Property Items and Predication in Sranan
This paper revisits the long-standing controversy over whether so-called predicate adjectives like bigi 'big', bradi 'wide', etc. in Sranan (and other creoles) are truly adjectives or a subclass of verb. Using a variety of diagnostics, it concludes that such items are in fact verbal in their predicative function. Moreover, it argues that such items are best referred to as "property items" which display flexible categoriality, behaving like intransitive as well as transitive verbs, and also as adjectives which can either modify nouns or head adjectival phrases of degree. So-called predicate adjective structures in Sranan fall into two categories — those where property items function as intransitive verbs, and those involving predicate phrases in which the copula de precedes either adjectival phrases of degree or true adjectives, including those derived via reduplication from property items and others imported from Dutch. These conclusions apply more specifically to the variety of Sranan spoken as a native language by the majority of the African-descended population of Suriname. Another dialect of Sranan, associated primarily with non-native speakers, appears to treat property items in their predicative function as adjectives rather than verbs.
Published online: 01 January 1997
Cited by 7 other publications
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