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Patient-related constraints on get- and be-passive uses in English: evidence from paraphrasing.

Thompson D, Ling SP, Myachykov A, Ferreira F, Scheepers C - Front Psychol (2013)

Bottom Line: We found that a given Agent in a story promotes the use of active-voice, while a given Patient promotes be-passives specifically.Since both get and be are passive, they share the features of a Patient-subject and an optional Agent by-phrase; however, get specifically responds to a Patient being marked as important.Each of these descriptions has its own set of features that differentiate it from the others.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychology, Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology, University of Glasgow Glasgow, UK.

ABSTRACT
In English, transitive events can be described in various ways. The main possibilities are active-voice and passive-voice, which are assumed to have distinct semantic and pragmatic functions. Within the passive, there are two further options, namely be-passive or get-passive. While these two forms are generally understood to differ, there is little agreement on precisely how and why. The passive Patient is frequently cited as playing a role, though again agreement on the specifics is rare. Here we present three paraphrasing experiments investigating Patient-related constraints on the selection of active vs. passive voice, and be- vs. get-passive, respectively. Participants either had to re-tell short stories in their own words (Experiments 1 and 2) or had to answer specific questions about the Patient in those short stories (Experiment 3). We found that a given Agent in a story promotes the use of active-voice, while a given Patient promotes be-passives specifically. Meanwhile, get-passive use increases when the Patient is marked as important. We argue that the three forms of transitive description are functionally and semantically distinct, and can be arranged along two dimensions: Patient Prominence and Patient Importance. We claim that active-voice has a near-complementary relationship with the be-passive, driven by which protagonist is given. Since both get and be are passive, they share the features of a Patient-subject and an optional Agent by-phrase; however, get specifically responds to a Patient being marked as important. Each of these descriptions has its own set of features that differentiate it from the others.

No MeSH data available.


Example of paraphrasing trial procedure.
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Figure 1: Example of paraphrasing trial procedure.

Mentions: Trials proceeded as shown in Figure 1. They always began with a central fixation cross. The next screen displayed the preamble sentence in the center of the screen. After reading this aloud, participants pressed the spacebar to advance. The next screen displayed the transitive event sentence in the center of the screen. Again, this sentence was read aloud. After a brief (500 ms) pause, the next screen displayed a prompt for participants to retell the transitive event described in the second sentence in their own words. They responded to this out loud, and then pressed the spacebar to end the trial and begin the next.


Patient-related constraints on get- and be-passive uses in English: evidence from paraphrasing.

Thompson D, Ling SP, Myachykov A, Ferreira F, Scheepers C - Front Psychol (2013)

Example of paraphrasing trial procedure.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3824107&req=5

Figure 1: Example of paraphrasing trial procedure.
Mentions: Trials proceeded as shown in Figure 1. They always began with a central fixation cross. The next screen displayed the preamble sentence in the center of the screen. After reading this aloud, participants pressed the spacebar to advance. The next screen displayed the transitive event sentence in the center of the screen. Again, this sentence was read aloud. After a brief (500 ms) pause, the next screen displayed a prompt for participants to retell the transitive event described in the second sentence in their own words. They responded to this out loud, and then pressed the spacebar to end the trial and begin the next.

Bottom Line: We found that a given Agent in a story promotes the use of active-voice, while a given Patient promotes be-passives specifically.Since both get and be are passive, they share the features of a Patient-subject and an optional Agent by-phrase; however, get specifically responds to a Patient being marked as important.Each of these descriptions has its own set of features that differentiate it from the others.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychology, Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology, University of Glasgow Glasgow, UK.

ABSTRACT
In English, transitive events can be described in various ways. The main possibilities are active-voice and passive-voice, which are assumed to have distinct semantic and pragmatic functions. Within the passive, there are two further options, namely be-passive or get-passive. While these two forms are generally understood to differ, there is little agreement on precisely how and why. The passive Patient is frequently cited as playing a role, though again agreement on the specifics is rare. Here we present three paraphrasing experiments investigating Patient-related constraints on the selection of active vs. passive voice, and be- vs. get-passive, respectively. Participants either had to re-tell short stories in their own words (Experiments 1 and 2) or had to answer specific questions about the Patient in those short stories (Experiment 3). We found that a given Agent in a story promotes the use of active-voice, while a given Patient promotes be-passives specifically. Meanwhile, get-passive use increases when the Patient is marked as important. We argue that the three forms of transitive description are functionally and semantically distinct, and can be arranged along two dimensions: Patient Prominence and Patient Importance. We claim that active-voice has a near-complementary relationship with the be-passive, driven by which protagonist is given. Since both get and be are passive, they share the features of a Patient-subject and an optional Agent by-phrase; however, get specifically responds to a Patient being marked as important. Each of these descriptions has its own set of features that differentiate it from the others.

No MeSH data available.