In this chapter we consider a third kind of predicate phrases, focusing on the presence or absence of a copula in clauses with predicative locative phrases. We ask how a situation like 'Mary is in town.' or 'The bird is on the tree.' is expressed.
As in Chapters 73 and 74, a copula is defined as any overt element that occurs in such clauses apart from the subject and the predicative locative phrase and that does not normally occur in verbal clauses. Again, as for predicative noun phrases, only present-tense clauses are taken into account.
In this feature we distinguish three values:
The vast majority of the APiCS languages (45) have an invariant copula with predicative locative phrases (value 1). The languages are not restricted to a specific area or lexifier language.
It is not always easy to decide whether a given grammatical morpheme is a copula or not. Foley 2013 describes the verb in (4) as a stance verb and would perhaps not regard it as a copula. But in the cross-linguistic comparative perspective adopted in this project, stance verbs like 'sit’, ‘lie’ or dynamic verbs like ‘stay’, ‘become’ are treated as copulas regardless of the corresponding language-particular analysis by the APiCS contributor. We therefore regard tandaukə in (4) as a copula: it links the locative phrase to the subject noun phrase (which is highly topical and not overtly expressed in the following example).
Some languages have an existential verb as a locative copula. For example, Chinese Pidgin English uses got as a locative copula as in (5a), and as an existential verb as in (5b).
Berbice Dutch has two locative copulas, which are both also existential verbs. Jen(da) is the polarity neutral copula,
whereas furi(da) is the negative locative/existential copula (both used in ex. 6a as copulas, in 6b and 6c as existentials).
In ten APiCS languages there is never a copula in locative predications (value 2). Strikingly, six (out of the nine) French-based APiCS creoles show this value: Haitian Creole, Martinican and Guadeloupean Creole, Seychelles Creole, Mauritian Creole, and Louisiana Creole (but only in the variety of the older generation, which is not displayed on the map).
There are only two English-based creoles which never show a copula with locative phrases, i.e. Trinidad English Creole and Kriol (but there are other English-based creoles with variable copula, see below).
In Kriol there is no copula in present tense clauses (see ex. 10), but the copula be must be used with future time reference.
As we restrict our study of predicative locative phrases to present tense, Kriol ends up having value 2.
In 21 languages, copula use is variable (value 3), i.e. a copula may or may not be used with predicative locative phrases. Out of these languages, 11 are English-based creoles of the Caribbean, where the locative copula is de (< English there). For many languages with value 3, there do not seem to be any grammatical factors determining when to use the copula.
Creolese shows a subtle semantic difference between copula and non-copula use.
The copula is used when the speaker wants to give specifically locational information, but when s/he wants to give general information about the subject, it is omitted.
Of all three non-verbal predication types, it is the locative predication which requires an invariant copula most often (45 languages). Predicative noun phrases show an invariant copula in only 33 languages, and predicative adjective phrases show the lowest number of languages with invariant copula use (14 languages; for a comparison of predicative noun phrase and predicative locative phrase strategies, see the following Chapter 76). We already mentioned in Chapter 74 that in many APiCS languages property words are encoded as verbs and therefore do not take a copula.
The languages which cannot have a copula in locative predications (value 2) form an interesting set. As mentioned above, six French-based languages have this pattern, four of which are spoken in the Caribbean (including an older variety of Louisiana Creole). Some Caribbean English-based creoles allow for variable copulas (value 3), but the Surinamese and West African English-based creoles nearly exclusively show invariant copulas in locative predication (value 1). Therefore, this picture is puzzling because the French-based Caribbean languages have the same or typologically very similar West African substrate languages as the English-based Caribbean languages. And these substrates have locative copulas (see Boretzky 1983: 160f, for Fongbe, Lefebvre & Brousseau 2002: 147ff, 300), and the lexifier French also has a copula in such contexts. The same holds for the two French-based creoles of the Indian Ocean. Mauritian and Seychelles Creole also show zero copulas in locative phrases even though the eastern Bantu substrate languages do require a copula in such constructions. If one interprets the zero copula as a simplification strategy in second language use, one wonders why this strategy would have failed in so many English-based Atlantic creoles, radical and less radical ones (see Sharma & Rickford 2009, who argue against the imperfect learning hypothesis).