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Thread: Perfect and perfective aspects in passive voice in German and English

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    Perfect and perfective aspects in passive voice in German and English

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan2 View Post
    The interpretation of the missing passive in "The car stolen was mine" is of a past passive ("that was stolen"), the understood tense is context-dependent. For ex., in "The car stolen is always mine!" a present passive ("that is stolen") is understood

    This is exactly what I have thought. However, the passive can also be a present perfect ("noun that/which has/have been done"), besides the present and past tense.
    But my guess is that
    "The car stolen was mine" can only correspond to the past passive "The car that was stolen was mine", because no adverbs and no more context is there; only the past auxiliary "was" (the italicized one before "mine") leads us to predict that the hidden tense of the participle "stolen" is also a past one.

    I am, however, not sure whether sentences like "The car stolen is mine" are technically correct and whether it can mean "The car that was stolen is mine" or "The car that is stolen is mine". I know the latter sentence (or interpretation) is a bit awkward without an adverb like "always".

    I don't know whether my guess goes together with native speakers', however.
    Last edited by berndf; 26th February 2014 at 4:07 PM.

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    Re: German passive participle after nouns inflected or not?

    I'd say it's perfective in any case, so The car stolen is mine stands for The car that has been stolen is mine whereas The car stolen was mine stands for The car that had been stolen was mine.

    This doesn't affect the possibility for eventive that has been stolen to be replaced with stative that is stolen and for eventive that had been stolen to be replaced with stative ​that was stolen.
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    Re: German passive participle after nouns inflected or not?

    Quote Originally Posted by Chigch View Post
    I am, however, not sure whether sentences like "The car stolen is mine" are technically correct and whether it can mean "The car that was stolen is mine" or "The car that is stolen is mine". I know the latter sentence (or interpretation) is a bit awkward without an adverb like "always".
    I think that technically "The car stolen is mine" is fine, and can have either of the two meanings you suggest, depending on context. Note that an overly simple sentence devoid of context, like "I go", can be so vague as to be difficult to interpret, but "I go" is unquestionably grammatical. Likewise I think the only thing "wrong" with "The car stolen is mine" is that it forces the reader to supply appropriate context. (I guess that's what you mean by "awkward".)
    Quote Originally Posted by Schimmelreiter View Post
    I'd say it's perfective in any case, so The car stolen is mine stands for The car that has been stolen is mine whereas The car stolen was mine stands for The car that had been stolen was mine.
    It's not clear to me how broad a range of cases your "in any case" is meant to cover. Certainly if you allow me to add context, what you say is false. For ex., "The car stolen yesterday is/was mine" can be interpreted only as "The car that was stolen ..."; a perfective interpretation is impossible. But even without further context, "The car stolen was mine" seems to me to favor a simple-past passive interpretation.

    Furthermore, not only is an understood passive not limited to a perfective or pluperfect interpretation, as you suggest, but it seems not to be limited to a past interpretation at all. If you're not convinced by my "The car stolen is always mine", consider:
    When water is frozen, the ice produced always has volume greater than that of the unfrozen water
    Here the only natural interpretation of "the ice produced" is "the ice that is produced".
    Quote Originally Posted by Schimmelreiter View Post
    This doesn't affect the possibility for eventive that has been stolen to be replaced with stative that is stolen and for eventive that had been stolen to be replaced with stative ​that was stolen.
    I'm sorry, I don't understand this comment, in particular "possibility to be replaced"; "replaced" in what sense? (If this is relevant, note that all of the passives I've been considering correspond to the German werden passive.)

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    Re: German passive participle after nouns inflected or not?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dan2 View Post
    "The car stolen yesterday is/was mine" can be interpreted only as "The car that was stolen ..."; a perfective interpretation is impossible. But even without further context, "The car stolen was mine" seems to me to favor a simple-past passive interpretation.
    The past tense is one way in which perfectiveness can be expressed in a relative clause in relation to the main clause.

    In any case, the car stolen is "short" for the car having been stolen (perfectiveness). It is not short for the car being stolen (concurrence).

    Pursuant to the grammatical rules of the British variant, having been stolen + just/recently/lately etc. may be rendered as a relative clause in the present perfect tense: that has just/recently/lately been stolen. Americans, as far as I know, tend to use the past tense here in order to express the perfectiveness of the relative clause in relation to the main clause.

