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Finite interrogative complement clauses: syntactic distribution
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Finite interrogative complement clauses in Afrikaans have the same syntactic distribution as finite declarative complement clauses. They are linked to matrix clauses in the position of object, subject or complementive. General and specific interrogative clauses also have similar distributions, although specific interrogative clauses are more frequent in all positions, and consequently show more variability and also more discernible patterns of association, as is explained in the section on lexical and semantic associations.

The finite interrogative object clause mainly occurs in clause-final position, after the matrix clause, as in example (1). It can, like its declarative counterpart, also be found in the clause-initial position, as in example (2), which is attested in very low frequencies in the Taalkommissiekorpus. It is not clear if the matrix clause can be embedded as fragment within the complement clause, as in example (3a) and (3b), since such instances are unattested in the samples of the corpora available for analysis. The exception is (3b'), which is attested in extremely low frequencies in the data, where main clause rather than subordinate clause word order is used, and where the “matrix clause” functions as an adverbial rather than a main clause.

Example 1

a. Ek weet nie of ek moet lag of huil nie.
I know.PRS not if.COMP I must.AUX.MOD laugh.INF or cry.INF PTCL.NEG
I don't know if I must laugh or cry.
TK
[General interrogative, clause-final position]
b. Ek kon net nie verstaan waarom jy dit nie sê nie.
I can.AUX.MOD.PRT just not understand.INF why you it not say.PRS PTCL.NEG
I just couldn't understand why you don't say that.
TK
[Specific interrogative, clause-final position]
Example 2

a. Of dit waar is, weet ek nie.
if.COMP it true be.PRS know.PRS I not
Whether it is true, I don't know.
TK
[General interrogative, clause-initial position]
b. Waarom dit so onrustig geword het, weet hy nie.
why it so restless become.PST have.AUX know.PRS he not
Why it became so troubled, he doesn't know.
TK
[Specific interrogative, clause-initial position]
Example 3

a. ?Of hulle, wonder ek, dit gaan maak.
if.COMP they wonder.PRS I it go.LINK make.INF
?If they, I wonder, are going to make it.
[General interrogative, parenthetical insert]
b. ?Wat, argumenteer Pratt in hierdie artikel, dit presies is waaroor ons veronderstel is om na te dink.
what argue.PRS Pratt in this article it precisely be.PRS which.about we supposed be.PRS for.COMP after PTCL.INF think.INF
?What, argues Pratt in this article, it is precisely that we are supposed to think about.
[Specific interrogative, parenthetical insert]
b.' Wat, argumenteer Pratt in hierdie artikel, is dit presies waaroor ons veronderstel is om na te dink?
what argue.PRS Pratt in this article be.PRS it precisely which.about we supposed be.PRS for.COMP after PTCL.INF think.INF
What, argues Pratt in this article, is it precisely that we are supposed to think about?
TK
[Specific interrogative independent clause, parenthetical insert]


Figure 1: Positional variants: Interrogative complement clause used as object of matrix clause

[click image to enlarge]

Finite interrogative subject clauses occur more frequently in the dit-extraposition construction, as in example (4), or else in clause-initial position, as in example (5).

Example 4

a. Dit is nog onduidelik of Kemp ook vir die Cobras verlore is.
it be.PRS still unclear if Kemp also for the Cobras lost be.PRS
It is still unclear if Kemp is also lost to the Cobras.
TK
[General interrogative, dit-extraposition]
b. Dit is dus onduidelik waarom die departement vir die advertensies betaal.
it be.PRS therefore unclear why the department for the advertisements pay.PRS
It is therefore unclear why the department is paying for the advertisements.
TK
[Specific interrogative, dit-extraposition]
Example 5

a. Of hy die raad navolg, is die groot vraag.
if.COMP he the advice follow.PRS be.PRS the big question
If he will follow the advice is the big question.
TK
[General interrogative, clause-initial]
b. Hoe sterk besteding steeds is, blyk uit die motorvoertuigverkoopsyfers vir Junie wat 'n nuwe hoogtepunt bereik het.
how strong spending still be.PRS appear.PRS from the motor.vehicle.sale.figures for June which a new high.point reach.PST have.AUX
How strong spending still is, is evident from the motor vehicle sales figures for June, which reached a new peak.
TK
[Specific interrogative, clause-initial]


Figure 2: Positional variants: Interrogative complement clause used as subject of matrix clause

[click image to enlarge]

Finite interrogative complement clauses can also be used as the complementive predicate in a copular construction, mainly after the verb is be.PRS is or lyk to appear, with limited syntactic variation, as in example (6).

