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On Jun 16, 2013, at 1:31 AM, R A Brown <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> On 16/06/2013 00:07, James Kane wrote:
>> Hi all
> [snip]
>>> 
>>> For both of these constructions, it's simply
>>> verb-subject-direct.object
>> 
>> Is there some inherent reason that this is a weird way
>> to do it?
> 
> Well, yes, there is.  This has been debated before on this
> list.  The complement of the copula (if a language uses a
> verb as copula) is not the same as the direct object.  In IE
> languages the direct object can _always_ become the subject
> of a passive verb, e.g.
> The cat chased the mouse --> The mouse was chased [by the cat].
> 
> (A few, like English, can also promote the indirect object
> to become the subject of a passive; but that is unusual.)
> 
> You cannot promote the predicate of the copula in the same, e.g.
> John is a teacher --> *A teacher is been [by John].
> 
> The latter is simply not possible.

True; good point. But I wonder if anyone could fill me in on how the copula, at least in English and Romance, ever developed a passive participle in the first place, if the copula can't be made passive (as a finite verb)?