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I'm interested in Chinese, Hebrew, and (what little I know of) modern
Greek, where deitics and personal pronouns are very similar and the copula
disambiguates them.

On Mon, Apr 29, 2019, 10:23 AM Raymond Brown <[log in to unmask]>
wrote:

> On 29/04/2019 06:49, Eugene Oh wrote:
> > I disagree, the Chinese copula 是 does not show tense.
>
> I also disagree.  Chinese verbs don't show tense, nor does the copula
> _shì_.   Why should it?
>
> >
> > On 29 Apr 2019, at 03:32, Stewart Fraser wrote:
> >
> > Yes … I think the main function of a copula is to show tense.
>
> The main use of a copula is to link the subject of a sentence to a
> subject complement.   How a language may or may not express time
> reference is a wholly different matter.  Chinese shows this most clearly.
>
> > If not for that, many more languages would be completely lacking a
> > copula.
>
> Presumably this is interpolated from those languages which, like
> Russian, do have a copular verb but habitually omit when present tense
> would be required.  But that because time reference is shown by verbal
> inflexion in Russian and many other languages.
>
> A language may have an expressed copula for other reasons; it depends
> surely upon the grammatical structures of the language.
>
> As And wrote in a post in another thread:
> "As Alex recently demonstrated on the cardinal directions thread,
> discussion is typically more effective if you seek expertise, e.g. by
> consulting the scholarly literature. I feel sheepish about engaging in
> this interesting discussion without first having consulted the scholarly
> literature."
>
> During the cardinal directions thread I changed my mind considerably and
> wished I'd taken trouble to consult scholarly literature before writing.
>   The recent thread on form/function paradign mismatches would probably
> have been shorter if more reference had made to expertise and consulting
> scholarly literature.
>
> Clearly the statement that the main function of copla is to show tense
> is false.  Though discussion of a copula is interesting, I would also
> like to consult scholarly literature before plunging further into the
> subject.
>
> Ray
>