Predicting voice choice in symmetrical voice languages: All the things that do not work in Totoli

Sonja Riesberg, Maria Bardají i Farre, Kurt Malcher, Nikolaus P Himmelmann

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    Western Austronesian symmetrical voice languages exhibit at least two basic transitive constructions. This paper investigates what factors influence speakers' choice of one voice over another in natural spoken discourse. It provides a thorough assessment of all factors that have been proposed to be relevant for voice choice in the literature on symmetrical voice systems. Using the Indonesian language Totoli as a case study, we show that unlike in languages with asymmetrical voice alternations, argument-related properties such as topicality, activation state, animacy, etc. do not play a major role in voice choice in symmetrical voice languages. We argue that for symmetrical voice alternations other factor groups are relevant than for asymmetrical voice alternations and that the clear structural differences between the two alternation types are mirrored in functional differences.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)453-516
    JournalStudies in Language
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2022

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