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Impersonal resultative

Impersonal weather verbs can be used with a resultative construction. This requires the addition of an argument to a verb that otherwise takes no argument, so that the added argument can be the bearer of the acquired property, or can be moved into a particular spatial configuration as a result of the meteological process. Syntactically, the additional argument occupies the subject position of the verb, and the complementive follows the verb. The subject argument and complementive of the impersonal resultative is parallel to the additional object and complementive in the case of intransitive resultatives.The semantic precodition for felicitous use of impersonal verbs with the resultative is that the particular meteological condition should be able to bring about the result in question. This is illustrated by example (1) and (2).

Example 1

a. Dit reën vreeslik.
It rains a lot.
b. Hulle reën sommer lekker nat.
they rain just pleasantly wet
They are quite thoroughly wet from the rain.
b.' *Hulle reën.
they rain
They rain.
b.'' *Dit reën nat.
it rain wet
It rains wet.
c. Die kanse op 'n uitslag reën weg.
the chances on a result rain away
The chances of a result are washed away by the rain.
c.' *Die kanse op 'n uitslag reën.
the chances on a result rain
The chances of a result rain.
c.'' *Dit reën weg.
it rain away
It rains away.

In example (1), the impersonal verb reën to rain, illustrated in (1a), is converted into a resultative process, where the fact that it rains has a consequence for some entity. That entity, the third person plural pronoun hulle they in (1b), or the chances of a result in a cricket game in example (1c), is affected in such a way that a new state arises, which the complementive encodes. The obvious and frequent outcome of rain is that something becomes wet, as shown by the complementive sommer lekker nat just pleasantly wet in (1b). A more specialised outcome, in a sport like cricket, which is dependent on dry weather to be played, is that continuous rain makes it increasingly unlikely that there will be a result, as encoded by the complementive weg away. Thus, example (1c) illustrates the spatial possibility of the complementive, although in an abstract, rather than a concrete space.

Example 2

a. Dit ryp in die winter op die Hoëveld.
It frosts on the Highveld in winter.
b. Die gras ryp dood.
the grass frost dead
The grass frosts to death.
b.' *Die gras ryp.
the grass frost
The grass frosts.
b.'' *Dit ryp dood.
it frost dead
It frosts to death.

Example (2) illustrates a different, typical weather verb, ryp to frost, with an outcome to some entity, typically that the grass dies in winter due to the frost. Without specifying the end state, dood dead, the expression is ungrammatical, as shown in (2bi), and without some entity, die gras the grass, the expression is also ungrammatical, if the dummy pronoun dit it is used in stead. Example (2bii) would be grammatically acceptable if dit is anaphoric and refers to grass or some other plant in the preceding discourse.

[+]Grammatical structure

Impersonal resultatives are grammatically similar to the unaccusative construction. Like unaccusatives, passivisation of impersonal resultatives is not possible, as shown in example (3), and nouns cannot be derived from them through -er-nominalisation, as shown in example (4).

Example 3

a. *Daar word sommer lekker natgereën.
There are just nicely being rained wet.
b. *Daar word weggereën deur die kanse op 'n uitslag
There is being rained away by the chances of a result.
c. *Daar word doodgeryp deur die gras.
There is being frosted to death by the grass.
Example 4


Like unaccusatives, it is possible to derive past participles that can be used attributively, usually requiring that the complementive is incorporated into the participle through parasynthetic compounding, as illustated in (5).

Example 5

die natgereënde kinders
the wet.rain.PST.PTCP children
the children who are wet from the rain (lit. the wet-rained children)
die doodgerypte gras
the dead.frost.PST.PTCP grass
the grass that frosted to death (lit. the dead-frosted grass)

An important insight into the semantics of the impersonal resultative follows from the similarity to the unaccusative. The syntactic subject is not an external agent that is the force behind the event, but more like a theme argument, in that it is affected by the process of the verb, and the outcome of that process is specified by the complementive.

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