Journal of Ibero-Romance Creoles

Volume 9 (2019)

Copulas in contact: Kriyol, Upper Guinea Creoles, and their substrate 

Chiara Truppi (Universidade de Lisboa)

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The present paper aims to describe copulas in Kriyol from a semantic-syntactic perspective and to compare them to copulas in the other Upper Guinea Creoles and certain substrate languages. We will show that in Kriyol the selection of the copula from the paradigm principally depends on two factors: i) the predicate type, and ii) the aspect and tense properties of the clause. The former is responsible for the split encoding of nominal and locative predication. In particular, the copula sta occurs with locative predicates, while we find several suppletive forms for nominal predication, each with its semantic-syntactic function, namely i, the null copula Ø, sedu, and (y)era. Aspect and tense play a crucial role in the selection of the copula with nominal predicates. Furthermore, we will compare Kriyol copulas to those used in the Santiago variety of Cape Verdean Creole and Casamancese Creole, as well as to copulas in Wolof (Atlantic) and Mandinka (Mande), which are mentioned in the literature as substrate languages of the Upper Guinea proto-creole. On the basis of similarities among these languages, we will argue that Wolof and Mandinka influenced the emergence of UGC system of copulas.

Keywords: copulas, Kriyol, predicate type, aspect, tense, Upper Guinea Creoles, substrate