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April 26, 2012 9:14 PM   Subscribe

Passive Voice Day 2012: "It has again been decided that April 27th will be passive voice day. Fun will be had by everybody as the passive voice is used for tweets, blogs, and casual conversation." (2011) Language Log offers kudos to a well-crafted passive announcement and provides further reading on confusion over avoiding the passive (includes a list of links to Language Log posts on the passive).
posted by flex (64 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

 
"A list of links is included."
posted by Nomyte at 9:20 PM on April 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you're going to rewrite it then you need to rewrite the whole sentence! Get your red pen ready.
posted by flex at 9:24 PM on April 26, 2012


I prefer the passive-aggressive voice, but whatever it's fine if you ignore me.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 9:24 PM on April 26, 2012 [71 favorites]


This post was approved of by me.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:32 PM on April 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


A comment was posted to this site by me to celebrate this blessed event.
posted by drezdn at 9:38 PM on April 26, 2012


While it is agreed by me that the avoidance of the passive voice is something which must not always be done, my head is wanting to explode after just a few sentences from the final link were read.
posted by asnider at 9:43 PM on April 26, 2012


Pony request: "this was marked as a favorite by n users".
posted by Stoatfarm at 9:49 PM on April 26, 2012 [7 favorites]


[goodness was had by this]
posted by knave at 9:50 PM on April 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


my head is wanting to explode

That's not in passive voice even though it has "is." You'd need to say: "explosion is desired by my head."
posted by John Cohen at 10:07 PM on April 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


My participation might not have been in doubt would that this were "passive subjunctive" day.
posted by rouftop at 10:13 PM on April 26, 2012 [9 favorites]


Holy crap, this is awesome! Err, I don't know how that last sentence can be rewritten into a passive.
posted by dirigibleman at 10:15 PM on April 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Awesome is this holy crap. No comma.
posted by asnider at 10:17 PM on April 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Some shrugging was performed by some people.
posted by arcticseal at 10:18 PM on April 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


A hooray would be in order for passive subjunctive, Konjunktiv, aanvoegende wijs and subjonctif.
posted by joost de vries at 10:22 PM on April 26, 2012


My frustration with having to teach 12-year old Taiwanese kids the passive voice is ameliorated by the apparent fact that the passive voice has not been mastered by some native speakers.
posted by alidarbac at 10:24 PM on April 26, 2012


This website has been set up by someone who knows what they are talking about. Simple examples written by some english teacher.

Makes me think like Yoda talks this does.
posted by hot_monster at 10:24 PM on April 26, 2012


PASSIVE, you say???? Prepare for ACTIVE!! Active in the style of STAN and JACK! Read my tweets -- IF YOU DARE!!!
posted by Artw at 10:26 PM on April 26, 2012


My frustration with having to teach 12-year old Taiwanese kids the passive voice is ameliorated by the apparent fact that the passive voice has not been mastered by some native speakers.

The fact that we've largely been taught to avoid it probably has something to do with that.
posted by asnider at 10:29 PM on April 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm surprised that Taiwanese kids would have a problem, since Mandarin has a passive marker - 被 - which is used by them in a manner very similar to the English passive voice.
posted by 1adam12 at 10:37 PM on April 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


To have become a passive voice it were to have been made to be metafiltered beyond what was commonly deemed acceptable.
posted by roboton666 at 10:45 PM on April 26, 2012


Up with this is something which will no longer be put by me.
posted by ShutterBun at 10:45 PM on April 26, 2012 [11 favorites]


My Japanese students hate learning passive voice because they have to learn yet another word for every verb they know. Some verbs use the present form (cut/become), others past form (made, used), and others take a completely new form (gone, taken). Whereas in their native language, you can just slap a される on the end.
posted by p3t3 at 11:03 PM on April 26, 2012


Command of the English language is something one would have to have to understand this post.
posted by Apropos of Something at 11:11 PM on April 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


HI METAFILTER IS THE PLACE THAT I AM FROM AND A PLATE OF BEANS IS SOMETHING I COULD TURN INTO THE PASSIVE VOICE.
posted by Apropos of Something at 11:16 PM on April 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


It is considered to be entirely the correct way to write a ministerial briefing in most public departments.
posted by wilful at 11:22 PM on April 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


All right, the passive voice! That's where a viking is been by me.
posted by No-sword at 11:26 PM on April 26, 2012 [13 favorites]


The fact that we've largely been taught to avoid it probably has something to do with that.

