Substratum Semantics in Haitian Creole
This paper compares the notion of "possession" as it is expressed in the verbs of Haitian Creole, French, and Fongbe (a West African language of the Kwa family). It is argued that the notion of possession in verbal semantics is best represented as an implicit argument, i.e., an argument that is present in the semantic representation, but not in the syntax. The implicit argument [POSSESSION] is ambiguous, allowing it to be manifested in the syntactic representation in different ways. The properties of the creole verbs are consistently parallel with those of the Fongbe verbs, and they are often in contrast with the properties of the French verbs. Since French and Fongbe are among the historical sources of Haitian Creole (Lefebvre & Lumsden 1989), these patterns have consequence for the evaluation of theories of creole genesis.
Published online: 01 January 1994
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Lefebvre, Claire & Renée Lambert-Brétière
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