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Constructions with aspectual characteristics

In a number of constructions lexical meaning (i.e. Aktionsart) plays a decisive part in determining aspect. The aspectual types involved in this section include pre-inchoative (1a), inchoative (1b), durative (1c), terminative (1d) and iterative aspect (1e), e.g.:

Example 1

a. Die seiljag wil-wil omslaan.
the yacht want.to.AUX.MOD-want.to.AUX.MOD capsize.INF
The yacht is about to capsize.
[The event of capsizing is imminent.]
b. Die wiele begin nou draai.
the wheels begin.LINK now turn.INF
The wheels are beginning to turn now.
[The action has started.]
c. Die probleem het aangehou opduik.
the problem have.AUX on.keep.LINK up.crop.INF
The problem kept on cropping up.
[A continuous process is described here.]
d. In dié hitte kry ek nie gewerk nie.
in this heat get I not work.PST.PTCP PTCL.NEG
In this heat I'm not getting any work done.
[The speaker's efforts are not met with success.]
e. Die kleintjie lek-lek aan die roomys.
the little.one.DIM lick-lick on the ice.cream
The little one is continually licking the ice-cream.
[A certain action is being repeated.]

In the flow of information, the beginning and end of actions or events unfolding in time play an important part and may require special marking. From an aspectual point of view, it is even possible to highlight a temporal phase preceding the beginning of an action. A small number of constructions may be described as pre-inchoative; they refer to a time phase immediately preceding an event, i.e. when the action is imminent. This involves the linking verbsgaan 'go, be going to (2a) and kom come (2b), as well as the modal auxiliary wil want to, be about to (2c) and its reduplicated form wil-wil (2d) which emphasize the motivational aspect behind forces of nature and the like (cf. Conradie (2016). In (2e) the imminence is itself placed in a durative context.

Example 2

a. Dit gaan reën; kom ons soek skuiling.
it go.AUX.MOD rain.INF come.IMP we seek.INF shelter
It's going to rain; let's look for shelter.
b. Die boere meen dit kom reën.
the farmers think it come.LINK rain.INF
The farmers think that it's going to rain.
c. Bring jou sambreel; dit wil reën.
bring your umbrella it want.to.AUX.MOD rain.INF
Bring your umbrella; the rain is about to come down.
d. Dit wil-wil reën – kyk net daardie donker wolk.
it want.to.AUX.MOD-want.to.AUX.MOD rain.INF look.IMP just that dark cloud
It is about to rain – just look at that dark cloud.
e. Die trane wil-wil net al die tyd loop.
the tears want.to.AUX.MOD-want.to.AUX.MOD just all the time run.INF
The tears are on the verge of running all the time.
W. Coetzer: Skerpioen, 2009, 142

Inchoative (or ingressive) aspect as such is expressed by the lexical character (Aktionsart) of the verb begin (te) begin as linking verb in semantically equivalent constructional variants such as the following:

Example 3

a. Hulle begin die kameras opstel.
they begin.LINK the cameras up.set.INF
They are beginning to mount the cameras.
b. Hulle begin die kameras op te stel.
they begin.LINK the cameras up PTCL.INF set.INF
They are beginning to mount the cameras.
c. Hulle begin om die kameras op te stel.
they begin.PRS for.COMP the cameras up PTCL.INF set.INF
They are beginning to mount the cameras.
d. Hulle begin stel die kameras op.
they begin.LINK set.INF the cameras up
They are beginning to mount the cameras.

In (4), as in (3d), lexical verbs are combined in the fore-field, forming an imperative in (4a).

Example 4

a. OK, Boy ... begin gooi die togsakke af.
OK Boy begin.LINK.IMP throw.INF the tog.bags down
OK, Boy, start throwing down the tog bags.
L.de Villiers: Kaapstad, 2012, 11
b. Weswaarts begin bou 'n kouefront.
westwards begin.LINK build.INF a cold.front
A cold front is building up in a westerly direction.
L.de Villiers: Kaapstad, 2012, 7

As linking verbs, gaan go and kom come are not only able to refer to a temporal phase before the start of an event, as in (2), but also to the beginning as such. Thus in (5a) the speaker encourages the addressee to begin sleeping and in (5b) the emphasis is on the actual beginning of the rainy season. Loop walk is inchoative in (5c).

