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Argument types
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The argument of predication is usually of the category NP, but it may also be of other categories:

  • AP as argument of a predication
  • Clauses: Finite and infinitival predication
  • Part-whole predication of NP by AP + PP is predicated of NP

AP as subject

The argument of predication is usually of the category NP, as in this sentence:

Example 1

Hy is 'n uitstekende leier.
he be.PRS a outstanding leader
He is an outstanding leader.
However, an AP may also function as argument of a predication, as in
Example 2

Ek voel beter vandag.
I feel better today.

Clauses: Finite and infinitival predication

Another argument type is the category of clauses, both finite and infinitival, of which an example each is furnished here:

Example 3

Is dit waar dat gorillas bloeddorstige diere is?
be.PRS it true that.COMP gorillas bloodthirsty animals are
Is it true that gorillas are bloodthirsty animals?
Example 4

Dit is verrassend om te sien waarvoor mense lag.
it be.PRS surprising for.COMP PTCL.INF see.INF wherefore people laugh
It is surprising to see what people are laughing at.

Part-whole predication of NP by AP + PP is predicated of NP

The predication of an NP by AP + PP may be part-whole (synecdochic), and express a material or an immaterial part-whole relation through the PP. The difference between the latter two relations can be found in the fact that the noun in the immaterial PP may be expanded, whereas the noun in the material PP may not. For example, the noun postuur posture/figure in the following example, as a material part of the whole to which the predicate refers, cannot be expanded by means of determiners or adjectives:

Example 5

Sy is rond van postuur.
she be.PRS round of posture
She has a round figure.

Because of the material part-whole relation, the predicate often also holds of the NP inside the PP (namely postuur figure), but the NP may not be further qualified:.

Example 6

*Sy is rond van liggaamlike postuur.
she be.PRS round of bodily figure
She has a round bodily figure.

In the case of the immaterial part-whole relation expressed by the PP, expansion is possible. Compare the next two examples which illustrate this possibility:

Example 7

Hy is bleek van vrees.
he be.PRS pale of fear
He is pale with fear.
Example 8

Hy is bleek van vrees vir die dreigende gevaar.
he be.PRS pale of fear for the imminent danger
He is pale with fear of the imminent danger.
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The argument of predication is usually of the category NP, but it may also be of other categories:

AP as argument of a predication

Sentences like the following show that APs can be the argument of a predication:

Example 9

Ligrooi is mooi, maar 'n bietjie rooi·er is mooi·er.
light.red be.PRS beautiful, but a little red·CMPR be.PRS beautiful·CMPR
Light red is beautiful, but a little more red is more beautiful.
Example 10

Ek vind korter beter.
I find shorter better
I like shorter more.

Clauses: Finite and infinitival predication

Finite clauses can be arguments of predication if they are linked to the anticipatory pronoun dit it. In such cases, the adjective is often evaluative:

Example 11

Dit is gaaf dat jy kon kom.
it be.PRS nice that.COMP you can.AUX.MOD.PRT come
It is nice that you could come.

Infinitival clauses can likewise be arguments of predication if they are linked to the anticipatory pronoun dit it, and again, the adjective is often evaluative. The AP may be accompanied by a PP argument built on the preposition van of, as in the two examples below. The PP argument van Jan of Jan must be interpreted as co-referential with the argument of the infinitival clause. This PP argument bears the thematic role of theme, and it must be human.

Example 12

Dit is kleinsielig van Jan om daaroor te kla.
it be.PRS small.soulish of Jan for.COMP there.over PTCL.INF complain.INF
It is spiteful of Jan to complain about that.
Example 13

Dit is ongeskik van hom om jou daar te los.
it be.PRS rude of him for.COMP you there PTCL.INF leave.INF
It is rude of him to leave you there.

The AP may also be accompanied by a PP argument built on the preposition vir for, as in the two examples below. The argument in the vir forPP bears the semantic role of experiencer, and experiencers are always human (or animate). The PP argument vir Jan to/for Jan must be interpreted as co-referential with the subject of the infinitival clause.

Example 14

Dit is nie vir Jan nodig om die eksamen te slaag nie.
it be.PRS not for Jan necessary PCTL.INF the examination to pass PTCL.NEG
It is not necessary for Jan to pass the examination.

Part-whole predication of NP by AP + PP is predicated of NP

There is a special construction in which the combination of AP + PP is predicated of NP, and in which the PP is in either a material or immaterial part-whole relation to the NP.

Material part-whole predication:

In the example below, the subject’s physical posture is specified in the PP as the material part of the whole to which the predicate applies.

Example 15

Hy is klein van gestalte.
he be.PRS small of stature
He is small of stature.

Because of the material part-whole relation, the predicate often also holds of the NP inside the PP:

Example 16

Sy gestalte is groot.
his posture be.PRS big
His posture is big.

The noun inside the PP must be a bare noun, as in the case of groot big; it is not accompanied by determiners or adjectives.

Example 17

*Hy is groot van mooi gestalte.
he be.PRS big of beautiful stature
He is big of beautiful stature.

A similar example is the following,where the predicate also holds both of the whole and of the material part. Here the NP inside the PP is accompanied by the definite article:

Example 18

Hy is swak in die enkels.
he be.PRS weak in the ankles
He has weak ankles.

Immaterial part-whole predication:

In this construction, the combination of AP + PP is predicated of NP, and the PP is in an immaterial part-whole relation to the NP. In the example below, the subject’s excitement is specified in the PP as the immaterial part of the whole which is the cause of the truth of the adjective applying to the NP:

Example 19

Hy is rooi van opwinding.
he be.PRS red of excitement
He is red of excitement.

It is to some extent possible to expand the noun in the causative PP:

Example 20

Hy is rooi van die opwinding oor die onreg wat hom aangedoen is.
he be.PRS red of the excitement over the injustice that.REL him done.to·PST be·AUX.PASS.PST
He is red of emotion about the injustice done to him.

Personal subjects are more likely to involve an immaterial part-whole relation: if John is red with rage, then his rage is the cause of his redness, but his rage is not itself red. Objects lack an inner life, and they are therefore more likely to involve a material part-whole relation.

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