[Lingtyp] Double-marked passive

David Gil gil at shh.mpg.de
Sun Mar 21 19:28:31 UTC 2021

Chao, Martin,

I agree with Chao's characterization of Mandarin (1) as being a passive 
under most or all reasonable definitions thereof; however, I fail to see 
why (4) cannot also be considered to be a passive. In (4), /bèi/ is not 
flagging /jĭngchá/ 'police' but rather is marking the entire phrase 
/jĭngchá tuō-zŏu-le/ — it may thus be analyzed as an instance of 
"verb(-phrase) coding".

Many Southeast Asian languages have paradigms which correspond to that 
in (1) - (4) except that, in the counterpart of (4), the agent phrase 
follows rather than precedes the verb.  Such constructions are commonly 
referred to as "passives", or, more specifically, as "periphrastic" or 
sometimes "adversative passives".  Moreover, in such languages, the 
counterpart of Mandarin /bèi/ is presumably also applying to the 
verb-plus-agent phrase as a whole.  So the only obvious difference 
between such constructions and Mandarin (4) is that of word order.  (I 
say "*obvious* difference" because it may be the case that syntactic 
tests will show that /jĭngchá/ in (4) has more subject properties than 
do the usual Southeast Asian postverbal agent phrases, in which case the 
prototypicality of (4) as a passive would decrease accordingly.  But has 
anybody shown this to be the case?)


On 21/03/2021 19:31, Chao Li wrote:
> 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.png
> Best regards,
> Chao
> On Sun, Mar 21, 2021 at 10:07 AM Martin Haspelmath 
> <martin_haspelmath at eva.mpg.de <mailto: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>
>>     <mailto: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
>>     /Disclaimer:/
>>     /This message (including any attachments) contains confidential
>>     information intended for a specific individual and purpose. If
>>     you are not the intended recipient, you should delete this
>>     message and notify the sender and The Hong Kong Polytechnic
>>     University (the University) immediately. Any disclosure, copying,
>>     or distribution of this message, or the taking of any action
>>     based on it, is strictly prohibited and may be unlawful./
>>     /The University specifically denies any responsibility for the
>>     accuracy or quality of information obtained through University
>>     E-mail Facilities. Any views and opinions expressed are only
>>     those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent those of
>>     the University and the University accepts no liability whatsoever
>>     for any losses or damages incurred or caused to any party as a
>>     result of the use of such information./
>>     _______________________________________________
>>     Lingtyp mailing list
>>     Lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org
>>     <mailto:Lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org>
>>     http://listserv.linguistlist.org/mailman/listinfo/lingtyp
>>     <http://listserv.linguistlist.org/mailman/listinfo/lingtyp>
>>     _______________________________________________
>>     Lingtyp mailing list
>>     Lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org  <mailto:Lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org>
>>     http://listserv.linguistlist.org/mailman/listinfo/lingtyp  <http://listserv.linguistlist.org/mailman/listinfo/lingtyp>
>     -- 
>     Martin Haspelmath
>     Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
>     Deutscher Platz 6
>     D-04103 Leipzig
>     https://www.shh.mpg.de/employees/42385/25522  <https://www.shh.mpg.de/employees/42385/25522>
>     _______________________________________________
>     Lingtyp mailing list
>     Lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org
>     <mailto:Lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org>
>     http://listserv.linguistlist.org/mailman/listinfo/lingtyp
>     <http://listserv.linguistlist.org/mailman/listinfo/lingtyp>
> _______________________________________________
> Lingtyp mailing list
> Lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org
> http://listserv.linguistlist.org/mailman/listinfo/lingtyp

David Gil
Senior Scientist (Associate)
Department of Linguistic and Cultural Evolution
Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History
Kahlaische Strasse 10, 07745 Jena, Germany
Email: gil at shh.mpg.de
Mobile Phone (Israel): +972-526117713
Mobile Phone (Indonesia): +62-81344082091

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://listserv.linguistlist.org/pipermail/lingtyp/attachments/20210321/b106b5e1/attachment.htm>
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: image.png
Type: image/png
Size: 59989 bytes
Desc: not available
URL: <http://listserv.linguistlist.org/pipermail/lingtyp/attachments/20210321/b106b5e1/attachment.png>

More information about the Lingtyp mailing list