Place Those Accents Correctly

Many Western European languages use the same alphabet as English, with one significant difference. There can be diacritics (or accents) above certain characters.

For a student of a foreign language, it’s important to place those accents correctly. Sometimes these tiny small markers can be forgotten, for example when conjugating a verb. If the accents are forgotten, the verb conjugation may even fail.

To check that the accents are placed correctly, have a look at the reverse conjugator. There you can write the infinitive without accents and the reverse conjugator tells, whether accents should be added or not.

Check for instance the Spanish verb ‘reir’. (Note! I misspelled it on purpose)

More info:

Reverse Verb Conjugation

Verb conjugation is the process of forming all the verbal forms from the dictionary lookup word. (generally infinitive). Reverse conjugation means getting the infinitive from any conjugated verb form.

In linguistics revers conjugation would rather be named morphological analysis. In morphological analysis the different parts of  word are analyzed: the stem and the modifiers. The modifiers are those parts of a verb that denote mood, tense, number, person, etc.

In Verbix the reverse conjugation (or morphological analysis) is made simple. The user simply enters any verb form, and Verbix tells if it’s a verb or not. If it’s a verb, then Verbix returns the infinitives that can be conjugated.

More info:

Don’t Panic!

The English language has a limited number of irregular verbs. Once you learn them, it’s pretty straight-forward to conjugate all English verbs.

There are, however, a number of verbs that are regular but undergo orthographical changes. Orthographical changes are there to ensure that the pronunciation is preserved in the different forms of a verb.

’To panic’ is one of these verbs. An automated verb conjugator might conjugate the verb in past ’paniced’, but that’s wrong. The correct past is ’panicked’, so there is a ’k’ attached to the stem to preserve the pronunciation.

The dictionary of Verbix knows a half dozen of verbs that are conjugated like panic. And the past forms are marked in blue to denote the orthographic change.

In addition the built-in rules of Verbix also know orthographic rules. So, don’t panic! Verbix knows how to conjugate verbs ending in ’c’.

Links to go:

Where on Earth Do They Speak…

Somewhen in the past I got familiar with a site called Ethnologue. It contains information about all languages in the world.

One thing that I was missing though is the lack of maps that would better show where the languages are spoken. At that time there wasn’t any other site either that would contain many languages plotted on the map.

So where is Muna spoken for instance?

I happened to have alist of languages along with coordinates so I decided to give Google Maps a try. With a minimum amount of (JavaScript) programming I got the languages on the map.

Links:

Verb Conjugation

Verb conjugation is the central part of the sentence in most languages.

Verb conjugation is the creation of derived forms of a verb from its principal parts by inflection. Principal parts is sometimes the infinitive like “cantar” in Spanish, but it can also be verb theme like “skriva – skriver – skrev -skrivit” in Swedish.

In Spanish it’s enough to know the infinitive of a verb to get all the conjugated forms; in the case of regular verbs all the conjugated forms are formed with the same set of endings. Unfortunately there is a big amount of irregular verbs that don’t follow the regular verb conjugation patters.

As shown in the example above, in Swedish verb conjugation there’s a verb theme consisting of four verb forms. All Swedish verb forms are formed by applying the same set of endings to the theme. The theme itself must be memorized, because it contains information about irregularities, if any.

Read more:

Verb Conjugator Gadget

I’ve been involved in development of a Windows gadget in my job.

Click to install the Verb Conjugator gadgetGadgets are those small applets that Windows Vista and Windows 7 users can install on their desktop.

Typically gadgets simplify a specific task. So I decided to simplify verb conjugation and wrote a Verb Conjugator gadget.

The first version of the gadget is ready and available for download.

Links:

Portuguese Verb Conjugation

After the spring in Spain in 1995, I attended classes in Portuguese. I felt that Portuguese shouldn’t be too hard to learn, because it’s closely related to Spanish. I was wrong. Portuguese is much harder than Spanish – and in this I mean the pronunciation. As people say that written and spoken French are different languages, this could also apply to Portuguese. 

I learnt the Portuguese as spoken In Portugal and I would say it’s harder to learn than French.

The verbs in Portuguese, however, are pretty close to the Spanish ones. The infinitives are pretty much identical with the corresponding verbs in Spanish. There are some differences, though:

  • Second person plural is not used (in Portugal)
  • Compound tenses are not used
  • “Synthetic pluperfect”, i.e., pluperfect is formed without auxiliary (like in Spanish and English)
  • Conjugated infinitive

Somehow I felt that Portuguese preserves more verbal forms than any other Romance language – Romance languages are those that derived from Latin. The conjugated or inflected infinitive is something specific for Portuguese only.

