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Cross-classification of semantic classes and constructions

The four semantic types of adjectives distinguished in the previous section, namely set-denoting adjectives, relational adjectives, subjectively evaluating adjectives, and a residual class, can occur in four different syntactic constructions, namely with:

  1. Attributive constructions
  2. Predicative constructions
  3. Partitive constructions, and
  4. Adverbial constructions.
However, the various semantic types cannot all fulfil each of the functions reflected by the constructions listed above, as will be explained in a further section.

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All four semantic types of adjective that have been identified previously can occur in the attributive construction, but only a particular selection of the four constructions applies to the relational, subjectively evaluating and residual adjectives, as can be seen in this table:

Table 1
Attributive Predicative Partitive Adverbial
1 Set-denoting yes yes yes yes
2 Relational yes no no no
3 Subjectively evaluating yes no no yes
4 Residual yes no no yes

Some examples of how the various semantic types can occur within each construction are presented below.

This is the only construction for which examples of all four semantic types can be given.

Example 1

Set-denoting adjectives
die lang gedig
the long poem
the long poem
Example 2

Relational adjectives
Mosselbaai·se meisies
Mossel.Bay·ADJ.ATTR girls
girls from Mossel Bay
Example 3

Subjectively evaluating adjectives
daardie vervlakst·e skobbejak
that damned·ATTR scoundrel
that damned scoundrel
Example 4

verskillend·e probleme
different·ATTR problems
different problems

Only set-denoting (i.e. descriptive) adjectives can occur in the predicative construction.

Example 5

Set-denoting adjectives
Die gedig is lank.
the poem is long
The poem is long.

In the following examples, it is shown that the remaining three symantic types are not eligible:

Example 6

Relational adjectives
*Die meisies is Mosselbaai·s.
the girls are Mossel.Bay·ADJ
The girls are from Mossel Bay.
Example 7

Subjectively evaluating adjectives
*Daardie skobbejak is vervlaks.
that scoundrel is confounded
*That scoundrel is confounded.
Example 8

*Daardie probleme is verskeie
those probems are various
*Those problems are various.

Similarly, only set-denoting adjectives may occur in the partitive construction:

Example 9

Set-denoting adjectives
iets warm·s
something hot·PTV
something hot

The ungrammatical nature of the following examples is indicated here:

Example 10

Relational adjectives
*iets Mosselbaai·s
something Mossel.Bay·PTV
something from Mossel Bay
Example 11

Subjectively evaluating adjectives
*iets vervlaks
something confounded
something confounded
Example 12

Residual adjectives
*iets verskeies
something various.PTV
*something various

Finally, all adjectives, if their lexical meaning allows it, may occur as adverbials, except relational (i.e. classifying) adjectives. It should be noted that adjectives, when used adverbially in Afrikaans, mostly do not undergo any concomitant morphological change.

Example 13

Set-denoting adjectives
Hulle praat hard.
they talk loudly
They talk loudly.
Example 14

Relational adjectives
?Hulle bak Italiaans.
they bake Italian
?They bake Italian.
Example 15

Subjectively evaluating adjectives
Hulle het gelukkig gewen.
they have fortunately won
Fortunately they have won.
Example 16

Residual adjectives
Dit is beslis nie waar nie.
that is definitely not true PTCL.NEG
That is definitely not true.

This semantic classification is not rigid. In some instances, an adjective that is, for example, relational, may be used as a set-denoting adjective. In the examples below, the modifier tipies characteristically causes such a shift in meaning:

Example 17

?Daardie kaas is Belgies.
that cheese is Belgian
That cheese is Belgian.
Example 18

Daardie kaas is tipies Belgies.
that cheese is characteristically Belgian
That cheese is characteristically Belgian.
Example 19

?Dit is Belgies om nie hand te skud nie.
it is Belgian to not hand to shake PTCL.NEG
It is Belgian not to shake hands.
Example 20

dit is tipies Belgies om nie hand te skud nie
it is characteristically Belgian to not hand to shake not
It is charactaristically Belgian not to shake hands.

In the examples below, a PP has been used to cause such a shift in meaning:

Example 21

?Hulle bak Frans.
they bake French
They bake French.
Example 22

Hulle bak op die Franse manier.
they bake on the French manner
They bake in the French way.
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