Linguistica Pragensia (Sep 2015)

Passivization of ditransitive verbs from the FSP point of view

  • Gabriela Brůhová

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 25, no. 1
pp. 27 – 36


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The present paper aims at contributing to the study of passivization of ditransitive complementation from the FSP point of view. English ditransitive verbs generally allow two passive constructions, i.e. the subject of a passive can in the active correspond either to Oi (Jack was sent a copy of the letter) or to Od (A copy of the letter was sent (to) Jack). As the passive usually serves as one of the means used to achieve the basic distribution of communicative dynamism, the choice of the subject and the object of the passive can be supposed to be motivated, respectively, by their thematic and rhematic function. Thus, the sentence is perspectived away from the subject and constitutes the quality scale. The aim of the paper is to verify this assumption and to find out whether a passive sentence with a ditransitive verb can also implement the presentation scale, i.e. whether the sentence can be perspectived towards the subject and introduce a phenomenon into discourse. Attention is paid to other potential factors that might play a role in the selection of the passive, namely the semantics of the verb and of the indirect object (whether the recipient is actual or intended), object deletion (i.e. omission of an object) and the expression of the by-agent. The analysis is based on examples obtained from the British National Corpus.