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Radical Construction GrammarSyntactic Theory in Typological Perspective$
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William Croft

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780198299554

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198299554.001.0001

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The Voice Continuum

The Voice Continuum

(p.283) 8 The Voice Continuum
Radical Construction Grammar

William Croft (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Some constructions are claimed to be universal, including the passive and the inverse voice constructions. In fact, the syntactic properties used to define passive and inverse constructions, and contrast them with active/direct constructions, do not coincide across languages. This chapter surveys the great diversity of voice constructions across languages to demonstrate that there is no universal structural definition of passive and inverse constructions. Instead, one must construct a syntactic space to represent the continuum of structural properties of voice constructions across languages. But this continuum is constrained, both in terms of the structural properties of the voice construction and the function of the construction. The more salient/topical participant will be coded with the typologically less marked, more subject-like structural properties, and the less salient participant will be coded with less subject-like properties. The continuum is also reinforced by the fact that constructions shift across the syntactic space via grammaticalization.

Keywords:   passive, inverse, construction, participant, salience, topicality, grammaticalization, markedness, subject

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