Elly van Gelderen

The copula cycle

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Like negative markers, copula verbs can be seen to undergo regular, unidirectional change or grammaticalization and renewal. I refer to this regular change as a cycle, following e.g. Hodge (1970) and Katz (1996). The sources of copulas include demonstratives, location verbs and verbs of change, and adpositions and adverbs (cf. Stassen 1997; Pustet 2003). In this paper, I examine demonstratives and (intransitive) verbs by looking at their features and their structure as they are reanalyzed. The demonstratives are reanalyzed to occupy the head of the Predicate Phrase in accordance with principles seen in many other cycles and, since Chomsky (2013, 2014), accountable in terms of labeling resolutions. Copulas also often derive from intransitive verbs in a different development, because intransitives are often accompanied by other material and this may make them ambiguous in terms of argument structure. Interestingly, this reanalysis may present a labeling challenge, to be pursued in future work.


  • Aspect
  • Copula
  • Labeling Paradox
  • Mood
  • Semantic Feature


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