The bei passive and its discourse motivations

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8 Scopus citations


This study examines the variation between the active and the bei passive in Mandarin Chinese from a probabilistic perspective. The variables considered include discourse continuity factors and adversity. Two different models were built for the active-agentless passive variation and the active-agentive passive variation. Four factors were found to have significant effect: agent thematicity, patient thematicity, adversity, and referential distance. In contrast, the effect of topic persistence and local environment is not significant. The accuracy of prediction for the active-agentless passive variation is significantly higher than the accuracy for the active-agentive passive variation. Overall, the bei passive, either agentless or agentive, is more likely to be chosen over its active counterpart, if it is adversative, has a non-thematic agent, a thematic patient, and a shorter referential distance for the patient.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)198-231
Number of pages34
JournalChinese Language and Discourse
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2011


  • Adversity
  • Bei passive
  • Probability
  • Thematicity
  • Variation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Linguistics and Language


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