Voice in Morphology (definition)
Voice, in its morphosyntactic sense, describes alternations in the alignment of thematic relations and grammatical relations within a clause. Traditionally, this includes active voice and passive voice, while Scottish Gaelic and other languages also have an impersonal voice. However, many linguists consider these voices to be part of a much broader category of valence changing operations.
- 1a) Jones painted a picture.
- 1b) A picture was painted (by Jones).
Consider some examples from English. (1a) is a sentence in the active voice. Active voice sentences align noun phrases which take the agent (or more agent-like) thematic relation with the subject grammatical relation. The passive version in (1b) changes this alignment; in the passive voice, noun phrases which are more patient-like are treated as subjects. Note also that the passive voice reduces the valence of the verb (i.e., the number of noun phrases it requires).
- Valence Changing Operations (definition)
- Thematic Relations (definition)
- Grammatical Relations (definition)
- wikipedia article on Voice: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grammatical_voice