Several contact languages around the world have a bimorphemic word for ‘tear(s)’, literally meaning ‘eye-water’ or something similar. In others, there is no separate word for tears and reference to the phenomenon is made via phrasal expressions like ‘water in eye’ or circumlocutions like ‘water is in eye’. Map 111 looks at the distribution of lexical or phrasal choices that APiCS languages make to refer to tears.
There are three values for this features and languages can have more than one value (shrd = shared):
Value 1. The majority of APiCS languages (38) have a monomorphemic word for tears. In all cases, this word derives from (one of) the lexifier(s):
(< English tears)
(< Portuguese lágrima)
(< French larme)
lagrimas Cavite Chabacano (Sippola 2013a)
(< Spanish lágrimas)
(< Kimanyanga nsanga)
(< Dutch traan)
(< Gurindji mikara)
maʔililma Mixed Ma’a/Mbugu (Mous 2013)
(< Dahalo ʔilíma)
Only in Zamboanga Chabacano does the Spanish-derived lágrimas vary with a substrate word, Visayan lúhaq (Steinkrüger 2013). In French-lexifier Guadeloupean Creole, Louisiana Creole, Martinican Creole, and Seychelles Creole, the word for ‘tears’ is identical with that for ‘water’ but there sometimes is another word that only means ‘tears’. Compare, for example:
delo/dilo ‘water, tear’ (< French de l’eau ‘water’)
larm ‘tear’ (< French larme)
The situation is similar in Portuguese-lexified Cape Verdean Creole of São Vicente, where both ága ‘water, tear’ and lágrima ‘tear’ are attested (Swolkien 2013). Lágua ‘water, tear’ in the Santiago variety of Cape Verdean Creole also goes back to Portuguese água ‘water’, with a possible influence of Portuguese lágrima ‘tear’ (Lang 2013). Sri Lanka Portuguese cooru ‘tears’ (Smith 2013) is an exceptional case among the value 1 languages in that it is derived from Portuguese choro ‘lament, weeping, crying’.
Value 2. Bimorphemic combinations for ‘tears’ are found in a total of 27 APiCS languages. Apart from true ‘eye-water’ compounds, this value also subsumes possessive constructions of the NP1 NP2 type, i.e. the simple juxtaposition of possessor and possessum. In the 42 APiCS languages that have such a zero marking of possessive constructions (see Chapter 38) the expression for ‘tear’ could either be a compound (‘eye-water’) or a possessive noun phrase (‘water of eye’). The latter would in fact be a candidate for value 3, but since we lack data to differentiate between such noun phrases and compounds, all bimorphemic combinations without overt marking are treated as instances of value 2.
Bimorphemic combinations are directly taken from the lexifier (see (3)), an adstrate (see (4)), or a substrate (see (5)):
air mata (< Malay air mata, lit. ‘water’ + ‘eye’)
kannir (< Tamil kańńīr, lit. ‘eye’ + ‘water’)
toro-mingi (< Eastern Ijo toro-mingi, lit. ‘eye’ + ‘water’)
Another possibility is that the compound has been calqued on a substrate form, using the lexifier words for ‘eye’ and ‘water’, as in:
ai-waata Creolese(Devonish & Thompson 2013)
(< English eye + water)
dlo-wey Guyanais (Pfänder 2013)
(< French de l’eau ‘water’ + œil ‘eye’)
(< Sudanese Arabic móya ‘water’ + éna ‘eye’)
awa wê Santome (Hagemeijer 2013)
(< Portuguese água ‘water’ + olho ‘eye’)
wátá-wóyo Saramaccan (Aboh et al. 2013)
(< English water + Portuguese olho‘eye’)
Value 3. This value includes the 15 cases where the concept of ‘tears’ is referred to by phrasal expressions with overt marking like ‘water of eye’ or circumlocutions like ‘water is in my eye’. Among the APiCS languages we find constructions involving prepositional phrases (see (7)) and possessive phrases (see (8)):
The Batavia Creole possessive phrase olu su lagër [eye poss tear] (Maurer 2013b) is interesting since it contains a monomorphemic word meaning ‘tear’ (lagër < Portuguese lágrima), but apparently this only occurs in the possessive phrase ‘the tear of the eye’.
Combination of values. 53 APiCS languages (80% of the languages for which information is available for this feature) rely on one value only. Vincentian Creole is the only APiCS language that has all three values:
However, four languages—Bahamian Creole, Belizean Creole, Gullah, and Trinidad English Creole—have both a monomorphemic and a bimorphemic word for ‘tears’, five languages—Cape Verdean Creole of Santiago, Cape Verdean Creole of São Vicente, Fanakalo, Lingala, and Papiamentu—combine value 1 (monomorphemic) and value 3 (phrase/ circumlocution), and three languages—Early Sranan, Pichi, and Sango—have value 2 (bimorphemic) and value 3 (phrase/circumlocution).
‘Eye-water’ compounds or phrases like ‘water of/in eye’ are not uncommon in the world’s languages (Urban 2012: 875–876). However, they are not found in the major lexifiers in APiCS, English, French, Portuguese, and Spanish, which all have monomorphemic words for ‘tears’ (value 1). Nevertheless, not all contact languages adopted these from their European lexifier and there is a marked difference regarding the lexical choices made by the English-lexified APiCS languages on the one hand and by the Romance language-lexified ones on the other: 13 (52%) English-lexified APiCS languages actually do not have a monomorphemic word for ‘tears’ at all, and as many as 15 (60%) have a bimorphemic ‘eye-water’ word. On the other hand, only 7 (25%) Romance language-lexified contact languages lack a monomorphemic word, and a mere 5 (18%) have a bimorphemic one. These non-European strategies are obviously a result of African substratal input. With the exception of Tok Pisin, all of the 20 English- and Romance language-lexified contact languages that do not have a monomorphemic word for tears and all of the 20 languages that have a bimorphemic word are located in the Atlantic region. Virtually all of these developed in plantation colonies characterized by the importation of African slaves. Curiously enough, four of the five African language-lexified contact languages are value 1 (monomorphemic) languages and do not have bimorphemic forms: Fanakalo, Kikongo-Kituba, Lingala, and Mixed Ma’a/Mbugu. Sango is the exception in that it does not have a monomorphemic but a bimorphemic form. The above figures also show that there is a much stronger tendency among the English-lexified APiCS languages than in the Portuguese/French/Spanish-lexified ones to avoid the monomorphemic lexifier word and to calque a bimorphemic one. The reasons for this are not quite clear, but further research will possibly reveal a stronger African substratal influence in the English-lexified contact languages in this particular aspect.