English Grammar Day 2024

I went last week to an event called English Grammar Day 2024 at the British Library. This event has been held for the last 10 years, but I went for the first time in 2023. The event is sponsored by UCL (the official short name of University College London), the University of Oxford and the…… Continue reading English Grammar Day 2024

Language sketch: Danish, Swedish and Norwegian

Here is a summary of some things I learnt about the Mainland Scandinavian languages (Danish, Swedish and Norwegian) a couple of years ago, when I was carrying out a self-imposed language challenge. http://languagemiscellany.com/2021/09/scandinavian-challenge-how-did-it-go/   I am commenting here only on those 3 languages, not their relatives, the insular Scandinavian Languages (Icelandic and Faroese). For an…… Continue reading Language sketch: Danish, Swedish and Norwegian

Don’t put one relative clause inside another

Readers and listeners can find it very difficult to process sentences that embed one clause in the middle of a 2nd clause and then embed that 2nd clause in the middle of a 3rd clause. In this post, I review an example that embeds one relative clause inside another. Sentence with no embedding Let’s start…… Continue reading Don’t put one relative clause inside another

Passive in Japanese

This post looks at the passive in Japanese. In earlier posts, I: explained 3 features of the passive construction, focusing on English https://languagemiscellany.com/2022/03/what-is-the-passivelooked at how 2 Bantu languages (Swahili and Chichewa) implement those 3 features. https://languagemiscellany.com/2022/04/the-passive-in-2-bantu-languages Background: passive In my earlier post, I explained that the passive construction: deletes or demotes the subject of the…… Continue reading Passive in Japanese

Doing work and playing roles in Italian

Several constructions in Italian use the verb fare (‘do’, ‘make’). Two of these constructions look very similar on the surface but syntactically they behave in very different ways. A short book Fare: Elementi di sintassi, by Nunzio La Fauci and Ignazio M Mirto (2003) analyses them. Here are 2 examples: (1) Adamo fa il medicoAdam…… Continue reading Doing work and playing roles in Italian

The passive in 2 Bantu languages

In an earlier post, I explained 3 features of the passive construction, focusing on English. This post summarises how 2 Bantu languages (Swahili and Chichewa) implement those 3 features. It also mentions the stative, a construction that is somewhat similar. Background: Bantu languages The Bantu group of languages has many members, spoken in the southern…… Continue reading The passive in 2 Bantu languages

What is the passive?

In English and many other languages, many verbs may be in either an active form or a passive form. Most descriptions of the passive treat the active as a more basic form, with the passive derived from it. The easiest way—perhaps the only way—to describe active or passive is by the relationship between them: the…… Continue reading What is the passive?

Negating a verb using an auxiliary verb

English, like many other verbs, uses an invariable particle or adverb (not) to turn a positive verb into a negative verb. But Finnish does this differently, using an auxiliary verb for this task. Present tense In the present tense: a positive verb ends in a suffix showing the number (singular / plural) and person (1st…… Continue reading Negating a verb using an auxiliary verb

Perfect tense: lifetime effects

The perfect tense in English reports past events that continue to have an effect in the present. This leads to some interesting effects that are sometimes called lifetime ‘effects’. This name is used because whether a sentence is acceptable (felicitous) depends on whether it relates to a person or subject that still exists. For example,…… Continue reading Perfect tense: lifetime effects