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High degree words

High degree words are also called amplifiers, as mentioned previously, and add a high degree interpretation to the adjective. Some examples are given below, with adjectives which can be modified by them:

Example 1

uiters koud/pynlik/interessant
extremely cold/painful/interesting
Example 2

baie wreed/ongelyk/snaaks
very cruel/unequal/funny

Amplifiers add a high degree interpretation to the adjective, and form the largest subclass of intensifiers, as in these examples;

Example 3

uiters koue toestande
extremely cold conditions
Example 4

Hy is baie jammer.
he be.PRS very sorry
He is very sorry.

Some distinctions in function can be identified, which are indicated and exemplified further. For example, some amplifiers tend to have the same basic meaning as the adjective which they modify. This may involve phrases which are to some extent pleonastic collocations:

Example 5

reusagtig groot
gigantically big

Comparatively speaking, the most common intensifier, baie, seems to be used in both positive and negative contexts, whereas a word such as byster lost (in addition to being complemented by a noun phrase, as in die spoor byster raak lose one's way) tends to be used with the meaning particularly, very, as in nie byster goed nie not particularly good. What characterises its use, is that it normally used in contexts which are negative in some sense, mostly referring to human qualities, while it use in a positive context is ungrammatical:

Example 6

Hy is baie intelligent.
he be.PRS very intelligent
He is very intelligent.
Example 7

Hy is nie byster intelligent nie.
he be.PRS not very (particularly) intelligent PTCL.NEG
He's not very intelligent.
Example 8

*Hy is byster intelligent.
he be.PRS very intelligent
He is very intelligent.

In sentences reinforcing the degree of the adjective by means of repetition, the repeated adjective can be preceded by an adverb such as selfs even, or eintlik actually, as in:

Example 9

Eendagsvlieë is veral lief vir warm, en selfs baie warm plekke.
mayflies be.PRS especially fond of warm and even very warm places
Mayflies are especially fond of warm, and even very warm places.
Example 10

Hy was kwaad, eintlik woedend.
he be.PRT angry actually furious
He was angry, actually furious.

An infinitive construction such as om die waarheid te sê to tell the truth may serve as an adjunct to tag a semantically higher degree adjective, an example of which would represent a more formal version of the previous one:

Example 11

Hy is kwaad, om die waarheid te sê, woedend.
he be.PRS angry, for.COMP the truth PTCL.INF say.INF furious
He is angry, in fact, furious.

Relational amplifiers form a semantic subclass of amplifiers. They characteristically combine with relational adjectives or with adjectives which may carry a relational interpretation:

Example 12

tipies Kaaps/vroulik/dantesk
characteristically Capetonian/feminine/of.the.author.Dante
characteristically Capetonian/feminine/Dantesque
Example 13

Example 14

spesifiek Afrikaans/lokaal/stroomop
specifically Afrikaans/local/against.the.current
specifically Afrikaans/local/contrary

The amplifiers ware truly and regte really freely combine with relational adjectives, but they also freely combine with scalar adjectives. Amplification of amplifiers is normally excluded:

Example 15

*uiters baie koud
*extremely very cold
Example 16

*baie reusagtig groot
*very enormously big

Amplifiers generally do not have a comparative and superlative degree:

Example 17

*Dit is vanjaar nog uiterster koud as verlede jaar.
it be.PRS this year even very·CPR cold than last year
This year it's even more extreme cold than last year.

Amplifiers can also belong to other categories than AP, for instance PP:

Example 18

by uitstek geskik
by eminence suitable
pre-eminently suitable
Example 19

deur en deur verrot
through and through rotten
rotten to the core

Adjectival amplifiers may also be quantificational in nature:

Example 20

meer as genoeg
more than enough
quite sufficient

The quantifier meer as more than can also be used to answer a question about sufficiency:

Example 21

Het jy genoeg gehad?
have.AUX you enough had
Did you have enough?

Note that the negative form minder as less than, is often used, as in English, for purposes of litotes:

Example 22

Dis nie minder as reg dat ek na jou omsien nie.
it.be.PRS not less than right that.COMP I to you care PTCL.NEG
It is not less than right that I look after you. (It is only right that I look after you.)

The prefix oor- over can also be used as an amplifier.

Example 23

more than enough
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