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Author Topic: Passive thoughts  (Read 4001 times)


  • Ealdormann
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Passive thoughts
« on: August 02, 2013, 04:33:11 PM »
I was told that there was no passive in old English so “I was met” would be translated as “man mētte mē”. However I would say that neither language has a proper passive mood but that both have the same strategies to deal with the passive.
 1. Some unknown was active.
 This seems to be the most common in old English as in “man mētte mē”. For “I was bitten by a snake” we would presumably have “sum wyrm bāt mē”. We do use this occasionally in modern English as in “somebody hit me”.
 2. To be participle/adjective.
 This seems to be the most common method in modern English as in “I was hurt”. We use this occasionally in old English as in “hit is ġewriten”.

3. Passive Verbs.
 Some verbs sound a little passive. In modern English we have verbs like borrow, endure, hear, learn, perish and suffer. In old English we have verbs like dwīnan, fūhtian, hātan, leornian, losian, sīclian, tēorian, þāwian, ðyrstan and wacian.
 Sometimes some of these can be used to switch round a passive eg “I was lent” to “I borrowed” and “I was taught” to “I learnt”
4. Avoidance
 A more drastic change as in change “It is dangerous to be bitten by a snake.” into “Snake bites are dangerous”     


  • Hlaford
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  • Essex scirgerefa
Re: Passive thoughts
« Reply #1 on: August 02, 2013, 06:50:55 PM »
I was told that there was no passive in old English .................................................
With the notable exception perhaps of 'hatan' which seems capable of use to express the passive voice  - "I am called../my name is..."?  As in various riddles which end 'saga hwæt ic hatte'.
Cræft biþ betere ðonne æhta