Rethinking Indonesian-type passives: Lessons from Javanese
Hero Patrianto, Victoria Chen
March 2024

We report an under-explored syntactic variation among four languages known as the Indonesian-type. Drawing on novel data, we show that that Javanese exhibits an A-bar oriented voice system that indexes subject vs. nonsubject topicalization, which is distinct from (and incompatible with) the existing split ergative analysis for the voice system of two neighboring languages, Acehnese and Indonesian. We then present new comparative evidence that the so-called “Indonesian-type passives” do not form a homogeneous group – some involve an instance of A-movement to subject, whereas others contain non- subject topicalization, such as the putative passive in Javanese. This new locus of variation in Austronesian reinforces the view that surface-level typological traits – such as word order, presence or absence of voice morphology, or number of voice distinctions – are not reliable indicators of a language’s underlying syntax. The current observation thus highlights the importance of approaching conventional typological classification with caution and the need to uncover potential syntactic variation in typologically similar languages.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/008007
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: Proceedings of the 53rd Annual Meeting of the North East Linguistic Society
keywords: voice, indonesian-type voice, austronesian-type voice, topicalization, passive, syntactic variation, javanese, indonesian, balinese, acehnese, morphology, syntax
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