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15 THE PRESENT TENSE AND THE IMPERATIVE FINITE VERB conjugation refers to verb inflection in the PRESENT, IMPERATIVE, and PAST. Because the present form of a perfective verb typically has future meaning, in technical discussions the present form is often referred to as the NON-PAST form. The INFINITIVE, while obviously non-finite, is often presented together with the finite verb forms, since it is the usual form of verbal citation in dictionaries. The term NONFINITE VERB FORM, then, in practice refers to participles, gerunds, and verbal nouns. 15.1. PRELIMINARY OBSERVATIONS ON VERB CITATION For reasons which trace back to the prehistory of Slavic, Russian verb forms are based on one of two stems, the infinitive-past stem or the presentimperative stem. These two stems differ for the vast majority of verbs, necessitating the elaboration of some kind of citation strategy which does not rely on the usual dictionary form, the infinitive, or at least not on it alone, since this form gives only one of the two stems (the infinitive-past stem). For the most part the two verb stems have identical root-forms but different suffixal attachments to them. These suffixes long ago lost any clear-cut meaning and today exist merely as “formants,” semantically empty structural components. Here is a summary of which verb-forms are formed on which stems: Infinitive-Past Stem: Present-Imperative Stem: infinitive present (non-past) past imperative perfective gerund imperfective gerund perfective active participle imperfective active participle perfective passive participle imperfective passive participle derived imperfective aspect verbal noun 280 15. THE PRESENT TENSE AND THE IMPERATIVE A huge amount of writing has been devoted to the matter of how best to cite and present the Russian verb. For routine classroom purposes, probably the best method is a traditional one, according to which a verb is given in three forms: the infinitive, the present, and the present , as люб любл лб . From these three forms one may (a) determine the conjugation-type (- , hence second conjugation); (b) recognize the stress pattern (on the ending in the, on the root in the other present form, hence “present-shifting”); (c) observe, in this verb, the stem mutation, б to бл , in the Although this mutation is predictable, by learning the form one avoids having to learn the rule. (d) predict the past tense (люб, hence любл любл , etc.); (e) predict the imperative (given любл, with stress on the ending, it is люб). Gerunds and participles may be predicted either from the citation forms themselves, or from forms which can be predicted from the citation forms. There is little else one can ask of a verbal citation strategy, and it is unfortunate that few if any current elementary Russian textbooks use this simple, effective, and time-tested way of presenting verbs. The traditional three-form citation strategy is an example of what one may call a “concrete-forms” or “multiple-forms” approach. Many take it as self-evident that a presentational system which deals in actually occurring verb-forms is preferable to one which relies on forms which are, to one extent or another, modified, abstract, or technically annotated. Some argue, on the contrary, that more technical systems of presenting the verb are preferable, because they make one think in terms of structure and type from the beginning. To this the other faction responds by pointing out that under a concrete-forms approach, one never needs to think about structure or type at any point. And so the discussion goes, back and forth. 15.1.1. THE COGNITIVE CENTRALITY OF ‘I’ AND ‘YOU-SG.’ A consideration in favor of the traditional three-form strategy is that the two forms used to instantiate the present tense, the and, occur in a sequence that has both cognitive and functional sense behind it. Pronominal concepts occur in an empathetic hierarchy, with the pronoun ‘I’ being most central, the next most central, and so on, with the being cognitively the least central, the most peripheral. Observe that ‘I’ does not imply the presence of any other pronominal entity, while ‘you-sg.’ implies the additional existence of at least ‘I’. ‘He’, ‘she’, or ‘it’ refer to entities being discussed between an ‘I’ and a ‘you’. The plural pronouns are based on the singular ones: ‘we’ refers either to multiples of ‘I’; to multiples of ‘I’ and ‘you’; or...


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