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An Introduction to Binominal Constructions

(Ponelis, F.A. 1979:153-158) distinguishes semantically between four types of binominal (NP1+NP2) constructions in Afrikaans: Quantificational Constructions (abbreviated to: QCs), for example,

Example 1

'n liter melk
a liter [of] milk
Example 2

'n dosyn eiers
a dozen [of] eggs

Genitive Constructions (abbreviated to: GCs), for example,

Example 3

Thuli se hare
Thuli's hair
Example 4

die ouers van Thuli
the parents of Thuli

Name Constructions (abbreviated to: NCs), for example,

Example 5

die stad Pretoria
the city [of] Pretoria
Example 6

die planeet Mars
the planet Mars

Classificatory Constructions (abbreviated to: CCs), for example,

Example 7

'n tipe benadering
a type [of] approach
Example 8

('n paar) nommer tien swart skoene
(a pare [of] size 10 black shoes

Syntactically these constructions all belong to the category of binominal constructions (i.e., NP1 + NP2) in Afrikaans, but they differ syntactically and semantically.

In QCs, NP1 denotes some quantity of NP2, for example, NP1 in (9) refers to the quantity 'n dosyn a dozen [of], and NP2 to that of which the quantity is predicated, viz. eierseggs:

Example 9

[NP1 'n dosyn] [NP2 eiers]
[NP1 a dozen [of]][NP2 eggs]

It is accepted (at least for some) that GCs in Afrikaans, as in many other languages, express a POSSESSION relation between a POSSESSOR and POSSESSED. For example, in se's genitives as in Thuli se hareThuli's hair Thuli is the POSSESSOR of hair, which is the object of possession, i.e. the POSSESED. In a vanof GC, this ordering is reversed: in die hare van Thulithe hair of Thuli the POSSESSED is still hair and Thuli is the POSSESOR, but the two genitive constructions differ with regard to which NP is the semantic head of the construction and on which NP the primary focus falls.

In NCs, NP1 refers to the (sub)category to which the whole construction (NP1 + NP2) belongs, for example,(die) planeet(the) planet in (10), and NP2 refers to the name of a member of the subcategory identified in NP1, for example MarsMars in (10):

Example 10

[NP1 die planeet][NP2 Mars]
[NP1 the planet][NP2 Mars]

Semantically this construction can be formulated in concept features as [(SUB)CATEGORY, NAME of MEMBER]. Constructions such as (10) presupposes that language users distinguish a category of planets, and differentiate between its members by naming each member.

The meaning of a binominal constructions may be quite complex, and it could have more content and structure as dictionary definitions of its constituents may lead us to believe.

In CCs, NP1 denotes/refers to a (SUB)CATEGORY, in either (i) lexical terms that denote the (SUB)CATEGORY, for example,soortsort, klasclass, tipetype,kalibercaliber, and NP2 denotes/refers to the entity, attribute or event to which the construction as a whole belongs. For example, in (11) the NP1 ('n tipea type) identifies the (sub)category to which the construction belongs, and NP2 (persoonlikheidpersonality) refers to the kind of entity, attribute or event that is at stake:

Example 11

[NP1 'n tipe][NP2 persoonlikheid]
[NP1 a type [of]][NP2 personality]

or (ii) by using a lexical item/lexical items as NP1 that denote a subcategory by referring to some other, more specific, feature of the subcategory, for example, its (graad)grade) (kleur)colour, (geur)smell,odour, (fabrikaat) brand, etc. as in (12) and (13)

Example 12

[NP1 'n nommer 12][NP2 skoen]
[NP1 a size 12][NP2 shoe]
Example 13

[NP1 'n nommer 36][NP2 bloes]
[NP1 a size 36][NP2 blouse]

CCs presuppose that language users distinguish categories of shoes and blouses and these are subcategorised in terms of any one or more of the features of these entities; for example, (12) presuppose that language users distinguish a category of shoes, and that the members of this category are distinguished according to its salient attributes - in (13), its size. In (14) more than one such feature/attribute are used to denote a specific kind of skoenshoe:

Example 14

'n nommer 10 swart Gucci skoen
a size 10 black Gucci shoe

This construction presupposes that language users distinguish the category of shoes, and that this category is subcategorised according to the brand of shoes (and whatever conglomorate of features such a brand may have): designer (Gucci), colour (black), and size (size 10).

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Quantificational Construction:

Genitive Construction:

Classificatory Construction:

Name Construction:

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