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Passive in Latvian - UniLang

Passive in Latvian

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ciuppo2000
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Passive in Latvian

Postby ciuppo2000 » 2011-12-09, 17:45

If you say that the following sentences:

1) LAUVA ĒD AITU

2) AITU ĒD LAUVA

are the same ''thing'' and that the only difference is a change of position between the subject and the object, you are right, but only from a conceptual/notional point of you.

But from a linguistic or better pragmatic point of view they are two completely different sentences.

In sentence (1) we talk of a certain lion and we state that he is eating a sheep: [LAUVA] is the given information/topic/theme and [ĒD AITU] is the new information/focus/rheme.
While in sentence (2) we talk of a certain sheep and we state that she is being eaten by a lion. [AITU] is the given information/topic.theme and [ĒD LAUVA] the new information/focus/rheme.

As we know in languages like English or Italian the promotion of a costituent from a new information/focus/rheme position to a given information/topic/theme position can be achieved using a passive contruction:

3) THE LION IS EATING A SHEEP
3a) IL LEONE STA MANGIANDO UNA PECORA

4) THE SHEEP IS BEING EATEN BY A LION
4a) LA PECORA VIENE MANGIATA DAL LEONE

In Latvian, thanks to its still well developed case system, we achieve the same result simply changing the order of the arguments of the verb:

SVO > OVS

In languages without a well developed case system or in other words that have lost their case system this could be impossible.
The sentences

5) THE LION EATS A SHEEP

6) THE SHEEP EATS A LION

represent two very different situation...

Only when the AGENT of the event is not expressed Latvian uses a real passive construction:

7) DESA TIEK ĒSTA.

pietro :)

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mak
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Re: Passive in Latvian

Postby mak » 2011-12-09, 19:25

ciuppo2000 wrote:7) DESA TIEK ĒSTA.
Or DESU ĒD.


What's your take on these sentences?

3) LAUVA AITU ĒD
4) AITU LAUVA ĒD
5) ĒD LAUVA AITU
6) ĒD AITU LAUVA


P.S. Which syllable is stressed in the words pecora and leone?

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ciuppo2000
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Re: Passive in Latvian

Postby ciuppo2000 » 2011-12-10, 12:54

For me, that is, for a non native speaker of Latvian, it is of course not easy to assess the pragmatic values of the sentences that you have proposed:

3) LAUVA AITU ĒD
4) AITU LAUVA ĒD
5) ĒD LAUVA AITU
6) ĒD AITU LAUVA

I can rely only on my incomplete command of Latvian and on my general linguistic knowledge.

But as you have understood I like a challenge ... so stay tuned :wink:

pietro :)

PS: ''leone'' is stressed on the 2. syllable [le.'o.ne], while ''pecora'' on the 1. ['pe.co.ra].

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włóczykij
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Re: Passive in Latvian

Postby włóczykij » 2011-12-10, 14:39

I think, it is a problem of existence of the question.
If a sentence is an answer for the real question - it exist, if no it is only theoretical puzzle which means nothing.

Ko leuva eed ?
Kas eed aitu ?
Ko leuva dara/taisa (?) ?

And so on....
ps.
Sorry, for my latvian.

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Re: Passive in Latvian

Postby Sol Invictus » 2011-12-10, 15:20

Isn't somebody here trying to liken Latvian to their native language ? :wink: I looked up what is passive in first place and found a counterargument to your idea in its very definition - it is applied to the subject of the sentence, which is the Lion here. As we told you in the other thread the difference is in emphasis or, as you say, the important new information gets placed in different spot to put emphasis on it. Yes, you might end up translating every sentence where the sheep comes first as passive, but that doesn't mean it will work that way in every single situation where you get different word order, nor I think you should expect any unusual word order when asking to translate simple sentence.

BTW just to ilustrate - when you asked in other thread to translate "The sheep is being eaten by a lion", I said it is impossible to do it in correct Latvian, in incorrect Latvian it's "Aita tiek apēsta no lauvas", as I was just thinking where the hell did that come from it occured to me that it might be remotly acceptable to say "X dots no Dieva", but that probably comes directly out of Bible, which sounds funny in the first place, because it was translated in 17th century by a Baltic German priest. The correct Latvian for that is "Dieva dots X", which is passive, thus in theory you could also have "Lauvas apēsta aita" or "Lauvas apēdamā aita", but it is impossible to use Latvian passive to corectly translate the given sentence
I speak:  (lv) (en) I understand some:  (de) (ru) Toying with:  (es)

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Re: Passive in Latvian

Postby włóczykij » 2011-12-10, 18:18

Is really in latvian passive voice is used only in impersonal constructions ?
I can't belive that, but I must belive.
I'll tray to remember.

