Future meaning in Vietnamese and English: Similarities and Differences
Keywords:modality, modal verbs, lexical means, grammatical means, marked
The paper describes in detail and employs one table and six discussions to compare expressions of future meaning in Vietnamese and English declaratives to find out their differences and similarities. The findings are the basis for giving some advice to learners of Vietnamese and English. Vietnamese neither distinguishes nor employs grammatical means to express various shades of future meaning. A lexical means like sẽ, định, tính, or sắp, or a combination of two or more like định sẽ, tính sẽ, or dự tính sẽ, does. The lexical means may be omitted when an adverbial of future time like sáng mai, meaning tomorrow morning, occurs. At first glance, Vietnamese learners face difficulty because one expression in their mother tongue separates into two or more in English, resulting in unnecessary differentiation; conversely, native speakers of English seem more enjoyable noticing that two or more expressions in their mother tongue merge into one in Vietnamese. However, to understand Vietnamese sentences, foreigners must depend more on contextual cues than when they process English sentences. This is uneasy for the native English speakers, who are accustomed to using a language in which all the modal meanings have signs, either lexical or grammatical or both, with an explicit indicator in the structure of the nuclear predication of the declaratives.
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