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Referential NP

When a referential NP is used as part of a prepositional complement, the PP normally follows the adjective, whether it occurs in a main or a subordinate clause:

Hy is trots op sy span.
he be.PRS proud on his team
He is proud of his team.
omdat hulle trots is op hulle taal
because they proud be.PRS on their language
because they are proud of their language

However, there is sufficient variability of placement to regard both this sequence, as well as the positioning of the PP before the adjective, as grammatical, for example

Sy is oor dié saak nie baie gelukkig nie.
she be.PRS over this matter not very happy PTCL.NEG
She is not very happy about this matter.

to regard both sequences as grammatical. The latter sequence can be found, amongst others, in the case of (a) longer PP constructions, (b) pronominal NPs and (c) intensified adjectives.


While the linear order of adjective + PP involving referential NPs very often reflects the left placement of the adjective, as in

totdat die maatskappy tevrede is met die veiligheid van sy werknemers
until the company satisfied be.PRS with the safety of its employees
until the company is satisfied with the safety of its employees

there are certain factors which favour right placement of the adjective:

In the example above, where the PP is extended and its relative lexical weight increases, in comparison with the first example, the adjective may also be placed at the end:

totdat die maatskappy met die veiligheid van sy werknemers tevrede is
until the company with the safety of its employees satisfied be.PRS
until the company is satisfied with the safety of its employees

A second factor which favours variability, is the presence of a pronominal NP, as in:

Hy is verlief op haar.
he be.PRS in.love on her
He is in love with her.
Hy is op haar verlief.
he be.PRS on her in.love
He is in love with her.

The difference in grammaticality judgement between left and right placement is small, and sometimes depends in part on the lexical item involved. In the following example, right placement of the PP is grammatical, but left placement is somewhat unusual, and reflects a particular contrast. In addition, the presence of an intensifier before the adjective constrains left placement of a referential NP even more.

Hy is baie trots op haar.
he be.PRS very proud on her
He is very proud of her.
??Hy is op haar baie trots.
he be.PRS on her very proud
*He is of her very proud.

It should be noted that animacy considerations determines the selection of an R-pronoun here (as in the case of question-word NPs and relative pronouns involving a PP). So, in the case of an animate referent, the PP is disjunctive:

Hulle het baie afhanklik van hom geword.
they have.AUX very dependent of him become
They became very dependent on him.

In the case of an inanimate referent, a conjunctive PP (R+PREP) is called for:

Ons is afhanklik daarvan.
we be.PRS dependent PN·of
We are dependent on it.

Especially in spoken language, nonstandard forms, possibly on the basis of the English syntax, are found in examples such as:

*Ons is afhanklik van dit.
we be.PRS dependent of it
We are dependent on it.

Note that the disjunctive form in the case of inanimate referents is normal in the case of cleft constructions, as in:

Jou baba se gesondheid en groei is afhanklik van dit wat jy eet.
your baby PTCL.GEN health and growth be.PRS dependent of it that.REL you eat
The health and growth of your baby is dependent on that which you eat.
Ek is tevrede met dit wat ek tot dusver bereik het.
I be.PRS satisfied with that that.REL I until now achieved have
I am satisfied with what I have achieved thus far.

Lastly, the pronominal compound (R+PREP), in addition to functioning as PP with inanimate referents, may also act as anticipatory PP (see ), linking the adjective to a clause complement, either as a subordinate clause

Die Skool vir Tale is daarop gesteld dat studente welkom voel.
the School for Languages be.PRS PN·on set that students welcome feel
The School of Languages puts great store on having the students feel welcome.

or as an infinitive clause:

altyd gesteld daarop om gesond te eet
always set PN·on for.COMP healthy PTCL.INF eat.INF
always attach value to eating healthy/healthily
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