Example 5

a. Gaan slaap nou; dit is al laat!
go.LINK.IMP sleep.INF now it is already late
Go to bed now – it's getting late!
b. En as dit nie vinnig kom  reën nie, gaan ons binnekort nie meer [voer] hê nie.
and if.CNJ it not quickly come.LINK rain.INF PTCL.NEG go.AUX.MOD we shortly no more fodder have.INF PTCL.NEG
And if the rainy season does not begin quickly, we won't have any fodder left soon.
Beeld, 2015/11/6
c. Geen seun het dit ooit gewaag om by die meisies te loop sit nie.
no boy have.AUX it ever dare.PST.PTCP for.COMP by the girls PTCL.INF walk.LINK sit.INF PTCL.NEG
No boy ever dared to go and sit with the girls.
C.Barnard: Oulap, 2008, 38

The beginning of sleep (the inchoative phase) is inherent in the meaning of verbs like inslaap fall asleep and insluimer doze off, and an expression such as aan die slaap raak fall asleep (lit. 'touch on the sleep'). Kom, as in (5b), may refer to any point on a cline from 'progress towards an action' to its actual beginning (WAT).

Another inchoative construction has kom come as a main verb, qualified by a past participle specifying directional motion towards the speaker, e.g. aangeloop kom come walking as in (6a). Directionality is typically indicated by the particle aan on, to, but may be replaced by a phrase specifying direction, e.g. om die huis around the house as in (6b). In (6c) the type of motion is specified by the verb skommel rock.

Example 6

a. Wie kom daar in die pad aangeloop?
who come there in the road on.walk.PST.PTCP
Who comes walking along the road there?
b. 'n Groot hond kom om die huis gehardloop
a big dog come around the house run.PST.PTCP
A big dog comes running around the house.
c. Sy trem kom teen die heuwel opgeskommel.
his tram come against the hill up.rock.PST.PTCP
His tram comes rocking up the hill.
H. Kalmer: Lekkerste deel, 2007, 22

Durative (or progressive) aspect is expressed lexically by the verb aanhou keep on (past participle aangehou), with optional ge when used as linking verb, as in (7a). An alternative construction with the preposition met with plus a nominalisation, is shown in (7b). Durative aspect is also expressed by the adverb aanhou continually, derived from the verb aanhou keep on and a synonym of aanhoudend, as in (7c).

Example 7

a. Die son het aanhou glip en gly agter vererige blare.
the sun have.AUX on.keep.LINK slip.INF PTC.LINK slide.INF behind feathery leaves
The sun kept on slipping and sliding behind feathery leaves.
Fölscher: 2002, 43
b. As die kind aangehou het met skree ... dan was dit verby.
if.CNJ the child on.keep.PST.PTCP have.AUX with scream.NMLZ then.CNJ be.PRT it past
If the child had kept on screaming, that would have been the end.
E. Joubert: 2002, 63
c. Vrae oor Shaik en ander vriende ... moet aanhou gevra word.
questions about Shaik and other friends must.AUX.MOD continually.ADV ask.PST.PTCP be.AUX.PASS.PRS
Questions about Shaik and other friends should be asked continually.
Beeld, 2011/3/2

Bly keep on, stay, remain in combination with a main verb also expresses durative aspect:

Example 8

a. Sy oë het verby haar bly  kyk.
his eyes have.AUX past her keep.on.LINK look.INF
His eyes kept looking past her.
[When perfect tense is expressed, a combination of linking verb + main verb, such as bly kyk, may be regarded as a past participle. ]
M.Malan: Suiderkruis, 2008, 77
b. Dit sal vir parkering bly gebruik word.
it will.AUX.MOD for parking keep.on.LINK use.INF be.AUX.PASS.PRS
This will continue to be used as parking space.
R.Botha: 2003

In example (9), aanhou keep on and bly keep on, continue combine to express durative aspect:

Example 9

Sy't my aanhou bly help.
she.have.AUX me on.keep.LINK continue.LINK help.INF
She kept on helping me.
K.Brynard: Plaasmoord, 2009, 85

Terminative (or resultative) aspect is expressed lexically by the verb ophou stop(past participle opgehou, with optional ge when used as linking verb), selecting komponeer compose as main verb or a prepositional phrase headed by met with and komponeer as a nominalised infinitive.

Example 10

Weens die siekte moes hy ophou (met) komponeer.
because.of the illness must.AUX.MOD.PRT he stop.INF (with) compose.NMLZ
As a result of his illness he had to stop composing.

Terminative aspect is also expressed by the verbs kom come, raak become, get, have and kry get plus the past participle of transitive main verbs (cf. Van Schoor (1983:174):

Example 11

a. Alexander se hare moes gesny kom.
Alexander POSS hair must.AUX.MOD.PRT cut.PST.PTCP come.INF
Alexander's hair had to be cut.
Botes: 2001, 169
b. Dit is hoog tyd dat die eise nou uitbetaal raak.
it is high time that.COMP the claims now out.pay.PST.PTCP become.AUX.PASS.PRS
The time has come for the claims to be settled.
c. Ons twee moet voor vyf vanmiddag hierdie erf skoon en alles weggery hê.
we two must.AUX.MOD before five this.afternoon this stand clean.ADJ and everything away.cart.PST.PTCP have.INF
The two of us must have this stand clean and everything carted away before five this afternoon.
Maartens: 2001, 168

