Symmetrical voice

Symmetrical voice, also known as Austronesian alignment, the Philippine-type voice system or the Austronesian focus system, is a typologically unusual kind of morphosyntactic alignment in which "one argument can be marked as having a special relationship to the verb".[1] This special relationship manifests itself as a voice affix on the verb that corresponds to the syntactic role of a noun within the clause, that is either marked for a particular grammatical case or is found in a privileged structural position within the clause or both.

Symmetrical voice is best known from the languages of the Philippines, but is also found in Taiwan's Formosan languages, as well as in Borneo, Northern Sulawesi, and Madagascar, and has been reconstructed for the ancestral Proto-Austronesian language.[2]

The term Austronesian focus was widely used in early literature, but more scholars turn to the term voice recently because of the arguments against the term 'focus'.[3] On the other hand, Starosta argued that neither voice nor focus is correct and that it is a lexical derivation.[4]

Schachter (1987) proposed the word 'trigger', which has seen widespread use. As one source summarized, 'focus' and 'topic' do not what they mean in discourse (the essential piece of new information, and what is being talked about, respectively), but rather 'focus' is a kind of agreement, and the 'topic' is a noun phrase that agrees with the focus-marked verb. Thus using those terms for Austronesian/Philippine alignment is "misleading" and "it seems better to refer to this argument expression as the trigger, a term that reflects the fact that the semantic role of the argument in question triggers the choice of a verbal affix."[5]

A number of studies focused on the typological perspective of Austronesian voice system.[6][7]

Some explored the semantic or pragmatic properties of Austronesian voice system.[8][9]

In languages that exhibit symmetrical voice, the voice affix on the main verb within the clause marks agreement with "the semantic role of the [subject]".[11]

For example, the Actor Voice affix may agree only with agent nominal phrases. (The asterisk means that the sentence is ungrammatical for the intended meaning.)

Intended: "The boy will write a poem on the blackboard."
(Grammatical for: "The poem will write a boy on the blackboard.")

Intended: "The boy will write a poem on the blackboard."
(Grammatical for: "The blackboard will write a poem on the boy.")

Intended: "The man bought a mango at the market."
(Grammatical for: "The mango bought a man at the market.")

Intended: "The man bought a mango at the market."
(Grammatical for: "The market bought a mango from the man.")

The sentences in (b) are ungrammatical because the patient nominal phrase is marked as the subject, even though the verb bears the Actor Voice infix. The sentences in (c) are ungrammatical because, instead of the agent nominal phrase, the location nominal phrase is marked as the subject.

Intended: "The poem will be written by the boy on the blackboard."
(Grammatical for: "The boy will be written by the poem on the blackboard.")

Intended: "The poem will be written by the boy on the blackboard."
(Grammatical for: "The blackboard will be written by the boy on the poem.")

Intended: "The mango was bought by the man at the market."
(Grammatical for: "The man was bought by the mango at the market.")

Intended: "The mango was bought by the man at the market."
(Grammatical for: "The market was bought by the man at the mango.")

The sentences in (b) are ungrammatical because the agent nominal phrase is marked as the subject, even though the verb bears the patient voice affix. The sentences in (c) are ungrammatical because, instead of the patient nominal phrase, the location nominal phrase is marked as the subject.

The locative voice affix may agree only with location nominal phrases.

Intended: "The blackboard will be written a poem on by the boy."
(Grammatical for: "The boy will be written a poem on by the blackboard.")

Intended: "The blackboard will be written a poem on by the boy."
(Grammatical for: "The poem will be written a blackboard on by the boy.")

Intended: "The market was bought a mango at by the man."
(Grammatical for: "The man was bought a mango from by the market.")

Intended: "The market was bought a mango at by the man."
(Grammatical for: "The mango was bought a market at by the man.")

The sentences in (b) are ungrammatical because the agent nominal phrase is marked as the subject, even though the verb bears the locative voice affix. The sentences in (c) are ungrammatical because, instead of the location nominal phrase, the patient nominal phrase is marked as the subject.

Across languages, the most common semantic roles with which the voice affixes may agree are agent, patient, location, instrument, and benefactee. In some languages, the voice affixes may also agree with semantic roles such as theme, goal, reason, and time. The set of semantic roles that may be borne by subjects in each language varies, and some affixes can agree with more than one semantic role.

Languages that have symmetrical voice do not have a process that promotes an oblique argument to direct object. Oblique arguments are promoted directly to subject.

