Volume 5, Issue 2
  • ISSN 0920-9034
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9870
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This paper examines variation in the use of copula forms and copulative structures in the Guyanese Creole (GC) continuum. A previous analysis by Bickerton (1973a, 1973b), who presented a polylectal grammar based on implicational relationships in the introduction and use of copular be, is examined in light of Labov's "principle of accountability." The primary focus of the paper is on so-called "predicate adjective" structures in basilectal GC (dipikni bin sik; dipikni a sik; dipikni go sik, and so forth) and their counterparts in the lower and mid-to-upper mesolects of the continuum {dipikni did sik; dipikni doz (bii) sik; dipikni go (bii) sik, etc.). It is argued that the range of contexts relevant to the analysis of copula variability in these structures is far wider than B's analysis accounted for. Moreover, there are substantial differences between basilectal and mesolectal varieties in phrase structure and in the organization of tense-aspect oppositions — differences overlooked in B's earlier treatment. As a result of these limitations, B's polylectal grammar provides an incomplete picture of the patterns of variation in these structures, and of the grammatical systems underlying them. The paper concludes that the claim that a polylectal grammar represents the workings of a unified system is not borne out by the evidence presented here. While an implicational scale may provide useful insight into patterns of variation and change in créole continua, the information contained in it cannot be translated directly into a synchronic grammar.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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