development of a copula from the verb 'to come'

Ljuba Veselinova ljuba at LING.SU.SE
Mon Dec 21 17:12:24 UTC 2009

Hi Sebastian,

Matthew Juge had a paper on overlapping suppletion where he discussed
the homonymous forms fui in Spanish ser and ir. I don't have the paper
here but I can try dig it out. If I recall it right he discussed the
intrusion of a form of the motion verb ir into the paradigm of a
copula verb; the explanation was based on metaphor -- if you have gone
to a place, you have actually been there. This is all very crude, I
know, but I that's all I recall at the moment.

Also, I think Stassen mentions something about motion verbs becoming
copulas in his 1997 book, I think it's worth taking a look there.

In my database on suppletion I have Kiowa and Maranungku as languages
where the copula has a clear connection to a motion verb glossed 'go'.

Hope this helps.

All the best,

On Mon, Dec 21, 2009 at 5:33 PM, Sebastian Nordhoff
<sebastian_nordhoff at> wrote:
> Dear colleagues,
> I am looking for languages with a copula where this copula derives from the
> lexical verb meaning 'to come'. One such language is Sri Lanka Malay where
> the copula /asàdhaathang/ is clearly related to the verb /dhaathang/ 'to
> come' (The copula is homonymous with the 'conjunctive participle', to be
> precise).
> (1)  Se=ppe  naama asàdhaathang  Cintha  Sinthani.    1s=poss name  copula
>      Chintha Sinthani
>   `My name is Chintha Sinthani.'
> This seems to be a rather unusual diachronic source; it is more common for
> the copula to develop from an existential or a pronoun. I would appreciate
> if list members could point out languages with similar developments. I would
> also be happy to hear about less-than-perfect matches, e.g.
> grammaticalization of 'come' to an auxiliary, or grammaticalization of
> another motion verb to a copula. I have consulted The World Lexicon of
> Grammaticalization (Heine & Kuteva 2002), and the closest match I could find
> was come-->resultative as found in some Creole languages (Seychellois,
> Guyanese CF, Fa d'Ambu).
> Thanks in advance
> Sebastian

Ljuba Veselinova
Dept of Linguistics, Stockholm University, S-10691 Stockholm, Sweden
Phone: +46-8-16-2332 Fax: +46-8-15 5389
URL  :

"We learn by going where we want to go."
                                          Julia Cameron

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