(ungrammatical attempt to promote the indirect object to direct object)

In the Tagalog examples above, the goal nominal phrase can either be an indirect object, as in (1), or a subject as in (2). However, it cannot become a direct object, or be marked with indirect case, as in (3). Verb forms, such as "nagpadalhan", which bear both an Actor Voice affix and a non-Actor Voice affix, do not exist in languages that have symmetrical voice.

The Tagalog examples contrast with the examples[12] from Indonesian below. Indonesian is an Austronesian language that does not have symmetrical voice.

In the Indonesian examples, the goal nominal phrase can be the indirect object, as in (4), and the subject, as in (5). However, unlike in Tagalog, which has symmetrical voice, the goal nominal phrase in Indonesian can be a direct object, as in (6). The preposition kepada disappears in the presence of the applicative suffix -i, and the goal nominal phrase moves from sentence-final position to some verb-adjacent position. In addition, they can behave like regular direct objects and undergo processes such as passivisation, as in (5).

The examples [13] below are in Proto-Austronesian. Asterisks indicate a linguistic reconstruction. The voice affix on the verb appears in red text, while the subject, which the affix selects, appears in underlined bold italics. Four voices have been reconstructed for Proto-Austronesian: Actor Voice, Patient Voice, Locative Voice and Instrument Voice.

"A/the man is eating the rice." (or "The rice is being eaten by a/the man.")

"The man is eating rice in the house." (or "The house is being eaten rice in by the man.")

"The man is eating rice with his hand." (or "Hisi hand is being eaten rice with by the mani.")

Below are examples of modern Austronesian languages that exhibit symmetrical voice. These languages are spoken in Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Madagascar.

The number of voices differs from language to language. While the majority sampled have four voices, it is possible to have as few as three voices, and as many as six voices.

In the examples below, the voice affix on the verb appears in red text, while the subject, which the affix selects, appears in underlined bold italics.

The data below come from Formosan, a geographic grouping of all Austronesian languages that belong outside of Malayo-Polynesian. The Formosan languages are primarily spoken in Taiwan.

Amis[14] has four voices: Actor Voice, Patient Voice, Locative Voice, and Instrument Voice.

"A young man hunts a pig on that mountain." (or "That mountain is hunted a pig on by a young man.")

"A young man hunts a pig with a spear." (or "A spear is hunted a pig with by a young man.")

While they both have the same number of voices, the two dialects of Atayal presented below do differ in the shape of the circumstantial voice prefix. In Mayrinax, the circumstantial voice prefix is si-, whereas in Squliq, it is s-.

Mayrinax[15] has four voices: Actor Voice, Patient Voice, Locative Voice, and Circumstantial Voice.

The circumstantial Voice prefix selects for benefactee and instrument subjects.

"The girl fetches water in this water bucket." (or "This water bucket is fetched water in by the girl.")

"The girl fetches water for her husband." (or "Her husbandi is fetched water for by the girli.")

"The girl fetches water with this water bucket." (or "This water bucket is fetched water with by the girl.")

Squliq[16] has four voices: Actor Voice, Patient Voice, Locative Voice, and Circumstantial Voice.

The circumstantial voice prefix selects for benefactee and instrument subjects.

"Tali eats fish in that house." (or "That house is eaten fish in by Tali.")

"Tali eats fish with chopsticks." (or "Chopsticks are eaten fish with by Tali.")

Hla’alua[17][18] has three voices: Actor Voice, Patient Voice and Circumstantial Voice.

The circumstantial voice suffix selects for location and theme subjects.

While bound pronouns have a direct case form, nouns do not bear a special direct case marker for subjects in Hla’alua.

"Eleke has moulded the rice cake." (or "The rice cake has been moulded by Eleke.")

"’Angai has caught fish in the stream." (or "The stream has been caught fish in by ’Angai.")

"I have taken father's money." (or "Father's money has been taken by me.")

Kanakanavu[19] has four voices: Actor Voice, Patient Voice, Locative Voice, and Instrument Voice.

The direct case morpheme, which optionally marks the subject in Kanakanavu, is sua.

"My child bought land with this money." (or "This money was bought land with by my child.")

Kavalan[20] has three voices: Actor Voice, Patient Voice and Circumstantial Voice.

"I opened the door with the key." (or "The key was opened the door with by me.")

"My father cooked for my mother." (or "My mother was cooked for by my father.")

