Ambiguous passive?

Discussion in 'Tagalog and Filipino Languages' started by Pertinax, Jun 21, 2012.

  1. Pertinax

    Pertinax Senior Member

    Queensland, Aust
    BrE->AuE
    This is (I think) an instrumental passive in Tagalog:
    Ipinangbanat ng kapatid ng bata ang libro.
    Is it ambiguous? Might it be the brother of the child doing the hitting or the brother hitting the child or the child hitting the brother?

    If it is ambiguous, can it be made unambiguous this way:
    Ipinangbanat ng bata sa kapatid ang libro.
    Is that a sound way to clarify that the child hit the brother?

    Is there any significance to the order of the complements of a verb? Is it usual for the "ang" complement to go at the end, or can it be located anywhere?
     
  2. DotterKat Moderator

    California, USA
    English (American)
    For better clarity, let us proceed in steps and let us use hampas in place of banat. Though hampas and banat can both mean to strike (and other similar connotations), hampas would be more appropriate for the sentence you gave. In English one could say either strike (hampas) with a book or beat (banat) with a book but the Tagalog equivalent does not really resonate well when banat is used. Also in this particular context, banat falls more towards the cruder end of the language spectrum (neither vulgar nor slang, but coarser sounding than hampas if one can make distinctions between words to refer to a beating; as an aside, the idiom banat ng buto draws the word banat more towards the nobler, more elegant end of the spectrum).

    So, let us start with the active voice:

    Inihampas ng bata ang libro sa kanyang kapatid.

    Then switch to the passive voice:

    Ang libro ay inihampas ng bata sa kanyang kapatid.


    Now, if you want to invoke the instrumental case in the active voice you need an adverbial phrase (just as in English you invoke the instrumental case by adverbial phrases starting with with, by, or using):

    Hinampas ng bata ang kanyang kapatid sa pamamagitan ng libro.

    Finally, switch to the passive voice with the instrumental case:

    Ang kanyang kapatid ay hinampas ng bata sa pamamagitan ng libro.

    As you can see, verb complement order is very important. If you switch the order of particles and pronouns around the verb, the sentence will be incoherent.


    What I have outlined above is the clearer way of expressing your text. If you really wish to invoke the instrumental case not with an adverbial phrase but with the prefix ipinang-, you will revert to some ambiguity:

    Ipinanghampas ng bata ang libro sa kanyang kapatid. Active voice, instrumental case

    Sa kanyang kapatid ipinanghampas ng bata ang libro. Passive voice, instrumental case


    The two preceding sentences are grammatically correct but not as easily comprehensible as using adverbial phrases instead of ipinang- to invoke the instrumental case in either the active or passive voices. Most importantly, they do not at all conform to colloquial speech.

    Also, you cannot put the ang marker in the beginning of the sentence and maintain the passive voice with bata as still the subject:

    Ang libro ay ipinanghampas ng bata sa kanyang kapatid. Passive voice, instrumental case but now with libro as the subject.
     
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2012
  3. Pertinax

    Pertinax Senior Member

    Queensland, Aust
    BrE->AuE
    Thank you, DotterKat. That's very helpful.

    As you have probably surmised, I am new to Tagalog and I am trying to probe the practical limitations on the possible constructions. (I might add that Tagalog at first sight seems an incredibly well-engineered language - it makes English look like a jalopy put together out of spare parts.)

    Is it more colloquial in general to use an adverbial phrase instead of ipinang-? Or is it odd here to focus on the instrument when it is the hitting or the actor that should raise eyebrows? Or is there some other reason why this use of "ipinanghampas" should not be colloquial?

    What exactly is ambiguous here? Is there still some doubt as to who is the striker and who is the one struck, or is some other interpretation possible? I can see that it might be ambiguous if "ng bata" is moved after "libro" or "kapatid", since might it not then be read as "the book of the child" or "the brother of the child"?

    Turning now to your example with "inihampas", is it grammatical (or natural) to have more than one fused relative (or whatever the term is for a Tagalog what-clause) in a sentence. E.g.
    Inihampas ng bata ang sinusulat mo ang libro sa malilinis ng bahay.
    intended meaning:
    The child struck the person who will clean the house with the book I am writing. (ambiguous in English!)

    Also, does the what-clause typically appear at the end? It strikes me that the complements of the main verb (e.g. a ng-phrase or sa-phrase) might be inadvertently read as the complements of the subordinate verb otherwise. Does Tagalog tend to follow the pattern of ditransitive verbs in English, with pronouns first, then noun-phrases, then more elaborate phrases? E.g. would you expect
    Inihampas niya ang libro sa maglilinis ng bahay.
    rather than
    Inihampas sa maglilinis ng bahay ang libro niya.
     
  4. DotterKat Moderator

    California, USA
    English (American)
    Yes, in the example you gave, it would be more colloquial to use an adverbial phrase. Think of it this way, in a truly extemporaneous commentary done contemporaneous to the time of this hypothetical beating, these would be the most likely textual alternatives:

    Hinampas niya ang libro sa kanyang kapatid!
    Hinampas niya ang kapatid niya ng libro!
    Hinampas ng bata ang kapatid niya! 'Yung libro na hawak niya, 'yun ang hinampas niya!

    All of the sentences above are understandable in the context of the event, as the event is unfolding and as related to people who may be witnessing the aftermath of the event. However, all of those sentences are grammatically deficient in one way or another (dropped prefixes, misplaced complements --- as in Hinampas niya ang kapatid niya ng libro! --- grammatically vague but contextually understandable). When the event gets reported in the news and rules of grammar are more stringently applied, the most direct way of reporting it would be:

    Inihampas ng bata ang libro sa kanyang kapatid. As in English, the active voice is the most direct and simplest form of construction.

    Now let's say the case ends up in court and the prosecutor wants to be eloquent and wishes to emphasize the alleged weapon:
    Hinampas ng bata ang kanyang kapatid sa pamamagitan ng libro. The adverbial phrase sa pamamagitan ng, though absolutely in proper form, would be superfluous and serves only to emphasize what could be equally expressed with brevity (it would be the difference between: The boy struck his brother with a book --- simple and direct --- and The boy struck his brother by means of a book --- same message with extra words, perhaps for dramatic flair).

    Now, let's say for some reason the entire event gets turned into a novel and even more formalized construction is needed:
    Ipinanghampas ng bata ang libro sa kanyang kapatid. Proper form, but already many steps away from truly colloquial construction.

    Finally, if for some bizarre reason the event is transmuted into a poem, the critical line might go:
    Sa kanyang kapatid ipinanghampas ng bata ang libro. Still correct, but very atypical and possessing a somewhat literary air and definitely several steps away from colloquial.

    In short, yes, there is definitely a gradation from colloquial to formal to atypical (from The boy struck his brother with a book to To his own brother, he hurled this book! OR His own brother, he struck with this book!) In the end, the ambiguity is merely a matter of how soon the essential thought gets transmitted. The active voice construction gets you the message nice and quick while the passive-voice instrumental-case with its slightly literary air gets you there after a few more neurons and synapses are recruited for duty. As with any language, practice and immersion will get you into the psyche of colloquial speech allowing you to tell instinctively what is common and what is not.

    As for your sentence:
    The child struck the person who will clean the house with the book I am writing.

    We need to correct it for tense agreement:
    The child struck the person who cleaned the house with the book I am writing. (For how could this child have struck any person who is yet to come in the future?)

    To make your fused relative clause more evident, bring it to the front:
    Who / Whoever cleaned the house was struck by the child with the book I am writing (correct, but again atypical construction). In Tagalog:
    [Ang tagapaglinis ng bahay / Ang kasambahay] ay hinampas ng bata sa pamamagitan ng aklat / libro na aking sinusulat.

    Note that there is no fused relative clause construction in the Tagalog equivalent. If one were to force such a construction it would be very cumbersome:
    [Kung sino / sinuman ang tagapaglinis ng bahay] ay ang siyang hinampas ng bata sa pamamagitan ng aklat na aking sinusulat. Correct grammar with the fused
    relative construction, but sounding extremely affected. This construction resonates as more formal than the English equivalent with the fused relative clause, appropriate perhaps for an orator on a podium. In fact, the construction is somewhat similar to Tagalog Biblical verses.

    Pertaining to ditransitive verb sentence construction, yes, as in English the active voice, being the shortest and most direct form, is easiest and most common (S-V-O-IO):
    He hurled the book at the maid. Inihampas niya ang libro sa tagapaglinis / maglilinis ng bahay.

    Passive voice:
    The maid was struck by him with the book. Inihampas niya sa tagapaglinis / maglilinis ng bahay ang libro niya. Correct, but yet again less common and more stilted, less natural.
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2012
  5. Pertinax

    Pertinax Senior Member

    Queensland, Aust
    BrE->AuE
    Thank you again, DotterKat, much appreciated. :) Time for me to start reading a few simple istorya. :idea:
     

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