    Pursuant to grammar rules on both shores of the Atlantic, having been stolen yesterday/five days ago/last weekend/on 3 January 2014 may be rendered as a relative clause in the past tense: that was stolen yesterday/five days ago/last weekend/on 3 January 2014. The past tense is used here to express the perfectiveness of the relative clause in relation to the main clause.




    Quote Originally Posted by Dan2 View Post
    When water is frozen, the ice produced always has volume greater than that of the unfrozen water
    Here the only natural interpretation of "the ice produced" is "the ice that is produced".
    the ice produced is short for the ice having been produced. Without having been produced, ice is in no position to have any, let alone greater, volume. So the ice produced may be rendered as the ice that has been produced or, depending on context, as the ice that was produced yesterday (see above re past tense, with certain temporal adverbials, conveying the perfectiveness of the relative clause in relation to the main clause).

    The eventive the ice that has been produced may be replaced with the stative the ice that is produced (see what I wrote in #17 re eventive vs stative).

    The eventive passive voice is of course possible for a sequence of events:
    The ice that is produced (then, i.e. once produced) has volume greater than that of the unfrozen water.
    This may well be a natural interpretation of the ice produced, implying a sequence of events in which the greater volume comes after the production of ice, but it's not a grammatical analysis of the ice produced.

    I believe the expression past participle is itself indicative of the perfectiveness ("pastness") it expresses. It is clearly different from the present participle, which expresses concurrence. The only exception is the eventive passive voice, where the past participle has got nothing perfective about it. It is perfective, though, in the stative passive voice.

    And the past participle is perfective when used attributively, which this post is about.
    Last edited by Schimmelreiter; 26th February 2014 at 9:19 AM.
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    Re: German passive participle after nouns inflected or not?

    Quote Originally Posted by Schimmelreiter View Post
    I'd say it's perfective in any case, so The car stolen is mine stands for The car that has been stolen is mine
    Has been stolen is perfect not perfective. Those are completely different aspects which German does not distinguish but English distinguishes very scrupulously. Perfective is was stolen.

    Quote Originally Posted by Schimmelreiter View Post
    The eventive the ice that has been produced may be replaced with the stative the ice that is produced (see what I wrote in #17 re eventive vs stative).
    I agree with Dan that you seem to confuse the stative vs. eventive distinction of German passive voices with the aspect distinction between present and present perfect in English.

    I would even say that has been produced has more of a stative connotation than is produced (=wird produziert not ist produziert as Dan remarked).
    Last edited by berndf; 26th February 2014 at 10:04 AM.

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    Re: Perfect and perfective aspects in passive voice in German and English

    Bernd, my point is that the attributive past participle does not convey concurrence. Is or isn't this true?


    I used perfective in the sense of vorzeitig (cf. participium perfecti).
    I used concurrent in the sense of gleichzeitig.

    Of the difference there is between perfect and perfective, I am well aware (provided my use of perfective is admissible ).

    He came recently is perfective. Are you saying He has come recently is not?


    PS
    Please advise, unless my use of perfective and concurrent is admissible, as to what, in English grammar, the notions of vorzeitig and gleichzeitig are called.
    Last edited by Schimmelreiter; 26th February 2014 at 3:19 PM.
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    Re: German passive participle after nouns inflected or not?

    Quote Originally Posted by berndf View Post
    Has been stolen is perfect not perfective. Those are completely different aspects which German does not distinguish but English distinguishes very scrupulously. Perfective is was stolen.
    I am surprised that you classify "was stolen" as having a perfective aspect per definition, as Simple Past in English (and the Scandinavian languages) is normally aspect neutral. In most cases it is impossible to decide if an action expressed in Simple Past was of a durative/repetitive character or a single, completed action. In the sentence "they ate well at the hotel" both interpretations are possible. It is usually the context, or som additional words in the sentence that give us the clue. Sometimes the verb itself suggests a typically perfective or imperfective action (for example break vs sleep), but the tense itself does not say us anything about the aspect.

