Periphrastic Perfects in the Coptic Dialects: A Case Study in Grammaticalization

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A completive construction (‘he finished hearing’) undergoes grammaticalization, with several identifiably distinct stages, within the Coptic dialects, into periphrastic Perfect or ‘Anterior’ afouw efswtp afouô efsôtp ‘he has/had heard.’ At the most advanced stage of grammaticalization, the construction is in fact an emergent member of the Auxiliary Construction (‘Tripartite Conjugation’). It is proposed that the motivation for the formal changes observed are to be found in the functional change the construction undergoes, among them the loss of the control of the subject over the process encoded by the lexical verb; this appears to be a feature specific to perfects grammaticalized from ‘finish’ source constructions (as opposed to those with resultative source constructions).
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)81–118
JournalLingua Aegyptia
StatePublished - 2009

Bibliographical note

Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference on Egyptian Grammar (Crossroads IV)
Basel, March 19-22, 2009


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