Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Passive to the Extreme

Today I heard what, IMHO, was the ultimate expression of passive-speak. Sentence after passive sentence was uttered by a well educated man on a radio program intended for an educated audience.

The program began like this, "For ... there were negative repercussions due to the simultaneity of the actions of John Smith and John Smith's group." Why couldn't he simply say, "John Smith and his group's actions resulted in negative repercussions for..."?

To anyone who heard the rest of the story the reason was obvious. The speaker wanted to take the blame OFF John Smith and his colleagues, and he wanted to place the blame as far from the true object of the sentence (John Smith) as possible. If he could have sent the blame out to outer space, I believe he would have. Although the speaker used passive voice correctly in this instance, I don't think the intelligent listening audience was the least bit fooled by the technique.

Louise Bergmann DuMont
Facilitator of the NJCWG

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