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Featured I was spoken/talked to by a foreigner

Discussion in '英語勉強フォーラム - Learning English' started by hirashin, Oct 13, 2017 at 15:30.

  1. hirashin

    hirashin 先輩

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    Dear native English speakers,

    Would both be used?
    (a) I was spoken to by a foreigner.
    (b) I was talked to by a foreigner.

    Thanks in advance.
    Hirashin
     
  2. johnnyG

    johnnyG 先輩

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    Nope, only (a).

    I do see what's behind your question (and that you're working on passives). Both sentences are okay in this form:

    A foreigner spoke to me. (I was spoken to by a foreigner.)
    A foreigner talked to me. (I was talked to by a foreigner.)

    I'm sorry, I've looked up "talk" in a couple places but am unable to ID a good reason here.

    Generally, I'd say there are transitive and intransitive uses for speak, so speak can kind of fake it sometimes, or squeak by as a transitive. OTOH, talk cannot do that.

    Perhaps related, your can say:

    (c) I play tennis.
    (d) The emperor plays tennis.

    Making passives:

    (c') *Tennis is played by me. (I'd mark this wrong.)
    (d') Tennis is played by the emperor. (Okay.)

    Again, I don't think I can give a clear, good answer, but in (d') the fact that it is the emperor playing tennis elevates (changes) things--the information becomes valuable.

    (c') *Tennis is played by me. (So what?!?!?!)
    (d') Tennis is played by the emperor. (Ah, that's good to know.)

    Best I can do for now.
     
  3. hirashin

    hirashin 先輩

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    Thanks for the help, johnnyG. It is sometimes really difficult to explain the grammatical reason why people say or don't say that. (Do I make sense?)

    Would these be used?
    (e) Tennis is played by Mr. White.
    (f) Tennis is played by my parents.
     
  4. johnnyG

    johnnyG 先輩

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    #4 johnnyG, Oct 13, 2017 at 21:43
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2017 at 22:05
    Grammatical, yes; but NO, they would not be used.
    (edit: superficially grammatical)

    I'd correct these on any paper I received--the active should be used instead. But I should be able to explain why, and am not able to do that!

    This transitive/intransitive boundary... (I do like a challenge--the linguist in me really wants to know what's going on here.)

    I swam a mile today. (okay)
    ***A mile was swam/swum by me today. (YUK!)

    Let me invent a new grammatical category: pseudo-transitives. They look like transitives, but can't become passives. :emoji_smile:

    @hirashin@hirashin I'm thinking on this, and haven't worked out a good explanation. Please keep offering examples/ideas and maybe we'll get it figured out.
     
  5. OoTmaster

    OoTmaster 先輩

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    For me I think the difference between talk and speak is one is interactive and the other is not. Maybe that's the reason that talk sounds odd passively. I would change one thing though "A foreigner talked with me." for some reason "to" seems odd to me in that context.
     
  6. JuliMaruchan

    JuliMaruchan 後輩

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    I don't think it's a difference between "talk" and "speak", but just the fact that "talked to" is not normal. I'd say it's not normal because it puts emphasis on the fact that you yourself did no talking. "Spoken to", on the other hand, is typically used not for conversations, but for instances of being scolded by an authority figure (e.g. "I was spoken to by my boss about getting angry with customers").

    Regarding "played by", I'd say the reason it isn't normally used is because it suggests that who you're mentioning is the only person who plays it. That's also why e.g. "Han Solo is played by Harrison Ford" (referring to actors) is common.
     
  7. hirashin

    hirashin 先輩

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    I'm not sure about the difference between "talk to" and "speak to".
    What's the difference between (g) and (h)?
    (g) I talked to Mike at the party yesterday evening.
    (h) I spoke to Mike at the party yesterday evening.

    Would only "spoke" sound right in (i)?
    (i) Though I talked/spoke to Paul at the party, he didn't notice it.
     
  8. JuliMaruchan

    JuliMaruchan 後輩

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    There's no difference between G and H. And (I) can use either, no difference.
     
  9. hirashin

    hirashin 先輩

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    Oh, is that so? Thank you for the help.
     

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