E-Prime passives

Subject: E-Prime passives
From: John Oriel <oriel -at- NTSC -dot- NAVY -dot- MIL>
Date: Tue, 15 Feb 1994 09:29:10 EST

Randy Allen Harris writes:

>...,but the passive "be" is a helping verb, so there
>shouldn't be any problem with E-prime passives.

I once worked on programming a natural-language parser to
handle beaureaucratic gobbledygook, and had to find a set of
rules for handling the passive voice. After examining many
examples, I concluded that most of the passive constructions
in my corpus could be parsed in alternate ways. On one
hand, you could group the "be" with the rest of the
verb and call them, collectively, a compound verb of passive
voice. On the other hand, you could consider the rest of
the verb to be a participle acting as a predicate adjective.

For example, in the sentence:

The Mona Lisa was painted by Leonardo.

One could call the word "painted" the past-tense form
of the verb "to paint." However, it would be equally
legitimate to say that "painted" acts as a predicate
adjective and "was" is the verb.

No one need tell me I'm crazy. You have to be either crazy
or a lawyer to parse beaureaucratic gobbledygook. Given
that choice, I'd prefer to be crazy . *8^)


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