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    Re: German passive participle after nouns inflected or not?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Jamin View Post
    I am surprised that you classify "was stolen" as having a perfective aspect per definition, as Simple Past in English (and the Scandinavian languages) is normally aspect neutral. In most cases it is impossible to decide if an action expressed in Simple Past was of a durative/repetitive character or a single, completed action. In the sentence "they ate well at the hotel" both interpretations are possible. It is usually the context, or som additional words in the sentence that give us the clue. Sometimes the verb itself suggests a typically perfective or imperfective action (for example break vs sleep), but the tense itself does not say us anything about the aspect.
    Not completely aspect neutral because you have the opposition was stolen and was being stolen. But that doesn't matter. I didn't mean to say that was stolen was always perfective but that if you want to express perfective meaning, you use simple past and not present perfect. This does not preclude that the simple past might also be applicable to other aspects.

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    Re: Perfect and perfective aspects in passive voice in German and English

    Quote Originally Posted by Schimmelreiter View Post
    Bernd, my point is that the attributive past participle does not convey concurrence. Is or isn't this true?


    I used perfective in the sense of vorzeitig (cf. participium perfecti).
    I used concurrent in the sense of gleichzeitig.

    Of the difference there is between perfect and perfective, I am well aware (provided my use of perfective is admissible ).

    He came recently is perfective. Are you saying He has come recently is not?


    PS
    Please advise, unless my use of perfective and concurrent is admissible, as to what, in English grammar, the notions of vorzeitig and gleichzeitig are called.
    My point, and if I understood to correctly also Dan's, is that the English ppl. has an aspect connotation (=perfect) but no tense connotation. In my mind you are mislead by your instincts as a German speaker by jumping straight to the question of contemporaneity (Gleichzeitigkeit), anteriority (Vorzeitigkeit) and posteriority (Nachzeitigkeit) because German does not separate aspects from tenses. In English there is a conceptual separation between the two although of course there is some degree of interdependence.

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    Re: German passive participle after nouns inflected or not?

    Quote Originally Posted by berndf View Post
    Not completely aspect neutral because you have the opposition was stolen and was being stolen. But that doesn't matter. I didn't mean to say that was stolen was always perfective but that if you want to express perfective meaning, you use simple past and not present perfect. This does not preclude that the simple past might also be applicable to other aspects.
    Does it mean that English Present Perfect has an imperfective aspect?

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    Re: German passive participle after nouns inflected or not?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Jamin View Post
    Does it mean that English Present Perfect has an imperfective aspect?
    English has no imperfective aspect. It has two orthogonal aspect distinctions progressive vs. non-progressive (the latter includes habitual and perfective) and perfect vs. non-perfect.

    Languages with imperfective contrast progressive and habitual on ones side with perfective on the other side.
    Last edited by berndf; 26th February 2014 at 7:38 PM.

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    Re: German passive participle after nouns inflected or not?

    Would the following sentence be correct in English? While the cruel beating adult is laughing, the poor beaten boy is crying aloud. If it is correct, then it seems to me that 'beaten' means 'being beaten' (concurrent in SR's language) and not 'that was beaten' (perfective according to SR's terms). Languages like Ancient Greek possessed a passive present participle, modern languages must sometimes use past participle for this function, if my example is correct.
    Last edited by bearded man; 14th March 2014 at 11:20 AM.

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    Re: Perfect and perfective aspects in passive voice in German and English

    I understand simply "beaten" neither as "being beather" nor as "that was beaten" but as "that has been beaten". So, it is not perfective but perfect.

    BTW: The sentence sounds odd because of the porgressive in the second clause (the poor beaten boy is crying aloud), but that is a different matter.

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    Re: Perfect and perfective aspects in passive voice in German and English

    Quote Originally Posted by berndf View Post
    I understand simply "beaten" neither as "being beather" nor as "that was beaten" but as "that has been beaten". So, it is not perfective but perfect.
    Actually, in my example I tried to describe two contemporary actions (one active: beating, one passive: being beaten): the poor boy does not cry after he was beaten, but while he is being beaten (er heult nicht nachdem er geschlagen wurde, sondern waehrend er geschlagen wird). My point is that in some cases, the English (and possibly also the German) past participle does convey ''concurrence'' - according to SR's definition, but contrary to his opinion.
    Last edited by bearded man; 14th March 2014 at 11:21 AM.

