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12 votes

Why can't these English sentences passivize?

There are several problems with the question: Issue 1: The question assumes that passivization is actually a process that exists in language. It's carried over from the transformational heyday and ...
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6 votes
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Why is the passive voice more prevalent in English than in other Indo-European languages?

I am not sure whether your initial assumption is statistically correct, but let us take it as a working hypothesis. French and German (to mention only these) very commonly use "on" and "man" with an ...
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5 votes

Why isn't this sentence in a passive form?

There's a common feature in English known as the "ergative construction", "middle construction", or "labile construction", though it's not quite the same as an actual ergative case (as found in Basque)...
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4 votes
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How do we parse the sentence, "I have never seen a fish get cooked like that"?

In this sentence, "get," just like "be" in other passive sentences, is the passivizer. That is, the active form of "I have never seen a fish get cooked like that" is (just like the active form of "I ...
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4 votes

Can someone share with me an article that studies the decline of by-phrases in the passive?

This thesis studies the history of passives and as part of the study looks at the instance of by-phrases, in the journal American journal of botany, grouping articles into three historical clusters – ...
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4 votes
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Suppletion of Spanish "matar" (to kill) by "morir" (to die) in the passive

The paper Fue muerto: Suppletion in Spanish Analytic Passives (p.96-112) analyses this very question. The authors come to the conclusion that it is indeed suppletion: We claim that there are three ...
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4 votes
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Why is there not passive imperative?

This is a fairly common gap for languages to have, though it's not universal. (Ancient Greek, for example, has regular imperatives in the active, middle, and passive voices.) So it's not surprising ...
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4 votes
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What is the subject of a passive sentence?

The former object becomes the new subject. That is clear -- the new subject has all the properties one could reasonably associate with a subject. Number agreement with the verb and subject raising ...
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4 votes

Why is the passive voice more prevalent in English than in other Indo-European languages?

It is a matter of linguistic pragmatics. A typical statement has a topic, also known as theme or given (what is being talked about) and a comment or rheme (the new information about the topic). In ...
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4 votes

Passive: illusion or fact?

I think he is using 'passive' to mean 'the passive transformation', probably because this was the most common meaning of 'passive' at the time. He's arguing that we can generate and interpret passive ...
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3 votes
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Is there a language which uses 'passive voice' more often than 'active' one?

You clarified in a comment on another answer: What I meant by more occurencs is the degree of tolerance in the usage. English, French, German allow freely verbs to passivize (with very few ...
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3 votes

criteria to distinguish resultative from stative participles?

After Embick (2004), you could take a look at this paper by Alexiadou & Anagnostopoulou, whose title is "Structuring participles", downloadable at www.lingref.com/cpp/wccfl/26/paper1653.pdf After ...
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3 votes

Assuming that passives need verbal morphology, which languages commonly said to have a passive do not actually count?

Haspelmath's point is really one of terminology. He says that passives have to be morphologically marked and it is not enough for a construction to have a passive meaning with some possible ...
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2 votes

In German, doesn't using 'von' for agents of passive sentences result in ambiguity?

Like with any overloaded preposition it is possible to construct examples which are ambiguous, especially out of context. And it is trivially easy to construct examples which are grammatically ...
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2 votes

What methods do languages use to re-introduce the subject of a passive construction?

In French, par ('by') and de ('from/of') can be used depending on the verb. In Late Archaic Chinese, the more common passive construction that includes the agent was jian + main verb + yu + agent. The ...
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2 votes

Why is the need+concealed passive gerund construction unavailable with polyadic gerunds?

This is not a great explanation, and it's conjectural, but here goes. We know that in the evolution of grammatical systems, new constructions are introduced only gradually, beginning with simpler ...
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2 votes

Why isn't this sentence in a passive form?

The word "sells" here in the English language of today has a different meaning from "is sold", and Draconis' answer does not apply here (even if it may have historically ...
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  • 182
2 votes

Why is the passive voice more prevalent in English than in other Indo-European languages?

Frequent use of the passive in English is not a breach of any "recommended" proportion. Rather, it is a function of register, i.e. it depends on the formality of the situation and the ...
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  • 176
1 vote

Is there a word for a pair of verbs that mean the same thing but with subject and object swapped?

The only clear examples I can think of are 'precede' and 'follow'. Experiencer verbs (e.g., 'like' and 'please') come pretty close, but they're not quite synonymous.
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1 vote

Difference between PRO and OP

I'll try to answer your question although I'm blind to Chinese clause structure. But notice that you wrote PRO in your question. PRO is quite different from pro. Let's consider this sentence: (1) ...
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1 vote

Origin of -s verbs in Norwegian and Swedish

Well, my guess is that it comes from the -sk ending in Old Norse (modern Icelandic -st ending). As found in the famous Vǫlospá verses: Brœðr munu BERJASK (Modern Icelandic: Bræður munu BERJAST), ...
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  • 1,167
1 vote

Is there a language which uses 'passive voice' more often than 'active' one?

Passive is not a universal feature of human languages. Indo-European languages have always had passive constructions, of one sort or another. It's used to allow different kinds of noun phrases to ...
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