The Passive in Slovak

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kwalijkje
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The Passive in Slovak

Postby kwalijkje » 2012-10-11, 11:48

So, I've been trying to get my head around the use of the passive voice in Slovak. I keep hearing people use it, and aside from confusing the hell out of me, I can't seem to figure out why the passive was used in place of a simpler structure. As far as I can tell, it highlights the way sonething was done. So rather than, Bol som stastny sediet pri stole, You'd say, Sedelo sa mi stastne pri stole.
Have I understood this right? Are there other places/reasons that the passive is preferred?

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qwerty
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Re: The Passive in Slovak

Postby qwerty » 2012-10-17, 7:37

Well, I'll leave it for somebody else to confirm, for I am not much of a linguist myself, but I think the "ordinary" passive voice (I really don't know what else to call it, but I am sure there is a term for it) is used very rarely. I mean, sentences like "Táto budova bola postavená/Toto mesto bolo založené v roku..." (This building was built/This city was founded in...) do exist, but they sound a bit too formal to be used in everyday conversations. Nobody would say "Táto kniha bola napísaná (-týmto autorom-)" (This book was written by (-this author-)), we would go for "Túto knihu napísal (-tento autor-)" ((-This author-) wrote this book) instead.
There is, however, this other construction that is used quite often, which is probably what you were asking about. It sounds like passive (and maybe it really is, gramatically; I must admit I don't know) and is often translated as such into English, because it focuses on what was done and does not mention who did it. Examples I can think of right now include:
"Sedí sa mi tu dobre"/"Je mi tu dobre" = "I feel good here", "I like it here"
"Často sa to robí takto" = "It is often done this way"
"Roztrhla sa mi taška", "Rozbilo sa to", "Stratilo sa to", ... = "My bag has been torn", "It got broken", "It got lost", ... (literally "It broke itself", "It lost itself"). I think this is the most usual way we use this kind of "indirect passive" (ehm, most likely I am really making a fool of myself now, somebody with more linguistic background please come up with the real term for this). My parents often mock us with "Spravilo sa to samo, že?" ("It did it itself, right?" (?)) when we break something and say it isn't our fault :)
So the key word in these constructions is "sa" - the same "sa" we use with reflexive verbs, but here it usually means "it", or that we don't know/don't care who, does something.
In cases like "Čaká sa na XY" ("We are/Everybody is waiting for XY"), "Musí sa chodiť okolo" ("We have to/Everybody has to go around"), it even means everybody, all of us.
Other more or less common examples of these impersonal constructions:
"Nechce sa mi" - ("I don't feel like it" (?))
"Zdá sa mi to" - "It seems to me"
"Ukázalo sa, že" - "It turned out that"
"Zabudlo sa na to" - "We/Everybody has forgotten about it"
"Práve sa tam píše písomka" - "They are sitting a test there right now"
"Vezme sa prvý výskyt slova v texte, a nahradí sa týmto výrazom", "Pridá sa mlieko a celé sa to mieša niekoľko minúť" - when we describe a working process of some kind
Is it more clear now? Have I answered your question?

kwalijkje
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Re: The Passive in Slovak

Postby kwalijkje » 2012-11-07, 10:05

Qwerty, thank you very much :D That was a perfect answer. I'm not certain what the linguistic terminology is myself because I only really have English grammar terminology as my reference point. But you've told me all I wanted to know, and explained a lot I wasn't understanding. Useful examples too. : )

kwalijkje
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Re: The Passive in Slovak

Postby kwalijkje » 2012-11-07, 10:05

Qwerty, thank you very much :D That was a perfect answer. I'm not certain what the linguistic terminology is myself because I only really have English grammar terminology as my reference point. But you've told me all I wanted to know, and explained a lot I wasn't understanding. Useful examples too. : )

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qwerty
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Re: The Passive in Slovak

Postby qwerty » 2013-01-30, 21:28

Well, now I realise some of the examples I used in my answer were just plain old reflexive verbs... (How could I have not seen it?) I'm sorry for misleading you and I'll try my best for it not to happen again :oops:


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