Newfangled Speech

 Posted by at 6:08 am  Language  No Responses »
Jan 252011

I’m always up for exploring some curious new (to me) feature of language. The seemingly exorbitant number of noun cases in Finnish, for example. The world’s languages are full of cool little devices that most monoglot anglophones would never dream exist.

For that matter, English used to have a few of its own that have fallen by the wayside over the centuries. The Language Log has just introduced me to a new one. Apparently, our current progressive passive construction (“It is being fixed.”) is a fairly new invention. A couple of hundred years ago, the proper grammatical construction for expressing this sort of thing? The passival.

Fascinating stuff.