development of a copula from the verb 'to come'

Wolfgang Schulze W.Schulze at LRZ.UNI-MUENCHEN.DE
Tue Dec 22 10:06:34 UTC 2009

Dear friends,
*Willy Vandeweghe* asked me to forward the following contribution 
because he came across problems when trying to post it on LINGTYP...
> Re: development of a copula from the verb 'to come'
> Van:
> Willy Vandeweghe <willy.vandeweghe at>
> Datum:
> Mon, 21 Dec 2009 21:50:34 +0100
> Aan:
> W.Schulze at
> Aan:
> W.Schulze at
> CC:
> Dear colleagues
> Probably it depends on what you define as a 'copula'. Sebastian in his 
> query seems to think about the static (immutative) variant meaning 'to 
> be' [= to be in a situation]. But the dynamic (mutative) variant 
> meaning 'to become' ['to get into a situation'] quite naturally 
> derives from 'come' in quite some Germanic languages (as Wolfgang 
> points out). In West-Flemish, a dialect of Dutch (close to the 
> Channel, and sharing 'ingveonic' characteristics with English), 'come' 
> is the natural dynamic copula with a selection of adjectives, mostly 
> with a negative connotation and presupposing some (more or less slow) 
> evolution, like 'vort' (meaning 'rotten'), 'ziek' ('ill'), 'zot' 
> ('crazy'), 'onnnozel' ('out of one's mind'), and with colours:
>    Hij     kwam            helegans    blauw
>    He   come PAST       all           blue
>    'He turned completely blue'
> This makes me think of what the Dutch scholar A. Sassen once pointed 
> out, viz. thatthe etymological equivalent of German 'bleiben' (which 
> in Gm and Dutch denotes persistent aspect: anti-mutative ['not to get 
> into a new situation']), in some Scandinavian language (Swedish?) has 
> the mutative meaning denoted by German 'werden' ('to become' as a 
> copula of 'to be' as the auxiliary of the passive). Perhaps some 
> northern Gmc. colleague can provide more exact details.
> Willy Vandeweghe
> University College Ghent
> Dept. of Translation Studies


*Prof. Dr. Wolfgang 
Schulze    *                                                               


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