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If there is no measurable direct object, the event is not telic. Obviously, Hopper/Thompson’s notion of “Transitivity” bears close resemblance to the prototypical event as described by Dowty (1991). Passivization decreases the structural, semantic, and aspectual asymmetry between the participants in a clause – and thus decreases transitivity. 4. Functions of the passive – a preliminary sketch Choosing the passive over the active means breaking up the standard alignment of arguments and syntactic positions associated with active voice.

15. com on Oct. 23, 2003, to bring up these data. At the time, this tool allowed for simple word searches in 120,000 books. Throughout this book, bold font is added to highlight certain passages in the examples. 28 Chapter 2 The English passive and linguistic theory For the following discussion, let us sum up the definition of the passive used throughout this book: – Morphology: Passives in English are morphologically marked. The core of the passive is the passive participle. For discussion as to whether this is the same form as, or a form homophonous with, the past participle, see chapter 3.

1999: 940) found that “there is a clear tendency for the subject to be shorter than the agent phrase” in passives with by-phrases. This is in line with the assumption that the NP in the subject position expresses given information. Results from quantitative studies also confirm that for long passives (i. e. passives with by-phrases) there is a clear tendency for the subject to have a “higher level of givenness” (Biber et al. 1999: 941) than the agent phrase. A more structural effect of moving the object to the subject position is that the moved phrase can undergo syntactic processes that target the subject position.

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