Corpus linguistic and experimental studies on the meaning-preserving hypothesis in Indonesian voice alternations

Wayan Arka, I Made Rajeg, Gede Primahadi W Rajeg

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    One essential feature of voice alternation is that active and passive clauses centred around a given verb express the same meaning: the “meaning-preserving” hypothesis. One effect of the alternation is the different linking of grammatical relations and semantic roles, which affects the identity of the subject. This paper investigates the meaning-preserving hypothesis in voice alternation in Indonesian from a quantitative usage-based perspective by combining corpus-based data with sentence-production experiment data. It analysed Indonesian caused forward/backward motion verbs and the distribution of their (non-)metaphoric senses in active and passive. The findings demonstrate the frequency effects and sense-sensitivity of voice alternation, such that a given voice type of a verb is strongly associated with certain senses. This finding provides initial support for a previous study on voice alternation in an Austronesian language, predicting that the verb’s semantic properties may condition the statistical bias of the verb towards a particular voice. Some convergence between experimental and corpus findings indicates that participants demonstrate some representation of the strong association between a given voice form of the verb and the sense predominantly expressed in that form, highlighting the notion of item-specific representations of linguistic knowledge as found in construction grammar.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-16
    JournalLinguistics Vanguard
    Publication statusPublished - 2022


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