Re: Passive voice

Subject: Re: Passive voice
From: John Oriel <oriel -at- NTSC -dot- NAVY -dot- MIL>
Date: Mon, 7 Feb 1994 13:07:26 EST

Vicki Rosenzweig writes:

>Writing English to make life easier for translators strikes me as,
>to some extent, missing the point. Good, clear prose should in general
>be easier, but I would not, for example, expect a writer in German or
>Japanese to choose constructs that are easier to translate into
>English if it was at the expense of the original text. I also have
>doubts about the assertion that material in the passive voice is
>easier to translate into Romance languages ...

Vicki, I honestly don't know whether or not the statement is true.
The ongoing discussion about passive voice reminded me of what I'd
heard, and it seemed like a good time to raise the question. Maybe
the statement wasn't exactly as I recalled. The gentleman may have
said that the passive voice translates more accurately.

Perhaps the translation of passive voice is actually more difficult,
and therefore requires a more accomplished translator, who is less prone
to make errors. Misunderstandings in commerce are often very costly,
and whatever can be done to avoid them is always wise.

Anyhow, I'd still like to hear from someone who can comment author-
itatively about what I heard.

Alun Whittaker writes:

>As a "superbly well educated gentleman" from northern England let
>me assure you that those Londoners are full of it. They use the
>passive voice because they actually like to sound pompous and stuffy!

I had no intention of provoking domestic strife amongst the English.
You have my compliments regarding your erudition.

John ;-)

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