The distribution of passives in spoken Sesotho

Katherine Demuth*, Melissa Kline

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


A previous study of passive constructions has suggested that these are much more frequent in Sesotho than in English spontaneous speech (Demuth, 1989). This has raised a number of questions regarding the possible effects of the input on the apparently earlier acquisition of passives in Sesotho. This paper explores the distribution of passives in Sesotho child-directed speech. It aims to provide a more thorough investigation of the grammatical, lexical and discourse contexts in which the passive is used. The findings confirm that passives occur in approximately 4% of utterances directed at 2-3-year olds. Many of these are full (rather than truncated) passives, most occurring with actional verbs that show active/passive alternations. Many passives are also questions/clarifications about past events. The implications for language acquisition are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)377-388
Number of pages12
JournalSouthern African Linguistics and Applied Language Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'The distribution of passives in spoken Sesotho'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this