Passive Voice, The Velvet Revolution And The World Cup

Hovhannes Yeranyan


Is there a connection and a link between the public mood and the lexical formulation of the media and the syntax of a sentence?

Before the Velvet Revolution, verbs, that is to say action words, were written or spoken orally by the media in passive voice.

It gave the impression that nothing was done by anyone, rather everything was done to them.

Serzh Sargsyan didn’t give medals, rather worthy or unworthy people, actors, singers, soldiers, policemen were awarded medals by Serzh Sargsyan.

The Prosecutor’s Office didn’t initiate a criminal case, rather the criminal case was initiated by the Prosecutor’s Office. It would no be clear from which point, from the left, from the right, from behind above or below.

Endless examples can be given. However, there is only one case where something was not done by the president but that the president did. We often heard that he had hosted a dinner for an official foreign delegation.

Meanwhile, this was one of the use cases that the word of action would have to be transmitted using an active voice. However, it should be given not from someone but from a name, not a dinner but a dinner party.

But not only individuals were passive. The pensions system was poorly accepted by the public, the concessions in the Karabakh issue were poorly accepted by the people, etc.

This was all originally due to the influence of the Russian language, that is, the borrowing the sentence structure special to the Russian language. On the other hand, it was very consistent with the lack of action aimed towards change the lives of individuals and the public, the passive attitude. You do not do anything, but you expect something to be done by someone.

In this sense, the motto of the Velvet Revolution “Take A Step” was extremely appropriate. And both the individual and society really did take a step and no one expected that the step would be taken by others.

The people took a step, then a series of steps, and a new situation was created in the country, and a new government.

Immediately after that, we found ourselves in a state of passive voice, waiting for what will change in our lives.

Once again, the National Assembly does not adopt a law, but the law is passed by the MPs, the police and National Security Service do not arrest or release small and large criminals, rather those criminals are arrested and released.

As though this passive voice wasn’t used enough in mass media, official messages and other spheres of public speech, it’s being used in football as well.

We don’t want to join those who criticize the young commentators’ mistakes, and we won’t speak about, how according to their interpretation, the referee was taking an offensive towards the goal and scored a goal, or that the goalkeeper showed a yellow card to his own teammate.

The subject of our observation is the assumption and misuse of passive voice. Once again, It was not that Belgium that beat Japan and England, rather the Japanese and English were defeated by the Belgians. The extra time was added by the referee, the goal was scored by the attacker.

However, the most commonly used word has been replaced. Competitors have been replaced with attackers and uniforms, and team members are exchanged with positions.

It is absolutely incomprehensible why no commentator in any match did not say what he wanted in the simplest and most pleasant Armenian language that competitors exchanged one attack, and teammates changed their playing positions.

Let’s not jynx it, but we’ve never heard a chess commentator say that the opponents pawns were exchanged in the twenty-first move. It’s good that chess players exchange pawns and that the pawns don’t become exchanged.

In our media, even more infernal exchanges take place.

“You do not want to be replaced by corpses,” says the hero from the film  American Gangster, translated by Public TV. The same sentence is repeated in the Armenia TV production series. “We have come to suggest that the corpses be exchanged.”

Nevertheless, it is unlikely that there will be more viewers of soccer, Armenian soap operas or American filmmakers than there are social media users.

The moment you enter Facebook your eyes are pierced with the suggestion to “be shared.” It is unclear why our language, whose every word and phrase is perfectly capable of being translated has boiled down to this word.  

Sharing on Facebook means to disseminate, repeat etc. Sometimes, share unsparingly. In essence, it would be the same as suggesting, to unsparingly make yourself be shared.

Since we still have hope that the time to split ourselves 50-50 has long passed, then the phrase being shared on Facebook should yield its place to another word.

It is known that the three voices in literature are paralleled with an astonishing pattern.  

Verbs in the active voice is combined with the lyrical, since poetry implies the influence of reality and purify it by the purgatory of its own soul and mind.

The neutral verb voice promotes the epic voice, since it requires full neutrality from the epic story teller and finally the third genre, drama is in harmony with the active verb.

In social media, mass media, all spheres of public speech, passive voice threatens to throw society back into the lap of  lyrical enthusiasm, to turn into those who do not take steps, but to turn into a philosophic lazy mass waiting for someone to step in.  

Hovhannes Yeranyan

The views expressed in the column are those of the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Media.am.

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