In polish I can tell it in two mentioned versions:

eng. THE LION IS EATING A SHEEP
ita. IL LEONE STA MANGIANDO UNA PECORA
pol. Lew je owcę (or rather) Lew zjada owcę.

je - imperfekt
zjada - perfekt


eng. THE SHEEP IS BEING EATEN BY A LION
ita. LA PECORA VIENE MANGIATA DAL LEONE
pol. Owca jest jedzona/zjadana przez lwa

wchich I tend to use, depends on the question:

Co robi lew ? (What do lion do?) -> Lew je owcę, never Owcę je lew
Co się dzieje z owcą ? (What's going on with a ship ?) -> Owca jest zjadana przez Lwa. or Owcę
zjada lew.
It looks as Ciuppo is right in theses cases !
but
Co się dzieje? (What's going on ?) - > Lew je owcę or Je lew owcę (maybe, in some context)

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Re: Passive in Latvian

Postby Sol Invictus » 2011-12-10, 19:51

włóczykij wrote:Co robi lew ? (What do lion do?) -> Lew je owcę, never Owcę je lew
Co się dzieje z owcą ? (What's going on with a ship ?) -> Owca jest zjadana przez Lwa. or Owcę
zjada lew.
It looks as Ciuppo is right in theses cases !
but
Co się dzieje? (What's going on ?) - > Lew je owcę or Je lew owcę (maybe, in some context)

He is right that in the particular case passive would form in other languages, not that this indicates passive in Latvian

The questions to six examples above might be (respectively)
What is happening? SVO
Who is eaiting the sheep? OVS
What is lion doing with the sheep? SOV
What is happening with the sheep? OSV
Who is eating? VSO
What is eaten? VOS

Try translating this one, I'm starting to feel bad for the poor sheep:
ES MĪLU TEVI
TEVI MĪLU ES
ES TEVI MĪLU
TEVI ES MĪLU
MĪLU ES TEVI
MĪLU TEVI ES
I speak:  (lv) (en) I understand some:  (de) (ru) Toying with:  (es)

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Re: Passive in Latvian

Postby włóczykij » 2011-12-10, 20:56

Poļu valodā ?

It is very simple, all: Kocham cię.

rigt are this:
ES TEVI MILIU - Ja cię kocham or Ja ciebie kocham.
ES MILIU TEVI - Ja kocham ciebie.

Maybe in some context:
MILU ES TEVI - Kocham ja ciebie.

The rest:

TEVI MILU ES - Ciebie kocham ja.
TEVI ES MILU - Ciebie ja kocham.
MILU TEVI ES - Kocham ciebie ja.

are undestableable but sound very, very strange !


Was JA CIEBIE MIŁUjĘ but in XVII/XVIII century.


Es saprotu daudz latviski bet vēl nerunāju.

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Re: Passive in Latvian

Postby Sol Invictus » 2011-12-10, 22:40

And in what context would you use them? :)
I speak:  (lv) (en) I understand some:  (de) (ru) Toying with:  (es)

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Re: Passive in Latvian

Postby włóczykij » 2011-12-10, 23:00

Kocham ja ciebie, czy nie kocham ? ~ I love you, or I don't love you ?

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Re: Passive in Latvian

Postby ciuppo2000 » 2011-12-12, 10:12

Sol Invictus wrote:Isn't somebody here trying to liken Latvian to their native language ?




''Saule'' !

We are simply doing something very interesting, that is: Linguistic Typology.

Linguistic typology is one of the most powerful ''tool'' that linguists have to delve deeper into the structure of language and discover linguistic universals...

So in the end we are doing something very useful and more important extremely ... enjoyable!!!

But in order to settle once and for all (as you see I am an incurable optimist) the Latvian Passive question let's start from the very beginning...

When we talk we simply ''translate'' our ideas, our concepts or our ''mental images'' into words, phrases and sentences.

Usually a situation like:

''A lion eating a sheep''

(please, take into consideration the fact that this is not meant to represent a sentence, but a MENTAL IMAGE a CONCEPT!!!)

can be seen from the point of view of ''the lion'', that is from the point of view of the entity that gives start to that particular situation or from the point of view of the ''sheep'' , that is the entity that undergoes that particular situation.

