development of a copula from the verb 'to come'

Moshe Taube mstaube at MSCC.HUJI.AC.IL
Tue Dec 22 08:01:45 UTC 2009

If we take motion verbs other than strictly come and its equivalents, we can add Fr. devenir (originally 'arrive'), E. turn Fr. tourner  (and similarly other Romance languages), as well as  Arab. raja' a  'return', all of which  end up as 'become'.


On Dec 21, 2009, at 10:21 PM, Wolfgang Schulze wrote:

> Dear Sebastian,
> well, it depends from what you define as being a true copula. Nevertheless, think of English become (that is be-come), or German bekommen used as a process verb (or, in German, as an auxiliary to encode the passive diathesis when foregrounding an 'indirect object'). Also, in Udi (East Caucasian) there is a verb baksun functioning both in the sense of 'become' and 'be' (with certain tense forms). baksun probably has its parallel in Caucasian Albanian or 'Old-Udi' (~ 600 AD), where we have a verb bAhesown (A is some kind of open o) meaning to move (go, come). I guess that there are many more examples in the languages of the world that have the concept of BECOME being derived from motion verbs such as go, come etc.  The step then towards a true copula is not too problematic, as shown e.g. by the Udi example.  
> Best wishes,
> Wolfgang
> Sebastian Nordhoff schrieb:
>> 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 
> -- 
> Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Schulze                                                                    
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Moshe Taube
mstaube at

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