Lithuanian : Impersonal passive

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J.F. de TROYES

Senior Member
francais-France
A Lithuanian grammar says most active structures can be converted into passive voice, even when intransitive verbs are concerned , by using the passive neuter participle. Here is one of the given examples :

1. Active : Vaikai smagiai pažais ir nueis miegoti .
2. Passive : Vaikų bus smagiai pažaista ir nueita miegoti .

Into English : Children will play pleasantly and then go to sleep.

Do you think both sentences are correct and usual ? If so , is there a difference in using a phrase or the other : is one of them more colloquial or more stilted ? Does the passive phrase add a notion of modality or something else ? Is there a change in the focus ? Or do you consider them strictly equivalent in their meaning and usage ?

Thanks a lot for any enlightment.
 
  • AndrasBP

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    I'm not a native speaker so I can't answer all your questions, but I'm quite sure that the passive voice is not commonly used with intransitive verbs.
    The first sentence is the usual way of saying it. The second one sounds literary or archaic to me.
     

    mO_ok

    Senior Member
    Lithuanian
    As a native speaker I can only confirm AndrasBP opinion. The passive here sounds very unnatural unless it is stylistically motivated.
    The conversion to passive is almost always possible yet not always necessary.
     

    J.F. de TROYES

    Senior Member
    francais-France
    As a native speaker I can only confirm AndrasBP opinion. The passive here sounds very unnatural unless it is stylistically motivated.
    The conversion to passive is almost always possible yet not always necessary.
    1. Do you also agree with AndrasBP saying intransitive verbs are not commonly used in the passive. For example, could the verb nueiti be used in the passive in another context ?
    2. I have read another sentence using the passive : Automobilio buvo važiuojama 120km/h greičiu . Does it also sound unnatural ? ; do you prefer the corresponding active sentence ?
     

    mO_ok

    Senior Member
    Lithuanian
    1. Do you also agree with AndrasBP saying intransitive verbs are not commonly used in the passive. For example, could the verb nueiti be used in the passive in another context ?
    2. I have read another sentence using the passive : Automobilio buvo važiuojama 120km/h greičiu . Does it also sound unnatural ? ; do you prefer the corresponding active sentence ?
    1. It might be less common, I guess. But still there are cases when it sounds absolutely normal, e.g. Čia nerūkoma (No smoking allowed). As to nueiti you can have a very natural sounding sentence Per dieną buvo nemažai nueita (There has been a lot of walking done today) when talking about you and your friends hiking (as opposed to Mes per dieną nemažai nuėjome - We have walked a long way today). It has a stylistic connotation, but if you want to play safe use active in these cases ^_^
    2. The sentence is grammatically correct and its 'naturality' can be judged only in a context.
     

    J.F. de TROYES

    Senior Member
    francais-France
    1. It might be less common, I guess. But still there are cases when it sounds absolutely normal, e.g. Čia nerūkoma (No smoking allowed). As to nueiti you can have a very natural sounding sentence Per dieną buvo nemažai nueita (There has been a lot of walking done today) when talking about you and your friends hiking (as opposed to Mes per dieną nemažai nuėjome - We have walked a long way today). It has a stylistic connotation, but if you want to play safe use active in these cases ^_^
    2. The sentence is grammatically correct and its 'naturality' can be judged only in a context.
    Thanks for your very relevant explanations. Your first example shows that the passive seems to fit well when expressing some order ( the same as in German : hier wird nicht geraucht ). As for Automobilio buvo važiuojama 120km/h greičiu , could it be possible to think of a context where the phrase would sound "natural" ? ( Sorry for this question, as I do know it's very uneasy to explain how its own language works when it's not a matter of grrammar, but of practice ) .
     

    mO_ok

    Senior Member
    Lithuanian
    Thanks for your very relevant explanations. Your first example shows that the passive seems to fit well when expressing some order ( the same as in German : hier wird nicht geraucht ). As for Automobilio buvo važiuojama 120km/h greičiu , could it be possible to think of a context where the phrase would sound "natural" ? ( Sorry for this question, as I do know it's very uneasy to explain how its own language works when it's not a matter of grrammar, but of practice ) .
    Yes, laws employ this form of expression. As to 'Automobilio <...>', the only context that seems relevant (but not limited to) in my opinion could be a lawyers speech where he attempts to eliminate the subject (i.e. his client) form the situation and thus from the responsibility ^_^
     

    J.F. de TROYES

    Senior Member
    francais-France
    I have been taking a keen interest in your examples and comments, explaining how these forms are really used in Lithuanian. Thanks again for everything.
     

    mO_ok

    Senior Member
    Lithuanian
    Anytime! It is a great pleasure to help with questions about my native language ^_^
     

    J.F. de TROYES

    Senior Member
    francais-France
    Hello, mo_Ok,

    I'd like to ask you some more questions about Lithuanian morphology and syntax by coming back to the previous sentences :

    1. In Per dieną buvo nemažai nueita is nueita the neuter form of the passive participle and yra nueita the present corresponding form ?

    2. You've said that Automobilio buvo važiuojama 120km/h greičiu sounds quite unusual. Does it mean that any similar structure ( impersonal passive + a noun ( or a pronoun ) at the genitive expressing an agent or a cause is irrelevant or even grammatically incorrect ?

    Thanks again.
     

    mO_ok

    Senior Member
    Lithuanian
    Hi again,

    you make me revise my Lithuanian grammar ^_^

    1. Yes, that is correct.

    2. I wouldn't call the structure itself as grammatically incorrect or irrelevant. Just that the context for its use is quite limited and very specific.
     
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