Passive Voice

CSA Share Week 8:  kale, Chiogga baby beets, cilantro, green onions, scapes, zucchini, yellow crookneck squash, green beans, butter lettuce, Romaine lettuce

Recipes: Barley, Kale, and Kidney Bean stew (Vegetarian Planet); Gingered Beets (Greene on Greens); green beans sauteed with leftover Chinese Garlic Chicken

CSA Share Week 7:  chard, green onion, radishes, scapes, beets (gave away), zucchini, cilantro, butter lettuce

Recipes:  Chard Catalan Style, radishes added to leftover Chinese food, microwaved zucchini (The Teenager)

I remember the first time High School Boyfriend told me he loved me — he didn’t actually tell me he loved me, what he said was, “You are loved.”  And at that point, I really understood what “passive voice” meant.  This summer, The Teenager has been working on writing a decent essay, and this means massive  unlearning of  much of what passes for English education in public schools.  She is finally learning how to punctuate, learning how to organize a simple essay, learning how to read an article to find the thesis (hint, hint, read that first paragraph really carefully).  And she is learning all about passive voice.  I don’t care if it is a godsend for Ph.D. candidates writing their dissertations — it is lazy writing.

A few days ago, an American Historical Association newsletter link reminded me of how insidious the passive voice can be.  The article came from Richard Brody of the New Yorker, who posted this article on the German  government’s decision to use the passive voice for the Holocaust monument: “Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.”  As Mr. Brody pointed out, murdered by whom?  I’m with him on his critique, that the vagueness of the term is disturbing and that Germany’s “. . . .  reduction of responsibility to an embarrassing, tacit fact that “everybody knows” is the first step on the road to forgetting.”

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