We could name these particular MENTAL points of view: ''active'' and ''passive''.
I would like to stress once again that this two terms (''active'' and ''passive'') represent exclusively two MENTAL, let's say, ''things''.
They are simply two different ways to categorize or segment the reality.
So in the end we could call them: two MENTAL categories, two MENTAL objects...

Now in order to ''translate'' these MENTAL categories/objects into sentences, language has developed what is known as Linguistic Voice: ACTIVE and PASSIVE.

So ''passive'' is a MENTAL category/object, while PASSIVE is a linguistic, we could say SYNTACTIC, category/object.
And the same is true for ''active'' and ACTIVE.

Let's take now a, by now, well known sentence:

(1) The sheep is eaten by the lion.

This sentence from a MENTAL, conceptual point of view is a ''passive'' and from a syntactic point of view a PASSIVE.

We could represent this fact as :

(1a) The sheep is eaten by the lion [ ''passive'' / PASSIVE ].

Trivial? ...not at all!!! As we will see...

The Latvian sentence:

(2) Aitu ēd lauva.

from a MENTAL point of view is always a ''passive'', but from a SYNTACTIC point of view is an ACTIVE:

(2a) Aitu ēd lauva [''passive'' / ACTIVE ].

(1) and (2) translate the same situation and the same ''point of view''...but using different syntactic means...

The fact that the MENTAL categories ''active''/''passive'' and the syntactic categories ACTIVE/PASSIVE are two different ''things'' and that between them not always there are a perfect match is shown also from the following Italian sentence:

(3) Mario ha ricevuto uno schiaffo da una donna
(3a) Mario get slapped by a woman.

In Italian this sentence is from a MENTAL point of view a ''passive'', but syntactically is an ACTIVE:

(3) Mario ha ricevuto uno schiaffo da una donna. [ ''passive'' / ACTIVE ]

So when ''Saule'' and Mak say that the English sentence:

(4) The sheep is eaten by the lion. [ ''passive / PASSIVE ]

cannot be translated in Latvian with a PASSIVE, they say something true, because in these case Latvian uses a special ACTIVE construction to translate (4); only they do not realize that the Latvian sentence is and remain conceptually a ''passive'':

(5) Aitu ēd lauva. [ ''passive'' / ACTIVE ].

Let's now examine the sentence (5) and the sentence:

(6) Lauva ēd aitu. [ ''active'' / ACTIVE ]

As you can see (5) and (6) has two different (''mental''/SYNTACTIC) structures and must be translated in English, Italian or some other language with sentences that must always comply with their MENTAL category, that is ''active'' or ''passive'':

(7) Lauva ēd aitu. [ ''active'' / ACTIVE ]
(7a) The lion eats the sheep. [ ''active'' / ACTIVE ]
(7b) Il leone mangia la pecora [ ''active'' / ACTIVE ]

(8) Aitu ēd lauva [ ''passive'' / ACTIVE ]
(8a) The sheep is eaten by the lion [ ''passive'' / PASSIVE ]
(8b) La pecora e'/viene mangiata dal leone [ ''passive'' / PASSIVE ]

So when ''Saule'' and Mak say that (7) and (8) are the same ''thing'' and can be translated in English simply with (7a), this is not true since the communicative/pragmatic functions of (7) and (8) are different.

The fact that it is extremely important to take separated MENTAL categories/objects form LINGUISTIC categories/objects is of paramount importance!!!

pietro :)

PS: as for the question regarding the ''emphasis'' I will be glad to post something soon. For the moment I would like to draw your attention to the fact that it is better to write sentences in small letters, since in the linguistic literature ''emphasis'', contrastive intonation and the likes are expressed putting words, phrases or sentences in capital letters.

In fact the sentences:

(9) John loves Mary

(10) John loves MARY [not Ann]

Show the same syntactic structure and is the ''emphasis'' on the word MARY in (10) that gives to (10) a different pragmatic value.

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Re: Passive in Latvian

Postby włóczykij » 2011-12-12, 15:49

Ciuppo2000
Do you really belive in existence of the mental langauge independent from the ethnical languages ? I know that Chomsky belived in that, but it is a very weak proof.
Mayby people who have no "PASSIVe" in their own langauage, have no any idea of "passive" too. Because they don't need them, for instance ?

Hi
"only they do not realize that the Latvian sentence is and remain conceptually a ''passive'':

It would mean that Latvians have mental idea of a 'passive" but actaually don't understand it ?

