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Lexico-grammatical Means of Expressing the Category of Voice in the English Language

Author: Lifari Viorica
Degree:doctor of philology
Speciality: 10.02.04 - Germanic Languages (with specification of language)
Scientific adviser: Dumitru Melenciuc
doctor, associate professor (docent), Moldova State University


The thesis was presented on the 2 November, 2007
Approved by NCAA on the 20 December, 2007


Adobe PDF document0.34 Mb / in romanian


CZU 811.111’36 (043.3)

Adobe PDF document 1.26 Mb / in romanian
201 pages


Actor (compulsory ~, optional), action (dynamic ~, static ~), adjective (active ~, passive ~, reciprocal ~), adverb, agent, category (functional ~, grammatical ~, lexical ~, lexico-grammatical ~, semantic ~), object (direct ~, grammatical ~, prepositional ~, semantic ~), concept, context, voice (active ~, middle ~, passive ~, reflexive ~, reciprocal ~), sentence, combination, means ( central ~, peripheric ~, ~ of expression, explicit ~, implicit ~), level (deep ~, semantic ~, syntactic ~, surface ~), object, participle (adjectival ~, verbal ~), predicate (compound-nominal ~), patient, participant, seme, meaning (active ~, passive ~, reflexive ~, reciprocal ~, modal ~), scheme of correspondence, subject (grammatical ~, semantic ~), valency (objective ~, subjective ~, syntactic ~, verbal ~), verb (auxiliary ~, intransitive ~, link ~, notional ~, transitive ~)


The present dissertation represents a research in the field of the theory of grammar and semantics. As the title suggests, it is devoted to the category of voice in the Modern English language as both a grammatical and a semantic category and the means of its expression.

The concept of voice includes the variety of means used to render it on different levels of linguistics, i.e. the grammatical and lexical ones and the combination of both.

The grammatical means of expressing voice in English is the passive form of the verb “to be+Participle II”; in the active voice the verb is not grammatically marked. The other voices, i. e. reflexive and reciprocal ones, do not possess a verb in a special form either.

Other means of expressing the category of voice as lexical ones are the parts of speech derived from the verb. They denote the meanings of active, passive, reflexive and reciprocal voices depending on the meaning and valency of the verb they are formed from. These are the adjective, the adverb and the noun. The meaning of voice rendered by them differs from that expressed by the verb because the adjective, the adverb and the noun contain other categorial meaningful semes that refer to them as belonging to a certain part of speech besides those of voice. This fact does not permit us to include them into the center of the functional-semantic field of voice. The adverb can denote only active, passive and reciprocal voices in comparison with the noun and adjective.

No minor part is played by the context which has a decisive role in determining the meaning of the noun, because one and the same noun can be both active and passive outside it. The preposition is different from the other parts of speech concerning voice because it can only intensify the passive (beyond doubt) or reciprocal (agreement between) meaning of a noun or an adjective and emphasizes the passive meaning of participle II in an elliptical passive sentence.

The verb is the main means of expressing voice in a language because it renders the category under discussion grammatically. There is a group of verbs called ergative that copy the “classical” way of transforming the active voice sentence into a passive one by changing the object of the active sentence into the subject of the middle voice sentence, the “form” of the verb remaining active and bearing a passive meaning. These verbs give the English (a Nominative-Accusative la nguage) a shadow of ergativity, which implies no differences between the case of the subject and that of the object.

Thus the verbal category of voice can be expressed not only morphologically and syntactically but also lexically