Paiwan[21] has four voices: Actor Voice, Patient Voice, Locative Voice, and Instrument Voice.

"The man hunts the pigs in the mountains with a spear." (or "The pigs are hunted by the man in the mountains with a spear.")

"The man hunts the pigs in the mountains with a spear." (or "The mountains are hunted the pigs in by the man with a spear.")

"The man hunts the pigs in the mountains with a spear." (or "The spear is hunted the pigs with by the man in the mountains.")

Pazeh,[22] which became extinct in 2010, had four voices: Actor Voice, Patient Voice, Locative Voice, and Instrument Voice.

Puyuma[23] has four voices: Actor Voice, Patient Voice, Locative Voice, and Circumstantial Voice.

The circumstantial voice suffix selects for benefactee and instrument subjects.

The direct case morpheme, which marks the subject in Puyuma, is na or i.

"He stole money for his mother." (or "Hisi mother was stolen money for by himi.")

"I washed Aliwaki with water." (or "The water was washed Aliwaki with by me.")

The two dialects of Seediq presented below each have a different number of voices. The direct case morpheme, which marks the subject in both dialects, is ka.

Tgdaya[25] has four voices: Actor Voice, Patient Voice, Locative Voice and Instrument Voice.

"Pawan is hitting plums in the farm field." (or "The farm field is being hit plums in by Pawan.")

"Pawan is hitting plums with the stick." (or "The stick is being hit plums with by Pawan.")

Truku[26] has three voices: Actor Voice, Goal Voice, and Circumstantial Voice.

The goal voice suffix selects for patient and location subjects. The circumstantial voice prefix selects for benefactee and instrument subjects.

"The child cuts watermelon on this board." (or "This board is cut watermelon on by the child.")

"Masaw slaughters a/the pig for the old man." (or "The old man is slaughtered a/the pig for by Masaw.")

"Masaw slaughters a/the pig with the knife." (or "The knife is slaughtered a/the pig with by Masaw.")

Tsou[27] has four voices: Actor Voice, Patient Voice, Locative Voice, and Benefactive Voice. In addition to the voice morphology on the main verb, auxiliary verbs in Tsou, which are obligatory in the sentence,[28] are also marked for voice. However, auxiliaries only differentiate between Actor Voice and non-Actor Voice[29] (in green text).

"I put the money on the/a table." (or "The money was put on the/a table by me.")

The data below come from the Batanic languages, a subgroup under Malayo-Polynesian. These languages are spoken on the islands found in the Luzon Strait, between Taiwan and the Philippines.

Ivatan[31][32] has four voices: Actor Voice, Patient Voice, Locative Voice, and Circumstantial Voice.

"The man is frightening a child with a snake in the house." (or "A child is being frightened with a snake in the house by the man.")

"The man is frightening a child with a snake in the house." (or "The house is being frightened a child in with a snake by the man.")

"The man is frightening a child with a snake in the house." (or "The snake is being frightened a child with in the house by the man.")

CV-¿?-frighten IND man ACC child IND snake OBL house DIR friend-3SG.GEN

"The man is frightening a child with a snake in the house for his friend." (or "Hisi friend is being frightened a child for with a snake in the house by the mani.")

Yami[36] has four voices: Actor Voice, Patient Voice, Locative Voice, and Instrument Voice.

The direct case morpheme, which marks subjects in Yami, is si for proper names, and o for common nouns.

"Salang ate the sweet potato." (or "The sweet potato was eaten by Salang.")

"Salang ate from some of that rice." (or "Some of that rice was eaten from by Salang.")

"Salang ate (a meal) with this fish." (or "This fish was eaten (a meal) with by Salang.")

The data below come from Philippine languages, a subgroup under Malayo-Polynesian, predominantly spoken across the Philippines, with some found on the island of Sulawesi in Indonesia.

Blaan[37][38][39] has four voices: Actor Voice, Patient Voice, Instrument Voice, and Non-Actor Voice.

The non-Actor Voice affix selects for patient and location subjects, depending on the inherent voice of the verb.

Cebuano[43] has four voices: Actor Voice, Patient Voice, Circumstantial Voice, and Instrument Voice.

The circumstantial voice suffix selects for location, benefactee and goal subjects.

The direct case morpheme, which marks the subject in Cebuano, is ang or si.

"The woman will cook the rice in the can."
(or "The rice will be cooked by the woman in the can.")

"The woman will cook rice in the can."
(or "The can will be cooked rice in by the woman.")

