Datapoint Bislama/Predicative noun phrases

Se copulas were not recorded at all in Santo/Malo in Meyerhoff's (1994–1995) fieldwork. I heard it several times in Vila in 1998, 2003. It may be regionalized or may have originated in Vila. I am not at all sure how widely se is accepted as predicate copula, so more research on this emergent construction would be valuable.

Crowley (1989) suggests the se copula originated by analogy with French c’est. If this is true, and if the functions of French c'est have influenced its grammaticalization in Bislama, se may first emerge in Bislama in predications that seem somehow 'topicalized'. If it comes from c'est, it may also be preferred by speakers with French education, but this is unknown. It may be preferred as an identificational copula but this is also uncertain.

Values

Variable copula

Example 23-121:
Kuestian nao se wataem bae ol lida ia oli save karem panismen.
Kuestian
question
nao
now
se
cop
wataem
what.time
bae
irr
ol
pl
lida
leader
ia
def
oli
agr
save
abil
karem
take
panismen.
punishment
The question now is when will the leaders be punished.

Source: Vanuatu Weekly Hebdomadaire

Example 23-122:
Maj! o yu longfala yet!
Maj!
march
o
excl
yu
2sg
longfala
long
yet!
yet
March! Oh you're here for a long time yet.

Source: Meyerhoff 1994-1995 field recordings

Example 23-185:
Hem i wan atlet long saed blong javelin.
Hem
3sg
i
agr
wan
indf
atlet
athlete
long
on
saed
side
blong
of
javelin.
javelin
She is a javelin thrower.
Confidence:
Certain