It’s confession time in Geezerville.
I recently spent my allotted 450 words in this space musing about some of the beguiling delights to be found in the “be” section of the dictionary.
Among other things, I wrote that the verb “to be” may be “substantive, copulative or auxiliary; sometimes active, sometimes passive, sometimes subjunctive.”
Immediately after hitting Send, my conscience began to twitch. Show me an instance of that verb being used in the passive voice, it fairly screamed at me.
Try as I might, the best I could come up with was the role it plays as an auxiliary to help form a passive-voice construction.
Example: “The ball was hit by Rob” (passive), as opposed to the no-nonsense active-voice rendering, “Rob hit the ball.”
If anyone can dredge up a true example of “to be” used substantively in the passive voice, I’d love to hear of it.
Confession leads back to conscience (which, as the Bard would have it, makes cowards of us all). In turn, that conveniently conducts us to a confrontation with the “con” section of that same concordance.
Without question, the nuances of English can confuse—nay, confound—the most conscientious of second-language students.
Used as a prefix, “con” denotes a linkage, but only when used before 13 specific consonants. Damned if I can conceive a logical explanation.
When journalists employ the current buzzword “conflate,” in the sense of stitching two or more separate things together, it often results in a conjectural confabulation marked by a high degree of condescension, if not outright conceit.
Unless speakers and listeners are concordant, consentient or merely concessionary, this could provoke bitter contestation, or spark a contentious rhetorical conflagration.
Should we condone or condemn such conductible conduct that can contaminate our conversation?
Who among us can confidently distinguish between condolatory and consolatory gestures toward a grieving friend? Between conceptive and conceptual? Or between concupiscence and concubinage? And where does consanguinity factor in?
When is a congelation different from a conglomeration—or a conglutination, for that matter? Don’t even get me started on how the latter two do (or do not) differ from agglomerations or agglutinations.
If you can associate with a consociate, is the converse also true? Can you consign a consignment to a consignee without a formal consignation, or some other concrete consideration?
Can a conspiracy be consonant with conspicuousness? Can a constitutional be constructive in relieving conjunctivitis as well as constipation?
These ramblings may contain little more of substance than a confirmation of creeping consenescence in Geezerville.
On the other hand, they represent a congenial (congenital?) attempt at conforming to the consummate conjuration of that great man of letters, E.M. Forster: “Only connect.”