Colorado Research in Linguistics

Document Type

Working Paper


In a pilot study of the effect of grammatical voice in a written recall task, a subject pool composed of 18 students rewrote stories read in active (agent/actor in subject position), passive (agent/actor in non-subject position) and truncated passive voice (agent/actor omitted). While the general tendency was to rewrite the stories in active clauses, the voice used in the original stories influenced the grammatical voice used in the written retellings. Specifically, truncated passive clauses were most often employed in retelling of stories which were originally read in truncated passive clauses. It is proposed that the choice of voice in recall is an indication that meaning is coded via syntax as well as semantics, and that syntax may be used to encode sentential meaning in long-term memory. This directly conflicts with previous research in the area, and suggests areas for further research.



Included in

Linguistics Commons