"Get" as equivalent of middle voice?

By Callaina, in 'Other Languages', Mar 20, 2019.

  1. Callaina Feles Curiosissima

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    This thread:

    Made me think about the English word "get". Arguably, it's the closest English gets (lol, no pun intended), to a middle voice, though perhaps this comes out more in the imperative than anything else. It also seems to be rather dependent on the particular verb:

    "Get dressed!" = "Dress yourself!"
    = "Jenny got dressed" = "Jenny dressed herself."

    But:

    "Get hired!" = "Take steps to ensure that you are hired!"
    "Beth got hired" = "Someone hired Beth" (maybe still with a hint of Beth's involvement).

    "Don't get arrested!" = "Be careful to avoid being arrested!"
    "Jim got arrested" = "The police arrested Jim."

    Interestingly, one can also use "get" + "yourself" to unambiguously signify/emphasize the involvement of the subject in the action.

    "Jenny got herself dressed" = "Jenny dressed herself" (not much difference from "Jenny got dressed").
    "Beth got herself hired" = "Beth took actions that caused her to be hired".
    "Jim got himself arrested" = "Jim did something which caused him to be arrested".
  2. Callaina Feles Curiosissima

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    That last one, by the way, makes me think of something rather hilarious. You know those spam callers from India that are always dialing random people and telling them that they owe money on their taxes and need to pay it back, or they'll get in trouble? I had one of those a while back. He called when my phone was turned off and left a message. Of course I knew right away it was a scam, but out of amusement I went on listening, until he said something like:

    "There is a warrant out for your arrest, and if you don't pay the money you owe right now, we will have to call the police and get you arrested..."

    Whereupon I burst out laughing in the middle of the university library and hung up. :hysteric:
  3. Callaina Feles Curiosissima

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    LOL, and another, from a graduation ceremony -- I think it was either my or my sister's high school graduation. A member of the graduating class (I think perhaps the "Grad of the Year" or student president or such) was addressing the class with some sort of speech about how great the year had been, what an important occasion this was, etc, etc. The last line of her speech was: "And now, let's all go get graduated!"

    I was torn between laughing and shaking my head at such a grammatical mess.
  4. Bitmap Civis Illustris

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    I think get + past participle is just a passive construction in English most of the time, just with a stronger involvement of or impact on the subject than in the regular be + past participle.

    English often just uses active voice to express a middle voice sentiment:
    The door opens
    She exercises
    He rejoices
    Dress warmly!

    ... and I suppose that's also where the mistake of the highschool teacher came from.


    It is a strong involvement, but I would still translate those sentence as passive sentences into Latin ... maybe throw in a construction that underlines the strong personal involvement, but it would still be a passive (like Jimmy sua ipsius culpa effecit ut comprehenderetur / in custodiam daretur)
  5. Callaina Feles Curiosissima

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    Yes, I guess one would have to translate those as passives in Latin, since otherwise it would sound like "Jimmy arrested himself", which isn't what's going on here. :D
  6. Bitmap Civis Illustris

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    *to get graduated is a pretty good example of a middle voice, though, I would say ... although it seems a bit ungrammatical. The normal thing to express the middle voice idea would probably be an active voice again "let us graduate"

    I wonder if it swings over from get + adjectives (like "to get stoned", "to get drunk", "to get mad") a bit because that also comes pretty close to the middle voice (and which you probably had in mind)
    I don't know, really!
  7. Callaina Feles Curiosissima

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    Yes, there is a trend in North America to use "graduate" in odd ways. I was brought up to use it as an intransitive verb:
    "I graduated from high school."

    Increasingly, however, it is used as a transitive verb taking as an object the thing you graduated from:
    "I graduated high school."

    But I had never heard it used passively (and haven't since, I don't think):
    E.g. "I got graduated today." :eek:
  8. Bitmap Civis Illustris

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    Cygnea, Gena

    But you can say "I got promoted" :>
  9. Etaoin Shrdlu Civis Illustris

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    The transitive use is older, although nowadays it's mainly North American.
  10. Pacifica grammaticissima

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    Belgium
    I've always felt the "get [verb]ed" construction as sort of putting more emphasis on the process/action than "be [verb]ed". It feels less static, somehow. Dunno if I'm being clear.
  11. Bitmap Civis Illustris

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    My old grammar reader says regarding the get passive:

    "The get-passive is used in more informal contexts and is more common in spoken than in written English. It is only used with dynamic verbs (verbs denoting actions or events rather than states):

    e.g. 'A headmaster got stabbed a few weeks ago (...)'
    (...)

    The get-passive enables a clear distinction to be made between a dynamic event and a state or situation:

    The fence got damaged (dynamic) <> The fence was damaged (not clear if it is a state or a dynamic event)

    The get-passive places a little more emphasis on the grammatical subject or the entities involved. For this reason it is often used to recount newsworthy events. The actions/events most typically do not benefit the entity described and the form is often used when a situation is judged to be problematic in some way:

    'I got sacked from my company (...)'
    (...)

    The get-passive is not used exclusively in negative or problematic contexts, and positive newsworthy events are also (though less often) described using the get-passive:

    'Liam got promoted again. (...)'
    (...)

    When a reflexive construction is used with the get-passive, it often indicates the involvement or responsibility of the grammatical subject:

    'Somehow the key got itself jammed in the door.' (speaker blames the key)
    (...)"
    Callaina likes this.
  12. Dantius Homo Sapiens

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    I think I tend to use it intransitively.
  13. scrabulista Consul

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    Tennessee
  14. Callaina Feles Curiosissima

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