This feature is about serial verb constructions in which the second verb (‘come’ or ‘go’) specifies the direction of the action that the first verb refers to. The first verb of a directional serial verb construction may be either an intransitive or a transitive verb.
Intransitive verbs in first position generally refer to the manner or to the direction of motion, as ‘go on foot’, ‘run’, ‘swim’, or ‘go up’.
Transitive verbs in first position typically have meanings like ‘take’, ‘send’, or ‘carry’ and introduce a theme argument:
Following Aikhenvald (2006: 1), we define serial verb constructions as referring to single, monoclausal events which have just one tense, aspect, and polarity value and which do not show any sign of coordination or subordination. Some languages allow for (or require) the repetition of the subject as well as tense and aspect markers on the second verb of the serial verb construction (examples 14-18; see also Aikhenvald (2006: 40f.).
There are directional serial verbs other than ‘come’ and ‘go’, as for example ‘enter’, ‘leave’, or ‘reach’, but these are not taken into account for this feature.
See also Chapters 79-80 (Going to / coming from named places); they too deals with directional serial verbs.
We distinguish the following two values:
|‘Come’ and ‘go’ directionals exist||39|
|‘Come’ and ‘go’ directionals do not exist||36|
The value box shows that a little more than half of the APiCS languages possess directional serial verbs with ‘come’ and ‘go’. These serial verbs occur in languages of almost all lexical bases and of almost all regions. They exist in creole and pidgin languages, but do not occur in bilingual mixed languages.
In many examples in our database, the first verb refers to a past perfective situation (either zero-marked as in example 3 or marked by an overt perfective marker as in example 6), but the Negerhollands, Chinese Pidgin English, and Singlish sentences (examples 5, 7, and 8) display an imperative in first position, and the Singapore Bazaar Malay sentence (example 10) has a zero-marked verb with a habitual reading. The following Guyanais example shows the first verb of the series marked by progressive ka:
As noted in the introduction, tense and aspect marking as well as the marking of the subject may occur on both verbs in the series. In Berbice Dutch, the past marker -tɛ co-occurs on both verbs:
San Andres Creole English is also a case of double tense and aspect marking, since in the following example the first verb is zero-marked for (past) perfective aspect and the directional verb is marked for past.
In Casamancese Creole, Seychelles Creole, and Bislama, the subject is marked on both verbs. Note however that in the case of Casamancese Creole the marking on the second verb is not obligatory, and that in Bislama, it is the agreement marker which occurs on both verbs.
Directional serial verbs are present in almost all regions: Caribbean (18 languages), West Africa (11 languages), Indian Ocean (2 languages), Southeast Asia (5 languages), and Pacific (3 languages). The only region where they are absent is South Asia.
As already mentioned, directionals are present in pidgins and creoles but absent from the bilingual mixed languages represented in APiCS.
Regarding the absence of directionals according to the lexifier, we can observe that they are absent from the Bantu-based languages, the Arabic-based languages, and from almost all Spanish-based creoles (with the exception of Papiamentu).
If we look at the distribution by lexifier and region, we can see that in the domain of the Ibero-Romance-based creoles (and only here), there are some subregions where directionals are absent: the Cape Verde islands (Upper Guinea), South Asia, and the Philippines. By contrast, directionals are present in the two Upper Guinea varieties spoken on the African mainland (Guinea-Bissau Kriyol, Casamancese Creole), in the four Gulf of Guinea creoles (Santome, Principense, Angolar, Fa d’Ambô), and in Southeast Asia. These differences can partly be explained by the substrates or adstrates of these languages. Philippine languages, some important substrate languages of the Cape Verdean varieties like Wolof, and South Asian languages lack directionals, whereas the substrate or adstrate languages of Guinea-Bissau Kriyol and Casamancese Creole (for example Balanta), the Gulf of Guinea creoles (for example Yoruba), and the Southeast Asian languages (for example Hokkien Chinese) have them.
In the APiCS languages with lexical bases other than Portuguese or Spanish, the situation is similar.