Culture: Grammar
Abandon Future Tenses   (+2, -18)  [vote for, against]
Remove some of the complexity of languages

One of the things that puts many people off learning a new language is the overwhelming number of grammatical rules and constructions. This idea is to reduce a lot of the bulk in languages by using the past tenses to express the future. This is done in its simplest form by way of negation of the time frame. For example:

"I am on holiday in 3 months" becomes "I was on holiday -3 months ago".

"I will kill him tomorrow" becomes "I killed him -yesterday"

The second example could actually become "I killed him tomorrow", since there's already an understanding that 'tomorrow' refers to the future. However, this could not be stuck to in all instances - what would be the meaning of "I was going to eat that leg tomorrow" (an acceptable statement in present English)?

There is also the case of future statements which have no reference to the timescale, e.g. "I will decapitate her". Since we have no timescale to negate, we will have to insert a reference to the future, so that the example becomes "I decapitated her in the future".

I hoped that you all liked this idea in the future.
-- -alx, May 18 2002

Chinese http://www.nickyee....ponder/chinese.html
A language with no tenses, just markers to indicate whether one action occurred before during or after another, and words (adverbs) specifying a point in time. [pottedstu, May 21 2002, last modified Oct 04 2004]

(?) Wol Wantok
Another tenseless language: pidgin English from the South Pacific. [Wayfall, Oct 04 2004]

English has no future tense
Just under the 'USE' heading [spidermother, Feb 22 2006]

That could definitely work, though you would still need to keep special cases for events at indefined points in the past & future.
-- -alx, May 18 2002

Nah... what you need to do is eliminate the completely useless gender-modification words from languages that have a 'gender' for each and every noun out there. Is a piano male, female, or neuter? I don't care, I'm not going to take one out on a date. It doesn't add any value whatsoever.
-- RayfordSteele, May 18 2002

Thats right, get rid of gender discriptive words, future tense, heck, why not just use the present tense all the time. I eat that sandwich at lunch-time. I have already eat that sandwich.
-- HRH-Prince Alexander Of Ruthenia Ceaser To The King, May 18 2002

Lazy bastard. Just be glad you don't speak German.
-- pottedstu, May 18 2002

I will be giving this idea a fishbone yesterday.
-- professorfrink, May 19 2002

vini, vidi, fishy
-- thumbwax, May 19 2002

You will need to provide a solution for the pluperfect.
-- globaltourniquet, May 19 2002

Actually, [pottedstu], it was my studies of German that led me to think this was a good idea.

No, that's a lie. I never thought it was a good idea. It came to me and I couldn't help but halfbake it.
-- -alx, May 19 2002

I've said it before and I'll say it again, whatever -ed, -ed; furthermore, your mood makes the construction sound complicated.
-- reensure, May 19 2002

They would have been fishboning this.
-- angel, May 20 2002

They would have been needing only one tense, really.

(later) Dang it, [angel], you beat me to it.
-- BigBrother, May 20 2002

-- thumbwax, May 21 2002

Ah, he jumps through loopholes. Bad example, rave. (I know you know the real deal anyway.)

In your future case, "go" isn't the verb - "will go" is, and that is future tense (or "will be going" for perfect). "Will" is not just a helper word - it's part of the verb. But you knew that.

Better example is 'to be', so you're not modifying another verb. I was, I am, I will be. Past, present, future - you can clearly see that "will be" is a future tense there.

I am clearly against any idea which would serve to reduce the number of tenses in our language.
-- waugsqueke, May 22 2002

Just limit language to three words - Yes, No and Why, and of course their foreign counterparts. You would have just as much of a chance implementing that as you would this idea.
-- dag, May 22 2002

-- yamahito, May 22 2002

Yamahito, I'm not literally suggesting the 3 word thing, just making a point that implementing this would be very difficult at best.
-- dag, May 22 2002

That's nice, but why are you seemingly negative about your ability? You're far too modest, and very smart.
-- reensure, May 22 2002

What happened to all the guerrilla pedants? Are we really going to let Ravenswood get away with "I will go to the store"? Harumph.
-- Gordon Comstock, May 24 2002

-- yamahito, May 24 2002

Nothing wrong with "I will go to the store", at least in most parts of the world.
-- pottedstu, May 24 2002

-- yamahito, May 24 2002

I am about to be failing to notice somebody....
-- po, May 24 2002

I've had some time to think this one over, and I have a proposal. I'll go along with the idea on the condition that you can draft the wording of the official proclamation informing the public of the abandonment of future tense. But you have to do it without using future tense.
-- waugsqueke, Jun 20 2002

Dear General Public,

Earlier today we decided to abandon the future tense. That means that nobody whosoever is allowed to use it. Please take note and avoid future tenses at all cost.

Thank you for your attention.
-- -alx, Jun 20 2002

Ever heard of Esperanto? If you want a language that is easy to learn, you've got it.
-- joarvat, Jun 20 2002

And it's so useful when you're on holiday in Esperanza.
-- pottedstu, Jun 20 2002

This would also be useful to undergraduates looking for a good paying position. The junior-year undergraduate student could say "I graduated with a master's degree in mechanical engineering in three years." Now, that's a real go-getter!
-- X2Entendre, Dec 13 2002

Baked. English already lacks a future tense. Constructions referring to the future use present tense to indicate intent, tendency etc. In the phrase "I will go", "will" is present, "go" is infinitive and tenseless. Similarly "I am going to go": "am" is present, "going" is a present participle.
-- spidermother, Feb 22 2006

[Murdoch] Yes, but those other verbs are still gramatically present tense. I must confess to having stated this in a deliberately provocative way. I could have said that the future is semantically rather than gramatically represented. (link)

Note that this article also states that "all languages have tenses". Is this overgeneralised? I could add bahasa besar (market Indonesian) as another (simple) gramatically tenseless langauge. Also sign languages.
-- spidermother, Feb 22 2006

Technically, English and related languages have no future tense, but what this means in practice is that the future is expressed in a different form than the past, such as "i will go" or "ich werde gehen" as opposed to "i went" or "ich ging" (which actually sounds a bit odd because it's old-fashioned or literate or something). Similar things happen in Spanish and Romanian, and Finnish completely lacks a future of any kind. There are also many other languages without tenses at all.
It would be easy to speak English without using the verbs "will/shall" as auxiliaries, and the chances are no-one would even notice you were doing it so you could bake this by just getting into the habit of saying "I am going to London tomorrow" and so forth instead of "I will go to London tomorrow."
-- nineteenthly, Feb 22 2006

Those who understand language well impress me.
-- bristolz, Feb 22 2006

I'm glad you're well impressed.
-- spidermother, Feb 22 2006

Darn, you just lowered my esteem!
-- bristolz, Feb 22 2006

Not my intention! I really meant, Omigosh, we've impressed Bristolz! I just have a tendency to find alternative meanings in everything.

When I'm feeling upset, I listen to 'Accidentally Kelly Street" by Frente and look at your Hullaballoon drawing. Cheers me up no end. There. Feeling better now?
-- spidermother, Feb 22 2006

Oh, I suppose. ;-)
-- bristolz, Feb 22 2006

I wonder if I can claim I'm Polynesian on my tax return.
-- bristolz, Feb 22 2006

random, halfbakery