Getting at the passive: Functions of passive-types in English

Thompson, Dominic (2012) Getting at the passive: Functions of passive-types in English. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

Full text available as:
Download (2MB) | Preview
Printed Thesis Information:


To describe a transitive event, the English language allows a choice of two Voices. The canonical form is the active-voice, and the alternative is the passive-voice, which offers its own semantic and syntactic functions. The passive-voice can also be divided into two further variants: be-passives and get-passives. Though theories are numerous, literature from both Linguistics and Psychology falls short in describing the functions and uses of these two forms.

In this thesis, I present a rethink of passive syntactic representation, simplifying its description under a single structural unit. The proposed pvP theory allows for the variation between the two passive-types, while accounting for the features that are shared by all passive forms.

I also present several experiments that explore the differing semantics and syntax of be-passives and get-passives. The results of these studies show a clear preference for the be-passive over the get-passive, especially in self-reporting and tasks that allow self-correction. However, it is also clear that, though there is overlap between them, each form serves its own purposes and exhibits preference for use in specific contexts.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: passive, get, syntax, semantics, function, priming, paraphrasing, eye-tracking, behaviour
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Colleges/Schools: College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology
Supervisor's Name: Scheepers, Dr. Christoph and Sereno, Dr. Sara
Date of Award: 2012
Depositing User: Mr Dominic Thompson
Unique ID: glathesis:2012-4050
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 01 Mar 2013 08:25
Last Modified: 01 Mar 2013 08:29

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year