futuro proximo vs ir as meaning just plain "going"

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I'm learning Spanish using "Learn Spanish in your car", a set of CDs. Now, I understand the near future tense (futuro proximo) to be constituted as follows: relevant conjugation of ir + a + infinitive of relevant verb. No hay problema.

I also understand that just plain "going" (I'm going, you're going, etc.) is a reflexive verb. Me voy, te vas, etc.

In some examples on the CD when going to a place, no vamos a Las Vegas, comes to mind, there is no "nos" or other indirect object, meaning that when going to a specific place "ir" and not "irse" is used. Is this correct?

In another example the lady says " nosotros nos vamos a comer". This looks like plain futuro proximo, but suddenly the verb is reflexive. This looks like a mistake.

I thought I saw a nice rule (reflexive if going is just general, not reflexive if going is to a specific place, like Las Vegas) and futuro proximo, which is really a tense and has nothing to do with the act of going which is associated with movement. I was happy with that. Computer people like solid sets of rules to live by. Now it seems one uses ir as the feeling takes one. This is confusing. What is the right way to use ir in these circumstances'

7400 views
updated MAY 13, 2008
posted by Chris-Malan

14 Answers

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Hi Eddy,

I don't know what an error message has to do with all this. However, since we're on the topic, it is impossible to anticipate everything a user may do. There are just too many possibilities. I try to anticipate and catch problems, but I'm surprised at some of the things users try, even after I have explained what to do in detail. There is a saying among programmers: programmers try to make more foolproof programs, nature tries to make bigger fools. Nature is well ahead.

As for natural languages, take the example of "you" in English. The same for singular and plural. Absurd. Think of the problems it may cause. Business processes get described in Structured English. Why? Because natural English is too imprecise. We get this in all languages I know a bit about. Of course, natural languages grew organically, hence all the oddities. However, much of it can be fixed. Esperanto tried that, but it never really took off. Nobody is going to ditch the language he grew up with for a new, synthetic language. Apparently there is something like Euro, as well.

As for spelling, the most logical spelling is to be found in languages with their own alphabets. Arabic is quite phonetic, and I am told Russian is, as well. English uses the Roman alphabet, as do many western languages. In Latin K is only found in one word, kalendas, the first day of the month. Otherwise c was always pronounced k, as far as is known. Each western language adopts the Roman alphabet to its own use, mostly not in the same way. English spelling can be improved, as the Americans tried to do half-heartedly, without going to the extreme lengths mentioned.

In the end, things will not change. Learning a new language will be unnecessarily difficult.

updated MAY 13, 2008
posted by Chris-Malan
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Very good

Don't fink it wil cach on somow.

updated MAY 12, 2008
posted by Eddy
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...simplified spelling is all right, but, like chastity, you can carry it too far.
- The Alphabet and Simplified Spelling speech, December 9, 1907, Mark Twain

The direct reference is spelling, but the principle applies to the discussion here as well.

Observe:
A Plan for the Improvement of English Spelling
by Mark Twain

For example, in Year 1 that useless letter "c" would be dropped
to be replased either by "k" or "s", and likewise "x" would no longer
be part of the alphabet. The only kase in which "c" would be retained
would be the "ch" formation, which will be dealt with later. Year 2
might reform "w" spelling, so that "which" and "one" would take the
same konsonant, wile Year 3 might well abolish "y" replasing it with
"i" and Iear 4 might fiks the "g/j" anomali wonse and for all.
Jenerally, then, the improvement would kontinue iear bai iear
with Iear 5 doing awai with useless double konsonants, and Iears 6-12
or so modifaiing vowlz and the rimeining voist and unvoist konsonants.
Bai Iear 15 or sou, it wud fainali bi posibl tu meik ius ov thi
ridandant letez "c", "y" and "x" -- bai now jast a memori in the maindz
ov ould doderez -- tu riplais "ch", "sh", and "th" rispektivli.
Fainali, xen, aafte sam 20 iers ov orxogrefkl riform, wi wud
hev a lojikl, kohirnt speling in ius xrewawt xe Ingliy-spiking werld.

updated MAY 11, 2008
posted by David-H
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Or the lovely popup box "Error'" grin

updated MAY 10, 2008
posted by manutd
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That's exactly what the message conveyed.

updated MAY 10, 2008
posted by Eddy
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Makes you think they are coming with the handcuffs for just pressing the wrong key.

updated MAY 9, 2008
posted by motley
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It's not just that. I can remember an early example of Microsoft Windows when happily typing away you got this notice.

