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High degree specification soso

The soso-construction relates a certain high degree of a property of an argument to a proposition that will become true if that particular degree is reached. Consider the following:

Example 1

Ek was so dom om dit te glo.
I be.PST so foolish PTCL.INF it to believe
I was so foolish to believe it.

Here the infinitival clause describes a state of affairs that only holds true if a certain high degree of foolishness of a person obtains. This may be considered as the high degree limit. The proposition expressed by the infinitival clause is true for all degrees equal to or higher than the high degree limit, and the proposition is false for all degrees lower than the high degree limit.

In addition to the infinitival clause, high degree can also be specified by means of a finite clause:

Example 2

Neels word so bang dat hy begin bewe.
Neels become so afraid that he begins tremble
Neels is getting so scared that he begins to tremble.

and with an NP of comparison:

Example 3

So vinnig soos weerlig verdwyn jou hoëtroustel.
so quickly as lightning disappear your hi-fi.set
As fast as lightning your Hi-Fi set will disappear.

With infinitival clause

When a high degree of a property of an argument is described by means of the soso-construction, it can be specified by means of infinitival clauses, as in this example:

Example 4

Sy was so dom om te glo hy was belangrik.
she be.PST so foolish PTCL.INF to believe he was important
She was so foolish as to believe he was important.

Achieving the property described by the adjective can also be equated (or being tantamount) to the action expressed by the infinitival clause, as in the sentence above, or in the following interrogative sentence:

Example 5

Wie is so mal om dit te beweer?
who be.PRS so crazy PTCL.INF it to allege
Who is so crazy to allege that?

Or in the imperative sentence below:

Example 6

Wees asseblief so vriendelik om voor te stap.
be please so friendly PTCL.INF before to walk
Please be so kind as to walk in front.

The negative form of such constructions often occur to express the opposite, by way of litotes:

Example 7

Ek is nie so onnosel om dit te glo nie.
I be.PRS not so stupid PTCL.INF it to believe PTCL.NEG
I am not so crazy to believe that.

The implication is that the speaker regards him- or herself as too clever to believe what is being referred to.

With finite clause

The high degree of an adjective can be specified by a finite clause, as in this sentence:

Example 8

Die lesing was so vervelig dat ek aan die slaap geraak het.
the lecture be.PST so boring that I on the sleep became have.AUX
The lecture was so boring that I fell asleep.

As in the case of infinitival clauses, a negative clause may also specify the high degree, as in this example:

Example 9

Dit word vir Piet so interessant dat hy nie meer kan stilsit nie.
it become for Piet so interesting that he not more can sit still PTCL.NEG
It becomes so interesting to Piet that he cannot sit still anymore.

With NP of comparison

The high degree of an adjective may be specified by combining soso with a NP of comparison. Some examples are

Example 10

Hy is so dronk soos 'n hoender.
he be.PRS so drunk as a chicken
He is as drunk as a lord.

In such cases, it is immaterial what the cleverness is compared to, since the construction as a whole carries the high degree interpretation. Subsequently, the comparison phrase can be creatively used, and various idiomatic expressions are to be found in this category.

Example 11

Sy is slu en so slim soos die houtjie van die galg.
she be.PRS cunning and so clever as the little.piece.of.wood of the gallows
He is cunning and as sharp as a razor.
Example 12

so skuldig soos môre heeldag
so guilty as tomorrow the.whole.day
as guilty as sin

The comparison phrase may also be represented by the filler phrase nog ietssomething more:

Example 13

Sy is so seker soos nog iets.
she be.PRS so certain as something more
She is as certain as can be.

Comparisons like the first example below form collocations through frequent usage, and some may also have a morphological counterpart, as in seepglad soap.slipperyvery slippery.

Example 14

so glad soos seep
so slippery as soap
as slippery as soap (= very slippery)

The high degree limit may also be left unexpressed (as in English):

Example 15

Hy was so gelukkig!
he be.PST so happy
He was very happy!
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