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Re: Passive voice and impersonal constructions

From:Sally Caves <scaves@...>
Date:Friday, March 5, 1999, 9:12
Again, welcome back Irina... I'm in my insomniac and compulsive mood,
here, and
feel like answering every brilliant new explanation of somebody else's
conlang with
the AFMCL ("as for my conlang") response.  This is mainly because I've
spent the
entire day, today, snowed in in Rochester--classes canceled, husband
stuck in the
snow without a cellphone, universities shut down--so I decided to finish
my hardest
chapter:  Teonaht verbs.  I feel this great sense of accomplishment, and
now everybody

Jeffrey Schnapp, in his article about Hildegard's _Lingua Ignota_
described conlangs
as infantile, and as just so much _bricolage_: they are compendia of
other languages.
I'm busy addressing that this weekend.  Well, if my Teonaht is a
_bricolage_, then
it is so with a vengeance, but a lot of the things I've thought I made up
look as though
other people have arrived at similar conclusion, or exist in known

For the passive voice in T. (getting to the AFMCL) you have a variety of
mostly of the "I get my choosing" variety, or "The meal is under-eating,"
which sounds
laughable written out like that, but there it is.  As you say of your
conlang, there is
no real "passive voice" in Teonaht.  I've invented what I think is an
interesting middle
voice... all of which you can read yadda yadda yadda

Your language sounds really interesting and complex.  How long have you
working on it?  Have you got a webpage up?

Sally Caves

Irina Rempt wrote:

> On Thu, 18 Feb 1999, Pablo Flores wrote: > > > To Irina: I used passive voice ("let us not be told") > > instead of the general "they" ("that they won't tell us"). > > I'm not sure if this indirectness was what the author of > > the text was after. The "they" construction is more > > informal and perhaps more suitable for a cheerful tone. > > But in Drasele'q there's a tendency towards the passive > > voice, so I chose to respect my own rules. If "they" > > are actually the adults and there's a need for emphasis, > > it's OK to use the original form. > > Valdyan doesn't have a passive voice at all. It has impersonal > constructions that can be used as a pseudo-passive: > > lea trisenat vensenan > LEA steal-PERF-2s money-acc-P > "money has been stolen" > > (_vensin_ "money", literally "silver pieces", is always plural) > > The grammatical subject of the impersonal construction is always > _lea_, the third-person singular pronoun of the common gender that > can be used as "one", "someone", definitely a person but an > indeterminate one, like the indeterminate "they" in English. It > doesn't automatically go into subject position, but stays with the > verb; the only thing that can come between _lea_ and the verb is the > verb negation _na_. Even the interrogative particle _a_, that wants > to get as close to the verb as possible, comes before _lea_ in the > impersonal construction: > > a lea na furat Ailean? isn't she called Ailin? > > You might argue that this *is* passive voice because it happens to > translate to English passive voice, but when applied to the second > person the _lea_ subject and third-person verb stay: > > ti lea furat Ailean you're called Ailin, your name is Ailin > > There are a number of set expressions with this construction; the > logical subject (grammatical object) is often in a position where > they can't help it, it happens to them: > > Alysea lea chalat mudhea > Alyse-O LEA look-PRS-3s healthy-O > "Alyse looks healthy" > > Alysea lea chylat forean > Alyse-O LEA seem-PRS-3s priest-O > "Alyse seems to be a priestess" > > Ambiguous: > > brusa lea namudhat > smoke-INF LEA NEG-make.healthy-PRS-3s > "smoking makes you ill" > > Here, either _brusa_ "to smoke" is the object of the impersonal > construction _lea namudhat_ "it makes ill", or _lea_ "one", "him/her" > is the object of _namudhat_ "makes ill" and the subject of _namudhat_ > is _brusa_. We can't tell, because a verb used as subject or object > isn't declined. > > Irina