development of a copula from the verb 'to come'

Eduardo R. Ribeiro kariri at GMAIL.COM
Wed Dec 23 02:06:08 UTC 2009

Dear Sebastian,

Karajá (Macro-Jê, Central Brazil) uses the verb 'to go/come' as a copula 
(roughly translated as Portuguese copula "ser"). There are no separate roots 
meaning 'to come' vs. 'to go', 'to bring' vs. 'to take away', etc. in 
Karajá; such distinctions (centrifugal vs. centripetal direction) are 
accomplished by inflectional means. Thus, a more accurate, neutral 
translation of the 'to go/come' verb would be 'to move'.

As for other verbs mentioned in some of the replies, 'to turn' (e.g. upside 
down) also means 'to become'; positional verbs ('to sit', 'to stand up', 'to 
lie down') are commonly used in constructions where they can be roughly 
translated as Portuguese copula "estar".  I'd be glad to provide you with 
concrete examples, in case you're interested.



Eduardo Rivail Ribeiro

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Sebastian Nordhoff" <sebastian_nordhoff at EVA.MPG.DE>
Sent: Monday, December 21, 2009 11:33 AM
Subject: development of a copula from the verb 'to come'

> 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

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