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Revisiting variation between <i>sa</i> and <i>o</i> in Sranan

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Abstract

Sranan employs two markers, <i>sa</i> and <i>o</i>, which both express some kind of futurity, but the precise nature of the difference between them has been difficult to pin down. Some researchers claim that <i>sa</i> and <i>o</i> are both primarily temporal in nature, but others treat <i>sa</i> as primarily modal, and <i>o</i> as primarily temporal, though they disagree on how far its meaning overlaps with that of <i>o</i>. This paper employs data from historical texts as well as examples and judgments elicited from five native speakers of Sranan in order to determine the precise nature of the differences in meaning and use between the two markers. I build on the insights of researchers like Voorhoeve and Seuren to demonstrate that <i>sa</i> really conveys a range of modal meanings that include futurity, strong expectation, and probability. This can be ascribed to the influence of Dutch <i>zullen</i>. On the other hand, <i>o</i> is primarily temporal in nature, expressing future tense. The analysis suggests that <i>sa</i> and <i>o</i> are not really in competition in contemporary Sranan.

References

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