The copula in Hawai‘i Creole English and substrate reinforcement

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This article presents comparative and diachronic evidence indicating that substratum patterns played a significant role in the development of the copula in Hawai‘i Creole English. The predominantly Cantonese, Portuguese, Hawaiian, and Japanese substrate did not contribute much to the innovation of lexical forms since HCE drew on a pre-existing pidgin, but the transference and reinforcement of semantic and syntactic properties from these languages – with the exception of Japanese – is detectible in the copula system that arose in HCE. After a survey of the copula in modern HCE and in attestations in early texts, a detailed comparison of substratal patterns for the creole copula follows in Section 5. The paper concludes with a discussion of bilingualism in the early phase of creole formation and how it led to the transference and selection of features.


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