The Traditional Conception of Diathesis (Voice) and a Modern View to It

  • Albana Deda Department of Albanian Language, Faculty of History and Philology, University of Tirana, Albania
  • Leonora Lumezi


Since the antiquity, diathesis has been analyzed in linguistic theories as a morphological category of the verb. Consulting the earliest papers, there could be noticed that Greek tradition makes mention of active, passive and middle verbs, whereas in Latin papers we find active and passive verb forms. (There must be said that during this linguistic period the term diathesis could hardly be found. The above mentioned terms referred to the classification of verbs). During the Medieval Age linguists defined the same concept of diathesis. Most of the traditional grammars of many contemporary languages hold the same view, without any significant differences. In traditional Albanian papers diathesis or voice is defined as a morphological category that expresses relations between the verb (the traditional predicate) and the subject. There has been made a division between active and non-active voice. Non-active voice verbs are further divided into: passive, reflexive and middle voice. Empirical studies show that it is difficult to make a distinct and final classification of verbs in terms of the different patterns in which it can be found. This inference is made taking into consideration abundant examples from the Albanian corpus, showing that a verb can be used intransitively in some patterns and transitively in others. The voice division of verbs provided by the Albanian grammars reveals a gap in the examination of the formal and especially the semantic aspect. There are many semantic and formal arguments that lead us to the conclusion that the traditional definition of diathesis is problematic. In our view, this process should be treated as a wider phenomenon that includes more than the morphological aspect. The Valency Theory could be an alternative approach that provides a better solution to this problem.
Apr 30, 2015
How to Cite
DEDA, Albana; LUMEZI, Leonora. The Traditional Conception of Diathesis (Voice) and a Modern View to It. European Journal of Language and Literature, [S.l.], v. 1, n. 1, p. 81-88, apr. 2015. ISSN 2411-4103. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 29 nov. 2020. doi: