
In the Russian, no conjunction has been left out. In Spanish, sometimes mientras or por may be inserted, but the Spanish gerund already contains that sense to a far greater degree than English does. When I use gerunds in English, the additional meanings of 'while' or 'by' usually needs to be added ... but when I’m speaking Spanish, I can feel those meanings very strongly in the gerund itself. In English, I can barely detect those meanings. In the case of Russian, the gerund does not even admit such words as 'while.' —Stephen 09:48, 29 December 2005 (UTC)
Since I only know common Spanish and English grammars, I don't know if I am correct though, but your argumentation is rather weak as I have tried to explain.
17:09, 28 December 2005 (GMT)
If my argument is weak, it’s only in the way that I have presented it. The facts are what they are, and the Russian and Romance gerunds are very different from English or German gerunds. The English gerund is little more than an alternative infinitive. The Russian gerund is more complex and its use is much more rigid. —Stephen 09:48, 29 December 2005 (UTC)

Sorry for butting in. I always thought a gerund was a form of a verb that could be used as a noun which in English would share a form with either the infinitive or present particle as in "I like to eat" and "I like eating" but this article on says that the meaning has changed and a gerund is now the present participle in English and the "verbal present participle" in Spanish, which matches what Stephen is saying. Now I'm really confused. I might see what our gerund article covers all this... — Hippietrail 18:56, 28 December 2005 (UTC)

I agree with you that the English gerund is a verbal noun, a sort of infinitive, and not the present participle. All of my life, most people have understood the gerund to be any word that ends in -ing, regardless of semantics or parts of speech. Perhaps this notion is now official, but I do not accept it. "I am going" is not a gerund ... "I enjoy going" is.
That being said, the gerund in other languages is often different from the English gerund, and this is what the article is referring to. —Stephen 09:48, 29 December 2005 (UTC)
Well, if this is where we're going, we could just as well give up (descriptive) grammar altogether as I see it. — Wietse 19:09, 28 December 2005 (GMT)
That is not where we’re going in the article. We are simply saying that the definition of "gerund" is different when applied to other languages. When Russian-language students or students of Latin, Finnish, or Arabic speak of the gerund, they are not talking about the simple English gerund, they mean something more complex (as the article correctly states). —Stephen 09:48, 29 December 2005 (UTC)

Ok, although I am still not sure how English is any different from Spanish or Italian in this (but I bet your ability in Spanish is superior to mine), I see your point. It's not what I would call a gerund, though. — Wietse 15:07, 29 December 2005 (GMT)

  • The particiants in this thread may be interested in the parallel thread now in Wiktionary:Tea room#gerund. To me it doesn't seem to agree 100% with what I see here. — Hippietrail 16:26, 29 December 2005 (UTC)

So how would this apply to template:new_en_verb_pres_part as used in NogoMatch? Davilla 08:37, 23 February 2006 (UTC)

I’m sorry, I don’t understand your question. —Stephen 09:39, 23 February 2006 (UTC)
I mean, practically speaking, how should pages with -ing words look? Should they only list the present participle as the verb sense, as the template currently provides for, or should they also have a noun sense? Davilla 18:09, 23 February 2006 (UTC)
Oh, I see. I think a page should contain all cases, but in senses where it is only a finite form of a more basic citation form, it only needs the barest mention and a link to the citation form. For instance, acting should have the complete definition of the noun (drama, movies, etc.), and in a different section (===Verb form===) it should say that it’s the present progressive of "to act". —Stephen 10:00, 24 February 2006 (UTC)
The new entry template is supposed to be the barest mention (with the actual entries expanded as needed). I had tried adding a noun sense for xxxing which is, as a default, "Gerund form of the verb [xxx]; the action of one who is xxxing", and the adjective sense "That xxxs". As in your example of acting, these could be edited upon creation of the entry for a fuller definition, but the skeletal defintion could be there as a minimum. The question is, should -ing pages always, or almost always, have a noun sense, and if so should they also have an adjective or other sense? Davilla 10:21, 24 February 2006 (UTC)
No, there are not always noun senses or other senses. Almost all English verbs have gerunds, but other senses of the gerund form have to be treated case-by-case. —Stephen 11:29, 24 February 2006 (UTC)
To be sure I understand, when you earlier said "the English gerund is a verbal noun" you meant that it was still a verb, acting as a noun perhaps, but not actually a noun. Just about any sentence "I like to xxx blah blah blah" can be changed to "xxxing blah blah blah is fun", but I take it the gerund in the latter is not necessarily considered a noun. Davilla 16:23, 24 February 2006 (UTC)
Part of the problem is the word gerund itself. It has different meanings when applied to different languages, and different meanings even in English. Nowadays most people including many teachers count every -ing word as a gerund, but grammarians differentiate between verbal nouns (gerunds) and finite verb forms (the present progressive). A English gerund is really a noun, and is very much like an infinitive. In fact, some languages (e.g., Arabic) use infinitives strictly as verbal nouns (gerunds), never as verbs. When you say "I am going", "I am swimming", "I am thinking", it’s the present progressive, not a gerund, and it means almost the same as "I go", "I swim", "I think". But as a nouns, these words do not mean "I go" at all ... "my going should not be a problem", "my swimming provides me lots of exercise", "by my thinking, it’s okay". This use of the gerund is where many foreigners get hung up, and you often hear them using the infinitive instead (infinitives and English gerunds being very much alike). Sometimes the meanings and uses of the gerund can be predicted from the infinitive (it’s fun to swim = swimming is fun), but other times the gerund has special senses (to be, being, human being). —Stephen 17:59, 24 February 2006 (UTC)