Substrate Influence in Creole Formation
  • ISSN 0920-9034
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9870
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This paper compares “cut” and “break” verbs in four variants of Gbe, namely Anfoe, Anlo, Fon and Ayizo, with those of Sranan. “Cut” verbs are change-of-state verbs that co-lexicalize the type of action that brings about a change, the type of instrument or instrument part, and the manner in which a change occurs. By contrast, break verbs co-lexicalize either the type of object or the type of change. It has been hypothesized that “cut”-verbs are unergative while breaks verbs are unaccusatives. For example “break” verbs participate in the causative alternation constructions but “cut” verbs don’t. We show that although there are some differences in the meanings of “cut” and break verbs across the Gbe languages, significant generalizations can be made with regard to their lexicalization patterns. By contrast, the meanings of “cut” and break verbs in Sranan are closer to those of their etymons in English and Dutch. However, despite the differences in the meanings of “cut” and “break” verbs between the Gbe languages and Sranan, the syntax of the verbs in Sranan is similar to that of the Eastern Gbe variants, namely Fon and Ayizo. We look at the implications of our findings for the relexification hypothesis.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): causative/inchoative alternation; Gbe; Sranan; “cut” and “break” verbs
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