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Exceptions to the Norwegian Passive

Exceptions to the Norwegian passive: Unaccusativity, aspect and thematic roles  
Type in-book
Author(s) Helge Lødrup
Journal Norsk lingvistisk tidsskrift
Pages 37-54
Volume 1, 2000
Country Norway
Annotator Isak Askheim
Corpus Link Exceptions to the Norwegian Passive
Language Norwegian Bokmål

By Isak Askheim

General Information

This article belongs to the TC Category Interlinear Glossed Text from Linguistic Research.

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IGT are normally demarcated through indenting, numbering and a space above and under the example. One line of text is followed by one line of glosses and a line with free translation completes the pattern. IGTs from linguistic publications are of particular interest, since they represent a unique alignment of language data and linguistic theory. Example sentences from seminal articles are not rarely quoted in linguistic publications for decades which is another good reason why they need our attention.

In an effort to make IGT more accessible to linguistic research, we try to extract original IGT from linguistic publications and in same cases we provide additional linguistic glosses through a subsequent layer of annotation using the TypeCraft Glosser. In this way we hope to contribute to the re-usability of this data.

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morphological passive,
periphrastic passive,
unaccusative verbs,
thematic role hierarchy


In this article the author, Helge Lødrup, wants to show that the Norwegian passive has different exceptions to the different for of passive, morphological and periphrastic. Exceptions to the passive is sensitive to thematic roles, and the periphrastic passive is related to perfectivity. The author also argues that the unaccusativity hypothesis is unsatisfactory.

The (syntactic) unaccusativity hypothesis should, according to the author, be replaced with a semantic one. This way, unaccusative verbs will have a theme subject, and verbs with a theme subject cannot passivize.

The author argues that exceptions to the passive should be treated independently of the valency of the verb in question. He agrees with common assumptions that an aspectual difference between the morphological and periphrastic passive is a central part of the difference.

Verbs with benefactive and experiencer subject often lack a periphrastic passive, and verb that lack a morphological passive also lacks a periphrastic passive.

Verbs that denote "the actual perception of some entity" can be stative and non-stative. The periphrastic passive can not be used with the former. The author argues that these verbs need two separate entries.

The author also points out that the passive auxiliary 'være' can be interpreted as the perfect of passive 'bli' for non-stative verbs, but for stative verbs, there would hardly be a difference in meaning.

Original Interlinear Glossed Text

(1) The morphological passive with the -s-suffix:

Kaken stekes i ovnen.
The-cake bake-PASSIVE in the-oven

(2) The periphrastic passive with the auxiliary bli 'become' and the passive participle:

Kaken blir stekt i ovnen
The-cake becomes baked in the-oven


*Dette redskapet blir behøvd
This tool becomes needed


Salaten ble smakt på
The salad became tasted on


Hvitløken smakes ikke i det hele tatt
The garlic taste-PASSIVE not at all


*Hvitløken blir ikke smakt i det hele tatt
The garlic becomes not tasted at all


Kaken blir stekt i ovnen
The-cake becomes baked in the-oven
'The cake is being baked in the oven'


Kaken er stekt i ovnen
The-cake is baked in the-oven
'The cake has been baked in the oven'


Kongen blir elsket av alle
The-king becomes loved by everybody
'The king is loved by everybody'


Kongen er elsket av alle
The-king is loved by everybody
'The king is loved by everybody'