The linguistic marking of nonprototypical agency: An exploration into children's use of passives
The present study examines how children vary perspective in describing events. In particular, it investigates how children describe events that deviate from prototypical transitive events. Cross-linguistic research suggests that speakers of various languages organize particular linguistic devices around clusters of related notions such as volition, animacy, and control (see Comrie 1981; DeLancey 1984; Givon 1979, 1984; Hopper and Thompson 1980; Lakoff 1977; Slobin 1981, 1985). Prototypical transitive events include an agent who acts intentionally to bring about a perceptible change of state in an object. Deviations from this scene have been noted to be marked by deviations from canonical morphosyntax marking the prototypical transitive scene. Previous research suggests that children reserve the use of specific linguistic devices to mark prototypical transitive scenes in the earliest phases of grammatical development (see Budwig 1986, 1989; Slobin 1981, 1985 for further discussion). Cross-linguistic research suggests that children acquiring distinct languages first give special linguistic attention to scenes involving prototypical agents. Whether children also mark deviations from the prototypical transitive scene has received little attention (see Budwig 1986, 1989 for further discussion of children’s early linguistic treatment of prototypical agentivity and various deviations). The present paper will examine how children acquiring English as a first language make use of particular voice contrasts to shift perspective away from the prototypical transitive scene. It will focus in particular on the use of the passive con-struction. © 1990, Walter de Gruyter
Budwig, Nancy, "The linguistic marking of nonprototypical agency: An exploration into children's use of passives" (1990). Psychology. 204.