Meteorological events are not expressed uniformly across languages (cf. Eriksen et al. 2010, 2012 for recent cross-linguistic work), and they also exhibit interesting variation in the APiCS languages, which is the focus of the present chapter. Since languages often code different meteorological events ('the sun is shining', 'it is raining', 'there is a thunderstorm', etc.) with different syntactic constructions, we consider exclusively the situation 'it is raining'.
In this feature we distinguish six values. A language can have several raining constructions belonging to different types.
|It gives rain||0||1||1|
By far the most common type in the APiCS languages is value 1 ('rain falls'), where raining is expressed by a word referring to the natural element ‘rain’ or ‘water’ in subject position accompanied by a general verb such as ‘fall’, ‘hit’, etc. This construction is not restricted to any specific geographical area.
In constructions of value 2 ('rain rains'), a ‘rain’ noun in subject position is combined with a ‘rain’ verb, i.e. a verb that exclusively (apart from metaphorical usages) refers to raining situations. Only ten languages show this construction.
Here, the geographical restriction to Africa (and some nearby islands) is striking. Besides Kikongo-Kituba, Mixed Ma’a/Mbugu, and Guinea-Bissau Kriyol which only have this ‘raining’ construction, it is found as one option in Cape Verdean Creole of Brava, Casamancese Creole, Pichi, and the three Gulf of Guinea creoles Principense, Santome and Angolar.
Papiamentu is the only creole outside of Africa which also displays this value. In this language it is the lexical noun for ‘water’ awa, and not for 'rain', which is combined with a raining verb. Kouwenberg (2013b) notes that this construction is common in the Aruban dialect.
Value 3 constructions ('it rains') consist of an expletive subject and a ‘rain’ verb, as is well-documented in languages like English (it rains) or French (il pleut).
Interestingly, most of the 16 languages with this value are English-based languages, and out of the six languages that have no other construction, five are English-based languages (African American English, Bahamian Creole, Nicaraguan Creole English, San Andres Creole English, and Hawai‘i Creole). The sixth language is Afrikaans, a Dutch-based language. This provides a striking parallel to Chapter 63 (‘seem’ constructions), where the expletive subject construction occurs almost exclusively in English-based creoles as well. But also some Portuguese-based languages (Santome, Guinea-Bissau Kriyol, Casamancese Creole) have the construction with an expletive subject:
The only French-based creole with an expletive subject is Haitian Creole:
The next type is value 4 ('raining'), where there is just a ‘rain’ verb without any subject (as in Spanish llueve and Portuguese chove ‘it rains’).
Here, we again see some geographical patterning: the 17 languages with this value are spoken in Asia, the Pacific, North and South America, and on the Cape Verde Islands, but not in mainland Africa, the Gulf of Guinea, the Caribbean (except for Papiamentu and Palenquero), or Australia. Palenquero, the Cape Verdean Creoles, and Norf'k have obligatory pronoun words in subject position (cf. Chapter 62), but do not feature an expletive subject pronoun in their 'raining' constructions.
Among the English-based creoles, only the languages spoken in Asia and the Pacific (Chinese Pidgin English, Singlish, Bislama, Norf’k) show no expletive subject. This is in line with the lack of obligatory pronoun words in subject position discussed in Chapter 62 for all languages (except for Norf’k, which has obligatory pronoun words).
There is just one language with value 5 ('it gives rain'), where ‘rain’ is object noun of a general verb:
Value 6 ('rain exists') reflects a construction type with an existential verb and a lexical argument referring to ‘rain’. There are only two APiCS languages which feature this type, Sri Lankan Malay as its only option and Tayo (with the alternative widespread ‘rain falls’ construction, value 1):
As already mentioned, the construction of value 1 (‘rain falls’) is by far the most frequent construction in the APiCS languages and is found in all areas of the world. Eriksen et al. (2010) observe that this construction is also widespread world-wide. Despite this fact, there is good evidence for substrate influence in this particular 'raining' construction. Koopman (1986) and Lefebvre (1998) have pointed out the parallel syntactic constructions in West African languages, in particular in Fongbe, which is one of the most important substrates for Haitian Creole (cf. ex. 1):
Similar constructions are found in Bantu languages, giving rise to the same structures, for instance, in the French creoles of the Indian Ocean (see ex. 2 from Mauritian Creole). Schultze-Berndt & Angelo (2013) also argue for substrate influence in Kriol in constructions of value 1 (‘rain falls’). More detailed research will probably show that the substrate languages also imposed their structure on the raining constructions of other creole languages.