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Thread: Should the King use the subjunctive?

 
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    Default Should the King use the subjunctive?

    A few days ago, King Juan Carlos of Spain made news by saying to President Chavez of Venezuela: "¿Por qué no te callas?"


    My wife (a native speaker) says that the King’s announcement was a simple declarative statement, therefore it was properly expressed in the indicative mood.

    I maintain that it was an expression of frustration and exasperation, therefore it was an expression of emotion, and therefore should be better expressed in the subjunctive.


    Any thoughts?

    Thanks

    --Eric
    Last edited by eduncan; 11-21-2007 at 12:56 AM.

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    Forum User aleCcowaN's Avatar
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    The subjunctive tangle were every English speaker seems to be swamped; a really hard nut to crack.

    Emotion and subjunctive are not closely related, more related than emotion and indicative. The King's statement is just a proposition, then it contains the verb performing the actual action it is proposed: ¿Por qué no subes la calefacción? ¿Por qué mejor no salimos a bailar esta noche? ¿¡Por qué no te callas!? Exasperation is expressed here by tone.

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    Quote Originally Posted by aleCcowaN
    The subjunctive tangle were every English speaker seems to be swamped; a really hard nut to crack.

    Emotion and subjunctive are not closely related, more related than emotion and indicative. The King's statement is just a proposition, then it contains the verb performing the actual action it is proposed: ¿Por qué no subes la calefacción? ¿Por qué mejor no salimos a bailar esta noche? ¿¡Por qué no te callas!? Exasperation is expressed here by tone.

    Hi, Alec

    Thanks for your reply.

    Concerning the tie between "emotion" and the "subjunctive...I might try these two expressions:
    "Gee, I wish it was six o'clock, so I can leave the office." (Indicative mood)
    "What a lucky so-and-so! I wish I were rich too!" (Subjunctive mood, especially since it's contrary to fact...)

    Admittedly, I don't have a strong case, but there it is.

    Concerning the King: seems to me that the source of the King's exasperation, the thing that was propelling his outburst, was a “wish,” or “desire” (that Chavez shut up…)

    That kind of wish or desire often takes the subjunctive: as in the standard examples, “long live America, “heaven forbid,” “may he live to be a hundred,” etc.

    Or, in other words:
    A simple question to Chavez –“Don’t you have any manners; why don’t you pipe down?” That would be indicative.
    But, a question to Chavez that’s driven by emotion – “Could you be any more of a nuisance? – Why don’t you just shut up!?” -- seems to me subjunctive.

    Just thinking out loud…

    Best,

    --E.D.
    Last edited by eduncan; 11-22-2007 at 12:41 AM.

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    Forum User aleCcowaN's Avatar
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    Hi Eric!
    Quote Originally Posted by eduncan
    Or, in other words:
    A simple question to Chavez –“Don’t you have any manners; why don’t you pipe down?” That would be indicative.
    But, a question to Chavez that’s driven by emotion – “Could you be any more of a nuisance? – Why don’t you just shut up!?” -- seems to me subjunctive.

    Just thinking out loud…
    A question to Chavez that’s driven by emotion: -¿Podrías dejar de ser nada más que un incordio? ¿Por qué simplemente no te callas?

    Still indicative (conditional -podrías- used to be considered an independent mood: the potential mood, but nowadays is regarded as a part of the indicative mood)

    The hard nut of subjunctive mangrove and explaining it to English speakers. "Declarative statement behind indicative, otherwise subjunctive" seems to be the ultimate trend in the Spanish teaching universe and it is doing well so far, but I'm not so sure about it. When Spanish speakers have to explain how we use subjunctive, we seem to find a "blind spot" to describe the rules that govern what we see so clearly.

