[Lingtyp] Double-marked passive

Chao Li chao.li at aya.yale.edu
Sun Mar 21 17:31:15 UTC 2021

Dear Martin,

It perhaps depends on what you mean by “verb-coded”. For example, in what
sense is the English passive construction verb-coded? In a Mandarin
sentence like (1), the meaning is passive and crucially it is coded with
the passive morpheme *bèi*, which historically could be used as a verb that
means “to suffer”. The single argument in (1) can also correspond to the
Patient argument of an active sentence like (2) or (3). Moreover, it can be
said that the Agent argument gets suppressed in (1). Therefore, it appears
reasonable to analyze (1) as a passive construction both Chinese-internally
and crosslinguistically. As for whether a  *bèi*-construction like (4) can
be analyzed as a passive construction that fits the definition, such an
analysis is possible if one accepts the (controversial and debatable)
assumption that *bèi* in (4) assumes not only its primary role of being a
passive marker but also an additional role of being a preposition.

[image: image.png]

Best regards,


On Sun, Mar 21, 2021 at 10:07 AM Martin Haspelmath <
martin_haspelmath at eva.mpg.de> wrote:

> According to my favourite definition of "passive construction", these
> Mandarin examples are (apparently) not passive constructions:
> "A passive voice construction is a verb-coded valency construction (i)
> whose sister valency construction is transitive and not verb-coded, and
> (ii) which has an S-argument corresponding to the transitive P, and (iii)
> which has a suppressed or oblique-flagged argument corresponding to the
> transitive A".
> According to this definition, a passive construction "marks both the agent
> and the verb" (unless the agent is suppressed or otherwise absent). But Ian
> Joo's question was probably about languages where the SAME marker can occur
> on the verb and on the oblique agent. This would be very unusual, because
> passive voice markers are not expected to be similar to an oblique agent
> flag.
> Now my question is: Are these Mandarin (and Shanghainese)
> BEI/GEI-constructions passives? They have traditionally been called
> passives, but since the BEI element is obligatory, while the agent can be
> omitted (*Zhangsan bei (Lisi) da le* 'Zhangsan was hit (by Lisi)'), it
> cannot be a preposition or case prefix. At least that would seem to follow
> from the definition of "affix/adposition". So I think this construction
> doesn't fall under a rigorous definition of "passive construction".
> (Rather, it is a sui generis construction.)
> Some authors might say that it is a "noncanonical passive" (cf. Legate,
> Julie Anne. 2021. Noncanonical passives: A typology of voices in an
> impoverished Universal Grammar. *Annual Review of Linguistics* 7(1). doi:
> 10.1146/annurev-linguistics-031920-114459
> <https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-linguistics-031920-114459>), but there
> does not seem to be a clear limit to this vague notion (is every
> topicalization construction a noncanonical passive?). I do not know of a
> fully explicit definition of "passive construction" that clearly includes
> the Mandarin BEI constructions.
> Best wishes,
> Martin
> Am 28.02.21 um 19:46 schrieb bingfu Lu:
> A better example in Mandarin may be:
> Zhangsan bei-Lisi      gei-da-le.
> Zhangsan PASS-Lisi  PASS-hit-PRF
> `Zhangsan was hit by Lisi.'
> 'bei' is etymologically related to 'suffer' while‘给’ to 'give'.
> In fact,
> Zhangsan bei-(Lisi)      da-le.
> can also change to
> Zhangsan gei-(Lisi)      da-le.
> Furthermore, in Shanghainese, the PASS is a morpheme homophonic to the
> morpheme for 'give'.
> regards,
> Bingfu Lu
> Beijing Language University
> On Sunday, February 28, 2021, 10:26:36 PM GMT+8, JOO, Ian [Student]
> <ian.joo at connect.polyu.hk> <ian.joo at connect.polyu.hk> wrote:
> Dear typologists,
> I wonder if you are aware of any language whose passive construction marks
> both the agent and the verb.
> For example, in Mandarin, the agent receives the passive marker *bei.*
> (1) Zhangsan bei-Lisi da-le.
> Zhangsan PASS-Lisi hit-PRF
> `Zhangsan was hit by Lisi.'
> When the agent is omitted, the verb receives *bei*.
> (2) Zhangsan bei-da-le.
> Zhangsan PASS-hit-PRF
> `Zhangsan was hit.'
> But, in some occasions, both the agent and the verb receive *bei*:
> (3) Zhangsan bei-Lisi bei-da-le.
> Zhangsan PASS-Lisi PASS-hit-PRF
> `Zhangsan was hit by Lisi.'
> Are you aware of any other language where a construction like (3) is
> possible?
> The only one I am aware of at the moment is Vietnamese.
> I would greatly appreciate any help.
> Regards,
> Ian
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