Arbic copula

Gideon Goldenberg msgidgol at MSCC.HUJI.AC.IL
Mon Feb 4 10:50:51 UTC 2002

Jan Terje Faarlund's comment is well apposite. It raises the question
in what sense one can claim that a subject pronoun should be regarded
as "grammaticalized" copula only because it is enclitic. This question
of defining "copula" has been discussed at length in many old and new
linguistic assays. Various ways of expressing the predicative bond can
make an interesting and important topic of typological examination, but
the special grammatical literature must first be consulted.
                                        Yours,      Gideon Goldenberg

>>At 08:25 03.02.2002 +0100, Peter Trudgill wrote:
>>>Cypriot Greek has developed a present tense copula, presumably under
>>>the influence of Greek, in which the copula appears to have developed
>>>out of the personal pronouns:
>>>li xmir énne kbar  'the donkeys are big'
>>>Is this a very common type of diachronic development?
>A similar phenomenon is found in Chiapas Zoque (Mixe-Zoquean, Mexico).
>There the copula has the form of a suffix -DE, which apparently is a weak
>form of the demonstrative/article TE'.
>        Te' une che'bü-de
>        The child small-is
>        Üj atzi mayistru-de
>        My brother teacher-is
>The word TE' is also used as the third person pronoun, and I understand the
>construction as having developed from a combination of a theme + a subject
>final nominal sentence (subject final sentences are common - though perhaps
>not basic - in Zoque): my brother, teacher he. The Cypriot Arabic
>development must be similar:
>         "donkey big" > "(as for) donkey, it big" > "donkey is (<it) big".
>This must be an expected development in languages with no original copula.
>Are you sure, by the way, that the construction in Cypriot Arabic is a
>Greek influence. I am not a semiticist, so I don't know about similar
>phenomena in other Arabic vernaculars, but there is something similar in
>standard Arabic:
>         haadhaa huwa al-Taalibu
>         this he the-student = 'This is the student'
>And I can't help noticing the similarity between énne in Peter's example
>and the Arabic particle 'inna which may be used to introduce nominal
>         'inna MuHammadan rajulun ghaniiyun
>                 Muhammad man rich = 'Muhammad is (indeed) a rich man'
>But this may of course be a coincidence, as I said, I am not a specialist
>on Arabic.
>Jan Terje
>Professor Jan Terje Faarlund
>Universitetet i Oslo
>Institutt for nordistikk og litteraturvitskap
>Postboks 1013 Blindern
>N-0315 Oslo (Norway)
>Tel. (+47) 22 85 69 49 (office)
>(+47) 22 12 39 66 (home)
>Fax (+47) 22 85 71 00

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