Talk:Copula (linguistics)

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Languages[edit]

Mentioning so many different languages is nice .(see also here), but do we really want the article to be a list of copular constructions in as many languages as we can gather? Just a question. I think it is very important to give a comprehensive overview; at the same time I think that the article should be an article instead of a list.This imformation is great!


How about a discussion of Filipino copulas? They have a very interesting sentence inversion marker that can be mistaken for a copula. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 203.215.124.36 (talk) 06:26, 9 September 2007 (UTC)

Incidentally, I would like to add something about Iraqw language, an African language in which 'copula-like verbs' play an important role. Where should I add it? mark 09:18, 4 Dec 2004 (UTC)

I think the article is indeed a good article. The list of languages is not just a list, since each item contains at the very least a small explanation. The general stuff is located at the beginning, so the reader can leave it at that or proceed to the list for examples. Linguistics in abstracto is too dense and difficult, IMO. (OTOH the list is quite complete by now -- there's no need to add to it further.)
Why don't you create an article for Iraqw? Then you can link to it from the Copula article. In fact, a good idea would be to link from "Copula" to the section of each language article where copulas are 1) an interesting topic, and 2) well explained. The links should be in a special subsection ("Copulas in other languages"?) or in the See Also. -- Pablo D. Flores 14:36, 6 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Thanks for your thoughts. I think it is a good idea to add links to relevant sections in other languages' articles. I'm thinking of writing an article on Iraqw language indeed. mark 16:37, 6 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Mark, now I am starting to agree that this is just becoming a list of copulas in other languages. My intention in adding the languages I did was to show differences in the definition and boundaries of what copula is. Some of the more recent edits are just grammatical listings of the verb "to be" in some random language, which is not really pertinent unless that language uses the copula in an unusual way.
If a language has a copula that is omitted, or is not a verb, or is separate from "to be", or split into separate classes, or some other unusual feature, by all means it should be here. Otherwise, why bother? Steverapaport 16:14, 2 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Recent edit[edit]

I've restored much of the article to Steverapaport's version since some of the recent changes made by User:A. Shetsen did not seem to be improvements but rather introduced inaccuracies (see diff). For example, I think it is not correct to say that, in Russian and Hungarian, 'nouns do not have a copula between them', since the examples aren't noun+copula+noun constructions but rather pronoun+(implied copula)+noun. The statement in Steverapaport's version seemed to be far more accurate. I also didn't understand the change from Indo-European languages to the (nonexistent) Indoeuropean languages so that's another thing I changed back. mark 22:53, 6 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Thanks for the vote of confidence, Mark. I have again added some perspective on the rather English-centric assumption that the copula is intimately and inextricably connected with the Existential.
Was it User:A. Shetsen who took out my perspective on Italian and Swedish other types of to be? Y'know, I don't really mind when people who don't know any other languages write this way out of sheer ignorance. That's what the Countering Systemic Bias project is for. But it gets under my skin when I take the trouble to correct the bias and someone deletes it without a word.
Steverapaport 23:37, 6 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Yeah, I don't know what happened or who deleted your additions in the spirit of CSB. I just didn't want to simply revert Shetsen's version to your (seemingly more complete and accurate) version since I like to assume good faith, which is why I might have missed some unjustified deletions. mark 23:45, 6 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Sorry to blather on further, but I checked and not only did Shetsen delete two different informative bits I'd added, without discussion, he marked his edit as minor and didn't mention what he'd done. I'm gonna hope this was a gigantic screw-up on his part and not simply an enormous discourtesy. You would never do that deliberately, right Mr. Shetsen?

