Passive Structure in Persian: A Minimalist Approach

Document Type : Research Paper


Assistant Professor of Linguistics Department, Tehran University


Whether or not there is a verbal passive construction in Persian has been ‎highly controversial. Traditional grammarians and most linguists have ‎argued that there is a structural passive construction in Persian, similar to ‎that observed in English. Within the framework of the Minimalist ‎Program, but more in the spirit of Emonds’s (2006) division of analytic ‎passives into verbal and adjectival, it will be argued that the Persian ‎so-called verbal passive construction is just an instance of adjectival ‎passive, or indeed, unaccusative CPr with a past participle serving as ‎its NV element. In line with what holds for verb movement in simplex ‎and complex predicates, it will be discussed in detail that Modern ‎Persian lacks verbal passive constructions and hence passive ‎projections, and in contrast to the grammatical verb budan ‘to be’ ‎which can be used either as a light verb in complex predicates or as a ‎perfect auxiliary in present/past perfect tenses, the grammatical verb ‎šodan ‘to become’, which is traditionally considered as a passive ‎auxiliary, is indeed a light verb hosted by an NV element. According ‎to this line of analysis, in Persian adjectival passives, the head [A-en] is ‎present in both LF and PF and the past participle is obligatorily ‎interpreted as an adjective.


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Volume 6, Issue 1 - Serial Number 1
September 2015
Pages 1-20
  • Receive Date: 07 February 2015
  • Revise Date: 19 August 2015
  • Accept Date: 10 August 2015
  • First Publish Date: 10 August 2015