Vidyasankar Sundaresan vsundaresan at HOTMAIL.COM
Sun Jul 5 22:57:53 UTC 1998

Elliot Stern <emstern at NNI.COM> wrote:

<I>Secondly, if 1) is not an active construction in Tamil, the
<I>comparison is somewhat confusing. The equivalent English sentences
<I>are -
<I>A. Water was filled in the tank.
<I>B. The tank was filled with water.
<I>A and B are both passive constructions, but the locative phrase in
<I>A has been moved/raised to subject position in B. But isn't this
<I>supposed to be impossible in IE languages?
<der Geer>This is not the point, as 1) is an active consturction in
<der Geer>Tamil. I wrote in a shorter notation here to save time and
<der Geer>space on the web, but as you see, the contrary became true.
<der Geer>I shoud have said PAST-PNG, or PAST with person-number-
<der Geer>gender agreement. It's an active past tense.
>Before Vidyasankar Sundaresan's English example A becomes well
>in this discussion, I would like to question that it is an appropriate
>translation for 1) ta.n.nIr to.t.ti(y)-il niramp-i(y)-atu. Rather, I
>the expected English translation for 1> is:
>A'. Water filled in the tank.

You are right. I did not give A and B as English equivalents of the
Tamil sentences unconditionally. It was prefaced with the clause, "if 1)
is not an active construction," etc. Since as the Tamil sentence,
"ta.n.nIr to.t.tiyil nirampiyatu" is in fact in the active voice, your
construction A' is correct.

>Further, while I would not go so far as to say that the passive
>construction translation in A could not occur, my feeling as a native
>Brooklyn, NY, USA speaker of American English is that it is somehow
>I would probably understand A as a mistake for A'.

Well, I'm used to writing what can be called technical English writing,
using almost 100% passive sentences, for purposes of scientific
publications. I've probably seen and used hundreds of sentences like A.
To my ears, A conveys a different meaning from A'. "Water was filled in
the tank" implies that a human being did this action. "Water filled in
the tank" implies that this happened of its own accord, or due to
non-human agency, e.g. due to rain or some such reason.


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