I think it's the fact that we've largely been taught to avoid it by people who were never really taught what it is.
posted by kenko at 11:33 PM on April 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Shiver me timbers! I's can nebber get me special internet days straight, arrr.
posted by JHarris at 11:36 PM on April 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


This will be noticed by LL, so care must be exercised or shame will be felt where examples have been given that have not actually been put into passive mood. No names have been mentioned, but you have been warned.
posted by Segundus at 11:52 PM on April 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


Oh dear! This day was missed by me!
posted by a humble nudibranch at 12:04 AM on April 27, 2012


An open encouragement was made on April 26, 2012 for use of atypical grammatical constructions in casual communications the following day (April 27, 2012). Confusion and consternation were expressed in colorful communiques quickly created by self-volunteered recipients of encouragement. Ultimate efficacy, efficiency, resistance, acceptance, comorbidity, virulence, amplitude, pulchritude, crepusculence, conformity, luminescence and density of subjects and communiques in various configurations of literality, moderation, criminality and irrelevance remain to be observed over the course of the duration of encouragement (April 27, 2012) by impartial observers.
posted by eurypteris at 12:55 AM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Even though most people who know me (and bother to comment about it, quite a small set in all) consider me to be quite fluent in English as a second language, I had to look at the examples to see what all this was about.

Funny language you have there.
posted by DreamerFi at 1:46 AM on April 27, 2012


"My Japanese students hate learning passive voice because they have to learn yet another word for every verb they know. Some verbs use the present form (cut/become), others past form (made, used), and others take a completely new form (gone, taken). "

What. What are you teaching these poor students?

Please demonstrate how you use "become" and "go" in the passive. I do not understand how you can have an intransitive verb in the passive voice.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:22 AM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


In German none of this is in any way remarkable.
posted by From Bklyn at 3:16 AM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Y'all sound like wordy Yodas.
posted by fleacircus at 3:29 AM on April 27, 2012


Sound like wordy Yodas, we do?
posted by ShutterBun at 3:33 AM on April 27, 2012


celebratory gestures or writings will not be attempted by me.
posted by flippant at 4:00 AM on April 27, 2012


A hug is needed by everyone.
posted by SomeTrickPony at 4:13 AM on April 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


This thread is closed to new comments something that has been being read by me.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:18 AM on April 27, 2012


That's not in passive voice even though it has "is." You'd need to say: "explosion is desired by my head."

No, it would be "explosion of my head is desired".
posted by the young rope-rider at 4:47 AM on April 27, 2012


If it should be determined that the passivity of voice is sufficient to trigger a recognition of a formal state of "passivity", then it should be considered by all to have achieved the formal status of "passive voice day". In the interim case of inadequate but increasing passivity, judgement as to the passive nature of the day ought be held until a clear deliniation can be provided.

Under no circumstances should the creation of this comment be taken as an indication, in one way or another, as to the level or extent of passivity of voice employed within this diurnal period. Assertions as to the passivity of this voice rest solely with the author and, pending the appointment of a more suitable counsel, the author's immediate successors and/or permanent advisors.

Should there be a situation of incredulity, uncertainty, concern, alarm or alternate equivalent emotion-states, those present should be made aware that, under the conditions laid out herein, they have been served.
posted by nonspecialist at 4:53 AM on April 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


The discovery of the existence of this event was considered exciting but was tempered by the fact that the event had been missed.
posted by h00py at 5:04 AM on April 27, 2012


George Orwell warns against the passive in his overblown and dishonest essay "Politics and the English language". E. B. White does likewise in the obnoxiously ignorant little book he coauthored with Strunk, The Elements of Style. Both of these authors have a remarkably high frequency of passives in their work: around 20 percent of their clauses with transitive verbs are cast in the passive, a distinctly higher frequency than you find in most of the prose written by normal people who don't spend their time pontificating hypocritically about the alleged evil of the passive.

