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Full text of "The Loom Of Language"

150               The Loom oj Language

ej often causatwe) meaning^ as in mil you run me into town? Tins decay
of the distinction between tlie two classes of veibs goes with two other
peculiarities of Anglo- Aniencan syntax^ both pitfalls d translation In a
passive consti uctson the object of uut active equivali nt becomes the
subject, eg he struck her (active form) — \hc wai> $intt.k fry him Only
transitive verbs ol other Aryan languages tan participate m passive
expressions of die latter type, and only the direct objca (p 118) of the
active equivalent can become the subject when it is changed to the
passive construction Thus we make such changes as ,
(a)  he gave me thu letter       this letter &><:« given to j>*j by him
(b)   she told me thi\                 f/m wtn 'old nu* by he/
In contemporary Anglo-American usage it is increasingly common to
use an alternative passive construction, m which the indued object
p. 118) of the active verb becomes the subject, c g,
(a) I was given thit letter by him         (b) / «ws Told tin* by her
In thus form we cannot translate them mto other European languages.
The moral is; use active expressions wherever possible. The reader of
The Loom will Lnd relatively lew passive expansions in the preceding
chapters
If it were permissible to paraplnase the meaning ot a verb, it would
not be difficult to sidestep the pitfalls ol choosing the right one. Unfor-
tunately it is not. Many European peoples, indeed most, depend far
more on the use of a large battery of verbs than we ourselves do In fact
there are only two safe rules ot verb economy for the beginner who is
making a list of verbs essential for self-expiession m a Teutonic or
Romance language. We need not burdeu our word list with verbs equi-
valent to a construction involving an adjective and either make (trans-)
ozgtit (intrans.)- The equivalent adjective with the verb listed in Fart IV
as equivalent to either make or become serves the purpose Thus to tire
means either to matte weary or to become (//<#) weary Sinnlaily to dimmish
means to make smaller or to become (jgef) mialhr. To heat is to make hot
or to become hot — and so forth.
One danger-signal attached to a verb-root is the suffix -ing mentioned
earlier in this chapter. The most idiomatic class of verbs are the hclpcrs>
so-called because we commonly use them with other verb derivatives
(tefimtfoe or participle). The English ones are be* t>hall9 will* let) can$ doy
make* mu$t9 may (after which we never use to)* have and dare (after
which we sometimes use to)t and go$ v$ey ought (after which we always