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Re: Passive in Latvian

Postby ciuppo2000 » 2011-12-12, 18:51

włóczykij wrote:Ciuppo2000
Do you really belive in existence of the mental langauge independent from the ethnical languages ?


...I believe in mental language or as it is better know, ''mentalese'' or language of thought.

And what I described as mental objects could be also described as words, phrases and sentences of ''mentalese'' that must be ''translated'' in one way or the other in English, Italian, Latvian, Polish or some other language.

Mentalese's structure and properties should be the same for all members of our species or in other words we all share the same ''language or thought''.

''The sheep being eaten by the lion'' that I described as a mental image could be also described, as you have understood, as a sentence of ''mentalese'' and this sentence has the property to be a ''passive'', that is a situation in which the PATIENT is the topic and the AGENT is demoted to a secondary role.

As for a possible proof take into consideration the following sentence:

(1) I saw a man with a telescope.

Sentence (1) is ambiguous. It could be construed in two different ways:

a) I saw a man using a telescope
b) I saw a man, who was carryng a telescope.

Now when someone utters sentence (1) he knows exactly what kind of situation, a) or b), he his talking about, because he ''translate'' a well-defined mental image into a sentence. The sentence is ambiguous only for those who listen to it, because it arouses in their mind two different mental images or mentalese's sentences.
If language and thought were the same this would be difficult to explain...

Nobody is aware of ''passive'', ''active'' or any other category of mentalese, because thought and language are real istincts. We only use them, that's all. Linguists, philosophers, psicologists and cognitive scientists are making us aware of how language and thought work.

Mak and ''Saule'' were not aware that a sentence like:

(2) Aitu ēd lauva.

is actually a ''passive'', in the same way I, as an Italian native speaker, was not aware that a sentece like:

(3) Mario ha ricevuto uno schiaffo da una donna

is a 'passive'' too.

But we don't need to know it to properly use our own languages.
We only need to know it if we want to understand how language works...

pietro :)

PS: I suggest you to read some of the books of Steven Pinker, like for example ''The language instinct''

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Sol Invictus
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Re: Passive in Latvian

Postby Sol Invictus » 2011-12-12, 19:24

ciuppo2000 wrote:So when ''Saule'' and Mak say that (7) and (8) are the same ''thing'' and can be translated in English simply with (7a), this is not true since the communicative/pragmatic functions of (7) and (8) are different.

It is true and it is absurd to ask, like you propose, to translate passive to OVS. Grammatical passive applies to the subject, your "mental passive" applies to the patient, which grammatically may as well be the object. Your theory is fine, your terminology is wrong.
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Re: Passive in Latvian

Postby linguoboy » 2011-12-12, 21:05

Sol Invictus wrote:It is true and it is absurd to ask, like you propose, to translate passive to OVS. Grammatical passive applies to the subject, your "mental passive" applies to the patient, which grammatically may as well be the object. Your theory is fine, your terminology is wrong.

It may depend on what feature you consider to be central to the passive, objection promotion or subject demotion. Grammatically, it seems to be about the former, but there's reason to believe that is a secondary function (viz. the existence of "subjectless passives" in languages like German [e.g. "Es wird getanzt"] and--apparently--Latvian as well).
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Re: Passive in Latvian

Postby Sol Invictus » 2011-12-12, 22:51

linguoboy wrote:objection promotion or subject demotion.

Isn't that the same thing? Passive is about subject being the patient not the agent. A subjectless sentence omits direct reference to the patient, but, if you included it, the word in question would be the subject, not the object, right? (And isn't Es the subject?)
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Re: Passive in Latvian

Postby linguoboy » 2011-12-12, 23:03

Sol Invictus wrote:
linguoboy wrote:objection promotion or subject demotion.

Isn't that the same thing?

Nope.

Sol Invictus wrote:Passive is about subject being the patient not the agent.

Is it? If so, then it shouldn't be possible to passivise intransitive predicates, should it?

Sol Invictus wrote:A subjectless sentence omits direct reference to the patient, but, if you included it, the word in question would be the subject, not the object, right? (And isn't Es the subject?)

Es in the German sentence is what is called a "dummy subject". It's only there because German syntax doesn't normally allow the first slot in statements to be empty. But if something else fills this slot, then the es drops out completely, i.e. "Morgen wird getantzt." This is now a clause with no subject at all, formal or otherwise.
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Re: Passive in Latvian

Postby ciuppo2000 » 2011-12-13, 15:50

Sol Invictus wrote:
ciuppo2000 wrote:So when ''Saule'' and Mak say that (7) and (8) are the same ''thing'' and can be translated in English simply with (7a), this is not true since the communicative/pragmatic functions of (7) and (8) are different.

