Non-active voice in Greek Heritage speakers’ repertoire

Vasiliki Rizou & Artemis Alexiadou | Humboldt Universität zu Berlin

Modern Greek has two sets of Voice forms, active vs. non-active voice (NAct). NAct is used with passives, reciprocals, reflexives and certain anticausatives as well as in deponent verbs (Embick, 1997; 1998; Alexiadou & Anagnostopoulou, 2004).

The approximate age of L1 NAct acquisition (beginning with short passives) is around 5 years old (Fotiadou and Tsimpli, 2010; Zombolou et al., 2010; Grey 2020). 

We aim to explore which verb categories bearing NAct voice are produced by two groups of Heritage Speakers (HSs) and whether these diverge from monolingual productions.

Methodology: In a production task, speakers narrated a fictional event (N=63 HSs in the US, Mean Age=23;0, N=47 HSs in Germany, Mean Age=22;4 and Ν=64 monolinguals, Mean Age=21;4) in two communicative situations (Wiese 2017). Number of tokens 65.746. 

Results: a) Both HSs groups produced less verbs bearing NAct than monolinguals in all four categories (Table 1). 

HSs in the USHSs in GermanyMonolinguals
Table 1: Appearances of verbs bearing NAct voice per group.

b) We observed seven non-target forms in our HSs groups (1-2), NAct appearing on verbs that don’t combine with NAct. This suggest that HSs generalize NAct as an intransitivity marker. This is unlike L1 acquisition, where Active is generalized (Zombolou et al., 2010).

1)den ihe ora na*stamatithi                                    Greek HS in Germany
didn’t have time tostop NAct 
Didn’t have time to stop
2)Ke to aftokinito aspro*spastiketo ble aftokinito Greek HS in the US
And the white carbroke NActthe blue car
The white car crashed into the blue car

The findings indicate a) quantitative differences between HSs and monolinguals as the former deviate from the latter; b) a re-analysis of NAct marking as an intransitivity marker.


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