Volume 26
Graduate Working Papers

Examining the Tagalog Undergoer Voice Preference in the Context of Verbs and Referential Features

Norielle Adricula
University of Colorado Boulder

Published 2022-08-30


  • Tagalog,
  • Corpus Study,
  • Syntax & Semantics

How to Cite

Adricula, N. (2022). Examining the Tagalog Undergoer Voice Preference in the Context of Verbs and Referential Features. Colorado Research in Linguistics, 26. Retrieved from https://journals.colorado.edu/index.php/cril/article/view/1579


Research on Tagalog has shown that when describing transitive events, speakers exhibit a strong preference for mapping Undergoers (encompassing patients, themes, goals, etc.) instead of Actors (agents, experiencers, causers, etc.) to the privileged syntactic argument function (as indicated by ang-marking). However, the role of individual verbs and their co-occurrence patterns with their arguments within these voice structures remains an open question. To what extent do individual verbs exhibit the Undergoer voice preference? To what extent is this preference variable across verbs and are potentially verb-specific behaviors modulated by referential properties known to affect Undergoer and Actor voice selection? This study uses corpora methods (Gries & Stefanowitsch, 2004; Bresnan et al., 2004; Bybee, 2006; Colleman, 2009) to examine the Tagalog Undergoer voice preference for frequently occurring semantically transitive verbs (e.g., bangga ‘bump,’ tawag ‘call,’ tulak ‘push,’ etc.). The data were extracted from the tlTenTen 2019 Tagalog web corpus and coded for several morphosyntactic and semantic features. Preliminary results (n = 10 verbs, tokens = 685) suggest that preference for ang-marked Undergoers is not monolithic. Each verb exhibits specific patterns of ang-marking Undergoers and Actors that vary somewhat per verb and the relative weighting of their arguments' referential features. Furthermore, the contexts for mapping Actors to the privileged syntactic argument appear to be much more highly constrained. These results suggest that complex interactive relationships between these factors (and others) must be examined in order to explain the Undergoer and Actor voice distributions in Tagalog.