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.
In serialising languages, the verb ‘give’ may be used as a serial verb, introducing a recipient or a beneficiary.
Some authors, as for instance Fattier (2013, on Haitian Creole), are not sure whether to treat the item under discussion as a verb or as an adposition. In Haitian Creole, it is clear that the item ba and its variants, used for recipient and benefactive, is etymologically derived from the now obsolete French verb bailler ‘give’ and is related to the Haitian Creole verb ba ~ bay ‘give’, but we have not asked the authors to establish the (synchronic) syntactic category of the item under discussion; in other words, we have not inquired as to whether the verb ‘give’ has fully grammaticalized into an adposition.
The syntactic category of a given word can only be determined by syntactic tests. Looking for example at the verb da ‘give’ in Principense, it appears that this verb, when used as a serial verb, possesses verbal as well as adpositional properties, which means that this serial verb is located halfway along the grammaticalization path from verb to adposition.
A verbal property is exemplified by the fact that in focus constructions, serial da may not be fronted, in contrast to the preposition pô ‘for’:
Note that preposition stranding without a pronoun is not allowed in Principense (Maurer 2009: 107f.)
A prepositional property of serial da is exemplified by the fact that, like the preposition pô, it may be used in answers: Da Pedu. / Pô Pedu. ‘(Whom did you buy this book for?) For Pedu.’
We distinguish the following four values:
|‘Give’ in second position, recipient only||12|
|‘Give’ in second position, recipient or beneficiary||14|
|‘Give’ in first position, recipient only||6|
|No ‘give’ serials exist||43|
Value 1 (serial ‘give’ in second position introducing only recipients) is found in one Portuguese-based language, in seven English-based languages, in two French-based languages, in Berbice Dutch, and in Singapore Bazaar Malay.
Value 2 (serial ‘give’ in second position introducing recipient or beneficiary) occurs in four Portuguese-based languages, in seven English-based languages, in two French-based languages, and in Negerhollands.
Value 3 (serial ‘give’ in first position introducing only recipients) is found in Ambon Malay as well as in the two Southeast Asian Portuguese-based languages and in the three Spanish-based based languages of the Philippines.
Note that in the case of value 3, serial ‘give’ and the second verb form a syntactic unit; this can best be seen in example (14), where the subject ele follows dale mira ‘give look’, i.e. ‘show’.
Out of the 32 languages possessing serial ‘give’, the great majority (26 languages) show this verb in second position, as opposed to 6 languages which have serial ‘give’ in first position.
The geographical distribution of the values shows a very clear picture: value 1 and value 2 occur almost exclusively in the Atlantic area, whereas value 3 is restricted to Southeast Asia.
Diachronically, this feature is due to substrate (or adstrate) influence, although from different sources. The fact that value 1 and 2 (serial ‘give’ in second position) occur in the Atlantic area is without doubt due to West African influence, whereas the presence of the same two values in Southeast Asia (value 1 in Singlish and in Singapore Bazaar Malay, see examples 4 and 7) is most probably due to Sinitic influence.
As for value 3 (serial ‘give’ in first position), the origin of the construction is Malay and other related languages.
Value 4, no ‘give’ serials, is represented all over the world, in all the bilingual mixed languages but also in some Atlantic creoles with West African substrate influence such as Belizean Creole, Louisiana Creole, Papiamentu, and Pichi, as well as Sri Lankan Malay, which, although spoken in South India, is partially derived from Malay and might have been expected to exhibit value 3 as Ambon Malay does.