the passive summary n.
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The passive Summary. phonological form (data): werden + ge -V- t sein + ge -V- t (1) Der Motor wurde vom Mechaniker repariert. (Duden 2006:551) problem: subject is ‘patient’. Aims of analysis. meaning of werden + ge -V- t ? syntax: combinable with which verbs and sentences?

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the passive summary
The passiveSummary
  • phonological form (data): werden + ge-V-tsein + ge-V-t

(1) Der Motor wurde vom Mechaniker repariert. (Duden 2006:551)

  • problem: subject is ‘patient’
aims of analysis
Aims of analysis
  • meaning of werden + ge-V-t?
  • syntax: combinable with which verbs and sentences?
  • (grammatical) form: what grammatical construction does it represent? (How is it to be parsed?)
voice analysis genus verbi
Voice analysis (Genus verbi)
  • (Grammatical) Form:
  • passive derived from active
  • active and passive are ‘voices’ of the verb
  • Der Mechaniker reparierte den Motor→Der Motor wurde vom Mechaniker repariert
  • explains why subject is patient – because it started out as an object
  • passive synonymous with active
  • except for theme-rheme organisation
  • motivation for passive: to make the patient theme
  • all and only transitive verbs (i.e. followed by object, especially in Acc.) are passivizable
  • exceptions are listed individually
  • e.g. besitzen, mögen, kosten
criticism of voice analysis contradictions anomalies flaws
Criticism of voice analysis:contradictions, anomalies, flaws
  • meaning of werden + ge-V-t?
  • five formal differences – synonymous?!?
  • agentive von-phrase
  • statal passive
adjectival properties
  • impersonal passive from intrans. verbs: Es wurde getanzt
  • transitive verbs which do not form a passive, e.g. besitzen, mögen, kosten
aspect analysis
Aspect analysis
  • phonological form (data): werden/sein + ge-V-t
  • (Grammatical) Form: aspect of type Auxiliary + Participle, like the perfect
  • Meaning: new state as result of preceding action (change of state) (hence subject is patient)
  • Syntax: determined by lexical aspect of verb and compositional aspect of sentence (as with perfect): telic
Der Schülerwurde (von dem Lehrer) gelobt(Helbig & Buscha 161-188)

analysed as an aspect

  • der Schüler: subject taken from the lexicon, as with the perfect
  • wurde: aspectual auxiliary, like haben and sein
  • von dem Lehrer: a normal prepositional phrase (PP); von means ‘agent’; like many PPs optional, as in Er war böse (auf ihn)
  • gelobt: aspectual participle, like the homonymous perfect participle
  • wurdegelobt means ‘action + state’ (hence subject is patient)
trans. non-passivizable verbs explained: lexical and compositional aspect, as always with Auxiliary + Participle aspects
  • for a verb/sentence to be passivizable there must be an end-point potentially present, which becomes the end-state of the passive meaning ‘action + state’
  • i.e. a verb/sentence must be telic to form a passive
  • proof? Yes, formal-syntactic proof:
  • recall: we said under Aspect that to form a resultative perfect a verb must be telic
  • it follows that non-passivizable transitive verbs should also not form a resultative perfect
This does indeed turn out to be the case for 2/3 of non-passivizable transitive verbs:
  • (2) a. Hans mochte den Roman.
  • b. *Der Roman wurde von Hans gemocht.
  • c. *Jetzt hat Hans den Roman gemocht.
  • (3) a. Er besitzt ein großes Haus.
  • b. *Ein großes Haus wird von ihm besessen.
  • c. *Jetzt hat er ein großes Haus besessen.
  • (4) a. Er bekam den Brief.
  • b. *Der Brief wurde von ihm bekommen.
  • c. Jetzt hat er den Brief bekommen.
  • (see Beedham 1982:59-82, 2005:52-56)