    What must caught our attention (both natives and foreigners) is that subjunctive is the negative form for commands. No "decent" language command something using one mood and command the opposite using a different mood (¡ve! ¡no vayas! --->even in my country by using different verbs to do it: ¡andá! ¡no vayas!). We also learn subjunctive this way when we are 2 to 4 years old, conditional sentences follow and then, when we are 6 or older, the rest of subjunctive (no five years old kid, unless she or he has a 220 IQ, says nothing similar to "no creo que sepas aún"). These are the keys to understand subjunctive, and I think we can't explain it well and the other ones can't understand it easily because we're too much of an adult.

    I do no harm if I wake up one day and say "subjunctive is got-rid-of-that-notion", and another day I say "subjunctive is me-am-me-and-you-are-you" ("me-am-me" on purpose). For instance, in English you don't say "I want you you know" to say "I wish you have this piece of knowledge". I-want and you-know clearly collide in the same sentence. "I want you to know" solves the problem. In Spanish, as the verbs are much more carved, faceted and polished, we use subjunctive: "quiero que sepas" ("me-am-me" ---> quiero (indicative) / "you-are-you" ---> sepas (subjunctive) ).

    Another instance: "no creo que venga". The notion of he coming here is not in my mind. Then, how can I say the sentence if the notion is not in my mind? Simple, first I create the notion of he coming here, then I shout "No!!!!" and finally I get rid of that notion. The latter act turns indicative into subjunctive.

    The idea of me being apart of the rest of the universe, I mean my mind being a universe itself, is over any other notion:

    Ven
    No vengas

    Quiero que vengas
    No quiero que vengas

    I said "quiero" then I'm speaking of myself. That's why subjunctive turns "so emotional" as I can give you information in my mind and you'll have an exact replica of it -my date of birth, for instance- but by explaining my emotions I can't make you feel the way I do.

    Finally, the King was upset and tired of the tropical Mussolini and simply tried to shut him up. That notion was in the king's mind, he wanted that notion fulfiled in reality -actually a silent Chavez- and he said so. Indicative or imperative are the options here.

    I hope this may help. I'm trying to develop my skills in explaining this and I expect my English was good enough to do so.

    Regards

    Alec

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    Senior Member Hebe's Avatar
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    I share Alex’s opinion when he says that the King's statement was just a proposition…. a proposition thrown with certain sarcasm may I add. El meta-mensaje parecía ser --- ¿porque mejor no te callas y dejas de poner la cómica?

    Exasperation ? definitely reflected by King’s tone of voice.

    Regards


    Truly, my dear young friends, you are a chosen generation. I hope you will never forget it.
    Gordon B. Hinckley

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    Senior Member Veronica's Avatar
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    Hi everyone!
    I don't think the king was giving Chavez an order, it wouldn't be very "kingly" to do that, I think he was expressing annoyance, and honestly, it's very annoying when you are trying to argue with someone and the other person won't let you talk...
    I definetly don't think it was imperative.

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    Senior Member Hebe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Veronica
    it's very annoying when you are trying to argue with someone and the other person won't let you talk....
    Not to mention the fact that Chavez was violating the protocol. The floor was given to Zapatero, it was his turn to speak; and Chavez had already taken more time than he was allowed. After all, the only thing that President Zapatero pointed out was a universal true, and a principle that is fundamental in this type of international events: “You need to respect others if you wish to be respected”. Bravo president Zapatero !!!!


    Truly, my dear young friends, you are a chosen generation. I hope you will never forget it.
    Gordon B. Hinckley

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    Absolutly! I agree with you girls! He just "invited" him to shut his mouth up (good for him), but he was so exhasperated by Chavez attitude he couldn't help his annoyance. Just that.

    See you!

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    Hello, All:

    For Alec: Thanks so much for your good explanation; it's helped clarify my understanding quite a bit!

    For Hebe, Veronica, and Mer: Thanks to you all for chiming in with good ideas, and saludos de mi parte a todos!

    Best Regards,
    Eric

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    Default Annoyance

    I definitely think the King of Spain was annoyed and of course saying what he thought Chavez should do: shut up...But I don't think he really expected the guy to do that. It would have been a miracle if he did...

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