development of a copula from the verb 'to come'

Wolfgang Schulze W.Schulze at LRZ.UNI-MUENCHEN.DE
Tue Dec 22 07:33:48 UTC 2009

Dear Paul and others,
by the way: Heine and Kuteva (World Lexicon of Grammaticalization, 
2002:156) mention the grammaticalization path "go > change-of-state", 
and on p.64 they refer to the path "change-of state > copula") [alas, 
they give very few examples for both paths, only]. The first path is 
based on the concept of "motion into a (new) state" (hence /he goes mad/ 
= "he moves into the state of madness". Obviously, the use of 
COME-concepts involves a shift in perspective: Here, the landmark 
('madness' in the above-given example) now figures as the point of 
reference, as can be seen from English/ become /and German /bekommen/: 
Both are based on /come/ + the preverb /be/-. be- invoked (and still in 
invokes in German) some kind of background diathesis (compare/ ich singe 
über Italien/ >/ ich be-singe Italien/ [I sing about Italy]. Hence, we 
can reconstruct the pattern /I become mad /as */I come to/ (or any kind 
of Locative) /mad/(/ness/).

The use of COME and GO as an auxiliaries is rather frequent, not only 
for TAM, as in French etc., but also for marking a passive diathesis or 
anticausatives, as in Udi (East Caucasian), for instance:

/s'um-ne uk-sa/
bread-3Sg eat-PRES   
'(S)he eats bread.'

/s'um uk-ec-i-ne   /
bread eat-go>PASS:PAST-PAST-3Sg
'bread has been eaten...'

This is nothing new, I guess....

Best wishes,


*Prof. Dr. Wolfgang 
Schulze    *                                                               


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<mailto:Schulze at>                                                                             




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