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Cambridge Workshop on Voice (CamVoice), 22-24 May 2017

Meeting description

The Cambridge Workshop on Voice took place on May 22-24 in Cambridge, UK. It was hosted by the Italian Department, University of Cambridge, and funded by the Marie Skłodowska-Curie project Aromanian Syntax (AROSYN), awarded to Dr. Marios Mavrogiorgos (researcher) in collaboration with Professor Adam Ledgeway (PI) (European Union Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme, Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 657663). The theme of the workshop was voice and voice-related phenomena, and how these inform current theoretical, typological and/or experimental work (see call for papers). The workshop consisted of a general session, as well as of a special session (on the last day) dedicated to voice phenomena and variation (including language-contact induced variation) across Eastern Romance varieties (including Romanian, Aromanian, Megleno-Romanian and Istro-Romanian).

Venue: Institute of Criminology, Sidgwick Site, University of Cambridge

For details on how to get here, please see

Invited speakers

Delia Bentley (University of Manchester)

Alexandra Cornilescu (University of Bucharest)

Carmen Dobrovie-Sorin (Université Paris Diderot-Paris 7)

Julie Anne Legate (University of Pennsylvania)

Martin Maiden |(University of Oxford)

Ian Roberts (University of Cambridge)

Florian Schäfer (Humboldt University Berlin)

Ianthi-Maria Tsimpli (University of Cambridge)

Workshop Organisers

Professor Adam Ledgeway

Dr. Marios Mavrogiorgos

Call for papers

Semantic participants of verbal predicates may undergo various operations. Voice alternation and valence alternation are two examples of such operations most commonly attested cross-linguistically. Voice alternation refers to the phenomenon where the grammatical function of a semantic argument changes. Passives and anti-passives are considered instances of voice alternation. Valence alternation, on the other hand, refers to the phenomenon where a semantic argument is reduced or added. Examples of valence alternation include causatives and anti-causatives, reflexives/reciprocals, dispositional middles, impersonal middles, as well as verbal forms underspecified for the middle-passive distinction (known as medio-passives). Languages vary considerably in whether they exhibit some or all of these phenomena, as well as in the various properties these phenomena may involve. For instance, languages may differ as to whether they allow passivisation of intransitive verbs, which internal argument of a ditransitive predicate can be passivised, whether they mark the causative or the anti-causative alternant, or whether they allow modification of a dispositional middle by an agent phrase. Within the generative literature, it has been argued that at least some of these phenomena are interrelated, in that they all involve - in one way or another - the external argument, which is introduced by a specialised predicate (typically, a little v-head) [Doron 2013].

Further related issues raised in the literature include: (a) the potential derivational relationships among various voice-related forms (e.g. the derivational relationship between actives and passives, between causatives and anti-causatives, and between transitives and reflexives/reciprocals) [see e.g. Levin & Rappaport-Hovav 2005; Alexiadou, Anagnostopoulou & Schäfer 2006, 2015]; (b) the structural position of the single argument of intransitive predicates and, consequently, any structural correlations between distinct intransitive predicates (e.g. are reflexives/reciprocals unergatives or unaccusatives?; do middles involve the projection of an implicit external argument?; do medio-passive forms have an external argument like passives?; are impersonals like passives?) [see e.g. Marantz 1984; Tsimpli 1989; Pesetsky 1995; Reinhart & Siloni 2004; Lekakou 2005; Bentley 2006; Kallulli 2006; D’Alessandro 2007; Alexiadou, Anagnostopoulou & Schäfer 2015]; (c) the content of voice and how it affects external argument realisation and suppression [see e.g. Baker, Johnson & Roberts 1989; Kratzer 1996; Alexiadou, Anagnostopoulou & Schäfer 2015; Alexiadou & Doron 2012; Legate 2014; Wood 2015]; (d) the issue of phases/phasehood and how this relates to voice (e.g. are non-active vPs (invariably) non-phases, and if they are, does this also apply to unaccusatives, which share many properties of non-active vPs but may, at least in some languages, be characterized by vPs that behave as phasal domains?)  [see e.g. Chomsky 1995; Legate 2003; Marantz 2007]; (e) the nature of the morphological marking often shared across related voice constructions (e.g. in languages like Romance or Slavic, which use a reflexive morpheme to mark various voice constructions, does the relevant morpheme spell-out a certain operation, the lack of a certain feature/head, or something else (e.g. aspectual marking)?)) [see e.g. Folli 2003; Folli & Harley 2005; Dobrovie-Sorin 2005; Medová 2009].

Besides these theoretical issues, which are specific to voice, voice-related phenomena raise more general questions, including the following [for an overview see Ramchand 2013]: (i) are semantic participants of a verbal predicate, as well as any operations applied to them, constructed in the syntax, or are they projected from a derivational Lexicon?; (ii) what is the relationship between case and voice (cf. e.g. Burzio’s Generalisation); (iii) what is the relationship between grammatical functions and voice (e.g. what is the common feature shared by semantic arguments that may assume the subject grammatical function? Is it of syntactic and/or semantic nature?); (iv) what is the relationship between voice and aspect/telicity?; (v) if external arguments are introduced by a voice head, how can we model the variation documented cross-linguistically (e.g. various types of v which may differ in terms of morpho-syntactic features, semantic properties, or some other dimension); (vi) are there any idiosyncratic restrictions imposed on voice formation, and if yes what is their nature?; (vii) how can we account for diachronic changes in voice-related phenomena, and what is the role of language contact in this?; (viii) how is voice and other voice related phenomena acquired and/or used by typical and impaired populations, and in what way does this knowledge inform syntactic theory?

