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Copulas in Brokpa

Abstract

Like many Tibetic languages, Brokpa boasts an intricate system of copulas. Six present tense copulas, one past tense copula, and two modal copulas are identified, including a distinction between sets of equative and existential copulas and a three-way epistemic contrast akin to Lhasa Tibetan, and more elaborated than that found in Brokpa’s Bhutanese relatives Dzongkha or Chocha-ngachakha. In particular, Brokpa features an egophoric category next to a contrast between, in DeLancey (2018)’s terms, evidential and non- evidential factual which is reminiscent of the opposition between acquired and assimilated knowledge proposed for Dzongkha by van Driem (1998). The discussion of the sophisticated epistemic semantics of Brokpa copulas is complemented by some suggestions as to its diachronic origins.

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