"Maria will cook Pedro kalamay."
(or "Pedro will be cooked kalamay for by Maria.")

"Inday will write Perla a letter."
(or "Perla will be written a letter to by Inday.")

"Linda will write a letter with the pencil."
(or "The pencil will be written a letter with by Linda.")

Kalagan[44] has four voices: Actor Voice, Patient Voice, Instrument Voice, and Circumstantial Voice.

The direct case morpheme, which marks the subject in Kalagan, is ya. The direct case form of the first person, singular pronoun is aku, whereas the ergative case form is ku.

"I will get the water with the can for Dad on the porch on Monday."
(or "The water will be gotten by me with the can for Dad on the porch on Monday.")

"I will get the water with the can for Dad on the porch on Monday."
(or "The can will be gotten the water with by me for Dad on the porch on Monday.")

"I will get the water with the can for Dad on the porch on Monday."
(or "Dad will be gotten the water for by me with the can on the porch on Monday.")

"I will get the water with the can for Dad on the porch on Monday."
(or "The porch will be gotten the water from by me with the can for Dad on Monday.")

Kapampangan[45] has five voices: Actor Voice, Patient Voice, Goal Voice, Locative Voice, and Cirumstantial Voice.

The circumstantial voice prefix selects for instrument and benefactee subjects.

The direct case morpheme in Kapampangan is ing, which marks singular subjects, and reng, which is for plural subjects. Non-subject agents are marked with ergative case, ning, while non-subject patients are marked with accusative case, -ng, which is cliticized onto the preceding word.[46]

"The boy will write the poem to the teacher."
(or "The poem will be written by boy to the teacher.")

"The boy will write to the teacher."
(or "The teacher will be written to by the boy.")

"The boy will write a poem on the blackboard."
(or "The blackboard will be written a poem on by the boy.")

"The boy will write a poem with the pen."
(or "The pen will be written a poem with by the boy.")

"The woman will read a book for the children."
(or "The children will be read a book for by the woman.")

Limos Kalinga[47] has five voices: Actor Voice, Patient Voice, Locative Voice, Benefactive Voice and Instrument Voice.

Except for when the subject is the agent, the subject is found directly after the agent in the clause.

"Malia washed a plate for her mother."
(or "Heri mother was washed a plate for by Maliai.")

"Malia washed a plate with the soap."
(or "The soap was washed a plate with by Malia.")

Maranao[49] has four voices: Actor Voice, Patient Voice, Circumstantial Voice, and Instrument Voice.

The circumstantial suffix selects for benefactee and location subjects.

"The man will butcher the water buffalo."
(or "The water buffalo will be butchered by the man.")

"The man will butcher water buffalo for the mayor."
(or "The mayor will be butchered water buffalo for by the man.")

"The man will get the medicine at/from the store."
(or "The store will be gotten medicine at/from by the man.")

"The man will butcher the water buffalo with the knife."
(or "The knife will be butchered the water buffalo with by the man.")

Palawan[50] has four voices: Actor Voice, Patient Voice, Instrument Voice, and Circumstantial Voice.

The circumstantial voice suffix selects for benefactee and location subjects.

"The woman will cook the congee on the fire for the sick person."
(or "The congee will be cooked on the fire for the sick person by the woman.")

"The woman will cook congee with the fire for the sick person."
(or "The fire will be cooked congee with for the sick person by the woman.")

"The woman will cook congee on the fire for the sick person."
(or "The sick person will be cooked congee for on the fire by the woman.")

"The woman will cook congee on the fire for the sick person."
(or "The fire will be cooked congee on for the sick person by the woman.")

Subanen[51] has three voices: Actor Voice, Patient Voice, and Circumstantial Voice.

The examples below are from Western Subanon, and the direct case morpheme in this language is og.

"A teacher will buy some paper."
(or "Some paper will be bought by a teacher.")

"A teacher will buy some paper for a child."
(or "A child will be bought some paper for by a teacher.")

Tagalog has six voices: Actor Voice, Patient Voice, Locative Voice, Benefactive Voice, Instrument Voice, and Reason Voice.

The locative voice suffix selects for location and goal subjects. (In the examples below, the goal subject and the benefactee subject are the same noun phrase.)

The reason voice prefix can only be affixed to certain roots, the majority of which are for emotion verbs (e.g., galit "be angry", sindak "be shocked"). However, verb roots such as matay "die", sakit "get sick", and iyak "cry" may also be marked with the reason voice prefix.

