All Nordic languages: Analytic passive forms

Discussion in 'Nordic Languages' started by J.F. de TROYES, Feb 9, 2013.

  1. J.F. de TROYES Senior Member

    I know that Scandinavian languages can express the passive voice with synthetic or analytic forms. When this compound passive is used, what about the auxiliary ? Are bli /blive and vara/väre usual in all Scandinavian languages with the same difference as werden / sein in German ? Please translate your examples if any.

    Thanks so much for your insights.
  2. myšlenka Senior Member

    Yes, it's the same as in German.
  3. Tjahzi

    Tjahzi Senior Member

    Umeå, Sweden
    Swedish (Göteborg)
    I'm not sure what exactly you are asking for, and you should be aware that there surely are internal differences in how different Scandinavian languages treat this issue, even within the continental/insular groups. However, I can give the following description regarding Swedish.

    It's true that the passive form can be formed either from adding a -s to a verb form (and remove the -r if the original form is present) or by using the past participle in conjunction with ha/bli/vara. However, a lot of forms that differ in terms of tense and focus can be formed from these are not all of them are equally used. I'll list a few below to illustrate the problem.

    1. Han sköts i benet. - He shot+PAS in leg-DEF.
    2. Han blev skjuten i benet. - He became shot-PART in leg-DEF.

    The above two do both answer the question "What happened to the the man?" and are semantically equal. However, the latter is more likely to be used if the context is more formal.

    3. Han var skjuten i benet. - He was shot-PART in leg-the.

    The third does only express a temporal state of being, that is, the state of being shot, and as such is not an adequate answer to what happened to the man.

    4. Han har skjutits i benet. - He has shot-PAS. in leg-DEF.
    5. Han har blivit skjuten i benet. - He has become shot-PART in leg-DEF.

    These two answer the question "What has happened to the man?" and as such are similar to the first two. Here, there is a stronger inclination to go with the latter in all contexts.

    Without having any data to back this up, I would say that the simple passive is more common in present, both forms are equally common in past, and that the compound forms dominates in supine.

    If I missed the essence of your question, please keep asking.
  4. NorwegianNYC

    NorwegianNYC Senior Member

    New York, NY, USA
    Hi Tjahzi,
    In Norwegian, (1) kan only be used in present/infinitive, and then as a descriptive or habitual form [Han skytes i beinet], and (2) is the same [han ble skutt i beinet]
    In (3), however, you call this a temporal state of being. Are you sure? In Norwegian [han er/var skutt i beinet] is as sort of non-temporal state - i.e. we do not know how/when it happened and for how long it lasted/will last. To make is simpler: Han er skutt (he is shot), is something you cannot change, and is independent of time, as opposed to han ble skutt (he got shot)
    (4) This form does not exist in Norwegian
    (5) The same as Swedish (han har blitt skutt i beinet)
  5. Tjahzi

    Tjahzi Senior Member

    Umeå, Sweden
    Swedish (Göteborg)
    When I made my presentation, I tried to be clear that the first two were used when referring to a specific point in time (past), the last two when referring to an unspecified in time (supine) and (3) was included simply because it is the literal translation.

    To understand (3), one should start with the past participle, skjuten, which means "to be in the state of having been shot". Then we add a copula to express either the transition into this state of being (bli) or the static being in this state of being (vara). As such, bli skjuten means "to become shot (=to transit into having been shot)" and vara skjuten means "to have become shot (=having transited into having been shot)". Whether it's suitable to label this a "temporal form", I don't know (this term was my own), but I hope this explanation covers your question.

    Swedish is quite innovative in this regard and allows for a few constructions that are not available in Norwegian or English, however, they are not overly common.

    As for (1), Swedish can use the present with a habitual (or future) meaning as well.
  6. J.F. de TROYES Senior Member

    Not at all. You have perfectly answered my questions and your examples clear up the point as well as I wanted. Thanks a lot for your help.
  7. J.F. de TROYES Senior Member

    Thanks a lot for your enlightment about Norwegian.

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