LINGUIST List 15.1217

Fri Apr 16 2004

Diss: Syntax:Typology: Murphy: 'Passive...'

Editor for this issue: Takako Matsui <>


  1. pmurphy, Passive Prototypes, Topicality and Conceptual Space

Message 1: Passive Prototypes, Topicality and Conceptual Space

Date: Thu, 15 Apr 2004 15:23:14 -0400 (EDT)
From: pmurphy <>
Subject: Passive Prototypes, Topicality and Conceptual Space

Institution: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Program: Department of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2004

Author: Patrick M Murphy 

Dissertation Title: Passive Prototypes, Topicality and Conceptual

Linguistic Field: Syntax, Text/Corpus Linguistics, Typology

Dissertation Director 1: Laura Janda

Dissertation Abstract: 

Passive constructions are perhaps the most widely studied grammatical
phenomena within generative grammar. Typological studies describe the
wide variety of features of passive constructions
cross-linguistically, and both typological and acquisition studies
offer insight into the relative markedness of these
constructions. This dissertation has the goal of investigating the
nature of membership within the category "passive" and
cross-linguistic comparison of constructions, "passive" and otherwise.

A model of universal passive types within the framework of Head-Driven
Phrase Structure Grammar (HPSG) is presented. This is accomplished by
proposing a set of type definitions, characterizing both the
relatively unmarked and relatively marked features of passive
constructions. This provides some granularity in the passive's
characterization, but does not model the markedness of these features
with respect to each other. To that end, preference principles in the
construction of passive type matrices in HPSG are introduced: a
metagrammar provided by Universal Grammar describing the markedness of
each type with respect to its supertype. The resulting system models a
passive prototype within HPSG.

Topicality measures were collected from the Uppsala Corpus of Russian
for passive and active uses of the Russian verbs pisat'/napisat' 'to
write,' davat'/dat' 'to give,' and zabyvat'/zabyt' 'to forget.'
Croft's (2001) notion of plotting constructions in "conceptual space"
is exploited as a means of cross-linguistic comparison using these
topicality measures. Examining the conceptual space of various voice
constructions with these Russian verbs, Croft's generalizations are
upheld, their position being consistent whether Referential Distance
or Topic Persistence is used as a measure. Finally, data from other
typological discourse studies is plotted, noting where various voice
constructions pattern, and how this data fits into Croft's model.
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