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mike lyle (Email Removed) (Mike Lyle) wrote,
Well, no, it is a passive, I don't think anybody ... whether 'I remain amused by flying monkeys' is a passive.

Aren't we getting twisted knicker-wise here? "I remain amused by AUE" (I think that's who the OP meant) isn't ... impel pursuit of the topic into greater complexity, but isn't this simple summary all most practical users need to know?

I venture to suggest that your simple summary is not all that clear to most practical users.
Adrian.
Well, of course not, not in every single sbj + ... collapse in ruins, although I wouldn't want to teach this.

Other people in the thread seem to agree that the following is passive: 'I got passed by a big truck'.

It's grey this, isn't it? And a glib answer would be, "ooh that's not really good grammar, it should be 'I was passed' and that's definitely passive, so that's all right and we can ignore the example". Then there's examples where particular forms substitute 'to be', such as future with 'going to':-
'We're going to be passed by a big truck...'
Would you say that is only because "got" in that case has very little different meaning from "was"?

For some reason the example of a bunch of very drunk New Zealanders jumping about and shouting 'let's get naked' in a field at the Pamplona Bull Run circa 1990 springs to mind...
There's a thing that gets taught (there's one) connected with passives, called 'causative form' - 'get your hair cut' 'have the house painted' stuff like that. My feeling is that 'got' here has the meaning of was + something like 'achieved', or 'became'.
However, there are classes of adjectives which either look like ... should be seen as an adjective. In the same way:-

Aren't such things actually indistinguishable? That is, aren't the words both verbs and adjectives at the same time?

That would certainly make it easier.
'Flying monkeys are amusing'. 'I am amusing to flying monkeys'. ... 'I am incomprehensible to flying monkeys'. 'We are not Belgian'.

'Flying monkeys are amusing me'. 'I am amusing flying monkeys'.

Now you've changed the tense/time frame; we're no longer talking about a universal truth, but about something happening around about now.

(snip)
A side issue related to assertions by our friend in Iowa. 'The sky is coloured blue'. 'The sky is considered blue'. Those above two are passive, correct?

The second one is certainly a passive, and a good example of the 'who cares about the agent' argument: rewritten as an active sentence it would be:-
'People consider the sky blue'.
But of course it's 'people'; what other class of things can do considering?

But I'm not sure about the first example:-
'The sky is coloured blue'.

Who's the agent for this one, without getting too metaphysical? And the example
'The sky is coloured' (not transparent)
makes sense. 'Blue' just adds more information. In the same way in:-

'I'm completely knackered',
'completely' just adds more information to the adjective.
So is, or is not, the following passive? Active? Neither? 'The sky is blue'.

Neither. But I'd have to think about why...
Can we not say that most, if not all adjectives, have an implied verb associated with the quality they describe?

I don't think so, though most words can be made into any part of speech you want if you're a native speaker and can pull it off, and many of the neologisms posted to AUE are based on this phenomenon.

So I thought of colours, but then you could say something like:-

'Modern planning policies involve the greening of inner cities'

but I can't imagine what 'bluing' might mean (apart from painting blue... or maybe a bruise developing)
Where passives are an important part of writing, pace twits ... be taken on this' but the junior is being deferential.

If you're preaching to me, you're preaching to the converted on that one.

I apologise, I didn't intend to preach. I do get thoroughly *** off with the idea that using the passive - a useful tool for all writers - is to be avoided at all costs, so maybe I jump in overmuch to its defence.
I don't remember saying the passive voice is a bad thing.

No, you didn't, but our man in Iowa thinks it is.
In the bad old days of transformational grammar students did ... 'by' clause. This lead to a lot of rubbish like:-

Why were the days bad, in general? Is it bad for students to understand that the first way they phrase a sentence isn't necessarily the best way to phrase it, and give them a toolkit to help them improve pieces they are writing?

