This feature is about the possibility of doubling the verb in order to focus on the situation referred to by the verb.
There are two main kinds of verb doubling constructions: the fronting of the verb with a copy of the verb left in the background clause (example 1), and the reduplication of the verb within the matrix clause (example 2).
The fact that in example (2) the second verb is nominalized is not important here; in verb doubling constructions involving a copula, it is the copula that nominalizes the verb.
The following three values are distinguished:
|No verb doubling||42||0||42|
|Verb fronted with a copy in the background clause||29||0||29|
Value 1 (no verb doubling) is found in more than half of the APiCS languages. The following examples show constructions in which the verb is focused, but without doubling:
Value 2 (verb fronting with a copy in the background clause) is found in creoles and pidgins of different lexical bases. The constructions are sometimes cleft-like, and they may vary according to the following parameters: presence or absence of a highlighter, copular or non-copular highlighter, presence or absence of a relativizer (or relative pronoun) heading the background clause, and a combination of these three parameters.
Verb clefting implies the use of a relativizer (examples 8 and 11-13); the difference between the clefting of verbs and the clefting of nouns (see Chapter 104) is that in nominal clefting (and fronting), no copy is left in the background clause, as in It’s mother that I saw Ø.
In Early Sranan (example 1), there is a copular highlighter and no relativizer; this construction also occurs in other creole languages:
Berbice Dutch has the same construction, but it may add the focus marker so to the verb:
Example (8) contains a copular highlighter and a relativizer:
The following examples illustrate the construction with a non-copular highlighter without a relativizer:
In the following examples, there is a non-copular highlighter as well as a relativizer:
Guinea-Bissau Kriyol uses no highlighter, but a relativizer:
Value 3 (reduplication of the verb) exists only in Sango (see example 2). As shown by (16), the main verb and the nominalized verb are not obligatorily adjacent; in this particular case, the two verbs are separated by gi ‘only’.
Value 1 (no verb doubling) is found in 9 Caribbean, South American, and North American languages, as well as in 33 African and Asian languages (i.e. 48% of all languages), whereas value 2 (verb fronting leaving a copy in the background clause), which is present in 40% of the APiCS languages, is an essentially Atlantic feature (17 in the Caribbean and 9 in West Africa). The only three non-Atlantic languages displaying value 2 are Lingala and Kikongo-Kituba in Africa, as well as Korlai in South Asia. In Kikongo-Kituba, the fronted verb is nominalized with the infinitive prefix ku-:
In Lingala, the fronted verb is inflected for person and tense:
In Korlai, the fronted verb is modified by the same tense and aspect suffix that modifies the verb in the background clause:
Verb doubling used as a means of focusing on the situation referred to by the verb is a feature that does not exist (or that exists only marginally) in European languages; in contrast, it is widespread in West African languages. Since this feature occurs almost exclusively in Atlantic creoles, a West African substrate influence on these creoles is highly probable.