With kry get as linking verb the main verb may be transitive (12a) or intransitive (12b):

Example 12

a. Netnou wanneer ons Ma weer gestaan gekry het, sal ek tee bring.
just.now when.CNJ we Mom again stand.PST.PTCP get.PST.PTCP have.AUX will.AUX.MOD I tea bring.INF
In a short while, when we've succeeded in getting Mom upright again, I'll bring tea.
R.Rust: Lyf, 2012, 46
b. So 'n man soos Poenie sukkel om gevry te kry.
such a man as Poenie struggle for.COMP lay.PST.PTCP PTCL.INF get.INF
A man like Poenie struggles to get laid.
C. Barnard: Oulap, 2008, 13

The reduplication of various parts of speech is quite common in Afrikaans. The parts of speech most commonly employed, are verbs (spring-spring (13a)), numerals (twee-twee), adjectives (bang-bang (13b)), nouns (huis-huis) – in the case of nouns sometimes with plural or diminutive inflection, e.g. huisie-huisie, klompies-klompies, gate-gate. Though reduplication usually does not imply category change, reduplicated verbs are regularly used as manner adverbials, e.g. (13c).

Example 13

a. Die kinders spring-spring in die straat af.
the children jump-jump in the street down.POSTP
The children go down the street jumping.
b. 'n Dag van stilte is beter as 'n dag van bang-bang oor my skouer loer.
a day of silence is better than a day of afraid-afraid over my shoulder look.NMLZ
A day of silence is better than a day of looking over my shoulder in fear.
A. Troskie: Staat, 2012, 76
c. Die kinders loop spring-spring in die straat af.
the children walk jump-jump in the road down.POSTP
The children go down the street jumping.

Aspectually, reduplication may express iterative or durative aspect, or a combination of both (Introduction). Repetition may assume various forms, e.g. repeated action (14a), the names of games (implying repetition) (14b), perceptual repetition (with distributive function) (14c) and the repetition implied by repeated efforts (14d) (cf. Conradie (2003).

Example 14

a. Die loerie kok-kok in die bos.
the lourie 'kok'-'kok' in the bush
The lourie makes a 'kok-kok' sound in the bush.
b. Die kinders speel dokter-dokter.
the children play doctor-doctor
The children are playing 'doctor'.
c. Die gaste kom twee-twee by die deur in.
the guests come two-two by the door in.POSTP
The guests are entering through the door in twos.
d. Hy vat-vat in die lug asof hy na iets gryp.
he grab-grab in the air as.if.CNJ he at something clutch.PRS
He grabs repeatedly in the air as if clutching at something.
K.Breytenbach: Hartland, 2012, 500

Reduplication and present participles are often equivalent ways of expressing durative aspect (cf. (15a) and (15b)). When unordered repetition becomes indiscriminate, it is no different from continuous action, which is tantamount to durative aspect. Thus, if several persons are chatting in one room, the total effect would be one of ongoing conversation rather than the repetition of speech turns (cf. (15b)). Durativity may be reinforced by the particle al in combination with present particles (15a) or reduplication (15c).

Example 15

a. Die gaste kom geselsend / al geselsende die lokaal binne.
the guests come talk.PRS.PTCP / continuously talk.PRS.PTCL the room in.POSTP
The guests enter the room, conversing all the time.
b. voetjie vir voetjie en gesels-gesels word hulle na die saal geneem
foot.DIM by foot.DIM and talk-talk be.AUX.PASS.PRS they to the ward take.PST.PTCP
at a slow pace and while they were talking all the time they were taken to the ward
P.Stamatélos: Portier, 2009, 150
c. om al soek-soek te bly boontoe kyk
for.COMP continuously search-search PTCL.INF keep.on.LINK upwards look.INF
to keep looking upwards while searching all the time
H.Nortjé: Skadu, 2012, 12

Iterative aspect, expressed through reduplication, combines with the linking verb bly keep on to emphasize durative aspect:

Example 16

Sy bly skop-skop met haar bene.
she [a cow] keep.on.LINK kick-kick with her legs
She keeps on kicking with her legs.
M.Malan: Suiderkruis, 2008
  • Conradie, C.J2003The iconicity of Afrikaans reduplication.(In Müller, G., Fischer, O., reds. From sing to signing: iconicity in language and literature 3. Amsterdam : John Benjamins. p. 203-224.)
  • Conradie, C.J2016Willens en wetens: Perspektiewe op die Afrikaanse werkwoord 'wil'.Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe567-24,
  • Van Schoor, J.L1983Die grammatika van standaard-Afrikaans.Lex Patria
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