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Structres of Modern Italian

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Eugenie Brain

on 15 December 2009

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Transcript of Structres of Modern Italian

Structures of Modern Italian:
Passives

The Passive Voice: A grammatical structure in which the lowest semantic role has the grammatical function of subject.
Semantic Roles;

AGENT
EFFECTOR
LOCATION
THEME
PATIENT
Acitve: Il Postino consegna il pacco

Passive: Il pacco è consegato dal postino

Agent
Patient
Agent
Patient
Subject
Subject
Object
Object
NB. Some verbs take the perfective auxiliary 'essere' in the past perfect tense (il passato prossimo). Sentences in this tense can appear at first glance to be passive structures but they are not.
La mela è caduta dal'albero
*L'albero cade la mela
Patient
Location
past perfect of 'mordere'
past perfect of 'essere'
past participle of 'mordere'
High
Low
To create the passive version of an active sentence you must conjugate the auxiliary 'essere' in the same mood and tense as the verb in the active construction followed by the past participle of that verb.
The patient must be given the grammatical function of subject and the agent must become the object and has to be preceded by the preposition 'da' as it is an indirect object.
E.g.


Il cane ha morso il postino The dog bit the postman

Il postino è stato morso dal cane The postman was bitten by the dog
1) Il negozio era entrato nella notte

2) I goielli sono stati rubati

3) Dalla polizia, è stato preso il ladro

4) Il ladro è evaso di prigione
In this example the lowest semantic role is the subject, as it is in passive structures, but this sentence cannot be passive because it would not make sense if we tried to turn it into an active sentence...
'VENIRE' can be used instead of 'essere' to construct passive sentences. Constructions in which 'venire' is the auxiliary differ from those with 'essere' because the focus of the former is on the action being carried out. Passive structures which use 'essere', as stated in Maiden and Robustelli (2007: pp284-85), can have the same interpretation as the 'venire' constructions but are usually interpreted to focus on the resultative state of the action instead.







The first sentence could be translated as 'The thief gets put in prison' or 'The thief is imprisoned' - (it is generally interpreted to mean this one), but the second sentence can only mean 'The thief gets put in prison'. The emphasis in the second sentence is
Il ladro è incarcerato
Il ladro viene incarcerato
i.e. if the verb indicates a loss, disappearance or destruction (in these cases 'andare' is the auxiliary most commonly used for passive constructions) then 'andare' can be translated as 'going'/'get' etc. With other verbs 'andare' implies a sense of obligation and, according to Maiden and Robustelli (2007: p283) the structure 'andare + pp' means the same as 'dover essere + pp'.
Il vaso andava fracassato
Il copevole va punito.
on the action of being put in prison in contrast with the first sentence in which the emphasis is commonly interpreted as being on the fact that the thief is in prison.
(Lit: 'The vase got smashed')
('The culprit needs to be punished')
'Si Passivante'
This is the name of the structure which uses the reflexive clitic 'si' and the third person form of the main verb to express the passive voice. It can only be used when the agent (even when not specified - which is almost always the case (Maiden and Robustelli 2007: p287)) is human.
It can be formed with all verb forms - indicative, subjunctive, gerund etc. - unlike the others which have restrictions.
Eugenie Brain 15/12/09
Some rules to remember;

The agent does not always have to be expressed, when it is it is preceded by the prepostition 'da' or the phrase 'da parte di'.

The past participle must agree in gender and number with the subject.

In 'be' passives the auxiliary 'essere' can be used for all tenses except the 'passato remoto'.

The subject does not always have to be in pre-vebial position, it can be placed after the verb. The process of putting the agent before the verb and separating it with a comma is know as topicalization.
'ANDARE' can also be used as the auxiliary in passive
constructions. The meaning of 'andare' depends on the main verb.
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