Aspect and directionality in Kupang Malay serial verb constructions

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Kupang Malay is a stigmatised Malay-based creole spoken in eastern Indonesia. While it shares some linguistic features with other contact varieties of Malay in the region, it is also distinguished by its own contact history and unique features in its phonology, lexicon and grammar, all showing evidence of significant influence from substrate languages. One notable feature is the pervasiveness and variety of its serial verb constructions (SVC). This paper explores the forms and functions of a limited set of Kupang SVCs, showing close parallels with similar forms and functions of SVCs in nearby substrate languages (illustrated by data from Helong, Amarasi, Dhao, and Lole). While Kupang is in a post-creole continuum with Indonesian functioning as the “high”, the Kupang SVCs described in this paper have no close parallels in Indonesian. We conclude that this presents strong evidence that Kupang is indeed a creole that has calqued at a deep level on the grammars of local languages. Since the phenomena here are previously undescribed for any of the languages – and all of them are poorly documented – this paper is deliberately rich in data. The examples given are not rare, were taken from computer searches of a text corpus, and have been doubled-checked for naturalness with groups of native speakers, given the inherent pitfalls of working in a post-creole continuum.


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