Example 6

a. Die vraag is net of jy ál die passasiers gaan wil aflaai.
the question be.PRS only if you.SG all the passengers go.link want.to.AUX.MOD off.load.INF
The question is only whether you will want to drop off all the passengers.
TK
[General interrogative]
b. Dis lank nie meer hoekom jy hier is nie.
it=be.PRS long not more why you.SG here be.PRS PTCL.NEG
It's certainly not why you are here anymore.
TK
[Specific interrogative]


Figure 3: Positional variants: Interrogative complement clause used as complementive predicate of matrix clause

[click image to enlarge]

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[+]Overall frequency of interrogative complement clause variants

The overall frequency of interrogative complement clauses in the three major syntactic functions are summarised in Figure 4, based on an analysis of the Taalkommissiekorpus.


Figure 4: Frequency of interrogative complement clauses

[click image to enlarge]

Compared to declarative complement clause constructions, the interrogative counterparts are consistently less frequent. Interrogative object clauses are almost 6 times less frequent than declarative object clauses, while interrogative subject clauses are 4 times less frequent than declarative subject clauses. However, interrogative complementive predicate clauses are only 1,16 times less frequent.

[+]Object clauses

Interrogative object clauses, like their declarative counterparts, can occur after (clause-finally) or before the matrix clause (clause-initially), as is illustrated by the examples in (1) and (2). The matrix clause can also be inserted parenthetically in the object clause, as in (3bi), but it is not possible in Afrikaans to do so with complement clauses that have subordinate word order – only independent clause interrogative order can be used, which clearly demonstrates that this syntactic pattern does not involve a main clause-subordinate clause relationship. Rather, the complement-taking predicate functions as a genuine parenthetical insertion, and not as a matrix clause for the subordinate clause. Further examples similar to (3bi) are given in (7). Note the repetition of the complete interrogative with independent word order in (7b).

Example 7

a. Waarvan, voeg sy by en later is sy spyt daaroor, hardloop jy weg?
what.from add.PRS she too and later be.PRS she regretful that.about run.PRS you.SG away
From what, she adds and later regrets it, are you running away?
TK
b. Wie vra Ester, wie doen dit?
who ask.PRS Ester who.PRS do it
Who, asks Ester, who does this?
TK

The clause-final position, however, dominates, even compared to the declarative object complement clause variant. As far as specific interrogatives is concerned, the clause-initial position is selected in almost 1,5% of the analysed sample from the TK and the parenthetical insert variant in only 0,08%, leaving the balance of 98,5% of the sample for the clause-final position. In the case of general interrogatives, the final position accounts for 98% of all cases and the initial position for the remaining 2%.

Differences in syntactic distribution are therefore not very productive for the interrogative object clause construction. The few attested cases of the clause-initial variant are mostly from the fiction and newspaper registers (as is the case with the declarative clause counterpart) and can be seen as an extension of an option that is more productive for the declarative complement clause construction, and not very salient or entrenched for the interrogative complement clause. Example (8) and (9) from these registers illustrate the use of the clause-initial variant.

