Date: Tue, 11 Oct 1994 21:59:46 -0700
From: Birrell Walsh birrell[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]WELL.SF.CA.US
Subject: Re: -"had" Constructions
On Tue, 11 Oct 1994, Judith Rascoe wrote:
Isn't there an Irish construction along the lines of "he had a drink taken".
As I understand it, it's a faintly euphemistic way of suggesting that the
subject has taken many drinks. ("He claimed he swerved to avoid the cat, but
he had a drink taken if you ask me.") In this sense it reminds me a bit of
what a Peruvian friend said about Spanish -- that lots of things seem to
happen by themselves in that language ('the vase broke itself'). The 'had O
part.' construction relieves the subject of onus. It's trying to shuffle the
action into the "I had my car sideswiped" category, where the subject is
My Sanskrit teacher pointed out to us that in Sanskrit, the active and
the passive have the same status - both derived from the verbal root, and
neither derived from the other. Thus they have even passives for
intransitives: "It is gone by me" as a way of saying "I go."
Maybe these bureaucratic passives, and the "had" constructions, date back
to this layer in *IndoEuropean?