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Lesson 53: Passive Voice

Vocabulary

adama

to tickle [ada (laugh) + dama (touch)]

déedan

to interpret

dithal

to praise [di (speak) + thal (be good)]

dóho

to wrap [dó– (cause to) + o (around)] {YML}

dóyom

to protect; to shield; to safeguard [dó– (cause to) + yom (be safe)] {AB}

éholob

threat; to threaten (lit: potential trauma) [é– (potential) + olob (trauma; blow)] {AB}

héda

to drop; to spill; to let fall

héedan

to translate

humesh

to cut [hum (knife) + mesh (across)] {SH}

róo

harvest; to harvest

Passive Voice

[(Aux) CP–Patient Verb (Neg) CP–Agent+shub]
[(Aux) CP–Patient Verb+shub (Neg)]

There are two new Case roles that occur in the Passive voice that we ought to discuss. The first is the Patient. We’ve been using the Case label “Object” for the one that receives the action of the verb; another name for such a one is the Patient. The second is the Agent. An Agent is one type of Subject—specifically an Agent is a Subject that acts upon another: upon the Patient.

Heretofore, we’ve been discussing the Active Voice, which is characterized by the Subject being the actor (or Agent) of the verb; the Object is the one receiving the action (or the Patient) of the verb. The Passive Voice is different; Patient becomes the Subject in the Passive Voice. The Agent can be included in an optional Agentive case phrase.

In Láadan’s Passive Voice, two things occur gramatically. One, the Patient is moved before the verb; it retains its Object case marker. The Agent remains in its place after the verb (and after the negative, if one is present). Two, the word “shub” (to do) is attached to the Agent. In the event that no Agent is identified in the Passive sentence, the Agentive “shub” is attached directly to the verb.

Regarding Suzette Haden Elgin’s motivation for this radical departure from standard Láadan word order, we have the following statement:

My goal is to make the passive sentence appear markedly different from the active one; if a nominal carrying the Object case-marker is placed before the verb, I will have accomplished that goal. [...] Just seeing that Object-marked nominal before the verb will forcibly signal that the sentence is a passive.

One final grammatical note: since the Patient is the Subject of the Passive construction, the verb becomes plural when the Patient is plural, not the Agent. This may occasion a change in plural status when forming a Passive from an existing Active sentence.

Examples

Bíi yod rul thilith wa.

The cat is eating a fish.

Bíi thilith yod ruleshub wa.

A fish is being eaten by the cat.

Bíi thilith yodeshub wa.

A fish is being eaten.

Bíi aril lamith Méri losheth wáa.

Mary wlll count the money.

Bíi aril losheth lamith Merí beshub wáa.

The money will be counted by Mary.

Bíi aril losheth lamitheshub wáa.

The money will be counted.

Note that the verb becomes plural with the Patient.

Bée aril den le naneth wa.

[Promise] I will help you (many, beloved).

Bée aril naneth meden leshub wa.

[Promise] You (many, beloved) will be helped by me.

Bée aril naneth medeneshub wa.

[Promise]You (many, beloved) will be helped.

Because the Passive word order always begins with a noun phrase or an auxiliary, when Embedding a Passive construction, we will use the in-support” model. Of course, the “in” is not required if an auxiliary is present to mark the beginning of the embedded clause.

Bíi melothel lezh [dóyom háwith lotheth]ehé(th) wa.

We know that the child protects the information.

Bíi melothel lezh [eril dóyom háwith lotheth]ehé(th) wa.

We know that the child protected the information.

Bíi melothel lezh [in lotheth dóyom háwitheshub]ehé(th) wa.

We know that the information is protected by the child.

Bíi melothel lezh [eril lotheth dóyom háwitheshub]ehé(th) wa.

We know that the information was protected by the child.

Bíi melothel lezh [in lotheth dóyomeshub]ehé(th) wa.

We know that the information is protected.

Bíi melothel lezh [eril lotheth dóyomeshub]ehé(th) wa.

We know that the information was protected.


Bíi melothel lezh [dóyom háwith lotheth]ehée(th) wa.

We know whether the child protects the information.

Bíi melothel lezh [eril dóyom háwith lotheth]ehée(th) wa.

We know whether the child protected the information.

Bíi melothel lezh [in lotheth dóyom háwitheshub]ehée(th) wa.

We know whether the information is protected by the child.

Bíi melothel lezh [eril lotheth dóyom háwitheshub]ehée(th) wa.

We know whether the information was protected by the child.

Bíi melothel lezh [in lotheth dóyomeshub]ehée(th) wa.

We know whether the information is protected.

Bíi melothel lezh [eril lotheth dóyomeshub]ehée(th) wa.

We know whether the information was protected.


