Grammatical Voice in Cognitive Grammar

Ricardo Maldonado

in The Oxford Handbook of Cognitive Linguistics

Published in print June 2010 | ISBN: 9780199738632
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Grammatical Voice in Cognitive Grammar

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  • Linguistics
  • Grammar, Syntax and Morphology



Voice or diathesis, as first termed by Dionysius, is the grammatical category by which the arguments of the verb receive different prominence status in the sentence through a variety of semantic-syntactic and even pragmatic coding patterns. In verbs involving at least two arguments, the arrangement is always asymmetrical, with one argument being more prominent than the other. For all languages, there seems to be a canonical unmarked voice pattern, most commonly the active, where the agent is more prominent than the patient. Active voice contrasts with a variety of marked voice patterns: passive, anti-passive, inverse, and middle. This article provides a cognitive grammar approach that motivates the emergence of a variety of voice marking systems as corresponding to alternative conceptualization strategies. It considers Ann Cooreman's four-way distinction of voice marking systems: active direct voice, inverse voice, passive voice, and anti-passive voice. Finally, it looks at Philippine languages, which constitute a knotty problem for voice systems.

Keywords: Philippine languages; cognitive grammar; voice patterns; verbs; middle voice; Ann Cooreman; diathesis; inverse voice; passive voice; active voice

Article.  14292 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Grammar, Syntax and Morphology

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