Example 8

Fiction
a. Wat die spieël my vertel het, kon ek ook in Karel se oë gewaar toe ons terugkom in die kombuis.
what the mirror me tell.PST have.AUX can.AUX.MOD.PRT I also in Karel PTCL.GEN eyes notice.PRS when we return.PRS in the kitchen
What the mirror told me, I could also sense in Karel's eyes when we returned to the kitchen.
[TK]
b. Of Cox 'n sê oor dié goed gehad het, het hy nie geweet nie.
if Cox a say about this stuff have.PST have.AUX have.AUX he not know.PST PTCL.NEG
Whether Cox had a say about these things, he did not know.
[TK]
Example 9

News reportage
a. Wat het hy vir die meisie gedoen, wou mense by hom weet.
what have.AUX he for the girl do.PST want.to.AUX.MOD.PRT people from him know.INF
What did he do for the girl, people want to know from him.
[TK]
b. Óf ons eendag daarby sal uitkom, weet ek nie...
if.COMP we one.day there.at will.AUX.MOD out.come.INF know.PRS I not
If we will get to this one day, I don't know...
[TK]
[+]Subject clauses

The interrogative subject clause in Afrikaans has not been subject to any serious scholarly investigation. Ponelis (1979) discusses subject clauses in general, and offers an overview of the two major syntactic variants, namely the extraposition variant and the clause-initial variant. His examples include interrogative subject clauses, but he says little about the syntactic properties of the construction, and equally little about differences in syntactic distribution between the general and specific interrogatives.

The most salient characteristic of the matrix clause that distinguishes between the use of the declarative and interrogative subject clause is the presence of negation. Negation is expressed either by means of a syntactic negation construction, as in example (10), a negative prefix attached to the adjective complementive of the clause, as in example (11), or by selecting a complementive that has the meaning of doubt or some other negative prosody, as in example (12).

Example 10

Of dit Van Zijl se waens was, is nie bekend nie.
if.COMP it Van Zijl PTCL.GEN trucks be.PRT be.PRS not know.PST.PTCP PTCL.NEG
Whether it was Van Zijl's trucks is not known.
TK
[Syntactic negation]
Example 11

Dit is volgens Transnet nog onduidelik hoekom die laaier gebreek het.
it be.PRS according.to Transnet still unclear why the loader break.PST have.AUX
It is still unclear, according to Transnet, why the loader broke.
TK
[Morphological negation]
Example 12

Of dit enigsins gaan help om die Wêreldbeker te wen, is te betwyfel.
if.COMP it at.all go.LINK help.INF for.COMP the World.Cup PTCL.INF win.INF be.PRS PTCL.INF doubt.INF
If it is at all going to help to win the World Cup is doubtful.
TK
[Negative prosody]

General interrogative subject clauses are infrequent in Afrikaans. Both the extraposition and clause-initial variants are available and attested in the data, as illustrated by (4a) and (5a). While the extraposition variant is attested slightly more frequently in the data, the difference is much smaller than for any other subject clause constructions (declarative, specific interrogative or infinitive). The data do not yield any clear evidence of syntactic differences between the two variants. Thus, matrix clauses are generally not syntactically more complex in the case of the clause-initial variant, as might be motivated by considerations of end-weight or processability. In fact, the vast majority of matrix clauses in the data for both variants are short and syntactically very simple. The most typical pattern is a copular construction with the copular verb is be.PRS is and an adjective that is either negated by nie not or contains a negative prefix, usually on-, as is illustrated by examples (13) and (14).

Example 13

a. Dit is nie duidelik of Hosea die val van Samaria ook beleef het nie.
it be.PRS not clear if.COMP Hosea the fall of Samaria also experience.PST have.AUX PTCL.NEG
It is not clear if Hosea also experienced the fall of Samaria.
TK
[Dit-extraposition]
b. Of hierdie persoon oom Kerneels was, is nie duidelik nie.
if.COMP this person uncle Kerneels be.PRT be.PRS not clear PTCL.NEG
If this person was uncle Kerneels is not clear.
TK
[Clause-initial]
Example 14

