From ‘wood’ to future tense
Nominal origins of the future construction in Hup
Cross-linguistic comparison of future constructions (e.g. Bybee et al. 1994) shows that future grams almost invariably derive from verbs involving agent-oriented modality or spatial movement. However, the Hup language of the northwest Brazilian Amazon (Nadahup or ‘Makú’ family) has developed a future gram from a noun: ‘wood, stick’. This paper traces a proposed path of grammaticalization from the free lexeme ‘wood’ to an increasingly abstract ‘generic’ noun in nominal compounds, thence to a purpose adverbial, and finally to a future suffix in verbal constructions. While a nominal source like ‘wood, stick’ for a future gram is typologically extraordinary, each step in this transition is argued to be clearly motivated and consistent with more general cross-linguistic patterns of grammaticalization.
Cited by other publications
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