Diachronic Change in the English Passive by Junichi Toyota (auth.)

By Junichi Toyota (auth.)

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1 and previous studies cited there. Now, let us look at some examples of the passive. The be + past participle construction is often called periphrastic passive, since it involves the use of an auxiliary verb and a main verb in the past participle. The main morphosyntactic characteristic is the valency-reducing operation and undergoer-orientation. e. is the undergoer. However, there are superficially identical constructions with slightly different semantic features, particularly those features related to the tense–aspect system.

3 Aspectual issues One of the main changes in the development of the be-passive is an aspectual change. In the following three subsections, it is analysed in relation to the auxiliary be. For the sake of fuller explanation, non-passive constructions like the perfective construction, which all contribute to the formation of the PDE be-passive are also incorporated. First there is an illustration of the general aspectual change observed in the data, and then an analysis of change in the perfective constructions and other syntactic constructions, which enables us to understand the general change better.

This would still leave two possible choices. (24) Ne meahte hire Iudas . . ’ (HC OE3 cocynew) As for the specific case of ambiguity between passive and perfective construction, consider example (25). The ambiguity in this example is complex, since if it is interpreted as a verbal passive, the clause is dynamic, but if it is perfective, the clause expresses stativity. So the decision is not simply about what type of construction it is, but also about whether the clause is stative or dynamic. The ambiguity arises, because the main verb awendan ‘turn’, unlike ahebban ‘raise’ in (24), can appear as both a monovalent and divalent verb (Mitchell 1985: §735).

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