a. Dit is onseker of daar 'n ontwikkelingsproses in die Nuwe Testamentiese siening van gebed was.
it be.PRS uncertain if.COMP there a developing.process in the New Testament view of prayer be.PRT
It is uncertain if there was a process of development in the New Testament view of prayer.
TK
[Dit-extraposition]
b. Etniese faktore moet waarskynlik wel 'n rol gespeel het, maar of dit noodwendig daartoe gelei het dat Oosgrensafrikaans tot afsonderlik onderskeibare variëteit ontwikkel het, is onseker.
ethnic factors must.AUX.MOD probably indeed a role play.PST have.AUX but if.COMP it necessarily there.to lead.PST have.AUX that Eastern.frontier.Afrikaans to separately distinguishable variety develop.PST have.AUX be.PRS uncertain
Ethnic factors would probably have played a role, but whether these have necessarily given rise to Eastern Frontier Afrikaans developing into a separately distinguishable variety is uncertain.
TK, adapted
[Clause-initial]

Alternatively, other verbs are used, but drawn from a fairly limited pool of options of a relatively fixed idiomatic nature, as is illustrated by afhang down.hang depend on in (15) and saakmaak concern.make matter in (16). The section on lexical associations provides more detail about these verbs.

Example 15

a. Dit hang van die ouers af of hulle vooraf wil weet wat die geslag van hul baba is.
it depend.PRS from the parents off if.COMP they before want.to.AUX.MOD know.INF what the sex of their baby be.PRS
It depends on the parents whether they want to know in advance what the sex of their baby is.
TK
[Dit-extraposition]
b. Of 'n bylarwe 'n koningin of 'n werker word, hang af van die kos wat sy gevoer word.
if.COMP a bee larva a queen or a worker become.PRS depend on from the food which she feed.PASS be.AUX.PASS.PRS
Whether a bee larva becomes a queen or a worker depends on the food that she is fed.
TK
[Clause-initial]
Example 16

a. Dit maak nie saak of ons hier groot geraas maak nie, ons moet die waarheid aan die lig bring.
it make.PRS not concern if.COMP we here big noise make.PRS PTCL.NEG we must.AUX.MOD the truth to the light bring.INF
It doesn't matter if we make a loud noise here, we have to bring the truth to light.
TK
[Dit-extraposition]
b. En of dit klaarkom of nie, maak nie saak nie.
and if.COMP it finish.come.PRS or not make.PRS not concern PTCL.NEG
And whether it gets done or not doesn't matter.
TK
[Clause-initial]

What is particularly interesting about these verbs, as supporting evidence for their status as fixed expressions, is the extent to which they display reduction, by omitting the anticipatory pronoun dit it, and in the case of example (17) below, even the copular verb. Examples of such omission are the following:

Example 17

So ampertjies of ek sê hardop dankie vir die trekkie vars lug.
so almost.DIM if.COMP I say.PRS aloud thank.you for the draw.DIM fresh air
So close or I said thank-you out loud for the breath of fresh air.
TK
Example 18

Maak nie saak of hy gelukkig of ongelukkig is nie, die blik moet oop, die aartappels moet afgeskil en opgesit word, hy moet eet.
make.PRS not concern if.COMP he happy or unhappy be.PRS PTCL.NEG the tin must.AUX.MOD open.PREP the potatoes must.AUX.MOD off.peel.PASS and on.put.PASS be.AUX.PASS.INF he must.AUX.MOD eat.INF
Doesn't matter whether he is happy or unhappy, the tin must be opened, the potatoes must be peeled and prepared, he has to eat.
TK
Example 19

Hang af of die aandwind genoeg gaan wees om ons buite op die oopsee te kry.
depend off if.COMP the evening.wind enough go.LINK be.INF for.COMP us outside on the open.sea PTCL.INF get.INF
Depends if the evening wind will be enough to get us out to the open sea.
TK

This feature occurs in standard written Afrikaans, although often in fictional dialogue, where the writing pretends to simulate speech or the inner monologue of characters. This is the case even though the general interrogative subject clause construction itself is even rarer in spoken than written Afrikaans.

The specific interrogative subject clause construction is considerably more frequent in Afrikaans than the general interrogative, and also has a wider range of meanings: epistemic, evaluative and importance, as is shown in the section on lexical associations.  Syntactically, however, the constructions are quite similar, except that the association with negation is much stronger with epistemic meanings, and not so prominent with the other meanings of the construction. For all three types of meanings, the more frequent syntactic construction is the extraposition construction, as exemplified in (4b), while the clause-initial variant, exemplified in (5b) is considerably less frequent.

