Chapter published in:Contrastive Studies in Verbal Valency
Edited by Lars Hellan, Andrej L. Malchukov and Michela Cennamo
[Linguistik Aktuell/Linguistics Today 237] 2017
► pp. 298–325
Between Passive and Middle
Evidence from Greek and beyond
This paper focuses on verbs that can appear with two non-active voice morphologies in Greek. The starting point of the study is a comparison to the Vedic verbs that can also have two different, though formally related, non-active morphologies. In Vedic, these belong to the semantic class of verbs denoting decay and destruction as well as some other spontaneous processes. On the contrary, in Greek, there is a tendency for verbs that participate in causative-anticausative alternations to appear with both middle and passive voice morphology (for instance: ‘unbind sth. – be unbound’; ‘cause to lean – lean’). It will be argued that these verbal classes demonstrate a diachronic tendency for change in their voice marking, which often results in the emergence of lability (that is, the same morphological marking for both transitive and intransitive uses). We will also show that the diachrony of Greek displays a clear decrease in the percentage of such verbs. This decrease is related to the ongoing decline of the middle voice. However, it can also be due to the expansion of the labile type in Greek at the expense of verbs of change-of-state that could appear with middle and passive voice morphologies.
Published online: 30 April 2017
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