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The <i>get</i>-passive at the intersection of <i>get</i> and the passive

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Abstract

On the surface, the English <i>get</i>-passive looks just like a <i>be</i>-passive, with a form of <i>get</i> replacing the auxiliary <i>be</i>, resulting in a more informal passive construction. However, the meaning of the <i>get</i>-passive has been described as different from the meaning of the <i>be</i>-passive in a manner that goes beyond just stylistics. This paper examines claims that have been made about the differences between the English <i>get</i>-passive and the canonical <i>be</i>-passive on the basis of corpus-based data, specifically the secondary agent or responsibility reading of the subject, the adversity reading ascribed to the construction, and the presence or absence of an implicit argument. Corpus-based data show that the <i>get</i>-passive is not as uniformly different from the <i>be</i>-passive as is often claimed, which either means that flexibility must be built into the construction or that there are two structurally different <i>get</i>-passives.

References

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