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Last time, we went over the basics of the passive voice. That concept – when the object of the sentence becomes the subject of the sentence and takes the nominative case– is called nefnifallsþolmynd. As the name implies, it is the “nominative” passive. Today, we’ll take it a step farther. Then, in my next blog, we’ll conclude this chapter, talking about stem-changes in the participle and the use of –st verbs to make a passive.
Nominative passive, to recap:
Jessica ate the chocolate vs. The chocolate was eaten
Jessica borðaði súkkulaðið v. Súkkulaðið var borðað
– passive voice that includes a case other than nominative – can be brought about by the case that the verb itself governs. So when the object moves to the beginning of the sentence, it doesn’t always take the nominative. [Disclaimer: I don’t know the term for this, as my graduate degree is in language and literature, not linguistics].
Að stela (Kennimynd: stelur; stal, stálu, stolið) takes the dative (þágufall) case. If you steal something, you have stolen it in the dative case.
(Orri stole a car –> a car was stolen)
As you can see, in addition to a vowel shift taking place in the participle (trusty kennimynd!), ‘bíllinn’ is also in the dative case, even though it moved to the beginning of the phrase. That is because að stela governs the dative case. The case of bíllinn doesn’t, therefore, change, even though the phrase is now in the passive voice. The reason is simply that it is in a case other than the accusative.
You may also note that stolið isn’t in agreement with the gender/number of ‘bíllinn’. The past participle (lýsingarháttur þátiðar) is always in the neuter-singular when the subject of the sentence is not in the nominative in this instance. However, there is another way of constructing the passive in which the participle does change, which I explain below.
(Meg missed the kids–> The kids were [literally, ‘was’] missed)
Að sakna (kennimynd: -aði), takes the genitive (eignarfall) case, and so ‘barnanna’ does not change when the phrase becomes passive. Note also that ‘barnanna’ is plural, but ‘vera’ is third-person singular. It doesn’t agree, nor does it have to. This type of passive is passive aggressive and hates to argue :). #cheesyoneliners
Ingimar kastaði flöskunum–> Flöskunum var kastað
(Ingimar threw the bottles)–> (The bottles were thrown)
This is sometimes called the impersonal passive (ópersónuleg þolmynd).
Finally, when there is more than one object in the sentence (Bowie loaned her money), the indirect object (dative), moves to the first position in the sentence; the second object, or direct object (of the verb), follows immediately after the verb phrase. So the transformation will look like this:
(Bowie loaned (to) her money–> To her was [literally, ‘were’] loaned money)
Note that ‘vera’ is suddenly and inexplicably in the third person plural past (þeir). That’s because it is responding to the pluralness of ‘peningar,’ which is now in nominative and serves as the ´guide´for the sentence. It doesn’t matter where the nominative noun in the sentence is located; the sentence grammatically follows it anyway, in this case. Think of the nominative as the Official Leader of Icelandic Sentences. Further, lánaður is in agreement with peningar [we will discuss this participle construction in the next blog].
The paradigm for case changes when working, as above, a “tvígild áhrifssögn” l (a distransitive verb, or a verb with both a direct object and an indirect object) into passive voice is as follows:
Þolfall (accu) –> nefnifall (nom)
Þágufall (dative) –> þágufall (dative)
Eignarfall (genitive) –> eignarfall (genitive)
Ég gaf henni bókina–> Henni var gefin bókin
(I gave (to) her the book–>To her was given the book)
If that was unclear, please feel free to ask questions below. I know it is a little bit dense.