I attended elementary Portuguese classes in one year only. But after that, guess what? I bought myself the first Portuguese verb conjugation book to master the Portuguese verbs.

Links:

Spanish Verb Conjugation

Since living a half year in Spain in 1995 I’ve been interested in verbs and verb conjugation. The reason is that the Spanish language has quite a lot of irregular verbs that the student just needs to learn, in order to properly communicate. 

I learnt quite quickly the most used Spanish verbs that are all irregular; ser ’to be’, estar ’to be’, ir ’to go’, tener ’to have’, haber ’to have’, poner ’to put’, etc.

But the more I learnt the more new irregular verbs. So I bought my first verb conjugation book ”Al arte de conjugar verbos en español”. This book simply contains 100+ sample verbs, each representing a group of irregular verbs.  In the end of this book there’s an index with 12,000 verbs that refer to a sample verb.

This kind of verb conjugation book helps the student to find the correct conjugation for any verb. I say any verb, because a verb not being in the book is typically a new verb ‘neologism’ and these tend to be conjugated regularly.

Bookstores seem to have even 10s of verb conjugation books alone for the Spanish language. I assume this is due to Spanish being a popular language to study.

So did I learn to speak Spanish by read a verb conjugation book? No I learnt it when hitch-hiking around the Iberian Peninsula in spring 1995. But in the written Spanish the book served me for a long time as the ultimate help.

Links:

French Verb Conjugator

See French Verb Conjugator on-line.

After finishing the Spanish verb conjugator, I thought that programming a verb conjugator  for French verbs would be easy and straightforward. This was not exactly the case.

French belongs to the Romance languages, a group of languages that developed from the Latin language. So does Spanish. That’s the reason that verbs are quite similar between these languages; they have the same irregular verbs, the same moods, tenses, and persons, and they have the same kind of verb endings.

Compared with the Spanish language, the French verb conjugation shows less forms. The future tense of the subjunctive mood does not exist. And the subjunctive past has only one form, opposed to Spanish that has two forms for it.

There is one thing, however, that is much harder to program in the French verb conjugation; the compound forms are formed either with être ’to be’ or avoir ’to have’ as the auxiliary verb.  (Spanish always uses haber ’to have’). The correct auxiliary depends on the meaning, and this requires a dictionary.

When I was done with entering the verbs that take être as the auxiliary verb — there are less verbs of this category — in compound tenses, I could release the French verb conjugator.

Links:

Programming a Spanish Verb Conjugator

I developed the first Spanish verb conjugator in 1995. I chose Visual Basic 1.0 as the programming tool, more or less for two reasons: 1. I could write the software for Microsoft Windows; 2. the tool was free (I got it together with a computer magazine).

Spanish verbs are quite logical in the conjugation. By removing the two last characters from the end of the infinitive, we obtain the stem. And by applying certain endings we can get all the conjugated forms of the verb. Generally the endings depend on the conjugation (whether the verb infinitive ends -ar, -er, or -ir).

By simply applying the endings to the stem the conjugator can conjugate all regular verbs of the Spanish language, which account more than 90% of all the verbs. I porgrammed this in one afternoon.

In order to work well, the conjugator must also be able to conjugate all irregular verbs. This was the tricky part; all irregular verbs had to be put in different categories according to the irregularities that they show. So I wrote a dictionary that contained the irregular verbs and information about the irregularities. This was time consuming and required that the verbs were checked in various books.

At this point I decided to mark all irregularities in red. In means of programming it was done easily; if special rules were applied, use red language.

In addition to irregularities there is something that is called ortographic change. In practice it means that a letter ot two are replced with some other letter in certain situations. The ortigraphic rules are regular, so it was a matter of a few codelines.

Finally as you can imagine, am automated verb conjugator can conjugate the verb in any form. Now there are some verbs in Spanish that are not conjugated in all forms. I chose to mark these forms in grey. Unfortunately I had to build again a dictionary with information of non-existing forms.

To put this together, a Spanish verb conjugator works like this:

  1. Check from dictionary, if the verb is irregular.
  2. If the verb is not found in dictionary, consider that it is regular.
  3. Remove the infinitive ending (-ar, -er, or -ir).
  4. Apply the special rules for irregular verbs.
  5. Add the verb endings and apply the ortographic rules.

That’s it!

Related links: