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Unit 03: The future tense; More about Time

Enough, if something from our hands have power
To live, and act, and serve the future hour.
(William Wordsworth, The River Duddon)

Many languages, among them French and English, have a very simple way expressing a future idea without having to use a separate tense at all: by means of the verb "to go". For example, we can say "tomorrow, I am going to swim" - let's use this as our example for Lapine too. Colloquial Lapine also makes heavy use of such a construction. You'll remember from Unit 02 that the phrase u hyao, literally "the day", can express the idea of "yesterday" when used with a past-tense sentence. Similarly, it can mean "tomorrow" when used with the future tense. The verb "to go" in Lapine is zayn, and "to swim" is hla, so our example sentence looks like this:

[LISTEN] u hyao, a lay zayn hla - tomorrow, I'm going to swim

This use of the same word, hyao to express opposite ideas may seem confusing, but this sort of thing also happens in English: compare "in the spring, I swam" and "in the spring, I'm going to swim". However, because of the potential for confusion, it's very common to borrow these more precise forms from inflected Lapine:

hyaont - yesterday
hyaones - today
hyaoth - tomorrow
léaont - last night
léaones - tonight (present)
léaoth - tonight (future)

Note that the last two convey slightly different ideas of time - broadly, you should use léaones if it is already night time, otherwise léaoth. With all six of these words, the preceding u is entirely optional, though it often occurs because of the influence of the colloquial tongue.

One other borrowing from inflected Lapine which is very common is layth, "will be". This is considered a little more formal than the zayn formation, and is not used as much as lay zayn in very casual chatting, though it certainly does occur. To illustrate the point, I've taken a simple sentence - "tonight, you (pl.) will feed above ground" and rendered it in several ways, with increasing formality:

[LISTEN] u léao, es lay zayn silflay
[LISTEN] léaoth, es layth silflay
[LISTEN] léaoth, silflayesth

Note the "sth" combination in the most formal example - this sequence is very unusual in English, and in one of the few common words containing it - "asthma", is not usually fully pronounced. Remember, in Lapine, all letters are pronounced - listen to the MP3 to see what I mean. Right, everybody, I'll let you off early this time, as we've got a lot of work to get through in our next unit. I want to see evidence of revision, you hear? =;)