Edited by Marlyse Baptista and Jacqueline Guéron
[Creole Language Library 31] 2007
► pp. 403–420
14. NPs in aspectual Be constructions in African American English
This paper examines indefinite and bare plural NPs in aspectual be constructions in African American English (AAE). Aspectual be constructions are like simple tense generics in that they receive a habitual interpretation. The interpretation of singular indefinite subject NPs in aspectual be constructions depends on the type of predicate that occurs with the subject. On the other hand, bare plural subjects in aspectual be constructions exhibit a similar type of ambiguity associated with bare plurals in generics in English. Bare plurals with individual-level predicates in aspectual be constructions are unambiguous, but bare plurals with stage-level predicates are ambiguous between a habitual and existential habitual reading. It has been noted that NPs in AAE share some patterns with NPs in Creoles, but bare NPs in the two languages are interpreted differently. Analyzing NPs in aspectual be constructions provides an opportunity to learn more about the differences and similarities between the interpretation of NPs in AAE and Creoles.