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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 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