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    Re: Perfect and perfective aspects in passive voice in German and English

    Quote Originally Posted by bearded man View Post
    Actually, in my example I tried to describe two contemporary actions (one active: beat, one passive: be beaten): the poor boy does not cry after he was beaten, but while he is being beaten (er heult nicht nachdem er geschlagen wurde, sondern waehrend er geschlagen wird). My point is that in some cases, the English (and possibly also the German) past participle does convey ''concurrence'' - according to SR's definition, but contrary to his opinion.
    I agree with Dan's opinion in #3 that the past participle, contrary to what its name suggests, does not have an unambiguous tempus connotation. The only unambiguous characteristics of the adjectival use (i.e. when not part of a periphrastic verb form) are 1) passive voice and 2) perfect aspect, i.e. 1) the referent of the attributed noun is the patient of the action and 2) the property described by the adjective is the state the patient is in as a result of the action (which may have been completed or may be ongoing) and not the event of being subjected to the action itself.

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    Re: Perfect and perfective aspects in passive voice in German and English

    @ berndf
    > ...the action which may have been completed or may be ongoing <
    To me, if the action is ongoing, there is no perfect(ive) aspect in that participle. It just takes the place and the function of a (in modern western languages non-existing) present passive participle. Ancient-Greek example: philoùmenos = that is being loved.

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    Re: Perfect and perfective aspects in passive voice in German and English

    I would prefer, if you didn't use perfect(ive). The similarity of the terms perfect and perfective is most unfortunate but the these aspects are really very different and mixing they creates an unmanagable confusion.

    What the perfect aspect describes is the state of having been beaten and not the action of being beaten, irrespective of point in time. The only context where it loses its perfect aspect is in the passive voice where the aspect is determined by the form of the auxiliary verb (the boy is/is being/has been beaten).

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    Re: Perfect and perfective aspects in passive voice in German and English

    Regardless of the various analyses in subsequent posts, I can't help feeling that the passage quote in the OP contains a misplaced adjectival participle. It should be "stolen car", not "car stolen".

    In that case, it can just as easily be "The stolen car is mine" or "The stolen car was mine", because "stolen" could refer to a theft either in the past or in the present. However, if the speaker was talking of previous ownership, then he/she would say "The Stolen car had been mine".
    Amo ergo Sum. My words speak for themselves. Between the lines you will find nothing but blank spaces.

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    Re: Perfect and perfective aspects in passive voice in German and English

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Beach View Post
    I can't help feeling that the passage quote in the OP contains a misplaced adjectival participle. It should be "stolen car", not "car stolen".
    An editor concerned with "style" might call stolen "misplaced" in this sentence, and I would agree with you if your claim were simply that "car stolen" is less common or less expected than "stolen car". However I find the sentence fully grammatical; what's under discussion here is how to interpret "stolen", given this word order (whether or not you feel the word order is optimal). You may find less to object to in this construction if we substitute other words:
    The solution offered (by the the opposition) was widely criticized. (Even without the "by" phrase, I prefer "solution offered" to "offered solution".)
    When water is frozen, the ice produced is ... (Repeated from post 3; I wouldn't say "produced ice" here.)

    In any case, this is not a typical WRF "what is the best way to phrase this?" discussion!

    I also wanted to say that I find bearded man's "beaten" sentence in post 12 difficult to interpret for reasons unrelated to the issues under discussion here. If I understand properly what he wishes to investigate, I'd suggest considering the word "affected" in the alternative sentence,
    While legislators postpone discussing possible modifications to the existing law, affected citizens are suffering.

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    Re: Perfect and perfective aspects in passive voice in German and English

    Quote Originally Posted by berndf View Post
    I would prefer, if you didn't use perfect(ive). The similarity of the terms perfect and perfective is most unfortunate but the these aspects are really very different and mixing they creates an unmanagable confusion.

    What the perfect aspect describes is the state of having been beaten and not the action of being beaten, irrespective of point in time. The only context where it loses its perfect aspect is in the passive voice where the aspect is determined by the form of the auxiliary verb (the boy is/is being/has been beaten).
    is it really possible to separate the concept of "Perfect-ness" and "perfective-ness" so strictly as you do? Isn't the action described by the means of a Perfect tense also perfective in most cases?

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