Sunday, 29 January 2017

Mënyra dëshirore

The Optative Mood

Mire se vini, today I'm going to take a look at one of my favourite peculiarities in the Albanian language - the optative mood. Thinking about it, I'd say that one of the first things everyone learns is "mirupafshim" - while it's a way to say "goodbye", it's actually a wish! Will take a closer look at it in a bit.

First, what is the optative mood - it's a mood which Albanians use to express wishes (or curses), and it literally translates as "may I/you/he etc. do something". While we have a really similar one in Bulgarian, it definitely doesn't have that widespread function as it is here - so it was something old and new at the same time for me. As a friend of mine first described it to me, it's "the -(f)sha tense". These endings are actually the endings of the first person singular forms of the verbs. It can be used in any person, depending on whom you address it towards. The extra -f is added if the root of the past tense/past participle ends in a vowel. (Hard grammatical stuff here, I won't be able to explain that well, as it depends on the "regularity" of the past simple and the past participle of each verb) So let's take a look at a few examples, which you may find helpful. (all examples are in the informal/friendly you)

U bëfsh 100 vjeç(e) - typical birthday wish. It's used to say "Happy birthday", but it actually means "may you become 100 years old" (some people live more, but probably in Albania it's considered amazing to turn 100, will have to ask haha). The informal/colloquial speech skips "u bëfsh" and you can see something like "edhe 100 vjeç(e)" instead. (Thank you, Facebook!)
Kalofsh mirë - Have a good time (but literally means "may you pass your time well")
Të bëftë mirë - used to say "Bon appétit", but in fact it means "may it comes well to you"
Paç fat - good luck (may you have luck)
Rrofsh - mainly used as a way to say "thank you", which translates literally as "may you live long"
Vdeksha për ty - that one is a romantic one, I'd die for you (may I die for you)

And, of course, mirupafshim. Literally, you're saying may we well see each other - if you take a closer look, it's consisting of mirë - good, u - reflexive particle that means self, and pafshim, which is the optative first person plural of shoh. As there is an "u" in front of the verb, that indicates that the verb is reflexive, thus is shihem (to see each other), not shoh (to see).

Another way to say "if, whether", except nëse is në qoftë se - may it be in that (way). But it always sounds so formal to me, although its use is interchangeable, as far as I know.

The optative can be used in negative sentences with "mos", and it again can be used to express positive wishes:
Mos vdeksh kurrë - may you never die.
Mos paç më të këqija - don't have bad luck (may bad things not happen to you)

And a huge part of the Albanian swearing is converted in that mood too (which I'll not cover here today) - remember, wishes or curses. A way to be inventive is to wish someone something, probably. Just take a look the next time if you meet any of the -fhs- verbs, they use them A LOT.

There is also a past perfect optative, used mainly in conditional clauses. I haven't found a grammar explaining that properly yet though, just bits and pieces, and everything I know about it is from short coverage of it in books, my friend and YouTube lessons. Probably it's considered a higher than a beginner level, that's why no book has a good explanation and exercises on it. But learning that is so helpful, as you begin to see the patterns in so simple words.

Kjo ishte diçka për sot, shpresoj që t'ju ndihmoj. Faleminderit për vëmendjen dhe... mirupafshim. Shkrofshim së shpejti.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, I am a Swede, studying Albanian i Sweden. I am glad to have found your blog.
    I like that you are passionated of the Albanian lanugage!