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THE ORDERING OF AUXILIARY NOTIONS IN GUYANESE CREOLE Kean Gibson University of the West Indies, Barbados Bickerton 1974, 1981, primarily in his work on Guyanese Creole, takes the position that an ordering Tense-Modal-Aspect is obligatory in creóle languages. This paper shows that the situation is much more complex; reanalysis indicates that an ordering Modal-Tense-Aspect is more correct.* Creole languages are noted for their high degree of linguistic variation, especially in communities where they are in contact with superstrate languages, e.g. Guyana and Jamaica. It is generally accepted that, in such communities, there is a basilect which is the most extreme and archaic creóle; the acrolect approximates the standard language and represents nearly complete decreolization ; the mesolect is the intermediate variety. The levels I am describing are the basilect and mesolect; and unlike DeCamp 1971 and Bickerton 1975, I assume that both varieties are generated by the same grammar. Formal differences are surface manifestations.1 Thompson 1961, Taylor 1971, and Bickerton 1974, 1981 posit an ordering T[ense-]M[odal-]A[spect] for the auxiliary notions in creóle languages. Muysken 1981 also accepts the TMA ordering for creóles—and, following Woisetschlaeger 1977, says that a principle of universal grammar specifies that aspect is interpreted before mood, and mood before tense. Bickerton's analysis of Guyanese discusses only one item gu—which he considers to be a modal, and which indeed occurs after the past tense category. But the situation is much more complex than he indicates, since some forms with modal meaning occur before and after tense, and some aspectuals occur before certain modal items. I will illustrate here the complexity of the situation, and will show that some of the forms are best classified as copula verbs, complementizers, and adverbs. I conclude that an MTA ordering is superior to TMA. 1. Problems. One difficulty concerns whether Guyanese has two aspectual a morphemes, orjust one. Bickerton 1975 recognizes a single aspectual a which obligatorily follows modal items. But it is possible for an aspectual a to occur before some modal items, while another a follows these modal forms. Bickerton claims there is only one aspectual a: the continuative/iterative a which occurs before non-stative verbs. He says (1975:34-5): * This analysis ofthe Guyanese auxiliary notions is revised from a section ofmy 1982 dissertation. The forms classified as 'auxiliary verbs' and the ordering of the notions in the dissertation are the same as in this paper; but because of insightful criticisms by Language reviewers, the criteria used for the classification of the forms have been revised. I would like to thank my colleague Steve Johnson for commenting on a draft of this paper. This work on Guyanese is based on data collected and transcribed by Walter F. Edwards, on my research in Guyana, and on my intuitions as a native speaker. 1 In Gibson 1982, I propose a grammar for Guyanese tense/aspect in which the basilect and mesolect are shown to use the same underlying categories. A similar position is taken by Mufwene 1980 (cf. also Gibson & Johnson 1984). 571 572LANGUAGE, VOLUME 62, NUMBER 3 (1986) 'One of the strongest rules in basilectal Guyanese Creole is that which restricts the use of a to non-stative verbs ... One seldom if ever encounters sentences such as *mi a no, dem a waan "I am knowing", "they are wanting".'2 But my Guyanese data contain sentences like these: (1)a. piipl na a biliiv mi 'People do not usually believe me.'3 b. dem a waan sting yu wan bil 'They usually want to take money from you (to go to the cinema).' So it is possible for a to occur before stative verbs; but then the meaning is habitual, rather than progressive ('iterative' rather than 'continuous', in B's terminology). Before non-stative verbs, a can indeed have progressive and habitual meanings: (2)a. at prezent mi a dufaarmin 'At present I am doing farming.' b. a de we yu a get staarch from 'It is there where you usually get starch from.' It is also before non-stative verbs that the two categories are separated: (3)shi a de a...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1535-0665
Print ISSN
0097-8507
Pages
pp. 571-586
Launched on MUSE
2015-04-01
Open Access
No
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