The direct case morpheme, which marks subjects in Tagalog, is ang. The indirect case morpheme, ng /naŋ/, which is the conflation of the ergative and accusative cases seen in Proto-Malayo-Polynesian, marks non-subject agents and non-subject patients.

B‹um›ili ng mangga sa palengke para sa ale sa pamamagitan ng pera ang mama.

‹ASP.AV›buy IND mango OBL market for OBL woman OBL means IND money DIR man

"The man bought a mango at the market for the woman by means of money."

B‹in›ili- ng mama sa palengke para sa ale sa pamamagitan ng pera ang mangga.

‹ASP›buy-PV IND man OBL market for OBL woman OBL means IND money DIR mango

"The man bought the mango at the market for the woman by means of money."
(or "The mango was bought by the man at the market for the woman by means of money.")

B‹in›ilh-an ng mama ng mangga para sa ale sa pamamagitan ng pera ang palengke.

‹ASP›buy-LV IND man IND mango for OBL woman OBL means IND money DIR market

"The man bought a mango at the market for the woman by means of money."
(or "The market was bought a mango at by the man for the woman by means of money.")

B‹in›ilh-an ng mama ng mangga sa palengke sa pamamagitan ng pera ang ale.

I-b‹in›ili ng mama ng mangga sa palengke sa pamamagitan ng pera ang ale.

"The man bought a mango at the market for the woman by means of money."
(or "The woman was bought a mango for by the man at the market by means of money.")

"The man bought a mango at the market for the woman by means of money."
(or "The money was bought a mango with by the man at the market for the woman.")

"The child cried because an/the ant bit him."
(or "An/the ant's biting of him was cried about by the child.")

"The child cried because an/the ant bit him."
(or "The child cried because he was bitten by an/the ant.")

Tondano[54] has four voices: Actor Voice, Patient Voice, Locative Voice, and Circumstantial Voice.

The circumstantial Voice selects for instrument, benefactee, and theme subjects.

"The man will pull the cart with the rope to the market."
(or "The cart will be pulled with rope to the market by the man.")

"The man will pull the cart with the rope to the market."
(or "The market will be pulled the cart to with the rope by the man.")

"The man will pull the cart with the rope to the market."
(or "The rope will be pulled the cart with to the market by the man.")

"Mother will cook fish for the children."
(or "The children will be cooked fish for by mother.")

"The man will return the ladder to the house."
(or "The ladder will be returned by the man to the house.")

The data below come from Bornean languages, a geographic grouping under Malayo-Polynesian, mainly spoken on the island of Borneo, spanning administrative areas of Malaysia and Indonesia.

Bonggi[55][56] has four voices: Actor Voice, Patient Voice, Instrumental Voice, and Circumstantial Voice.

The circumstantial voice suffix selects for benefactee and goal subjects.

"He divided your fish with my machete." (or "My machete was divided your fish with by him.")

"He divided your fish for me." (or "I was divided your fish for by him.")

Kadazan Dusun[58] has three voices: Actor Voice, Patient Voice and Benefactive Voice.

The direct case morpheme, which marks the subject in Kadazan Dusun, is i.

"Father is bringing the child the book." (or "The book is being brought to the child by Father.")

"Father is bringing the child a book." (or "The child is being brought a book to by Father.")

Kelabit[59] has three voices: Actor Voice, Patient Voice and Instrument Voice.

Unlike other languages presented here, Kelabit does not use case-marking or word-ordering strategies to indicate the subject of the clause.[60] However, certain syntactic processes, such as relativization, target the subject. Relativizing non-subjects results in ungrammatical sentences.[61]

"That man spooned his rice up with a spoon." (or "Hisi rice was spooned up with a spoon by that mani.")

"That man spooned his rice up with a spoon." (or "A spoon was spooned hisi rice up with by that mani.")

Kimaragang[63] has five voices: Actor Voice, Patient Voice, Benefactive Voice, Instrument Voice and Locative Voice.

Only intransitive verbs can be marked with the locative voice suffix,[64] which looks similar to the patient voice suffix.[65]

The direct case marker, which marks the subject in Kimaragang, is it for definite nouns and ot for indefinite nouns.

"I will split some coconuts for the pigs." (or "The pigs will be split some coconuts for by me.")

"What will you split those coconuts with?" (or "The thing that will be split those coconuts with by you is what?")

"Where shall I sit?" (or "The thing that will be sat upon by me is where?")