Bíi melothel lezh [dóyom háwith lothehóoth]eháa(th) wa.

We know the information that the child protects.

Bíi melothel lezh [eril dóyom háwith lothehóoth]eháa(th) wa.

We know the information that the child protected.

Bíi melothel lezh [in lothehóoth dóyom háwitheshub]eháa(th) wa.

We know the information that is protected by the child.

Bíi melothel lezh [eril lothehóoth dóyom háwitheshub]eháa(th) wa.

We know the information that was protected by the child.

Bíi melothel lezh [in lothehóoth dóyomeshub]eháa(th) wa.

We know the information that is protected.

Bíi melothel lezh [eril lothehóoth dóyomeshub]eháa(th) wa.

We know the information that was protected.

When making a Verb Complex passive—and when there is no Agent case phrase to carry the Agentive “–shub”—the suffix is attached to the first verb in the Verb Complex only.

Bíi né yod rul thilith wáa.

The cat wants to eat fish.

Bíi thilith néde yod ruleshub wáa.

The fish is wanted to be eaten by the cat.

Bíi thilith néde yodeshub wá.

The fish is wanted to be eaten.

The Passive wording of these in English is problematic. The Verb Complex in the Active sentence is short-hand for an embedded sentence something like:

Bíi néde rul [yod rul thilith]ehéth wáa.

The cat wants [(that) the cat eat fish].

The Passive construction of the fully-embedded sentence would be one of the two below, depending on wether the inner or the outer sentence was converted to the Passive. The Verb Complex form, as an abbreviated form of embedding, doesn’t permit this level of specificity.

Bíi néde rul in thilith yod ruleshub wáa.

Bíi néde rul in thilith yodeshub wáa.

The cat wants [(that) the fish be eaten (by the cat)].

Bíi yod rul thilithehéth néde ruleshub wáa.

Bíi yod rul thilitheh&eactue;th nédeshub wáa.

[(That) the cat eat fish] is wanted (by the cat).
It is wanted (by the cat) that the cat eat fish.

Exercises

Translate the following into English.

1  

Bíi eril ruleth bóodan háawitheshub wáa.

2  

Bíi mewohéeda wothodeth medéedan wíithameshub wa.

3  

Bée rilrili ranath hédashub!

4  

Báa eril medath mehumesh anadaláshub?

5  

Bíide eríli huth dithaleshub wáa.

6  

Bíi eril mehim len memazhenanehéeth mezheláad olowodeshub wa.

Remember, in #2, that the verb becomes plural with the Patient, which acts as the Subject of the Passive sentence.

Of course you had no difficulty in #4 with the word “anadalá” (cook) [anadal (meal) + –á (doer)].

#6 is a bit advanced. The Patient (what would have been the Object of the Active sentence) is an embedded question, “mehim len memazhenanehée” (whether we travel by train).

Also in #6, did you have any trouble with “zheláad” (consense; agree by consensus) [zhe (same) + láad (perceive)]? It is related to a set of words for “agree:” “zhedi” (agree in speech) [zhe (same) + di (say)] and “zhelith” (agree in thinking) [zhe (same) + lith (think)]. Another related word is “zheshub” (cooperate) [zhe (same) + shub (do)].

Transform the following sentences from Active to Passive, both with and without the Agent; translate all three sentences into English.

7  

Bíi dóyom thul betha áwitheth abeshede wi.

8  

Bíidi eril el edaná dáaneth édáanewáan wa.

9  

Bíili eril dóho wehehá binith nada wa.

10  

Bíi aril mehéedan ehá wobalin woháabeth Láadanedi wáa.

11  

Bíi ril loláad with wéhenáth óohaháalish rawáan wo.

12  

Bíi ril mezhelith nan eril adama Shósho háawithideth ashonewáanehé wa.

Again, in #10, the verb will become singular with the Patient (wobalin woháabeth). Should you want to show, concretely, tht there is more than one scientist (ehá) involved, you’d need to provide a quantifier to do that.

In #12, you have your choice. You may convert the inner sentence or the outer sentence to the Passive. Or, as an added challenge, do both. I’ll give both answers.

Translate the following into Láadan.

13  

Bread is given to Elizabeth by the baker because of friendliness (for bad reasons).

14  

The dancer was threatened by me (and I despise myself for it).

15  

The grain is harvested in the autumn (obviously).

16  

Was your uncle met by your sister at the airport yesterday?

17  

The quality of her needleworking may be helped by competition.

18  

Will the kittens that are living under her house be cared for?

One side observation here about #14: “éholob” (to threaten), like all communication-related verbs, takes as its Object that which is communicated (the threat); its Goal is the person communicated to (the one threatened).

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Answers

1  

The cat was rescued by the child.

2  

The sacred writings are interpreted by the clergy.

