Across languages, a passive construction is known to manifest a misalignment between the typical order of event composition (agent-before-theme) and the actual order of arguments in the constructions (theme-before-agent), dubbed non-isomorphic mapping. This study investigates comprehension of a suffixal passive construction in Korean by Mandarin-speaking learners of Korean, focusing on isomorphism and language-specific devices in the passive. We measured learners' judgment of the acceptability of canonical and scrambled suffixal passives as well as their reaction times (relative to a canonical active transitive). Our analysis generated three major findings. First, learners uniformly preferred the canonical passive to the scrambled passive. Second, as proficiency increased, the judgment gap between the canonical active transitive and the canonical suffixal passive narrowed, but the gap between the canonical active transitive and the scrambled suffixal passive did not. Third, learners (and even native speakers) spent more time in judging the acceptability of the canonical suffixal passive than they did in the other two construction types. Implications of these findings are discussed with respect to the mapping nature involving a passive voice, indicated by language-specific devices (i.e., case-marking and verbal morphology dedicated to Korean passives), in L2 acquisition.
- passive construction
- verbal morphology