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Picture of BobHale
posted
Remember when I used to post things from Chinese exams? Well a good friend who is a Chinese English teacher has just shown me this.

"Most of the tea villages are found in remote mountainous areas in the south and southwest of the country where the beautiful scenery _______ (hide) under the clouds."

It's part of a long passage where students must put in the correct form of the verb in parentheses.

The only correct answer, according to the answer key, is "is hidden" but many students put "hides". She wanted to know the difference. First of all, I don't think "hides" is wrong. Although the answers are not explained, I believe that the examiners object to it on the grounds that "hides" is ascribing agency to the inanimate scenery as if it is something being done deliberately whereas "is hidden" is a passive formation ascribing no particular agency. I could, but wouldn't, argue equally that "is hidden" must be wrong unless you believe God hid it because it implies someone intentionally hid it. I wouldn't make that argument because I believe that both versions are perfectly correct in normal English. The "hides" version is perhaps a little more metaphorically expressed than the more literal "is hidden" version but its just as good.

Seems rather unfair to me that the students who chose the (to me) slightly more poetical concept are being penalised.

Thoughts?

This message has been edited. Last edited by: BobHale,


"No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money." Samuel Johnson.
 
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Picture of Kalleh
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I agree, Bob. I suppose you are right about "hides" making inanimate scenery animated, but I'd sure not hesitate to use it. With scientific writing, reviewers so hate passive writing that I'd probably naturally use "hides."
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Kalleh:
With scientific writing, reviewers so hate passive writing


Only, I'm afraid, in America. The rest of the English speaking world has no problem at all with the passive voice. Rather ironically whenever you see articles decrying its use there will inevitably be several examples which are not actually passive at all.

I remember seeing one claiming that "Someone shot the gun." is passive for example. It might be vague about agency but it certainly isn't passive.

quote:
Originally posted by Kalleh:
I'd probably naturally use "hides."


So would I, but not to avoid the passive, simply because in this description it sounds so much more vivid.


"No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money." Samuel Johnson.
 
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I see nothing wrong with either of them, and I reside in one of the Americas.
 
Posts: 5907 | Location: Muncie, IndianaReply With QuoteReport This Post
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Picture of BobHale
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quote:
Originally posted by Geoff:
I see nothing wrong with either of them


Exactly but in a real exam they would be marked wrong for "hides". It does remind me of an incident when I was teaching in England. There was a question on a reading exam paper where the given text was a supermarket advertising leaflet. One of the questions was

"Give three reasons why you would like to have the supermarket loyalty card."

One student wrote (I am doing this from memory so paraphrasing)

"I wouldn't. It is just the supermarket trying to make me buy things I don't want and don't need."

That was not in the list of allowed answers but I marked it right anyway and added a note to the effect that it was not just a legitimate answer but a very well thought out one. (That exam board was odd as the students own tutors marked the exams and only a "representative sample" were checked by outside examiners. A terrible system.)


"No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money." Samuel Johnson.
 
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That reminds me of something said to me in high school. Fellow student: "Do your own thing, man." "Why?" I replied. "Because everybody's doig it!" was his answer. Conform of fail, it seems.
 
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