The Titanic hit an iceberg and sank

Tino_no

Senior Member
Español mexicano
Hi, I just saw this phrase in wiktionary and I'm pretty confused, because for me, that sentence means that someone was "driving" an iceberg and hit the Titanic, or that the Titanic hit it on purpose, I don't know, maybe it's just me but can somebody tell me if this phrase is less confusing: "An iceberg hit the Titanic" (that's the way it's said in spanish). As for me, it would make much more sense.
Saludos!
 
  • Joelline

    Senior Member
    American English
    Actually, in AE eyes, the Titanic hit the iceberg! The iceberg (not having control or volition) didn't move into the path of the Titanic; quite the opposite, the iceberg was THERE and the Titanic bumped into it (or went too close to it).
     

    liliput

    Senior Member
    U.K. English
    I agree with Joelline. The Titanic is the active participant here so it hit the iceberg. If the Titanic was stationary and the iceberg floated into it then we would say that the iceberg hit the Titanic.
    Perhaps it makes more sense to you if we put it in the passive voice "The iceberg was hit by the Titanic."?
    I think the Spanish translation of "to hit" in this sense is "chocar contra" if that helps at all.
     

    panjandrum

    Occasional Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    It's a rather banal summary of a rather momentous tragedy, but the English is fine. It was the Titanic that hit the iceberg. The iceberg was simply wandering the ocean, going about its icebergy business, when suddenly this bloody great hunk of apparently unsinkable ship crashed into it.

    Generally, in a sentence like this:

    XXX hit YYY

    ... it is XXX that is under control, that is doing the hitting. XXX is the active part of the sentence, YYY is passive (I'm not using active and passive in a grammatical sense).

    My grandfather and his brother built the Titanic you know, with the help of a few friends.
     

    sloopjc

    Senior Member
    UK English
    Hi, I just saw this phrase in wiktionary and I'm pretty confused, because for me, that sentence means that someone was "driving" an iceberg and hit the Titanic, or that the Titanic hit it on purpose, I don't know, maybe it's just me but can somebody tell me if this phrase is less confusing: "An iceberg hit the Titanic" (that's the way it's said in spanish). As for me, it would make much more sense.
    Saludos!
    Objects at sea are often said to strike vessels, since they appear unexpectedly, allowing them to be considered the culprits for the ensuing damage. "A piece of driftwood struck the hull of the yacht" or "A discarded line fouled the propeller". The Titanic did indeed strike an iceberg - unquestionably, but it is not unreasonable to say that the Titanic itself, was struck by an iceberg.
     

    tomandjerryfan

    Senior Member
    English (Canada)
    I agree with what the others have said. If we say "an iceberg hit the Titanic" in English, the understanding would be that the iceberg was being controlled and the Titanic was just floating loosely at sea. In order to express that the Titanic was being controlled and the iceberg was not, we would say "the Titanic hit/struck the iceberg" or "the Titanic was hit/struck by the iceberg."
     

    Dimcl

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    Hi, I just saw this phrase in wiktionary and I'm pretty confused, because for me, that sentence means that someone was "driving" an iceberg and hit the Titanic, or that the Titanic hit it on purpose, I don't know, maybe it's just me but can somebody tell me if this phrase is less confusing: "An iceberg hit the Titanic" (that's the way it's said in spanish). As for me, it would make much more sense.
    Saludos!
    Hi Tini_no. My solution to some of these problems is to sometimes replace the given scenario with another. If I said:

    "The car hit the lamppost"

    would you think that the lamppost was being driven by someone or that the car hit it on purpose?

    In Spanish, would you say "The lamppost hit the car"?
     

    Tino_no

    Senior Member
    Español mexicano
    I agree with Joelline. The Titanic is the active participant here so it hit the iceberg. If the Titanic was stationary and the iceberg floated into it then we would say that the iceberg hit the Titanic.
    Perhaps it makes more sense to you if we put it in the passive voice "The iceberg was hit by the Titanic."?
    I think the Spanish translation of "to hit" in this sense is "chocar contra" if that helps at all.
    It's a rather banal summary of a rather momentous tragedy, but the English is fine. It was the Titanic that hit the iceberg. The iceberg was simply wandering the ocean, going about its icebergy business, when suddenly this bloody great hunk of apparently unsinkable ship crashed into it.

    Generally, in a sentence like this:

    XXX hit YYY

    ... it is XXX that is under control, that is doing the hitting. XXX is the active part of the sentence, YYY is passive (I'm not using active and passive in a grammatical sense).

    My grandfather and his brother built the Titanic you know, with the help of a few friends.

    -You're right, I'm not supposed talk about other languages here but "XXX hit YYY" in some situations (like the titanic example) in spanish would normally mean something very different, because passive voice is used more often than in english.
    So, I'll have to keep that in mind for the future.
    Saludos!
     
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