Voice is one of the most complex grammatical phenomena expressed in human language. Broadly, voice is concerned with how the functional relations between participants in a clause are mapped onto grammatical roles in different ways. While voice has been widely studied (e.g., Fox & Hopper 1994, Givón 1994), specifically the passive voice (e.g., Haspelmath 1990, Givón 1994, Shibatani 1988, Croft 2001 chapter 8), the antipassive voice has not been studied in such detail. There has been work on the definition and typology of antipassive constructions and their morphology (Foley & Van Valin 1984:168-181, Givón 1994, Dixon & Aikhenvald 1997, Brus 1992, Cooreman 1994, Janic 2013), but none of these studies have looked at antipassives from a purely functional perspective. This study investigates the antipassive within the framework of the typologically-grounded Radical Construction Grammar (Croft 2001). My work on the antipassive is based on a functional, as opposed to a structural or combined structural-functional definition: a two-participant event in which the patient is of lower topicality than in the corresponding basic voice construction in the language. Thus, unlike those in previous studies, this definition does not require that the verb in the antipassive construction carry any additional morphology. Constructions fitting this functional definition were examined in 70 languages, spanning over 25 different language families and four geographical macro areas. Some of the syntactic strategies found correspond to previously identified constructions: Indefinite Null Instantiation (INI) in construction grammar (Fillmore 1986) and the Conative Alternation (Levin 1993). Many antipassive constructions code additional functions; some of which pattern with syntactic coding. Correlations between the syntactic strategy and the functional characteristics of the patient were found. It was found that omission of the patient without the option of including it (INI) and incorporation of the patient into the verb occurred exclusively with non-individuated patients; expression of the patient as an oblique with a zero-coded verb (the Conative Alternation) occurred exclusively with less-affected patients. Cross-linguistically, these strategies tend to pattern with certain semantic classes of verbs.
typology, construction grammar, voice, valency, cross-linguistic
Level of Degree
Department of Linguistics
First Committee Member (Chair)
Second Committee Member
Vigus, Meagan. "A Radical Construction Grammar Analysis of Antipassive Constructions." (2016). https://digitalrepository.unm.edu/ling_etds/39