The extraposition construction mainly has a copular verb with an adjective as complementive, whether this adjective is negated or not. The verb is is is by far the dominant copular verb, with a very small number of other verbs, including word to become, blyk to appear and bly to remain also attested. Examples of this pattern are the following:

Example 20

Dis duidelik waarom Kobus so 'n sukses van hierdie onderneming gemaak het.
it=be.PRS clear why Kobus such a success of this undertaking make.PST have.AUX
It's clear why Kobus made such a success of this undertaking.
TK
Example 21

Nou is dit vir haar glashelder waarom Vogelsang onder die hamer gekom het.
now be.PRS it for her glass.clear why Vogelsang under the hammer come.PST have.AUX
Now it is crystal clear to her why Vogelsang came under the hammer.
TK
Example 22

Dit is onverklaarbaar hoekom hy sy benadering vir die Wêreldbeker verander het.
it be.PRS inexplicable why he his approach for the World.Cup change.PST have.AUX
It is inexplicable why he changed his approach for the World Cup.
TK
Example 23

... dis nie seker waarom die helikopter neergestort het nie.
it=be.PRS not certain why the helicopter down.fall.PST have.AUX PTCL.NEG
It is not certain why the helicopter crashed.
TK
Example 24

Uit die bespreking het dit geblyk hoe moeilik dit is om Galasiërs 3:10 te interpreteer.
from the discussion have.AUX it appear.PST how difficult it be.PRS for.COMP Galatians 3:10 PTCL.INF interpret.INF
From the discussion it became evident how difficult it is to interpret Galatians 3:10.
TK
Example 25

Hieruit word dit duidelik waarom dit noodsaaklik is dat Paulus ook Rome moet besoek om die evangelie te verkondig.
here.out become it clear why it necessary be.PRS COMP Paul also Rome must.AUX.MOD visit.INF for.COMP the gospel PTCL.INF preach.INF
From this it becomes clear why it is essential that Paul must also visit Rome to spread the gospel.
TK

The omission of the dummy subject and copular verb of the matrix clause is also attested, with only the complementive predicate remaining, still introducing the specific interrogative subject clause. This option is mainly attested with evaluative meanings, as is shown by the following examples:

Example 26

Snaaks hoe hy aanmekaar beroepe na ander gemeentes kry wat blykbaar behoefte het aan sy besondere talent.
funny how he continuously callings to other congregations receive.PRS which apparently need have.PRS for his special talent
Funny how he is always being called to other congregations that apparently have a need for his special talent.
TK
Example 27

Ongelooflik hoe 'n enkele kleur 'n hele atmosfeer kan herroep!
incredible how a single colour a whole atmosphere can.AUX.MOD recall.INF
Incredible how a single colour can recall an entire atmosphere!

A much smaller number of cases show the use of another verb in the matrix clause. Similar to the general interrogative subject clause construction, these verbs usually come in the form of relatively fixed phrases. The most prominent of these expressions is dit maak nie saak … nie it doesn't matter, while expressions like kleinkry small.get to grasp, dit skiet X te binne it shoots X to inside it strikes X and traak to bother are also found. In the case of dit maak nie saak … nie, the omission of the dummy pronoun dit it is widespread. These options are illustrated by the following examples:

Example 28

... dit maak nie saak hoe dit lyk of wat daarin staan nie.
it make.PRS not concern how it look.PRS or what there.in stand PTCL.NEG
...it doesn't matter what it looks like or what is said in it.
TK
Example 29

... …maak nie saak hoe goed of sleg dit inpas by heersende politiek en emosies nie.
make not concern how well or poorly it in.fit.PRS with reigning politics and emotions PTCL.NEG
... doesn't matter how well or poorly it suits current politics and emotions.
TK
Example 30

