The summer of greyness continues with another dull, hazy day and the imminent threat of rain at any moment. It’s probably raining right now, but just lightly enough to be invisible against such a leaden canvas. The cicadas don’t seem to mind as they all enjoy a singalong in the trees, and when it really starts raining at night, the frogs have their own rasping chorus.
The News of the World is about to pass out and the country of South Sudan is passing in. I can understand why the NoW hacks might be a bit peeved that they’re being punished for events for which they’re not responsible. Would they, though, have shown more scruples than the real culprits did? Paint me sceptical.
Will the newspaper landscape be better or worse off with the departure of the News of the World? I didn’t know that it’d been around for 168 salacious years in the first place and I’m sure something will replace it whether it’s the Sun on Sunday (or whatever it’s meant to be called) or something else. Or has the Internet overtaken such a need?
Let’s leave the News of the Screws behind and turn our attention to some car news. The next gen Porsche 911 will be out shortly. Over on the Top Speed site was a story about one of the new models catching fire during some testing. The part which interested me was
The vehicle testing was a special prototype developed for the Chinese market, but will be finding its way back to the Porsche center in Weissach for further examination. (My italics; if you can see them.)
Is this another instance of American passivophobia (fear of the passive voice)? I would’ve said “The vehicle being tested…” myself. The phrase is not really grammatical in my English because the verb test requires a dO. It could be that this is an instance of the middle voice in American English, which seems to be more widespread in that variety than it is in British English.
Here’s the question, though. Is the middle widespread in American English because it’s an instance of independent language change? Is it widespread because the passive is a bit of English grammar which generations of non-English speaking immigrants to the States preferred to skip? (To what extent might the Romance languages, Spanish in particular, which aren’t exactly keen on the passive, be responsible?) Is it widespread because of those ridiculous injunctions against using the passive from people like Strunk and White are reinforcing an inherent tendency in the language?
What about that business about a special prototype being developed for the Chinese market? That probably means that when the driver crashes into someone, the car says, “My dad’s a corrupt official”. That, or the engine will be specced to produce higher levels of pollution, or it’s been limited to a 0-100kph time of 18 seconds to match the sluggish nature of road users here.