I'm thinking of the days in which much learning of English as a Foreign Language involved these sort of unrealistic and non-communicative exercises. By contrast I agree that it would be a very good thing if first-language speakers were taught more about the mechanics of their language.

Umm, thanks, but I'm not sure my stock's that good in that direction...
The ** Word grammar checker now makes that optional, and is more conservative even then. It's not fair to say ... definition than is really possible. It's perhaps surprising, then, to see the page I found coming from an history department.

True. Maybe if we saw the undergraduate assignments your man has to deal with, each sentence starting
'it could be claimed' 'what was formally described as' or 'it has been asserted' (but where the student's not saying who did the asserting), we'd get an idea of why he gets fed up with reading the passive. There's also the unfortunate tradition of academic writers jumping through hoops to avoid making a personal appearance, which leads to bloody awful nonsense like 'the writer interviewed 25 people' (what's wrong with 'I interviewed'? - but neatly avoided with our friend the passive - '25 people were interviewed'). And 'it could be claimed' usually just means 'I think'.
But searching the net on various language or style points does bring up a lot of pet language sites written by non language-specialist academics, some with ideas that are very much non-mainstream. I've just had to run a course including scientific writing and found a lot of these researching, but not much hard information. Many Universities (including the one I work for) include well put-together study skills pages (which, as you put it, draw on collective experience) on their sites, and might frown on personal opinions put out under their logo.
Is the issue covered at length in any of the popular paper grammar and style aids most, if not all, of which I have never read?

Yes. Different AuEers draw on different libraries; mine comes from the ESOL side of things, but I'm sure fans of Fowler, Quirk et al would say they cover the same stuff; the passive isn't that controversial.

My Dad's favourite joke:-
In Cardiff, South Wales, a guy walks up to another man scattering red dust in the street:
"What's that for?"
"It's alligator repellent."
"I've not seen many alligators round here".
"Just goes to show how effective it is then."
Do you get a lot of flying monkeys round your way then?

Not actually.

Must be the highly effective flying monkey repellent then...

Cheers
DC
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However, there are classes of adjectives which either look like ... should be seen as an adjective. In the same way:-

Aren't such things actually indistinguishable? That is, aren't the words both verbs and adjectives at the same time?

I don't think a word can be a verb and adjective at the same instant. Even if the spelling is the same, the intent of the speaker is one or the other. (The stress/pronunciation may be a clue, as well as general sentence structure.)
Did something happen to this table while I was away? Yes, it was painted. Jim did it.
Didn't this table used to be painted?
Yes, it was painted. We stripped off the paint.
The first is a verb, the second is an adjective. You might want to stress the "was" in the second example to make the sense come out right.

Best Donna Richoux
mike lyle (Email Removed) (Mike Lyle) wrote,
Well, no, it is a passive, I don't think anybody ... whether 'I remain amused by flying monkeys' is a passive.

Aren't we getting twisted knicker-wise here? "I remain amused by AUE" (I think that's who the OP meant) isn't a passive sentence because it doesn't have a main verb in the passive.

If we consider the main verb to mean in this case, "continue to be", then is the sentence using the passive voice?
Does or does not the following sentence use the passive voice?

I continue to be amused by AUE.
Adrian.
(Email Removed) (Richard R. Hershberger) wrote,
Part of the problem is that we have duelling definitions of "passive". Does it refer to the syntax or the ... a semantic sense to it as well. (4) The storm is building. Is that active or passive or something else?

Some places contend that there is no other alternative.
So for Adrian's "I remain amused by flying monkeys" my take on it is that this isn't a passivized form in the syntactic sense, but I have no problem interpreting it as semantically passive.

