The "passive" voice in Japanese and German: Argument reduction versus argument extension

Tomoaki Seino, Shin Tanaka

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


In this article, we will examine the similarities and differences between the passive forms of German and Japanese. We would like to argue that the structural similarity observed in the passive forms is the result of the deprofiling of the agent, and that the most salient difference between both passives, namely the existence of the Japanese adversative passive, can be explained in line with a general property of the Japanese language, which is the ability to extend its argument structure by adding the experiencer as an extra-argument. Through the discussion above, the "traditional" definition of passive (that a marked verbal morphology and a case alternation describe an event centripetally from the viewpoint of the patient) will be modified to a more universal treatment of the voice category. This universal treatment is compatible with a higher degree of variation among languages.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)319-342
Number of pages24
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2006 Feb 20
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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