We invite the submission of abstracts for oral presentations (20 minutes plus 10 minutes of discussion) and/or posters which address any of these issues from a theoretical and/or experimental perspective. On the third day, there will be a special session on voice phenomena and variation (including language contact-induced variation) across Eastern Romance varieties (including Romanian, Aromanian, Megleno-Romanian and Istro-Romanian).


Alexiadou, A., Anagnostopoulou, E. & F. Schäfer. 2006. “The properties of anticausatives crosslinguistically”. In: M. Frascarelli (ed.), Phases of Interpretation. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, pp. 187-212.

Alexiadou, A., Anagnostopoulou, E. & F. Schäfer. 2015. External Arguments in Transitivity Alternations. Oxford: OUP.

Alexiadou, A. & E. Doron. 2012. “The syntactic construction of two non-active Voices: passive and middle”. Journal of Linguistics 48: 1-34.

Baker, M., Johnson, K. & I. Roberts. 1989. “Passive arguments raised”. Linguistic Inquiry 20: 219-51.

Bentley, D. 2006. Split Intransitivity in Italian. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Chomsky, N. 1995. The Minimalist Program. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

D’Alessandro, R. 2007. Impersonal si constructions. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Dobrovie-Sorin, C. 2005. “The SE-anaphor and its role in argument realization”. In: M. Everaert, H. van Riemsdjik (eds.), The Blackwell Companion to Syntax. Blackwell: Oxford, pp. 118-79.

Doron, E. 2013. “Voice and Valence Change”. In: J. Jacobs, A. von Stechow, W. Sternefeld, T. Vennemann (eds.), Syntax: An International Handbook of Contemporary Research. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, pp.749-776.

Folli, R. 2003.  “Deriving Telicity in English and Italian. Ph.D. dissertation. Oxford University.

Folli, R. & H. Harley. 2005. “Flavours of v: Consuming Results in Italian and English”. In: P. Kempchinsky, R. Slabakova (eds.), Aspectual Inquiries. Dordrecht: Springer, pp. 95-120.

Kallulli, D. 2006. “A unified analysis of passives, anticausative and reflexives”. In: O. Bonami, P. Cabredo-Hofherr (eds.), Empirical Issues in Formal Syntax and Semantics 6, pp. 201-25. Published online at:>.

Kratzer, A. 1996. “Severing the External Argument from its Verb.” In: J. Rooryck, L. Zaring (eds.), Phrase Structure and the Lexicon. Dordrecht: Kluwer, pp. 109-37.

Legate, J. 2003. “Some Interface Properties of the Phase.” Linguistic Inquiry 34: 506-516.

Legate, J. 2014. Voice and v. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Lekakou, M. 2005. “In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated. The semantics of middles and its crosslinguistic realization”. Ph.D. dissertation, University of London.

Levin, B. & M. Rappaport-Hovav. 2005. Argument Realization. Cambridge: CUP.

Marantz, A. 1984. On the Nature of Grammatical Relations. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Marantz, A. 2007.  “No escape from syntax: Don’t try morphological analysis in the privacy of your own lexicon”. In: A. Dimitriadis, L. Siegel (eds.), Proceedings of the 21st Annual Penn Linguistics Colloquium, University of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania. pp. 201–225.

Medová, L. 2009. “Reflexive Clitics in the Slavic and Romance Languages”. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Princeton.

Pesetsky, D. 1995. Zero Syntax: Experiencers and Cascades. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Ramchand, G. 2013. “Argument Structure and Argument Structure Alternations”. In: M. den Dikken (ed.), The Cambridge Handbook in Generative Syntax. Cambridge: CUP, pp. 265-321.

Reinhart, T. & T. Siloni. 2004. “Against the unaccusative analysis of reflexives”. In: A.

Alexiadou, E. Anagnostopoulou, M. Everaert (eds.), The Unaccusativity Puzzle. Oxford: OUP, pp.159-80.

Tsimpli, I.-M. 1989. “On the properties of the passive affix in Modern Greek.” UCL Working Papers in Linguistics 1: 235-260.

Wood, J. 2015. Icelandic Morphosyntax and Argument Structure. Springer: Dordrecht.

Abstract submission

Abstracts should not exceed two A4 pages, with standard margins (1 inch on all sides), 11 font, single spacing, including data and bibliography. Examples, tables, graphs, etc. should be integrated within the main text (and not put at the end). Abstracts must be anonymous, and they should only include the title of the paper. At most two abstracts per author are permitted, with one abstract being co-authored. Abstracts should be submitted in a pdf file. Authors should specify whether they would like their abstract to be considered for the main session or the special session on Eastern Romance. In addition, authors should specify if they wish to submit their paper for an oral presentation or a poster. Please send your abstracts by email to, along with your name and university affiliation.    

Important dates

Abstract submission deadline: 5 March 2017

Notification of acceptance: 20 March 2017

Workshop: 22-24 May 2017

Further Information



Travelling & Accommodation


AROSYN project



This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 657663.

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