No punches are pulled at LanguageLog, that's for sure.
posted by mediareport at 5:04 AM on April 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


Metafilter: filtered by meta.
posted by Rinku at 5:30 AM on April 27, 2012


Funny language you have there.

Tell me about it I wish to be told about this by you.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 5:35 AM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


This will be remembered by Siri for you.
posted by hexatron at 5:45 AM on April 27, 2012


Anybody who doesn't like the passive voice can get fucked.
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:03 AM on April 27, 2012


I wish to be told about this by you.
It is wished by me to be told about this by you.
posted by Night_owl at 6:03 AM on April 27, 2012


An FPP was made. Comments were also made. Mistakes were probably made, but that is to be expected.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:08 AM on April 27, 2012


Boo.
posted by Saxon Kane at 6:14 AM on April 27, 2012


What. What are you teaching these poor students?

Please demonstrate how you use "become" and "go" in the passive. I do not understand how you can have an intransitive verb in the passive voice.


Your point is taken by me ;) The conjugation for passive is the same as present/past perfect, so Japanese students learn both around the same time (in 9th grade) and have big verb charts to memorize for present, past, and passive/perfect forms. So I just plucked a few verbs from the chart to demonstrate the various conjugation patterns.
posted by p3t3 at 6:37 AM on April 27, 2012


I think it's the fact that we've largely been taught to avoid it by people who were never really taught what it is.

This comment is seen to be insightful by me.
posted by gauche at 7:09 AM on April 27, 2012


A tedious time
A good time
A time was had by all.
posted by idiopath at 7:17 AM on April 27, 2012


Your point is taken by me ;)

The point was taken.
posted by Wolof at 7:24 AM on April 27, 2012


The passive voice is loved by me!
posted by Windopaene at 7:50 AM on April 27, 2012


As an aside, certain languages ended up preferring passive voice construction plus some kind of instrumental case (i.e., "by X, Y was done") for description of past activities. This is one major difference between Vedic and Classical Sanskrit, for example.

What makes this even more interesting is that once this becomes adopted as the norm, this actually explains most ergative-absolutive language structures. The case marker for instrumental and ergative case is identical in Sumerian (-e) because one can conceptually think of an ergative sentence as following the by foo bar was done structure.
posted by baconaut at 8:08 AM on April 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


E. B. White does likewise in the obnoxiously ignorant little book he coauthored with Strunk, The Elements of Style. Both of these authors have a remarkably high frequency of passives in their work: around 20 percent of their clauses with transitive verbs are cast in the passive, a distinctly higher frequency than you find in most of the prose written by normal people who don't spend their time pontificating hypocritically about the alleged evil of the passive.

That's a ridiculous overstatement. Strunk & White doesn't say the passive voice is evil. It says you should generally prefer the active voice. That's good advice. And if Strunk & White uses the active voice 80% of the time, that suggests they do prefer it.
posted by John Cohen at 8:52 AM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


John Cohen: "Strunk & White doesn't say the passive voice is evil. It says you should generally prefer the active voice. That's good advice. And if Strunk & White uses the active voice 80% of the time, that suggests they do prefer it."

There are people who read that book and will object to every single use of passive voice, and point at the book as justification.
posted by idiopath at 9:06 AM on April 27, 2012


Then those people are the problem, as dogmatists so often are.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 9:30 AM on April 27, 2012


Hating will be engaged in by haters.
posted by grumblebee at 9:31 AM on April 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


What you did is seen there.
posted by idiopath at 10:52 AM on April 27, 2012


So let it be written, so let it be done.
posted by SomeTrickPony at 11:47 AM on April 27, 2012


tl;sdr

Too long; someone didn't read
posted by BlueHorse at 7:05 PM on April 27, 2012


The length was excessive. Reading did not occur.
posted by ShutterBun at 1:42 AM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


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