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Would it be odd for a conlang to have a habitual but no perfect?

Posted: 2018-12-28, 20:35
by xBlackHeartx
I know there's languages out there that don't use aspect much if at all (such as German), but personally I just like the distinction between habitual versus non-habitual actions.

This, however, creates a minor issue in my conlang. I don't really see much point in my conlang having a perfect. It has relative tense, in fact, there's a total of 5 different relative tenses to choose from, which means that there's functionally 5 different past tenses. Well, remote pasts anyway, there's also a recent past, but details... Anyway, with my past tense being this detailed it would seem that having a perfect/imperfect distinction would be redundant. To me, it looks like the only reason you would have such a distinction is to indicate to the listener whether or not what you're describing to them is part of a longer sequence of events or not.

Of course, looking at natural languages, I can't seem to find any indication of a language with aspect that doesn't include a perfect/imperfect distinction. Also, I believe that the habitual and progressive are considered sub-types of the imperfect, which means that such a conlang would functionally have an imperfect but no perfect to contrast it with, which would be rather strange. Well, technically my distinction is more habitual/non-habitual, but eh.

Of course, I'm not interested in making a naturalistic conlang, but in my view, if there is something no natural language does, there's probably a very good practical reason for that.

Re: Would it be odd for a conlang to have a habitual but no perfect?

Posted: 2018-12-29, 8:06
by razlem
if there is something no natural language does, there's probably a very good practical reason for that

Just because widely spoken languages don't have habitual without perfect doesn't mean that natural language as a whole can't. We just haven't documented any that have (and there's still plenty of languages to document).

It's difficult to have an "odd" conlang; there's a huge variety of weird things conlangs have done. Since you're not worried about making a naturalistic conlang anyway, I wouldn't get too preoccupied with it. Do some weird things with it and have fun :mrgreen:

Re: Would it be odd for a conlang to have a habitual but no perfect?

Posted: 2018-12-29, 17:30
by Dormouse559
razlem wrote:Just because widely spoken languages don't have habitual without perfect doesn't mean that natural language as a whole can't. We just haven't documented any that have (and there's still plenty of languages to document).

It's difficult to have an "odd" conlang; there's a huge variety of weird things conlangs have done. Since you're not worried about making a naturalistic conlang anyway, I wouldn't get too preoccupied with it. Do some weird things with it and have fun :mrgreen:

Hear, hear! And if you implement a feature you can't find attested, and it turns out it is somehow impractical, you change it.

Your specific idea of habitual vs. non-habitual sounds plausible to me. The non-habitual presumably has both perfective and imperfective meanings, but context will go a long way when figuring out which one is intended. And where context isn't enough, there are always adverbs and conjunctions.

Re: Would it be odd for a conlang to have a habitual but no perfect?

Posted: 2018-12-30, 21:19
by xBlackHeartx
Thinking about it, Esperanto makes such a distinction (there's a progressive but no perfective), though Esperanto isn't exactly the best conlang ever made, and from my understanding people are using the progressive mood less and less. Oh well.