Volume 13, Issue 1
  • ISSN 1387-6759
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9897
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Taking a comparative corpus-based approach, the article examines the use of the passive voice in Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish written as well as spoken language. More specifically, we measure the relative frequency of the passive voice in general and in its two forms — periphrastic and morphological — within two written and two oral genres. Although we find differences in the relative frequency of the passive voice, with Danish and Norwegian being more similar than Swedish, the basic pattern is identical across the three languages. Situational and stylistic factors — especially the degree of formality — appear more important for the choice of passive voice than the distinction between written and spoken media. More formal genres use more passive voice and have a preference for the morphological passive, whereas less formal genres tend to use less passive voice with the periphrastic passive playing a relatively more prominent role.


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