LINGUIST List 11.730

Fri Mar 31 2000

Qs: Passive Status, Spanish Intro Ling Textbook

Editor for this issue: James Yuells <>

We'd like to remind readers that the responses to queries are usually best posted to the individual asking the question. That individual is then strongly encouraged to post a summary to the list. This policy was instituted to help control the huge volume of mail on LINGUIST; so we would appreciate your cooperating with it whenever it seems appropriate.


  1. zmaalej, Passive status
  2. Johanna Rubba, Spanish intro ling textbook

Message 1: Passive status

Date: Thu, 30 Mar 2000 17:23:04 +0200
From: zmaalej <>
Subject: Passive status

Dear colleagues,
I have a query concerning the pragmatic status of the passive. I have always
believed that using the passive in English (putting aside questions of
frequency counts and markedness) is a matter of modality, i.e. in many
respects a question of speaker's attitude, whose syntactic correlate can be
exemplified by Comrie's "demotion" (1977) and Shibatani's "agent defocusing"
(1985). What I am tentatively calling "the modal dimension" of the passive
has consequences for orality and literacy (Biber, 1986, 1995; Tannen, 1982,
etc.). My claim is that if the passive is to be seen as a modality, it has
to be affiliated to orality (involvement) rather than to literacy
(detachment). Does this make sense to some on this List, or am I off track?
Is it the case that the passive is associated with objectivity owing to its
occurrence in scientific texts? Isn't the passive most often a matter of
choice, purposeful use, and manipulation (i.e. mainly a subjective
operation), or is it only required to satisfy syntactic constraints? Any
pointers or studies (mostly recent) contradicting or confirming this claim
are most welcome. A summary will be posted to the List if enough is received
to justify one.

Thanks for your collaboration in advance.

Dr Zouhair Maalej,
Department of English, Chair,
Faculty of Letters and Human Sciences,
Tunis-Manouba, 2010, TUNISIA.
Home Tel/Fax: (+216) 1 362 871
Office phone: [+216] 1 600 700
Office fax: [+216] 1 520 910
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Message 2: Spanish intro ling textbook

Date: Thu, 30 Mar 2000 15:58:12 -0800
From: Johanna Rubba <>
Subject: Spanish intro ling textbook

I posted a query a while ago asking for recommendations for a basic
(usable by non-majors) introduction to linguistics in Spanish. Sadly, I
seem to have lost the replies I got. Now I have a student who would
benefit greatly from being able to read about basic linguistics concepts
in Spanish. Can anyone direct me to a good book? One that would be
available in the USA?

Thanks --

Johanna Rubba Assistant Professor, Linguistics 
English Department, California Polytechnic State University
One Grand Avenue o San Luis Obispo, CA 93407 
Tel. (805)-756-2184 o Fax: (805)-756-6374 o Dept. Phone. 756-259
o E-mail: o 	Home page:
"Understanding is a lot like sex; it's got a practical purpose, 
but that's not why people do it normally" -		Frank Oppenheimer
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