All Slavic: "I knew that it was" vs "I knew that it is"

arn00b

Senior Member
English
This came up in another thread (the beautiful girl one) so I wanted to start a general one.

"I knew that it was love at first sight" is fine in English. "I knew that it is love at first sight" sounds a little strange.

I'm curious about this usage in other Slavic languages.

This is the translation by @TKD : "vedel som, že to bola láska na prvý pohľad"
This one is from @Enquiring Mind : "vedel som, že je to láska na prvý pohľad"

They differ only in time, "I knew that it is" vs "I knew that it is."

In your language, what is the correct way of phrasing this with regards to the second verb in phrases like "I knew he loved me" "I thought she was joking" etc.

Is the use of the past tense in the second phrase correct? Is it a form of anglicism? Or does it mean something else (pluperfect)?
 
  • Enquiring Mind

    Senior Member
    English - the Queen's
    Alas, the beautiful girl is no more - or the thread, anyway! But the good news is that there are many more of them. And not only in Slovakia. ;)

    Cz: Věděl(a) jsem, že je to láska na první pohled - I knew (that) it was love at first sight.
    (Vím, že to je láska na první pohled - I know (that) it is love at first sight.)
    Ru: Я знал(а), что это любовь с первого взгляда - I knew (that) it was love at first sight.
    (Я знаю, что это любовь с первого взгляда - I know (that) it's love at first sight.)
     
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    TKD

    Member
    Slovak - Slovakia
    Hi,

    I used the past tense (bola) in my translation but the present tense (je) could be there too.
    There was no real difference in the meaning in that particular context.
     

    bibax

    Senior Member
    Czech (Prague)
    "I knew that it was love at first sight" is fine in English. "I knew that it is love at first sight" sounds a little strange.
    In Czech it is opposite to English.

    I always tend to write: "I knew she loves me", "I thought she is joking" etc. as in Czech we say: "Věděl jsem, že mě miluje.", "Myslel jsem, že žertuje", etc. (miluje, žertuje = present tense).

    The present tense in the dependent clause signifies the parallel action.

    It is also possible to use the past tense in the dependent clause:

    "Věděl jsem, že mě milovala."
    "Myslel jsem, že žertovala."

    IMO it is effectively pluperfect, although the true pluperfect (in Czech rather archaic or bookish) is formed by the l-participle of the verb to be (byl, byla, bylo, .... ): e.g. ona mě byla milovala.
     

    Jeki

    Senior Member
    Serbian
    Hello!
    Talking about translation, in school they teached us that in the sentence like "I knew that it was love at first sight" (with the sequence of tenses, if I am not wrong) the past simple "was" should be translated as the present simple tense, that is - Znao sam da je to ljubav na prvi pogled.

    But it is also possible to say Znao sam da je to bila ljubav na prvi pogled. (with past simple translated as past simple).

    However there is some difference between these sentences that I am not able to explain at the moment. :)
     

    [∞]

    Senior Member
    English - England (RP-ish)
    Hello!
    Talking about translation, in school they teached us that in the sentence like "I knew that it was love at first sight" (with the sequence of tenses, if I am not wrong) the past simple "was" should be translated as the present simple tense, that is - Znao sam da je to ljubav na prvi pogled.

    But it is also possible to say Znao sam da je to bila ljubav na prvi pogled. (with past simple translated as past simple).

    However there is some difference between these sentences that I am not able to explain at the moment. :)

    Obviously Serbian isn't my mother tongue, but if I heard "Znao sam da je (to) bila ljubav na prvi pogled" I would generally assume that the writer was talking about a former love in the past. Since the pluperfect isn't often used in Serbian, I guess when using verb aspect isn't an option, putting a whole indirect statement in the past tense might give the same meaning. I'm not sure, though; I'm only a B1 speaker and still bad with shades of meaning.
     

    Ben Jamin

    Senior Member
    Polish
    In Polish the correct translation is the same as in Czech:
    "Wiedziałem, że to jest miłość od pierwszego wejrzenia."
    If you put the verb "to be" in the past form:
    "Wiedziałem, że to była miłość od pierwszego wejrzenia." the meaning will be pluperfect.
     

    francisgranada

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    The present tense in the dependent clause signifies the parallel action.
    In other words, for the grammatical tense of the verb in the subordinate clause, the reference of contemporaneity is the tense of the verb in the main clause, not the "absolute time/presence" (as in case of the Romance/English-like consecutio temporum). So we have (in Slovak):

    "Viem, že to je láska na prvý pohľad" (contemporaneity: "now I know that now it is")
    "Vedel som, že to
    je láska na prvý pohľad" (contemporaneity: "then I knew that then it was")

    "Viem, že to bola láska na prvý pohľad" (
    anteriority: "now I know that then it was")
    "Vedel som, že to
    bola láska na prvý pohľad" (anteriority: "then I knew that 'before' it had been")

    "Viem, že to to
    bude láska na prvý pohľad" (posteriority: "now I know that 'later' it will be")
    "Vedel som, že to
    bude láska na prvý pohľad" (posteriority: "then I knew that 'later' it would be")

    ... IMO it is effectively pluperfect, although the true pluperfect (in Czech rather archaic or bookish) is formed by the l-participle of the verb to be (byl, byla, bylo, .... ): e.g. ona mě byla milovala.
    This is true, though in the above examples I can't see any real reason for the usage of this archaic pluperfect. However, it's also true that in the common speach "Vedel som, že to je ..." and "Vedel som, že to bola ..." are often used interchangeably (with no regard for the nuances), which could - in theory - justify the usage of the mentioned archaic pluperfect in some cases.
     
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