It is true and it is absurd to ask, like you propose, to translate passive to OVS. Grammatical passive applies to the subject, your "mental passive" applies to the patient, which grammatically may as well be the object. Your theory is fine, your terminology is wrong.


Yes, the ''language of thought'' theory is indeed very interesting and intriguing, but unfortunately :( it is not a theory of mine. It is the product of some of the brightest minds of the XX and XXI centuries.

As for the alleged wrong terminology, frankly speaking, if I had to rectify all the things that I consider wrong or not completely right in your posts ... I should spend days writing in this forum :lol: :lol: :lol: !!!

But this is not the main point...the main point is that some days ago I kindly asked you to translate a very simple English sentence in Latvian:

(1) The house has been built by workmen.

...and we are still waiting... :yep: !!!

pietro :)

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Re: Passive in Latvian

Postby Sol Invictus » 2011-12-13, 16:04

ciuppo2000 wrote:
Sol Invictus wrote:
ciuppo2000 wrote:So when ''Saule'' and Mak say that (7) and (8) are the same ''thing'' and can be translated in English simply with (7a), this is not true since the communicative/pragmatic functions of (7) and (8) are different.

It is true and it is absurd to ask, like you propose, to translate passive to OVS. Grammatical passive applies to the subject, your "mental passive" applies to the patient, which grammatically may as well be the object. Your theory is fine, your terminology is wrong.


Yes, the ''language of thought'' theory is indeed very interesting and intriguing, but unfortunately :( it is not a theory of mine. It is the product of some of the brightest minds of the XX and XXI centuries.

As for the alleged wrong terminology, frankly speaking, if I had to rectify all the things that I consider wrong or not completely right in your posts ... I should spend days writing in this forum :lol: :lol: :lol: !!!

But this is not the main point...the main point is that some days ago I kindly asked you to translate a very simple English sentence in Latvian:

(1) The house has been built by workmen.

...and we are still waiting... :yep: !!!

pietro :)

Have I ever claimed to be a linguist? Merely pointing out that you shouldn't apply this theory, which is otherwise a cool theory, in the way you do - it explains our emphasis and reason for different word order very well, but the difference is in emphasis, it does not create passive in Latvian. I believe that sentence was translated by Cesare and I and mak said it was correctly done, what more do you expect?
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Re: Passive in Latvian

Postby ciuppo2000 » 2011-12-15, 16:49

Well, it seems that we have established once and for all (at least I hope so...) that a good translation of the English sentences:

1) The house has been built by workmen.
2) The sheep is being eaten by the lion.

are respectively the Latvian sentences:

3) Māju uzbūvēja strādnieki.
4) Aitu ēd lauva.

and, of course, that a good translation of the Latvian sentences (3) and (4) in English are respectively the sentences (1) and (2).

I hope that by now it is also well established that the English sentences (1) and (2) have passive meaning and passive syntactic structure:

5) The house has been built by workmen. [ ''passive'' / PASSIVE ]
6) The sheep is being eaten by the lion. [ ''passive'' / PASSIVE ]

while the Latvian sentences (3) and (4) have passive meaning, but active syntactic structure:

7) Māju uzbūvēja strādnieki. [ ''passive'' / ACTIVE ]
8) Aitu ēd lauva. [ ''passive'' / ACTIVE ]

That's why we can maintain that OVS structures in Latvian, that is, Object Verb Subject structures like (3) and (4), CONVEY passive meaning even though they are and remain syntactically ACTIVE.

The ''language of thought'' theory tell us simply that we MUST NOT BE SURPRISED of the fact that a syntactic active structure may convey a passive meaning that's all. Of course this is a simple fact but with far-reaching linguistic and philosophical implications...

In order to undestand HOW an active syntactic structure may convey a passive meaning we have to look at how the argument and thematic structure of the above-mentioned sentences interacts with their syntactic and pragmatic structure

And this is what we could try to do all together...

Here are three sentences that we know very well by now:

9) The house has been built by workers.
10) Mario ha ricevuto uno schiaffo da una donna.
''Mario get slapped by a woman''
11) Aitu ēd lauva.
''The sheep is being eaten by a/the lion''

Sentence (9) has a passive syntactic structure, while (10) and (11) have an active syntactic structure, but, believe it or not, they all convey a passive meaning...

But let's start looking at what is conceptually a passive...

...so please start posting your proposal... :ohwell:

pietro :)


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