Passive voice and impersonal constructions
|From:||Irina Rempt <ira@...>|
|Date:||Friday, February 19, 1999, 9:48|
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
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"
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