Usage-based perspective on the meaning-preserving hypothesis in voice alternation: Corpus linguistic and experimental studies in Indonesian

Gede Primahadi Wijaya RAJEG1, I Made RAJEG1 & I Wayan Arka2

1Universitas Udayana  2Australian National University & Universitas Udayana

Voice alternation between active (AV) and passive (PASS) clauses is viewed as a "meaning-preserving alternation" (Kroeger, 2005, p. 271). It means that AV and PASS clauses based on the same verb should convey the same kind of event/meaning (cf. (1) & (2)).

1.Indonesian (ind_mixed_2012_1M-sentences.txt:755227)

murid Go bie-pay yang meng-(k)ena-kan baju warna hitam.

pupil NAME REL AV-hit-CAUS shirt colour black

'Go bie-pay's student who wears/puts on a black shirt'

2.Indonesian (ind_mixed_2012_1M-sentences.txt:802596)

Gaun yang di-kena-kan ber-warna hitam

dress REL PASS-hit-CAUS have.colour black

'The dress that is worn/put on is black'

Examples (1) and (2) convey the same event of wearing a clothing. The difference lies in the alignments of semantic roles and grammatical relations, especially that affecting the identity of the syntactic SUBJ(ect): in (2), the Theme (i.e. clothing) is PASS SUBJ, which is the direct OBJ(ect) in (1). Argument for the meaning-preserving status of AV-PASS alternation is typically illustrated using a pair of (often constructed) examples as in (1) and (2). Following up on our earlier work with the root kena 'hit' (Rajeg et al., 2020), we offer a usage-based, quantitative perspective in testing the meaning-preserving hypothesis in voice alternation, by bringing together evidence from (i) corpus analysis and (ii) sentence-production experiment (cf. Dąbrowska, 2009; Newman & Sorenson Duncan, 2019, for similar approach). We analysed the distribution of (non-)metaphoric senses of a set of Indonesian CAUSED FORWARD/BACKWARD motion verbs in AV-PASS alternation. Our study demonstrates that voice alternation can be sensitive to the senses of the verbs, given that a verb can be polysemous (cf. Bernolet & Colleman, 2016, for Dative alternation in Dutch). Quantitative findings indicate that voice alternation exhibits frequency effects (Diessel, 2016), such that certain senses strongly (dis)prefer one voice type over the other. These findings offer initial evidence to McDonnell's (2016) hypothesis on the role of semantic properties (e.g. senses) of a verb in accounting for the strong preference of that verb to occur in a given voice (cf. Gries & Stefanowitsch, 2004). Converging results between corpus and experimental data also suggest that speakers may store detailed semantic preference of the verb in a given voice type, contributing to the idea of item-specific knowledge in usage-based, Construction Grammar (Goldberg, 2006, pp. 49, 56; cf. Dąbrowska, 2009; Diessel, 2016)


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Rajeg, G. P. W., Rajeg, I. M., & Arka, I. W. (2020). Corpus-based approach meets LFG: Puzzling voice alternation in Indonesian. Paper Presented at the 25th International Lexical-Functional Grammar. Figshare.

Week 8 2020/2021

Thursday 26th November 2020

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