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Predicting voice alternation across academic Englishes


Hundt, Marianne; Röthlisberger, Melanie; Seoane, Elena (2018). Predicting voice alternation across academic Englishes. Corpus Linguistics and Linguistic Theory, 0(0):Epub ahead of print.

Abstract

Academic writing in the second half of the twentieth century witnesses a notable decrease in be-passives in British and American English (AmE). This trend is more advanced in the soft than in the hard sciences; with the exception of AmE, moreover, regional variation is not highly significant. This paper aims to discover whether the use of passives is conditioned by the same factors across seven different varieties of English (both as a first and as an institutionalized second language). For this purpose, we automatically retrieve central be-passives and active transitives from syntactically annotated International Corpus of English corpora and code for factors that are likely to play a role in the choice between active and passive (such as the semantics of the participant roles or the length of the constituents). Our results show that, while the same factors predict the choice of a passive over an active verb phrase across first- and second-language varieties, subtle differences are found in the effect size that some factors (animacy, givenness and length of passive subject) have, notably in Hong Kong and Philippine English. Some (but not all) of these find an explanation in substrate influence.

Abstract

Academic writing in the second half of the twentieth century witnesses a notable decrease in be-passives in British and American English (AmE). This trend is more advanced in the soft than in the hard sciences; with the exception of AmE, moreover, regional variation is not highly significant. This paper aims to discover whether the use of passives is conditioned by the same factors across seven different varieties of English (both as a first and as an institutionalized second language). For this purpose, we automatically retrieve central be-passives and active transitives from syntactically annotated International Corpus of English corpora and code for factors that are likely to play a role in the choice between active and passive (such as the semantics of the participant roles or the length of the constituents). Our results show that, while the same factors predict the choice of a passive over an active verb phrase across first- and second-language varieties, subtle differences are found in the effect size that some factors (animacy, givenness and length of passive subject) have, notably in Hong Kong and Philippine English. Some (but not all) of these find an explanation in substrate influence.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > English Department
06 Faculty of Arts > Center for Linguistics
08 Research Priority Programs > Language and Space
Dewey Decimal Classification:820 English & Old English literatures
Uncontrolled Keywords:passive, probabilistic grammar, academic writing, World Englishes, substrate influence
Language:English
Date:11 April 2018
Deposited On:27 Aug 2018 12:45
Last Modified:28 Aug 2018 01:03
Publisher:De Gruyter
ISSN:1613-7027
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1515/cllt-2017-0050
Related URLs:https://www.degruyter.com/view/j/cllt.ahead-of-print/cllt-2017-0050/cllt-2017-0050.xml (Publisher)

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Embargo till: 2019-04-11