Voice and v

From Linguistic Inquiry Monographs

Voice and v

Lessons from Acehnese

By Julie Anne Legate

An investigation of the syntactic structure of voice and v, using Acehnese (Malayo-Polynesian) as the empirical starting point.





An investigation of the syntactic structure of voice and v, using Acehnese (Malayo-Polynesian) as the empirical starting point.

In Voice and v, Julie Anne Legate investigates the syntactic structure of voice, using Acehnese as the empirical starting point. A central claim is that voice is encoded in a functional projection, VoiceP, which is distinct from, and higher than, vP. Legate further claims that VoiceP may be associated with phi-features that semantically restrict the external argument position but do not saturate it. Through minor variations in the properties of VoiceP, Legate explains a wide range of non-canonical voice constructions, including: agent-agreeing passives, grammatical object passives, impersonals, object voice constructions, and applicative voice in causatives. Her analysis draws on data from a typologically diverse set of languages, not only Malayo-Polynesian, but also Celtic, Scandinavian, and Slavic.

Voice and v provides a detailed investigation into the syntactic structure of an understudied Malayo-Polynesian language, and thereby reveals important insights for the theoretical analysis of voice and the verb phrase. Moreover, the work applies and broadens these insights to a range of related passive-like constructions crosslinguistically. Voice and v thus joins a handful of model volumes that enlist typological depth and breadth to further our development of modern linguistic theory.


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262028141 208 pp. | 6 in x 9 in


$35.00 X ISBN: 9780262526609 208 pp. | 6 in x 9 in


  • Julie Anne Legate provides a clear and convincing analysis of the typologically unusual Acehnese passive, as well as situating it within a broader typology of passive(-like) constructions. In so doing she both sheds light on the structure of an under-documented language and extends our understanding of passives across languages. This is an important contribution.

    Matt Pearson

    Associate Professor of Linguistics, Reed College

  • Voice and v sheds bright new light on classic issues in transitivity. With her focus on the rich Austronesian voice system of Acehnese, Julie Legate skillfully develops a novel cline of passive constructions, from the canonical to the impersonal, to account for cross-linguistic micro-variation in passives, with extensions to causative and applicative constructions. In her meticulous and elegant analysis, Legate also manages to tease apart the tangled roles of a wide range of theoretical concepts involved in the licensing of arguments.

    Diane Massam

    Professor of Linguistics, University of Toronto

  • Legate develops a new analysis of passives and impersonals that captures their syntactic behavior within and across languages with a focus on one of the most controversial areas: Austronesian voice alternations. Her book is compellingly and elegantly argued and makes an important contribution to fundamental questions about how arguments are syntactically connected to their predicates.

    David Adger

    Professor of Linguistics, Queen Mary University of London