2008-11-05

passive voice in Papiamentu

Most creoles do not have a special word or suffix to indicate the passive voice of verbs. They require you to say “somebody stole my bicycle” rather than “my bicycle was stolen.” And that’s fine; it works okay and it’s one less grammar rule to learn.

According to the sources of information at my disposal, spoken Papiamentu is the same way. The passive voice is uncommon in spontaneous conversation.

Written Papiamentu is very different, and very unusual for a creole language: it has several different ways to express the passive voice:

1) using wòrdu, which is also sometimes written as wordu, worde, wordo, etc.

E hòmber a wòrdu detené ayera.
The man was arrested yesterday.

2) using ser

Sosiedat di Kòrsou a ser transformá radikalmente ora e refineria a ser trahá.
Curaçao society was radically transformed when the refinery was opened.

The Spanish version of Goilo’s textbook gives these paradigms:

e carta ta ser skirbí : the letter is being written
e carta ta skirbí : the letter is (has been) written

3) using keda

Esaki lo keda tratá awe mainta.
This will be handled/dealt-with/addressed this morning.

In an analysis of a large body of texts, linguists have found that all three forms (wordu, ser, keda) are equally popular in Curaçao. Aruba seems to prefer wordu and ser.

Some purists such as Antoine Maduro intensely hate the wordu and ser passives, viewing them as non-creole monstruonan (monstrosities):

worde hañá – C. a worde hañá morto na Amsterdam – E redaktor akí ta skirbi barbaridat akí den su korant; ma na su kas e ta bisa: nan a haña C. morto na Amsterdam.

translation: worde hañá – C was found dead in Amsterdam – The editor writes this barbarity here in his newspaper but at home he says ‘they found C dead in Amsterdam’


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2 comments:

OhioMoose said...

Are you planning to continue this blog?

Off to a great start, don't stop now! I want to learn!

mackt_gattis1115 said...

how do u do?................................................................