Voice alternations in diachrony
Laura Grestenberger, Iris Kamil
November 2023

This article provides a survey of the most common grammaticalization paths that give rise to active-passive and active-antipassive voice alternations and to syncretic ("middle") voice systems, discussing both the morphology and the syntax of these constructions from a diachronic perspective. We provide definitions and examples of these voice phenomena and discuss the core grammaticalization paths for passives (inchoative > passive, resultative > passive, lexical verb > passive aux), antipassives (agent/action nominalization, reflexive/reciprocal, generic object > antipassive) and middles (reflexive, verbalizer/Aktionsart > middle), as well as some less common paths. Each section moreover discusses the further development of these three alternations, specifically the loss and addition of functions over time (e.g., middle > passive and passive > potential). The chapter concludes with an outlook on the causes and directions of morphosyntactic change in voice alternations: Voice markers tend to diachronically develop out of valency-reducing or Aktionsart-related ("v-related") morphology and, more broadly, intransitive constructions. Diachronically, they can then acquire or lose (additional) voice-related functions or develop further into TAM markers as part of a broader "Voice cycle".
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/007692
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: The Wiley Blackwell Companion to Diachronic Linguistics, eds. Adam Ledgeway, Edith Aldridge, Anne Breitbarth, Katalin É. Kiss, Joseph Salmons & Alexandra Simonenko. Forthcoming.
keywords: voice alternations, diachrony, diathesis, voice cycle, passive, middle, antipassive, syncretic voice, reflexive, deponents, demoted agents, syntax, morphology
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