Instruments can be implements such as a knife, a body part such as a finger, a means such as water, or a vehicle such as a boat. In this feature, we consider only instruments which are instrumental complements of a verb, or, in serial verb constructions, arguments of the first verb which function, at least semantically, as the instrument of the second verb. Therefore, knife in sentences like He bought a knife are not considered here because, although a knife is an instrument, it does not function as an instrumental complement of the verb buy.
For this feature, we distinguish the following five values:
|Unmarked noun phrase||1||5||6|
The most widespread instrumental construction is an adpositional phrase (value 1). In general, a preposition is used, as in Seychelles Creole:
Some languages use a serial verb construction (value 2; see also Chapter 86), usually with the verb take:
Except for Jamaican, all languages which allow for an instrumental serial verb may also use an instrumental adposition.
In many cases, a literal interpretation of the instrumental serial verb is also possible, e.g. as in (5):
In most cases, the difference between the construction with the adposition and the serial verb is left unexplained, but see Devonish & Thompson (2013) on Creolese, who state that the construction with the adposition “is open to an accidental or unintended reading,” whereas the serial verb construction is not (see also the alternative translation of example 6).
Value 3, non-serial verb, is only found in Michif, where the verb apahchit ‘to use’ introduces the instrument of the verb kishkish ‘to cut’:
Note that in the case of Michif, we cannot speak of a serial verb construction, since the first verb is marked for past, and the second verb for future; according to the definition of serial verb constructions which we use in APiCS, different tense marking on the two verbs of a series is precluded (see, for example, Chapter 85 below).
This construction also exists in Tugu Creole, a Malayo-Portuguese variety closely related to Batavia Creole:
Note that Eskimo Pidgin is the only APiCS language for which only unmarked instrumental noun phrases are reported.
Except for six languages (Chinese Pidgin English, Chinese Pidgin Russian, Eskimo Pidgin, Jamaican, Media Lengua, and Sri Lankan Malay), all languages make use of an adposition, be it exclusively or alongside other constructions. Serial verb constructions are mainly used on both sides of the Atlantic, but this construction also occurs in Papiá Kristang (Portuguese-based, Southeast Asia) and Seychelles Creole (French-based, Indian Ocean). Non-marked noun phrases occur in one North American language (Eskimo Pidgin), in two languages of the Atlantic (Nigerian Pidgin and Pichi), in one South Asian language (Korlai), in one East Asian language (Chinese Pidgin Russian), and in one Pacific language (Pidgin Hawaiian). The use of a case marker occurs in bilingual mixed languages scattered over the world (Media Lengua in South America, Sri Lankan Malay in South Asia, and Gurindji Kriol in Australia), as well as in Chinese Pidgin Russian (East Asia).