3  

[warning] The drink may be spilled!

4  

Were the vegetables cut by the cook?

5  

[story] Long ago the ruler was praised.

6  

Whether we (many) would travel by train was consensed to by the group. —or—
It was consensed to by the group whether we (many) would travel by train.

 

7  

Of course her parent protects a baby from everything.

Bíi áwitheth dóyom thul bethashub abeshede wi.

Of course a baby is protected from everything by her parent.

Bíi áwitheth dóyomeshub abeshede wi.

Of course a baby is protected from everything.

8  

[didactic] The linguist created the word because of a lexical gap.

Bíidi eril dáaneth el edanáshub édáanewáan wa.

[didactic] The word was created by the linguist because of a lexical gap.

Bíidi eril dáaneth eleshub édáanewáan wa.

[didactic] The word was created because of a lexical gap.

9  

[with love] The storekeeper wrapped the gift for you (beloved).

Bíili eril binith dóho weheháshub nada wa.

[with love] The gift was wrapped for you (beloved) by the storekeeper.

Bíili eril binith dóhoshub nada wa.

[with love] The gift was wrapped for you (beloved).

10  

The scientists will translate the antique book into Láadan.

Bíi aril wobalin woháabeth héedan eháshub (nedebe/menedebe) Láadanedi wáa.

The antique book will be translated into Láadan by the scientist(s).

Bíi aril wobalin woháabeth héedaneshub Láadanedi wáa.

The antique book will be translated into Láadan.

11  

The woman feels gratitude (despite negative circumstances) in spite of being extraordinarily weary (I suppose).

Bíi ril wéhenáth loláad witheshub óohaháalish rawáan wo.

Gratitude (despite negative circumstances) is felt by the woman in spite of being extraordinarily weary (I suppose).

Bíi ril wéhenáth loláadeshub óohaháalish rawáan wo.

Gratitude (despite negative circumstances) is felt in spite of being extraordinarily weary (I suppose).

12  

You (many, beloved) agree-in-thought that Magic Granny tickled the boy out of heart-kin-love (with such love as the Cause).

INNER:

Bíi ril mezhelith nan eril háawithideth adama Shósho beshub ashonewáanehé(th) wa.

You (many, beloved) agree-in-thought that the boy was tickled by Magic Granny out of heart-kin-love.

Bíi ril melizheth nan eril háawithideth adamashub ashonewáanehé(th) wa.

You (many, beloved) agree-in-thought that the boy was tickled out of heart-kin-love.

OUTER:

Bíi ril eril adama Shósho háawithid ashonewáanehéth zhelith naneshub wa.

That Magic Granny tickled the boy out of heart-kin-love is agreed-in-thought by you (many, beloved). —or—
It is agreed-in-thought by you (many, beloved) that Magic Granny tickled the boy out of heart-kin-love.

Bíi ril eril adama Shósho háawithid ashonewáanehéth zhelitheshub wa.

That Magic Granny tickled the boy out of heart-kin-love is agreed-in-thought. —or—
It is agreed-in-thought that Magic Granny tickled the boy out of heart-kin-love.

BOTH:

Bíi ril eril háawithideth adama Shósho beshub ashonewáanehéth zhelith naneshub wa.

That the boy was tickled by Magic Granny out of heart-kin-love is agreed-in-thought by you (many, beloved). —or—
It is agreed-in-thought by you (many, beloved) that the boy was tickled by Magic Granny out of heart-kin-love.

Bíi ril eril háawithideth adamashub ashonewáanehéth zhelith naneshub wa.

That the boy was tickled out of heart-kin-love is agreed-in-thought by you (many. beloved). —or—
It is agreed-in-thought by you (many, beloved) that the boy was tickled out of heart-kin-love.

Bíi ril eril háawithideth adama Shósho beshub ashonewáanehéth zhelitheshub wa.

That the boy was tickled by Magic Granny out of heart-kin-love is agreed-in-thought. —or—
It is agreed in thought that the boy was tickled by Magic Granny out of heart-kin-love.

Bíi ril eril háawithideth adamashub ashonewáanehéth zhelitheshub wa.

That the boy was tickled out of heart-kin-love is agreed-in-thought. —or—
It is agreed-in-thought that the boy was tickled out of heart-kin-love.

 

13  

Bíi baleth ban ebaláshub Elízhabeth bedi dunawáan wáa.

14  

Bíi eril amedaraháth éholob lheleshub wa.

15  

Bíi edeth róoshub wemoneya wi.

16  

Báa eril berídanid nethath bithim hena nethashub hozhazheha sháaleya eril?

17  

Bíi rilrili thal dathimethu bethoth den halideshub wa.

18  

Báa aril ril mehabelid háarul belid bethoha yileháath menayashub?

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