Supervisors: prof Elisabet Engdahl (Göteborgi ülikool), prof Frans Gregersen (Kopenhaageni ülikool)
Opponents: prof Marketta Sundman (Turu ülikool), Tanya Karoli Christensen, PhD (Kopenhaageni ülikool)
The thesis examines the passive voice and its use in Danish, Norwegian and Swedish. The focus of the thesis is not on the distinction between active and passive sentences. Rather, it is the fact that the three languages have the same two ways to form passive voice: a synthetic (morphological) and an analytic (periphrastic) option. Both of these are productive. We proceed from the hypothesis that the grammatical options of a language are never absolute synonyms; even if a language in principle has two or more ways to express the same content, there might still be morphosyntactic, lexical, semantic, stylistic, or other differences that influence the choice between the available options. The impact of these aspects is examined in the thesis. The contrastive study is based on a number of comparable corpora. The empirical material includes both spoken and written language, each of which is represented by two different genres: newspaper articles, fictional prose, debates and conversations. Newer language studies have shown significant differences in the grammar of the written and spoken language. Our results partially confirm the previous results. However, the analysis indicates that the situational and stylistic characteristics of the genre are more important for the choice of passive form than the medium. As linguists using contrastive approach have pointed out, the comparative study aims not only to identify similarities and differences between languages; comparative analysis is also a tool that might provide new insights into the individual languages in the comparison. This is also so in this work. The differences between the two forms of the passive voice turned out to be less categorical than claimed by earlier studies. It is also evident that, in spite of the genetic and typological proximity of the languages studied, there are important differences between the languages, and the factors that determine the choice of passive form vary from language to language. The choice between the two passive options is influenced by multiple factors not only related to semantics.