Subjunctivitis

Published 22nd November 2010
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The subjunctive is disappearing from the Italian language. Not because of some strange disease (subjunctivitis – does the title make more sense now?), but through lack of use. Italians are using the subjunctive less and less, and the most commonly used tenses are now the simple present and the imperfect. However, Italian grammar rules say that the subjunctive is actually compulsory in many expressions. So if you don’t use it, the sentence will sound a bit wrong. Some Italian speakers even regard misuse of the subjunctive as a sign of ignorance.

Several linguists, writers, and Italian speakers have risen against this slow disappearing process, to try to fight the loss of one of our nicest tenses (I hope you will not disagree once you start bumping into it on your Italian course!). They have been writing articles and are actively promoting everyday use of the subjunctive, both in oral exchanges and in written language. There is even a Facebook group to promote the Italian subjuctive, check it out: Lottiamo contro la scomparsa del congiuntivo.

This phenomenon does however have a positive side. It shows that languages are not fixed entities, bound in dictionaries and grammar. They are alive and as such they change over time. We do not speak like our grandparents used to, and I would be very curious to see how our languages change in 50 years! Usually, linguistic changes like this aim at simplifying the language, as is the case with the disappearing subjunctive. Modifications normally start in speech and gradually become more acceptable in writing.

So what will happen to the Italian subjunctive? There are several opinions, and I for one hope that it will not disappear. But maybe people learning Italian will have a different view on the matter 
Happy subjunctive learning and using!!!

CHIARA VECCHI
The subjunctive is disappearing from the Italian language. Not because of some strange disease (subjunctivitis – does the title make more sense now?), but through lack of use. Italians are using the subjunctive less and less, and the most commonly used tenses are now the simple present and the imperfect. However, Italian grammar rules say that the subjunctive is actually compulsory in many expressions. So if you don’t use it, the sentence will sound a bit wrong. Some Italian speakers even regard misuse of the subjunctive as a sign of ignorance.

Several linguists, writers, and Italian speakers have risen against this slow disappearing process, to try to fight the loss of one of our nicest tenses (I hope you will not disagree once you start bumping into it on your Italian course!). They have been writing articles and are actively promoting everyday use of the subjunctive, both in oral exchanges and in written language. There is even a Facebook group to promote the Italian subjuctive, check it out: Lottiamo contro la scomparsa del congiuntivo http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=6447658107&v=app_2373072738

This phenomenon does however have a positive side. It shows that languages are not fixed entities, bound in dictionaries and grammar. They are alive and as such they change over time. We do not speak like our grandparents used to, and I would be very curious to see how our languages change in 50 years! Usually, linguistic changes like this aim at simplifying the language, as is the case with the disappearing subjunctive. Modifications normally start in speech and gradually become more acceptable in writing.

So what will happen to the Italian subjunctive? There are several opinions, and I for one hope that it will not disappear. But maybe people learning Italian will have a different view on the matter 
Happy subjunctive learning and using!!!
CHIARA VECCHI

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