Japanese[edit]

The section on Japanese had some mistakes and inacurate information, so I added a lot and trimmed a little. This explanation may not be the one you get in textbooks, but it's the one that professional linguists adhere to.Squidley

Talking about professional linguists, the article could use some references — care to add some for Japanese? Otherwise, your additions look great. I think the distinction between predication and conjunction/modification is useful. One thing that doesn't seem particularly clear to me is the following:
The difference between da and desu is simple: desu is more formal and polite than da. Thus, a Japanese sentence which ends with a stative verb may not take da, while the same sentence with desu is merely more polite than the version without.
I don't see why the 'non-formality' or 'non-politeness' of da would render Kono biiru wa umai da unacceptable (or the other way round). mark 01:36, 31 Dec 2004 (UTC)
I haven't edited anything, because I'm not an expert linguist, and I probably would've messed something up. But I'm pretty sure that desu shouldn't be considered a copula like da, because there are many differences between the two besides politeness. I was taught that with i-adjectives, it is grammatically incorrect to use the copula, but it is alright to use desu. You couldn't say "Ureshii da," but you could say "ureshii desu." You can also say "Ureshii desu ka?" but you can't say "Ureshii da ka?" Desu is just added to make a sentence sound polite.--Kinoko 18:23, 1 Jan 2005 (UTC)
One of my texts, "Japanese in Thirty Hours" by Eiichi Kiyooka nicely breaks down "desu" into two bits: -de (particle marking predicate complement) and su being a contraction of imasu or arimasu (to be). This text is old (1953) but reasonably authoritative (the author taught at Columbia, Univ. of Hawaii, and Keio University). If this is valid, desu is absolutely a copula (you might even say the copula) for this register of speech. The register using da seems to have da as the copula. Steverapaport 00:12, 2 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Mark, Kinoko, and Steverapaport, thank you for your comments. I've added and modified what I wrote earlier to make it clearer. Kinoko, desu has two uses, as the article now makes clear. As Steverapaport noted, desu is very much a copula, something which students of Japanese often don't understand. Check it out: Kore wa hon da/Kore wa hon desu. Either one comes out in English as "This is a book," and both are good Japanese. I hope my rewrite makes this clearer. As for references, I think Shibatani's "The Languages of Japan" would be a good start. (I'm too lazy to do add the reference myself, though.) I'm not sure what other books to cite, because I'm not a syntactician. I just did this off the top of my head without looking at any books. Squidley 23:12, 3 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Squidley, nice writing in the cleanup of Japanese, and thanks for the acknowledgements. I like your explanations of da, desu, aru and iru, though it's not obvious yet why the latter 2 are not copulae.
I'm really uncertain about your classification of no and na as copulae, though. I'm pretty sure that -no (including your examples) is a particle indicating the genitive case. My Japanese isn't so hot but -na sounds more like the essive case to me. Can a case marker also be a copula? Why would it need to be? Anyway this is reaching the limits of my knowledge, but I'd sure like to see a reference. Any other linguists out there who know? Steverapaport 21:16, 12 Jan 2005 (UTC)
About na -- it's just a special form of da when in a subordinate proposition (I'm told). That is, kirei na kimono = "kimono which is beautiful" (or, "a thing with beauty", whatever you want to "translate" the na-adjective). It's clearer when you consider that you can make it past tense, kirei datta kimono. About no, I wouldn't be so sure. It seems plain genitive (or associative) to me. --Pablo D. Flores 01:46, 13 Jan 2005 (UTC)
That is not right; actually you cannot separate the -na from kirei there. "Kireina" is actually the 連体形 (relative clause form? sorry I don't really know what they are called in English) inflection of the adjectival noun "kirei", and this "na" doesn't come from "da", but in fact is a form that came from the older -nari adjectival noun 連体形 inflection "kireinaru". (Also, the -da / -datta cannot be separated from "kirei" either, being respectively the 終止形 and 連用形 + auxiliary verb"た" forms.) What you are thinking of is "da" changing to "na", after a noun (such as nihon) before a few special words such as "node" and "noni" ("nanode", "nanoni"). Since this "na" form is practically an exceptional case, it is usually not regarded as a proper inflection of "da", but is indicated in dictionaries in brackets. Let me say a bit more. The old form "kireinari" (dictionary form? the 基本形 of -nari adjectival noun) actually is a contraction of "kireini ari" and followed the inflection pattern of "ari" (-ra 変格 verb), and "-nari" (contraction of -ni ari) is actually how they used to say "da" in those times. So ultimately the "na" in "kireina" has something to do with the copula, but nowadays with adjectival noun as a category in itself, the -na is now inseparable. -- KittySaturn 23:56, 2005 Feb 3 (UTC)
It has been hard to find a sort of chart for modern adjectival noun inflections (most charts are for classical Japanese) but here is one. [1]. It is a sub-page of the main site. It also has the adjective inflections above it, which is a good comparison. -- KittySaturn 00:27, 2005 Feb 4 (UTC)

"A way some theists assert their theism"[edit]

This seems to be almost biased or ridiculing of theists. I've removed the short phrase. If you think it should be put back, then...

Turkish copula[edit]

I thought the original comments on the Turkish copula were inadequate and even inaccurate, so yesterday I replaced them.

Then I thought that what I had written would be better as a separate article; so I created that article and restored the original text of the Turkish section of the copula article.

I still think, for example, that it is incorrect to say that the verb "imek" appears in "maviyim". As I infer from Lewis's grammar (and note in the new article), the "-(y)im" simply represents a pronoun.

It may be incorrect to speak of "imek" as a verb at all. There used to be such a verb, but perhaps it doesn't really act at all like a verb now. (It isn't negated as regular verbs are, for example.) The ending "-dir", the present characteristic "-yor",---they used to be verbs, according to Lewis, but this information is perhaps not relevant to current Turkish.

But in case the point about "maviyim" is debatable, I have restored the original text, as I said. Others may judge and make appropriate changes! David Pierce 07:04, 14 July 2005 (UTC)

Subset relator[edit]

I've added a (woefully short and in need of extending and clarifying) section on the copula as a subset relator. From the perspective in which that section was written, the copula and the existential are related in that they both perform the function of relating subjects to some superset that includes them. English happens to use the same verb for this because the existential use is a subset of the copular use, but there is no reason that it could not be split off as a special case that takes another form in other languages (like Hebrew). Thoughts or suggestions? goz 18:28, August 24, 2005 (UTC)

It looks as if you are elaborating on the second point listed under Copula#Use. That same subjection, "Use", mentions the existential use of "be". The existential use of "be" is then elaborated on in its own section, just before your new section. So it is good to have this new section.
The section "Existential usage" is not very clear to me, but I think its main point is that, in some languages, the same verb is used both as a copula and as the verb for existence. Thus the section addresses your own comment above. Perhaps the connexions between the last two sections could be made more explicit; their order might be reversed; they might be referred to earlier in the article.
Can a reference be cited here? I'm just an amateur, introspecting about my native tongue; the accounts of "be" here seem correct to me, but maybe I am missing something. It does seem to me that it is more accurate to speak of "class membership" than "subset relator". "Mary is a doctor" says Mary is a member of the class of doctors. "Doctors are educated" does say that the set of doctors is a subset of the set of educated people; but this just means that every doctor is a member of the class of educated people. David Pierce 06:14, 25 August 2005 (UTC)
This work would have been the crux of my MA thesis if I had completed it. It is based on several varying and loosly related ideas on the temporal structure of the predicate and its arguments, and a cross-linguistic generalization on what the copula seems to do, including the existential forms, where they are separate from the others. The reason I use subset for all cases is that a member of a set is also a single-member subset of that set. This gives a single function for the logical operator that the copula represents, which simplfies the predicate calculus, as well as the mental and maybe even neural representations. It's a simplification that still gives the same result, and I saw no reason to alternate between subset and member with no further evidence. I'm also depending on the mathematical definition of set, per set theory. Matt 03:05, August 26, 2005 (UTC)
Is the verb be in the present contiuous tense really a copula? Adam J. Sporka 12:44, 21 May 2006 (UTC)

This section says:

From one perspective, the copula always relates two things as subsets. Take the following examples:
  1. John is a doctor.
  2. John and Mary are doctors.
  3. Doctors are educated.
  4. Mary is running.
  5. Running is fun.
Example 1 includes John in the set of all doctors. Example 2 includes John and Mary both in the set of all doctors. Example 3 includes the set of doctors in the set of those who are educated. And so on.

But what about sentences like "Two plus two is four"? FilipeS 11:33, 30 September 2006 (UTC)

"Two plus two" has a set of possible values with one element, which is identical to (and therefore a subset of) the set of values of "four". Matt 17:40, 5 December 2006 (UTC)

I am[edit]

Please have a look at Talk:I am, and com,ent as neccessary. Cheers, Sam Spade 17:19, 3 September 2005 (UTC)

Russian examples[edit]

This isn't a huge point, but I have never heard anyone actually say "Она является красивой". It's true that являться (and its prefixed forms) have meaning related to being -- but that doesn't mean that you can use them as you would "to be". In general, I think the Russian section is incomplete: shouldn't something address the way есть interacts with existence? В этом городе есть театр "In this town there's a theater" with explicit "is" vs. В этом городе хорошие театры "In this town there are good theaters" or "In this town the theaters are good" with no verb at all. Is this "implied" copula, normal copula, or not copula? Someone should compare this page with Zero copula and make things more consistent and accurate. Tesseran 06:17, 8 February 2006 (UTC)

I just added regarding Russian: "("суть" (3rd person plural) appears occasionally in academic and archaic language)". Shouldn't we also point out that the use of a hyphen (я - студент) is pretty much indicating copularity?Malick78 (talk) 23:58, 5 January 2012 (UTC)

Italics and bold in examples[edit]

Why is there a mixture of italic and bold formatting in the English examples? Shouldn't there just be italics? I guess I'll be bold and change bold to italic.

Web-Crawling Stickler 21:45, 11 September 2006 (UTC)

how to define and explain a term[edit]

abzorba 05:53, 20 September 2006 (UTC)I was surprised to see how complex and abstruse the initial definitions of "copula" and associated terms were, especially for a "people's encylopedia". It is admirable to aim for "accuracy and completeness" but surely not at the expense of plain and comprehensible English. Here are some guidelines which, if followed, would help improve these and many of the other articles immensely.

1. Always write for your audience. Now, who is looking up "copula" in Wikipedia? Not a specialist, not an academic, but most probably an ordinary guy who has come across the term somewhere and wants a quick idea of what it is, and only after that, if they are still interested, will want more depth and detail. (The article as it stands uses "linguistics", "predicate" and "complement" in the first two sentences, and provides no concrete example of a copula until much later, by which time the reader is already in over his head).

2.It is a good teaching principle to make the initial definition the most simple and general you can, (even if it over-simplifies), then immediately provide an example. Now go a little deeper and wider, and then provide more examples.

3.Take it one step at a time.

4. Don't get bogged down in minutiae. You don't *really" have to explain "everything". Just cite a few good texts for the person who has decided they want to make copulas their life's vocation. This is an encyclopedia, not the Library of Congress. Articles which become rambling tomes simply discourage the typical encyclopedia user.

5. Go from the familar to the exotic, from the simple to the more complex.

6. Prefer concrete to abstract. Don't be afraid to strew a bit of liveliness amongst the esoterica.


8.Tie everything together.

7.Beware of long lists of things. They are the bane of the internet and Wikipedia.

Finally, here is a concrete example of how whoever wrote the article on copulas forgets he is not writing for an audience of experts. When I saw the pipe "List of English copulas", and knowing nothing about copulas myself (at the time), I thought this would be an exhaustive list, to which you could refer to check if a word you had come across was a copula or not. In fact, it is only a list of some examples. It is now obvious to me that the list is not "complete", and that it would be empty pedantry to attempt such a project, as just about anything could be used as a copula (think of "oozed" confidence) and a gigantic list of them would explain nothing that several well-chosen examples couldn't.

Now I'm sorry if I've spoken out of turn, but the proof of the pudding is in the eating, so I will attempt a revision of this article.

Haitian[edit]

Regarding the Haitian section, the 3 listed (se, ye, zero) are fairly obvious, but if one looks at the list of copulas in English, it becomes obvious that are more Haitian words that belong in the copula category. One that comes to mind readily is "vin" or "devinir". Any thoughts on that that before changes to the category are made? Isaac Crumm 20:30, 29 November 2006 (UTC)

Toki Pona[edit]

The article formerly contained this statement:

In Toki Pona, if the subject is mi (I) or sina (you, sg.) there is no copula needed; otherwise, li is used just before the verb. For example: "sina pona" (you're good), "meli li pona" ((the) woman is good).

I don't think that's copula, though, since li is required before any verb, not just stative verbs that would be translated as adjectives in English, unless the subject it mi or sina. For example, you'd have mi tawa (I'm leaving) but meli li tawa (the woman is leaving). So I'd say that li is not a copula but rather a predicate introducer, or something like that.

(I think that i fulfils a similar purpose in Tok Pisin.) -- pne (talk) 13:17, 30 November 2006 (UTC)

Disambig?[edit]

Desu redirects here. Should we have a top-disambiguation to Rozen Maiden? --Damian Yerrick (talk | stalk) 03:33, 26 January 2007 (UTC)

I don't see how it is relevant enough to deserve a mention on this article. "Desu" should redirect here because it is the appropriate article on its grammatical use. The internet meme is not notable in my opinion. --EmperorBrandon 20:08, 26 January 2007 (UTC)

...ok is this article at all really necessary? Really. Anyway, yeah "desu" redirects here (I was making redirects to 4chan based on all its memes) and anyway DESU DESU DESU and this really shouldn't be... so... Imm changin mah redirect

...

Interlaker 19:25, 15 February 2007 (UTC)

Copula has additional meanings.[edit]

Copula's are also a mathematical concept used in statistics I believe. So, I think the Copula definition shown here needs to be expanded further.

206.195.193.254 15:18, 23 May 2007 (UTC)

Relationship between copula and predicate[edit]

The intro of this article reads as though the copula is not included in the predicate, which can consist of solely a subject complement (even, then, in languages without zero copula). So in the English sentence "Cheese is yellow", cheese would be subject, is copula and yellow predicate. And yet, the very first example of a predicate in Predicate (grammar) is "is yellow". The two articles seem to contradict each other. -- Jao 13:20, 31 May 2007 (UTC)

Plural[edit]

The page currently uses both plurals (-ae and -as) indiscriminately. It would be better to stick to one or the other. Personally, I favour -ae. 91.105.5.207 19:24, 6 October 2007 (UTC)

Chinese[edit]

The article currently notes this:

The history of the Chinese copula 是 is a controversial subject.

I haven't heard this to be the case anywhere. Every source I've seen unambiguously states that the use of 是 as a copula developed from its use as a resumptive demonstrative pronoun in Classical Chinese, and I've added a citation for the sentence in the article that says so. Is there a source that says otherwise? I've added citation needed tags on those statements for now. —Umofomia (talk) 22:38, 2 March 2008 (UTC)


Something else regarding the Chinese section - I've edited a bit to replace some slightly incorrect and ambiguous information with more clear and correct facts. I just wanted to note that I'm from China and can speak Chinese fluently, and so I can help with any more clarification on the subject of Chinese copulas or any other subject related to things I've put in for my editing. I haven't personally heard of that controversial subject thing for 是 either. I was going to go about doing something with it, but I figured leaving it as it is seemed more appropriate since I didn't really have anything in mind to replace it. --67.191.255.115 (talk) 19:27, 23 November 2008 (UTC)

Identity Predication[edit]

I don't believe this example, given in the article, predicates identity as claimed: 'When the area behind the dam fills, it will be a lake.' This just seems like another example of class membership to me. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 213.106.23.59 (talk) 09:46, 30 August 2008 (UTC)

"It is me" and "C'est moi"[edit]

Why do French and English use the accusative when there should actually be a nominative.. it's a bad habit, is illogical, and languages that haven't changed dramatically from its ancestral language like Latin, German, Swedish, Russian, Finnish always use the nominative as the predicate? --nlitement [talk] 21:46, 21 November 2008 (UTC)

Clinton[edit]

"The most well-known example would be former United States President Bill Clinton's statement "it depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is." "The most well-known example" seems absolute to me. Maybe "A notable example" would be better? "An example that highlights the flexibility of the word is ..." "An example that highlights the ambiguity of the word is ..." I just thought it was worth mentioning because the sentence distracted me. KukJe (talk) 08:37, 3 February 2009 (UTC)

I might suggest another example. I'm concerned that this might be NPOV. 24.193.42.103 (talk) 05:48, 22 December 2009 (UTC)

"does is <verb>"[edit]

All he ever does is drink/smoke/complain/watch TV/sit and pick his nose seems like a special case of a copula that is worth reviewing in this article. linas (talk) 20:08, 21 April 2009 (UTC)

Yeah, what you're describing is the English language using Object-Verb-Subject format (rather than usual SVO) Check out this: "English... still bears traces of this word order, for example ... some clauses beginning with negative expressions: "only" ("only then do we find X"), "not only" ("not only did he storm away, but he also slammed the door"), "under no circumstances" ("under no circumstances are the students allowed to use a mobile phone"), "on no account" and the like."
"All he ever does is drink, smoke, complain, watch TV, and pick his nose." is OVS and can be re-written as
"Drink, smoke, complain, watch TV, and pick his nose IS all he ever does." (btw, this sentence is inappropriate because of the branching list on the left side of the copula.)
I haven't read this article myself (lol) but some mention of SVO syntax and an illustration of the copula splitting the subject from the object/predicate might be of benefit to readers.Xetxo (talk) 22:23, 29 November 2009 (UTC)

"appears to be"[edit]

Under the "Distinguishing between a copula and an action verb" header... Isn't the sentence "Sam appears to be happy." using the verb 'appears' as an action verb? Aren't all sentences that use "to be" in that way using action verbs? Or is that sentence using 'to be' as a preposition maybe? Here's something I started writing out for myself as I was trying to figure it out, but I can't figure out the actual rule:

"Note that this approach falters, in part, with the verb "to appear". In the sentence "Sam appears to be happy", "appears" is a copula. Yet, "seems" but not "is" can be substituted: "Sam is to be happy" means something else entirely. EDITS: Also, "Sam claims to be happy." results in the same faltering, though IS an action verb sentence, so one may be wiser to investigate the phrase "to be" when considering whether the "seem/is" approach may be useful. (Note: "to" in the original sentence may be perceived as a preposition, just as "to be" can be considered the complete prepositional phrase. Thus, "Sam appears to be happy." may be rewritten with out the prepositional phrase as "Sam appears happy." Both "is" and "seems" will now substitute with out disrupting the meaning of the sentence. However, in "Same claims to be happy." "to be" can not be omitted with out rendering the sentence unintelligible"Xetxo (talk) 22:49, 29 November 2009 (UTC)

"To be" in english:[edit]

Someone, thinking it would be interesting, has redirected the "to be" page here. I was looking for a simple explanation of the 8-12 different forms of the word "to be" in English when I found this giant linguistic opus about copulas in other languages.

This is interesting, but Wikipedia users should have the English "to be" page made up. Then an irresistible link can be made back here to copulas.

But, as an average everyday user, I think that burying "to be" here is a bit inappropriate. This opus of a page made me work to hard to find the info I was looking for, and that is the interesting things about the "to be" words in English. For instance, where is the write up about the notable efforts to extricate all forms of "to be" from the English language. It may be here, but it is very hard to find in the few minutes I was willing to give to this project.

As an intersting and humorous side note, I find it intimidating to write anything here among the linguists because I know the linguistic prescriptivists will nail me to the wall for my poor grammar. --68.193.161.227 (talk) 21:27, 19 February 2010 (UTC)

Cantonese[edit]

Cantonese uses 係 (Jyutping: hai6) instead of 是.

Absolutly, 係 and 是 are the same word.--刻意(Kèyì) 11:22, 30 May 2010 (UTC)

Copula is not a "passive verb"[edit]

I have removed from the lead section a suggestion that copula is 'also called a "passive verb"'. In linguistics the term passive verb may refer to a transitive verb in the passive voice. There is apparently also a popular usage of passive verb for verbs that "assert of the subject that it is acted on by something or suffers the action" (Oxford English Dictionary second edition, at "active, a. and n."). The OED calls this "less correct." In standard terminology this may be a type of intransitive verb rather than a copula. Cnilep (talk) 21:32, 3 August 2010 (UTC)

Cognates[edit]

The word cognate may have been used incorrectly in this article; I draw attention to section Copulas in other languages, subsection essence versus state, where it seems to me that it is suggested that "essence" and "state", in English, are cognates with words in Latin, whereas I believe that they be derived from Latin instead. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 212.183.128.252 (talk) 19:23, 16 April 2012 (UTC)

Portuguese examples in essence versus state[edit]

I have suggested a better translation for the expressions "O Bob é bom" and "O Bob está bom". The former would refer to Bob's character, thus translating as "Bob is good", as in a good man, whereas the latter refers to his wellbeing, thus "Bob is feeling well". Zelani (talk) 03:10, 10 September 2012 (UTC)

'Needs washed' as copula omission?[edit]

A recent edit by User:Pengo offers the US regionalism "needs washed" as an example of copula omission in English. I'm not convinced that this is zero-copula or copula omission in the way that "She crazy" is. As an English speaker I agree that "The car needs to be washed" is standard and more or less equivalent to "The car needs washed", but then, so is "The car needs washing", which has no copula. At any rate, my status or Pengo's status as English speakers is of little import; what is needed is a source calling this a kind of copula omission. Cnilep (talk) 02:46, 18 October 2012 (UTC)

I couldn't find any sources calling this copula deletion. I did find a few that suggest speakers who produce "She crazy" do not produce "needs washed", but this is for socio-historical rather than syntactic reasons. (The former is a feature of African American dialects; AAVE speakers in Pennsylvania tend not to have Central Pennsylvania dialect features.)
I did find one analysis (Brown & Miller 1980, Auxiliary verbs in Edinburgh speech) of Scottish English (which also has "needs washed") that calls it a passive construction (Somebody needs wash the carThe car needs washed), but it's a passing suggestion in just one source, and not related to central Pennsylvania. There is also no discussion of a copula, omitted or otherwise, in the passive. Their suggestion is that need is not a modal auxiliary.
Pengo suggests on my talk page that the feature might be mentioned as a "See also", but I'm not sure which page would be linked to. The construction is mentioned in Pittsburgh English, Central Pennsylvania accent, Midland American English and Scottish English, but does not have its own page. Cnilep (talk) 04:19, 18 October 2012 (UTC)

Misleading example with passive sentence[edit]

This comparison is misleading: "Another issue is verb agreement when both subject and predicative expression are noun phrases (and differ in number or person): in English the copula normally agrees with the preceding phrase, even if it is not logically the subject, as in the cause of the riot is (not are) these pictures of the wall. Compare Italian la causa della rivolta sono ("are", not è "is") queste foto del muro."

English word order is more rigid than Italian. You can't take "the dogs bite the man" and turn it into "the man bite the dogs". You have to say "the man is bitten by the dogs". This is passive construction - grammatically "the man" is the subject of the sentence, even though it is not the doer of the action, and the verb must agree with "the man". In Italian, you can do SVO or OVS, but the verb agrees with S. So I am not sure what this example is meant to show, as it doesn't really have anything to do with the copula, per se.

To resolve this, I propose that either this example be removed, or an explanation be given about word order and passive construction.

Kirstenjpetersen (talk) 19:25, 19 April 2014 (UTC)

I wouldn't get into passives, since the copula has no passive voice. Compare, though, "In my house is a dog" and "In my house are two dogs." These examples show that English word order is sometimes flexible enough to allow the subject of the copula to come after it. So it isn't entirely clear, from any word order constraint, that the subject of "The cause is the pictures" must necessarily be "the cause" rather than "the pictures". W. P. Uzer (talk) 20:38, 19 April 2014 (UTC)

Intro and article are disjointed[edit]

The intro entertains a range of situations that would fall under the concept of "copula". Thereafter the article focus solely on the verb "be", describing "copulae" in other languages limited to "be", which is not the case. Rui ''Gabriel'' Correia (talk) 14:05, 2 August 2014 (UTC)

The article seems to acknowledge that "copula" has both a wide and a narrow meaning. It spends most of its time on topics within the narrower meaning, perhaps because there is more that can be said about them. Of course you're welcome to try to improve it. W. P. Uzer (talk) 16:00, 2 August 2014 (UTC)