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Fear and Loathing of the English Passive

A new study has been written. It has been published online. Pedants of the future will have had the opportunity to know of it:

Fear and Loathing of the English Passive,” Geoffrey K. Pullum, epub January 10, 2014, to appear in Language and Communication, 2014. (Thanks to Rosie Mestel for having brought this to our attention.) The author, at the University of Edinburgh, explains:

“Writing advisers have been condemning the English passive since the early 20th century. I provide an informal but comprehensive syntactic description of passive clauses in English, and then exhibit numerous published examples of incompetent criticism in which critics reveal that they cannot tell passives from actives. Some seem to confuse the grammatical concept with a rhetorical one involving inadequate attribution of agency or responsibility, but not all examples are thus explained. The specific stylistic charges leveled against the passive are entirely baseless. The evidence demonstrates an extraordinary level of grammatical ignorance among educated English language critics.”

BONUS: An unrelated work by the same author:

SCOOPING THE LOOP SNOOPER: A proof that the Halting Problem is undecidable,” Geoffrey K. Pullum, Mathematics Magazine, vol.73, no. 4, 2000, pp. 319–320

BONUS: Some background on the halting problem

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