Hot answers tagged

12

There are several problems with the question: Issue 1: The question assumes that passivization is actually a process that exists in language. It's carried over from the transformational heyday and feels so normal we might not even question it. But this is the context in which it should be questioned. In the constructional paradigm, this question does not ...


6

I am not sure whether your initial assumption is statistically correct, but let us take it as a working hypothesis. French and German (to mention only these) very commonly use "on" and "man" with an active verb where English prefers a passive construction. Thus: "on dit" = "man sagt" = "it is said". Of course you can also say "one says", but this is less ...


5

It is all very simple, there is a marvellous Esperanto middle voice derivational suffix -iĝ- which makes every root passive (at least from the point of view of an English speaker). Followed by the infinitive suffix -i (-iĝi) it forms passive infinitives: fari - "to do/make" fariĝi - "to be done/made" Note, that making passives with this suffix lies ...


5

There's a common feature in English known as the "ergative construction", "middle construction", or "labile construction", though it's not quite the same as an actual ergative case (as found in Basque) or middle voice (as found in Ancient Greek). In this construction, a verb that normally takes two nouns (Alice broke the window, Bob sold the CDs, Claire ...


4

In this sentence, "get," just like "be" in other passive sentences, is the passivizer. That is, the active form of "I have never seen a fish get cooked like that" is (just like the active form of "I have never seen a fish be cooked like that") I have never seen someone cook a fish like that. Modern English has acquired a static/dynamic distinction, but ...


4

It is a matter of linguistic pragmatics. A typical statement has a topic, also known as theme or given (what is being talked about) and a comment or rheme (the new information about the topic). In 1843 Weil noticed the tendency of actual language used to reflect a topic - comment word order (what he called 'the march of ideas'); this is especially true when ...


4

The paper Fue muerto: Suppletion in Spanish Analytic Passives (p.96-112) analyses this very question. The authors come to the conclusion that it is indeed suppletion: We claim that there are three areas that provide more solid evidence for treating mat- and mor- as competing members of a list accessed by the same numeric index. The first is that past ...


4

This is a fairly common gap for languages to have, though it's not universal. (Ancient Greek, for example, has regular imperatives in the active, middle, and passive voices.) So it's not surprising that Swedish lacks this form. The reason it's so commonly missing is because of the semantic oddness. Normally an imperative is commanding someone to do ...


4

Any Esperanto adjectival root can be turned into a verb of state by simply adding the verbal endings. This gives rise to another class of passive infinitives derived from passive participles: Passive Participle Derived Infinitive Meaning ------------------ ------------------ ------- farita fariti to have been done ...


4

I think he is using 'passive' to mean 'the passive transformation', probably because this was the most common meaning of 'passive' at the time. He's arguing that we can generate and interpret passive sentences directly without using transformations, and that the difference between passive and active is that in the passive, the verb cannot take an object. I ...


4

The former object becomes the new subject. That is clear -- the new subject has all the properties one could reasonably associate with a subject. Number agreement with the verb and subject raising from complement sentences, for instance. What happens to the former subject is a more interesting question. Here are 3 theoretical answers: I. It may not be ...


3

Haspelmath's point is really one of terminology. He says that passives have to be morphologically marked and it is not enough for a construction to have a passive meaning with some possible corresponding change in syntax (word order). He does NOT actually say that English does not have a passive. Only that some constructions considered passive because of ...


3

You clarified in a comment on another answer: What I meant by more occurencs is the degree of tolerance in the usage. English, French, German allow freely verbs to passivize (with very few exceptions), as do Hebrew and Arabic, but Berber (my native) does not allow verbs to pasivize freely. I can say in statistical terms that only 26% of verbs are allowed ...


3

After Embick (2004), you could take a look at this paper by Alexiadou & Anagnostopoulou, whose title is "Structuring participles", downloadable at www.lingref.com/cpp/wccfl/26/paper1653.pdf After that, you could procede to take a look at the chapter 5 on adjectival passives, included in his recent (2015) monograph on External Arguments in Transitivity ...


2

Like with any overloaded preposition it is possible to construct examples which are ambiguous, especially out of context. And it is trivially easy to construct examples which are grammatically ambiguous but semantically or logically are less ambiguous. In fact it is more difficult to avoid constructing these. The thing is, natural human language is ...


2

In French, par ('by') and de ('from/of') can be used depending on the verb. In Late Archaic Chinese, the more common passive construction that includes the agent was jian + main verb + yu + agent. The morpheme yu normally marks the locative, so it's somewhat similar to the Japanese example you mentioned. In both of these, and the examples you mention, the ...


2

This is not a great explanation, and it's conjectural, but here goes. We know that in the evolution of grammatical systems, new constructions are introduced only gradually, beginning with simpler constructions, then generalized step by step to more complicated constructions. And, more specifically, we know that passive morphology was not at first used with ...


2

The word "sells" here in the English language of today has a different meaning from "is sold", and Draconis' answer does not apply here (even if it may have historically contributed to the word's meaning). The following have very different meanings: This book is sold. This book sells. The first means that the book in the current context ...


2

Frequent use of the passive in English is not a breach of any "recommended" proportion. Rather, it is a function of register, i.e. it depends on the formality of the situation and the education of the speaker/writer. Some examples: Written English uses more passives than spoken English. In many scientific disciplines, students are told very early ...


1

Well, my guess is that it comes from the -sk ending in Old Norse (modern Icelandic -st ending). As found in the famous Vǫlospá verses: Brœðr munu BERJASK (Modern Icelandic: Bræður munu BERJAST), Meanining "Brothers will fight EACH OTHER". Indeed, Swedish and Norwegian are related, both come from Old Norse, which divided itself in two branches: • Old West ...


1

Passive is not a universal feature of human languages. Indo-European languages have always had passive constructions, of one sort or another. It's used to allow different kinds of noun phrases to become subjects; to express different ways of describing something. Every language has this need. But this doesn't mean every language uses "active" and "passive" ...


1

The alternatives don't sound particularly ungrammatical to me but the issue is caused by disjoining the adjective. The sentences really are variants of "His excessive candor struck me." and "Her farfetched ideas impressed me." Reintroducing the disjointed adjective makes them fine passives: "I was struck by his excessive candor." "I am impressed by her ...


Only top voted, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible