From Demonstratives to Copulas: A Cross-Linguistic Perspective and the Case of Polish
Published Online: Jan 01, 2017
This paper aims to clarify the syntactic status of the element to which appears in Polish copular expressions. The word to has recently been analyzed as a verb, see Linde-Usiekniewicz (2006); however, from the historical point of view, it clearly derives from a demonstrative pronoun. In the present article, I attempt to set the discussion of Polish to-constructions against a broader, cross- linguistic perspective. I provide an overview of a number of syntactic properties that characterize copulas derived from pronouns in other languages. I follow Li & Thompson (1977) in assuming that a demonstrative may be (diachronically) reanalyzed as a copula if the nominal structure that precedes it changes its status from a left- dislocated topic to the subject of the whole copular expression. I conclude that this reanalysis has not yet taken place in Polish; therefore, I argue that the element to should not be interpreted as a copula.