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Excessive degree tetoo
quickinfo

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

Example 1

Hulle is te bang om te praat.
they be.PRS too frightened PTCL.INF to speak
They are too frightened to speak.

The truth of the sentence as a whole entails that the action described in the infinitival clause did not take place. Thus, the sentence describes a state of affairs that is only false if a certain high degree of fear (the high degree limit) of a person does not obtain. The proposition expressed by the infinitival clause is false for all degrees equal to or higher than the high degree limit, and the proposition is true for all degrees lower than the high degree limit. The sentence as a whole entails that the person’s fear exceeds the high degree limit by a certain degree quantity. This degree quantity can be specified by a quantified measure phrase, as in the following three examples:

Example 2

Hy was 'n bietjie (te) bang.
he be.PST a little (too) frightened
He was a little too frightened.
Example 3

Hy was heeltemal te bang.
he be.PST totally too afraid
He was far too frightened.
Example 4

Die kamera was net-net te laat om die oomblik vas te lê.
the camera be.PST just-just too late PTCL.INF the moment down to tie
The camera was only just too late to capture the moment.
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With infinitival clause – complete

The adjective which combines with the excessive degree 'te'-construction can be followed by a complete infinitival clause, namely without any object gap, as in this sentence:

Example 5

Ek is te uitasem om enigiets te sê.
I be.PRS too out.of.breath PTCL.INF anything to say
I am too out of breath to say anything.

The high degree limit of the adjective in this construction is that degree at which, or above which, the proposition described in the non-finite clause becomes false, whereas in the soso-construction the proposition becomes true at or above the high degree limit. In the example below, the argument of which the adjective is predicated is identical to the subject of the infinitival clause:

Example 6

Ek is te benoud om die lig aan te skakel.
I be.PRS too anxious PTCL.INF the light on to switch
I am too anxious to switch on the light.

The infinitival clause can be replaced with a PP built on the postposition -voorfor, whereas this is not possible with soso:

Example 7

Sy is te bang daarvoor.
she be.PRS too afraid there.for
She is too afraid for that.

With infinitival clause – with complementiser and object gap

The adjective is followed by an infinitival clause with an object gap. This means that the argument of which the adjective is predicated can also be co-referential with a gap in the infinitival clause that occurs in the position of direct object or prepositional complement. An example of a sentence in which the gap occurs in the position of a direct object:

Example 8

Sy swaar Duitse aksent was te moeilik om te verstaan.
his heavy German accent be.PST too difficult PTCL.INF to understand
His heavy German accent was too difficult to understand.

An example of where the gap occurs in the position of a postpositional complement:

Example 9

Skat jou bekwaamheid te min om mee te spog, en jou karakter te hoog om mee te speel .
assess your ability too little PTCL.INF with to boast, and your character too high PTCL.INF with to play
Assess your ability as too little to boast with, and your character as too high to play with.

The degree phrase as a whole may be preposed:

Example 10

Te klein om skade aan te rig, is hy beslis nie.
too small PTCL.INF damage about to bring, be.PRS he certainly not
He is certainly not too small to bring about damage.

With finite clause – evaluator argument

The te too construction can license a human argument designating the person who determines the high degree limit by way of subjective evaluation. We will refer to this argument as the evaluator, who tends to be a first person (but may also be a second or third person), and is marked by a PP containing the preposition virfor. To examples of this construction follow:

Example 11

Jy is te slim vir my.
you be.PRS too clever for me
You are too clever for me.
Example 12

Dit is normaalweg te duur vir kommersiële skaaptelers.
it be.PRS normally too expensive for commercial sheep.breeders
This is normally too expensive for commercial sheep-breeders.

The evaluator argument may also be preposed through topicalisation, as in:

Example 13

Vir haar is hy te aantreklik.
for her be.PRS he too attractive
For her, he is too handsome.

An evaluator argument is also compatible with an infinitival clause containing an object gap. In that case, the evaluator is co-referential with the subject of the infinitival and the adjective’s person argument is co-referential with the object gap:

Example 14

Sy was, wat hom betref, te waardig om te berispe of om mee te spot.
she be.PST, what him concerns, too dignified PTCL.INF to reprimand or PTCL.INF with to joke
She was, as far he is concerned, too dignified to reprimand or to make fun of.

With finite clause – measure phrase

The degree phrase can be modified by means of a quantified measure phrase, which indicates how much the degree exceeds the high degree limit.

Example 15

Hy is drie jaar te oud.
he be.PRS three year too old
He is three years too old.

An interrogative quantifies may substitute the degree phrase, as in

Example 16

Hoeveel jaar is hy te oud?
how.many year be.PRS he too old
How many years is he too old?

The measure phrase may contain determiners of approximation, such as veelsmuch, ver far, gladaltogether, heeltemalcompletelyand 'n bietjiea little:

Example 17

Hy is veels te oud vir my.
he be.PRS much too old for me
He is much too old for me.
Example 18

Hy is ver te oud vir my.
he be.PRS far too old for me
He is far too old for me.
Example 19

Hierdie saal is glad te klein vir die funksie.
this hall be.PRS altogether too smaal for the function
This hall is altogether too small for the function.
Example 20

Ek was nie heeltemal eerlik nie.
I be.PST not completely honest NEG
I was not completely honest.
Example 21

Die stoel is 'n bietjie te hoog vir haar.
The chair be.PRS a little too high for her.
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