That seems to make sense.
Now, from:
http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~jlynch/Writing/v.html#voice

Voice.
Voice is a technical term in grammar to describe a verb: the common voices in English are active and passive. Voice describes whether the subject of a sentence is acting or being acted upon. See Passive Voice for details. (Entry added 9 April 2001.)
(jlynch is a Professor of English at Rutgers, albeit, he claims "not a linguist, nor a scholar of the history of the language", and he also does warn against turning anything he says into dogma). http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~jlynch/Writing/index.html

So this hints that there are "uncommon voices" besides the active and passive. What are they?
Now, does "voice" describe the verb in a particular instance or in general? (In some cases the same word will be completely different verbs perhaps "to get" is an example of that). Are some people saying that "remain" is an action taken by the subject, even if the net effect of the sentence is to act on that subject? Does the fact that "remain" is definitely an verb of "inaction" have anything to do with the apparent contradiction?
So does the statement, "Voice describes whether the subject of a sentence is acting or being acted upon", need some qualification?

So sentences don't have passive voice, verbs do?
So one can have different sentences
'I remain perplexed by most of this'.
'I continue to be perplexed by most of this'.
'I am still perplexed by most of this'.
which appear to have the same subject, and very very nearly the same meaning. And yet, the verb (not properly the sentence) in the first case (I think) is in the active voice, while in the other two (I think) the verbs are in the passive voice?
And still, it is all only labels.
Adrian.
==
I remain perplexed by most of this.
I will quote one more little thing from jlynch in his section, referenced above, on "Passive Voice":
http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~jlynch/Writing/p.html#passive

Don't confuse "am", "is", "are", "to be", and such with the passive voice, and don't confuse action verbs with the active voice. The real question is whether the subject of the sentence is doing anything, or having something done to it. "I have been giving" is active, while "I have been given" is passive.
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
Part of the problem is that we have duelling definitions ... But there is a semantic sense to it as well.

The term "middle voice" (as in ancient Greek) is applied to English constructions resembling the reflexive in French doing something to or for the subject's self. It works OK for cases where the water boils or the book sells. Lots of hits on google. CDB
Aren't we getting twisted knicker-wise here? "I remain amused ... because it doesn't have a main verb in the passive.

If we consider the main verb to mean in this case, "continue to be", then is the sentence using the passive voice? Does or does not the following sentence use the passive voice? I continue to be amused by AUE.

I'd say, using simple old-fashioned terms: the main verb is "continue", and it's active; "to be amused" is a passive infinitive, used as complement. I don't think "to be" belongs to "continue".

But, interestingly, "I remain to be amused by AUE" could mean the opposite.
Hope this is right.
Mike.
"CB" (Email Removed) wrote,
The term "middle voice" (as in ancient Greek) is applied to English constructions resembling the reflexive in French doing ... self. It works OK for cases where the water boils or the book sells. Lots of hits on google. CDB

But it was arguably a bum steer on Google that failed to correct my misunderstanding. Which misunderstanding I have just about managed to correct.
Adrian.
Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
CV (Email Removed) wrote,
How so ? It seems very straightforward to identify the agent doing the amusing in that particular case as the "flying monkeys". CV

There are multiple agents in the sentence.
Replace "remain" by "continue to be".
I continue to be amused by flying monkeys.
Even that is not passive, because "continue" is not passive.

Flying monkeys continue to amuse me.
Does not say the same thing as the above; it changes the agent of the main verb "continue". In the original sentence, "I" is the agent of "continue" even though "monkeys" is the agent of "amused".

This is obfuscated somewhat by using the verb "remain". "Remain" contains an implied "to be" in its meaning "continue to be" (more than implied; unlike, say, "seem"(1) you cannot optionally insert "to be" at least not without changing the meaning) but it is something the "I" does. I mean, you cannot mechanically rearrange the sentence without replacing "remain" with an expansion.
Someone please confirm, correct, and/or amplify this.
Adrian.

I am venturing that the following have the same meaning...

(1) I seem amused by flying monkeys.
I seem to be amused by flying monkeys.
But the following do not...
I remain amused by flying monkeys.
I remain to be amused by flying monkeys.
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