Ek kan dit nou nog nie kleinkry hoe hy net twee geel kaarte aan die opponente gewys het nie.
I can.AUX.MOD it now still not small.get.INF how he only two yellow cards to the opponents show.PST have.AUX PTCL.NEG
I still don't get how he only showed two yellow cards to the opponents.
TK, adapted
Example 31

Dit skiet haar te binne wie haar al weer as 'n Jesebel uitkryt: haar loerende bure.
it shoot.PRS her to inside who her yet again as a Jezebel out.cry.PRS her peeping neighbours
It strikes her who is yet again denouncing her as a Jezebel: her peeping neighbours.
TK, adapted
Example 32

Dit traak hom in elk geval min wat Le Roux sê.
it bother.PRS him in any case little what Le Roux say.PRS
In any case it bothers him very little what Le Roux says.
TK, adapted
[+]Complementive clauses

Interrogative complementive clauses, like interrogative subject clauses, have not been investigated previously in Afrikaans. Our investigation of the Taalkommissiekorpus shows that there are a small number of very dominant patterns, with limited deviation from these patterns. It emerges very clearly from the data that complementive clauses with the general and specific interrogatives are used in very different ways in Afrikaans. General interrogatives are used to suggest uncertainty about the validity of the proposition in the complementive clause. Thus, the most frequent pattern in the data is with the dummy pronoun dit it as subject and the copular verb lyk to seem as main verb, as in example (33). The past tense form het gelyk have.AUX seem.PST seemed is also attested reasonably often, although not nearly as frequently as the present tense form, as in example (34).

Example 33

Partykeer lyk dit of dinge ekstra goed gaan sodat jy nie moet sien hoe die teëspoed jou bekruip nie.
sometimes seem.PRS it if.COMP things extra well go.PRS so.that you not must.AUX.MOD see.INF how the misfortune you sneak.up.PRS PTCL.NEG
Sometimes it seems as if things are going extra well, so that you don't see how misfortune sneaks up on you.
TK
Example 34

Dit het nie gelyk of iemand juis belang gestel het in die nuus nie.
it have.AUX not seem.PST if.COMP someone really interest set.PST have.AUX in the news PTCL.NEG
It did not seem as if anyone really showed interest in the news.
TK

The verbs voel to feel and voorkom to appear are also found in the data with more than negligible frequencies, also in combination with the dummy pronoun dit it, as illustrated by example (35) and (36). In the case of voorkom, the dominant pattern is the collocation with the modal wil will.

Example 35

... dit voel of daar 'n hoenderbeen in sy keel vassit.
it feel.PRS if.COMP there a chicken bone in his throat tight.sit.PRS
... it feels as if a chicken bone is stuck in his throat.
TK
Example 36

Dit wil voorkom of daar nie plek in rugby is vir ons gekleurde losskakels nie.
it want.to.AUX.MOD.PRT appear.INF if there not place in rugby be.PRS for our coloured flyhalves PTCL.NEG
It would appear as if there isn't room for our coloured flyhalves in rugby.
TK

The pattern extends to the copular verb is be.PRS, which occurs with similar frequency to voel and voorkom in combination with the dummy pronoun dit it, and where the meaning is usually quite similar to lyk or voel, thus not clearly assertive, as illustrated by example (37). The contraction of the pronoun dit and the verb is to dis it=be.PRS it's is quite prominent in the data.

Example 37

... dis of iets in my begin roer van skone verbasing.
it=be.PRS if something in me begin.LINK turn.INF from pure astonishment
...it's as if something is beginning to move inside me from pure astonishment.
TK

The other major pattern for general interrogatives is a matrix clause with die vraag the question as subject and the copular verb is as main verb, as in example (38), where the meaning of the matrix clause is to assert the actuality of the question being posed.

