M.C. van den Berg
- Done already? A comparison of completive markers in the Gbe languages and Sranan Tongo
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- Faculty of Humanities (FGw)
- Amsterdam Center for Language and Communication (ACLC)
The expression of completive by means of post-verbal kaba ‘already’ in the Surinamese Creole Sranan Tongo is generally assumed to mainly derive from transfer from a serial verb construction in the Gbe languages ( Bruyn, 2003, Winford, 2006 and Winford and Migge, 2007). However, not all Gbe languages share the serial verb construction (S…V…V[finish]) upon which the Sranan Tongo completive marker kaba is claimed to have been modeled. In Gungbe, for example, a quantifier meaning ‘all’ is used to derive the completive meaning and anteriority is expressed formally by means of the adverb kó ‘already’ in pre-verbal position ( Aboh, 2004a). Similarly, Ameka's (2008) analysis of Ewegbe completive constructions involving ‘finish’ verb forms in final position suggests that such verb forms better qualify as adverbs. This would mean that such Ewegbe finish constructions do not involve verb serialization. If, as it seems, finish constructions in the Surinamese Creoles do involve verb serialization while the Gbe languages seem not to, the question arises to what extent one can show that the Gbe languages did influence the emergence of completive forms in the emerging creoles. In addition, English arguably displays biclausal constructions where the verb ‘finish’ takes a non-finite clause as complement (e.g., finish + V-ing) to encode completion. One can therefore wonder to what extent Sranan Tongo adopts such pattern. Given that English and the Gbe languages are the main contributors to the Suriname creoles in their formative period, the relevant question to ask might actually be to what extent a combination of the English and Gbe constructions (rather than just Gbe patterns) could have contributed to the emergence of the Sranan Tongo pattern. This paper addresses this issue by studying the expression of event completion in the Sranan Tongo while comparing it to English and Gbe constructions. In particular we focus on the meanings and uses of (ad)verbs of completion ‘finish’ vs. ‘already’ and event quantifiers such as ‘all’ in order to advance our understanding of the emergence of the completive marker in the creoles.
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