Topicality, Predicate Prototypes, and Conceptual Space

Patrick Murphy 1
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1Duke University

Copyright ⓒ 2016, Sejong University Language Research Institue. This is an Open-Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Published Online: Jan 01, 2017


This paper has the goal of investigating the nature of membership within the category ‘passive’ and cross-linguistic comparison of constructions, ‘passive’ and otherwise. Topicality measures were collected from the Uppsala Corpus of Russian for passive and active uses of the Russian verbs pisat’/napisat’ ‘to write,’ davat’/dat’ ‘to give,’ and zabyvat’/zabyt’ ‘to forget.’ Croft’s (2001) notion of plotting constructions in ‘conceptual space’ is exploited as a means of cross-linguistic comparison using these topicality measures. Examining the conceptual space of various voice constructions with these Russian verbs, Croft’s generalizations are upheld, their position being consistent whether Referential Distance or Topic Persistence is used as a measure. Finally, data from other typological discourse studies is plotted, noting where various voice constructions pattern, and how this data fits into Croft’s model.

Keywords: passive; voice; prototypes; topicality; radical construction grammar; conceptual space; corpus linguistics



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