Grammaticalization of verbs in Sranan: the role of contact

Adrienne Bruyn
Radboud University Nijmegen / NIAS

When grammaticalization is mentioned in relation to creole languages, it is often assumed that it concerns a language-internal and gradual process. Historical investigation of Sranan, however, leads to the conclusion that some features rather result from the transfer from other languages present in the contact situation, viz. the West African substrate languages.

In my presentation I will review some instances of Sranan verbs that have assumed a new function:
- taki (< Eng. talk) 'to say, talk' > comple¬mentizer 'that'
- gi (<Eng. give) 'to give' > benefactive preposition 'for, to'
- kaba (< Port. acabar) 'to finish, stop' > perfective marker; adverb 'already'
I will argue that these developments are not cases of "ordinary" language-internal grammaticalization, but rather "replica grammaticalization", or even "polysemy copying", or grammatical calquing (Heine & Kuteva 2003, 2005).