"Warning, You Have Carried Out An Illegal Operation".

What is should have said is

"I'm Sorry, I Didn't Know You Were Going To Press This Key With That Key. If We Had Known, We Would Have Programmed For It. Please Accept Our Apology"

Programmers writing language, I don't think so.

updated MAY 9, 2008
posted by Eddy
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I just thought about if computer programmers designed language.
I just don't know how to pronounce

1001 1011 1101 1110

updated MAY 9, 2008
posted by motley
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Hi Motley,

Language is a verbal code. The aim of any code is to get information across from transmitter to recipient. A good code is clear, unambiguous, consistent and logical. There are of course things like error detection and error correction and some other things pertinent to code which I won't touch upon. Natural languages don't meet these requirements. Some are worse than others. Spanish is not one of the better ones as far as clarity, consistency and unambiguity is concerned. The worst features of any language are usually jealously guarded by the "language experts" of that language. These people make sure the worst features of any language stay a part of that language as long as possible. The best languages are non-natural languages, like programming languages. The computer can't find the programmer at 3AM, wake him up and ask him what exactly he meant by the instruction on line 423 in Transaction.class.

I had Latin for five years. It was quite consistent and logical. English is not the worst offender. I've found Afrikaans to be most likely the easiest and most logical language. But then, it is most likely the youngest natural language. I started learning Spanish because it sounds nice. If the Spaniards got together and gave their language a good shake-up, it will most likely be taken up by many more people. No need for both ser and estar, no need, in any language, for gender for nouns. No need for conjugating the verb for persons if the person performing the action is named in any case - like I, you, he, etc. Tenses can be a simple word added to the verb, like will/shall (both of which are not really necessary) or a simple change to the verb, like come becomes came. For consistency one or the other way to indicate tenses should be chosen. I can go on and on about how most languages can be improved and name deficiencies in a number of languages. I suppose computer programming spoiled me for natural languages. I am just not willing to overlook the many deficiencies or call them charming, or some other quaint name. If only languages were designed by people with scientific training...

updated MAY 9, 2008
posted by Chris-Malan
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In language a lot of things don't make sense, try analyzing the things you say everyday & you'll understand why English is hard to learn.
In this case, however, I think it does make sense after James' explanation. That doesn't mean I will get it right in conversation. I would just like to be able to get the words out of my mouth.

updated MAY 6, 2008
posted by motley
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Thanks all you guys for this. It's just as I was afraid; there's really no logic behind it at all.

updated MAY 5, 2008
posted by Chris-Malan
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IR...
YO VOY means,
1. I go
2. I am going
3. I do go

updated MAY 5, 2008
posted by david-s-mundares
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"No vamos a Las Vegas" is definitely correct, although you could also say "No nos vamos a Las Vegas," depending on the desired nuance.

As Motley says, irse is closer in meaning to "to leave," though they don't map exactly. Another verb used to mean leave is marcharse: Tengo que marcharme temprano esta noche. To leave in the sense of exiting some place would be salir: Salieron de la casa a eso de las 9.

As to "Nos vamos a comer," the reflexive is used here not as part of the verb ir, but as part of the verb comer. Although comerse seems comical at first blush (to eat oneself), we use many verbs in similar ways in English: "We had ourselves a good trip" "I caught myself a ten-pound fish." It just adds some flavor to the sentence, and not much meat.

So "just plain going" is NOT a reflexive verb, it is just ir.

Voy al cine todos los viernes.
I go to the movies every Friday.

Me voy a México mañana.
I'm going to (leaving for) Mexico tomorrow.

HTHAL

updated MAY 5, 2008
posted by 00bacfba
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I know what you mean

irse means going (away), I think a lot of times ir a + infinitive & irse can be interchangable, depending on how you look at it. It seems you use the reflexive when you don't say where you are going.
as in Ya me voy = I'm going now

I have the same CD's, I think they are a big help.

updated MAY 4, 2008
posted by motley