Timugon Murut[69] has five voices: Actor Voice, Patient Voice, Benefactive Voice, Instrument Voice, and Circumstantial Voice.

There is no direct case marker to mark subjects in Timugon Murut. However, non-subject agents are marked with the ergative case marker, du, while non-subject non-agents are marked with the oblique case marker, da.

AV-¿?-buy woman=DET OBL=clothes OBL=child=DET OBL=morning=DET OBL=money=3SG.GEN-DET

"The woman will buy clothes for the child in the morning with her money."

buy-PV clothes ERG=woman=DET OBL=child=DET OBL=morning=DET OBL=money=3SG.GEN-DET

"The woman will buy clothes for the child in the morning with her money." (or "Clothes will be bought for the child in the morning by the woman with her money.")

buy-BV child=DET OBL=clothes ERG=woman=DET OBL=morning=DET OBL=money=3SG.GEN-DET

"The woman will buy clothes for the child in the morning with her money." (or "The child will be bought clothes for in the morning by the woman with her money.")

money=3SG.GEN-DET ¿?-IV~buy ERG=woman=DET OBL=clothes OBL=child=DET OBL=morning=DET

"The woman will buy clothes for the child in the morning with her money." (or "Heri money will be bought clothes with for the child in the morning by the womani.")

morning=DET ¿?-buy-CV ERG=woman=DET OBL=clothes OBL=child=DET OBL=money=3SG.GEN-DET

"The woman will buy clothes for the child in the morning with her money." (or "The morning will be bought clothes in for the child by the woman with her money.")

The data below represent the Barito languages, and are from a language spoken on Madagascar, off the east coast of Africa. Other languages from Barito are spoken in Indonesia and the Philippines.

Malagasy[70] has three voices: Actor Voice, Patient Voice, and Circumstantial Voice.

The circumstantial voice suffix selects for instrument and benefactee subjects.

Malagasy does not have a direct case marker. However, the subject is found in sentence-final position.

"The farmer kills the chickens with the knife." (or "The chickens are killed with the knife by the farmer.")

"The farmer kills chickens with the knife." (or "The knife is killed chickens with by the farmer.")

"The farmer kills chickens for the guests." (or "The guests are killed chickens for by the farmer.")

Alignment types resembling symmetrical voice have been observed in non-Austronesian languages.

The Nilotic languages are a group of languages spoken in the eastern part of Sub-Saharan Africa.

Dinka is a dialect continuum spoken in South Sudan. The two dialects presented below each have a maximum of three voices.

Andersen (1991) suggests that Agar exhibits symmetrical voice. This language has a maximum of three voices: Actor Voice, Patient Voice, and Circumstantial Voice. The subject is found in sentence-initial position, before the verb. The non-finite form of the verb found in the examples[71] below is yḛ̂ep "cut".

"We are cutting the tree with the axe." (or "The tree is being cut by us with the axe.")

"We are cutting the tree with the axe." (or "The axe is being cut the tree with by us.")

However, the number of voice morphemes available in this language is reduced to two when the agent is a full noun (i.e., not a pronoun), such as in the examples[72] below. In (5a), where the subject is a patient, and the agent is not a pronoun, the verb is marked with Circumstantial Voice. Compare to (2) above, in which the agent is pronominal, and the verb is marked with patient voice morpheme, ḛ́.

"The boy is cutting the tree with the axe." (or "The tree is being cut by the boy with the axe.")

"The boy is cutting the tree with the axe." (or "The axe is being cut the tree with by the boy.")

Van Urk (2015) suggests that Bor exhibits symmetrical voice. This language has three voices: Actor Voice, Patient Voice, and Circumstantial Voice.

The subject is found in sentence-initial position, before the verb. The non-finite form of the verb found in the examples[73] below is câam "eat".

"Ayen is eating food with a knife." (or "Food is being eaten by Ayen with a knife.")

"Ayen is eating food with a knife." (or "The knife is being eaten food with by Ayen.")

Andersen (2015) suggests that Kurmuk, which is spoken in Sudan, has a construction that resembles symmetrical voice. This language has three voices: Actor Voice, Patient Voice, and Circumstantial Voice.

The subject in the examples[75] below is found in sentence-initial position, before the verb.

"The man skinned the goat with a knife." (or "The goat was skinned by the man with a knife.")

"The man skinned a goat with the knife." (or "The knife was skinned a goat with by the man.")