MIDDLE AND PASSIVE VOICE

Mike Sangrey msangrey at BlueFeltHat.org
Thu Oct 25 15:30:31 EDT 2001


On Thu, 2001-10-25 at 13:45, Kimmo Huovila wrote:
> 
> (Nor does the assertion that no one else is involved in the case of the
> middle seem plausible. One typical middle construction (if I remember
> correctly, this is what Kemmer argued) is the type 'this book sells
> well' - where clearly others are involved. It is people who sell the
> book.)

True, there's other people involved, but!  When I buy something at the
grocery store there is other people involved, too:  stockers, vegetable
growers, on and on and on.  Quite obviously--in my example, not in
yours--if I write, "I buy food" my intent by using active voice is to
focus the readers attention on the subject ("I") doing the action.  In
the case "this book sells well" the emphasis (relative to voice) is
subject-intensive and thereby states the exclusion of other actors.  In
other words, the author's intention is to NOT talk about those other
actors even though they ARE obviously there.

I've often wondered whether the explanation of voice would benefit from
the language of "point of view" as Porter applies it to tense/aspect.
-- 
Mike Sangrey
msangrey at BlueFeltHat.org
Landisburg, Pa.
                        "The first one last wins."
            "A net of highly cohesive details reveals the truth."




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