Example 38

Die vraag is dus of 'n mens hierdie nuwe soort "toleransie" kan aanvaar as jy sterk godsdienstige oortuigings het.
the question be.PRS thus if a human this new kind tolerance can.AUX.MOD accept.INF if you.SG strong religious convictions have.PRS
The question is therefore if one can accept this new kind of "tolerance" if one has strong religious convictions.
TK

In this case, as with the corresponding matrix clause pattern associated with specific interrogatives, the noun vraag quesion introduces a new twist in the argument, where a particular question is raised as a consequence of the preceding arguments. It serves a cohesive function at textual level, bridging the discussion preceding and following the interrogative complement clause construction use.

As far as specific interrogatives are concerned, there are only two frequent subjects that are used in this construction: the pronoun dit, illustrated by example (39) and (40), and a noun phrase with head noun vraag, illustrated by (41).

Example 39

Dit is waar Russiese ruimtevaarders al van die 1960's af opgelei word.
it be.PRS where Russian astronauts already from the 1960s off up.train.PASS be.AUX.PASS.PRS
This is where Russian astronauts have been trained since the 1960s.
TK
Example 40

Dis hoe ek verlede maand se staking opgelos het.
it=be.PRS how I last month PTCL.GEN strike up.solve.PST have.AUX
This is how I resolved last month's strike.
TK
Example 41

Die vraag ontstaan watter rol die sonde dan in hierdie verband speel.
the question arise.PRS which role the sin then in this connection play.PRS
The question arises what role sin plays in this regard.
TK

The contracted form dis it's from dit is it is is used in slightly more than 40% of the cases where the subject is the third person impersonal pronoun dit, illustrated by example (40), with the uncontracted form in the remainder of the cases, as illustrated by (39).

The pronoun dit functions not as dummy pronoun, as it does in the case of subject or general interrogative complementive clause constructions, but as anaphor, usually referring back to information in the immediately preceding discourse. Thus, in example (39), the preceding sentence refers to the place where Mark Shuttleworth was trained for his trip into outer space, which is then followed by a further piece of information in the example sentence itself. Likewise, in the case of example (40), taken from a direct quotation in a magazine interview, the pronoun refers back to two statements in the preceding sentences: Ek het nie een van hulle beantwoord nie. Vermy tot elke prys konfrontasie. I did not answer anyone of them. Avoid confrontation at all cost..

The subject noun phrase Die vraag The question in example (41) does not represent an anaphor, but is still a word that ties the proposition in the complementive clause to the surrounding textual context, by drawing attention that all the information presented up to that point raises a question. The complementive clause then explicitly states that question, which serves as transition to the subsequent discussion of that question.

All other subject noun phrases together account for less than 10% of all the data in the sample from the TK, and not a single subject noun phrase amounts to 1% of the data. A number of these low frequency variants are illustrated by the examples in (42), and in general, they function in similar ways to the more prototypical subject noun vraag question.

Example 42

a. Trouens, die eintlike verbasing is waarom dit so lank geduur het voordat die VPIX tot bó 6% gestyg het.
indeed the actual amazement be.PRS why it so long take.PST have.AUX before the CPIX to above 6% rise.PST have.AUX
The real surprise is actually why it took so long for CPIX to rise above 6%.
TK
b. Die enigste probleem waarmee die All Blacks sit, is wie om vir die uitsoek-15-tal te kies.
the only problem which.with the All Blacks sit.PRS be.PRS who for.COMP for the select-15-number PTCL.INF choose.INF
The only problem that the All Blacks have, is who to pick for the first 15.
TK
c. Een ding wat Charlotta nooit kon begryp nie, is hoekom Philip Stewart se boekery ook van die Lijdenburgse plaas af saamgekarwei is.
one thing which Charlotta never can.AUX.MOD.PRT understand.INF PTCL.NEG be.PRS why Philip Steward PTCL.GEN book.collection also from the Lijdenburg farm off along.carry.PASS be.AUX.PASS.PST
One thing that Charlotta could never understand is why Philp Steward's book collection was transported from the farm in Lijdenburg.
TK

The verb of the matrix clause in specific interrogative clauses is almost invariantly the verb wees to be (more than 96% of the time in the data set analysed), and specifically the present tense form is is.

References:
  • Ponelis, F.A1979Afrikaanse sintaksis.Van Schaik
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