• Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Afrikaans
Show full table of contents
Resultative construction

Beside the use in copular constructions, the other widely attested function of complementives is to encode the end state of a process, which is the result that follows from some dynamic event. The complementive follows the accusative object of the verb where present, and predicates the state in which this object finds itself; otherwise, if no object is present, the complementive follows the verb itself, and predicates the result state of the subject of the clause. The resultative construction has different syntactic effects, depending on whether the verb, in non-resultative use, has an internal argument or not. If the verb has no internal argument, which is the case with intransitive and impersonal verbs, then an additional argument has to be used alongside the complementive, as illustrated by example (1) and (2), to function as the logical subject of the complementive.

Example 1

a. Die baba huil homself wakker.
The baby cries itself awake.
[Resultative from intransitive verb]
b. Die baba huil.
The baby cries.
[Intransitive verb]
b.' *Die baba huil hom/homself.
The baby cries him/itself.
[Ungrammatical transitive use]
Example 2

a. Die gras ryp dood in die winter.
The grass frosts to death in winter.
[Resultative from impersonal verb]
b. Dit ryp in die winter.
It frosts in winter.
[Impersonal verb]
b.' *Dit ryp die gras in die winter.
It frosts the grass in winter.
[Ungrammatical extra argument]

If the verb has an internal argument, as is the case with unaccusative and transitive verbs, that internal argument can potentially be the subject of the complementive, and no additional argument is required to form a resultative construction, as is illustrated by (3) and (4).

Example 3

a. Die slagoffer bloei dood.
the victim bleed dead
The victim bleeds to death.
[Resultative from unaccusative verb]
b. Die slagoffer bloei.
the victim bleed
The victim bleeds.
[Unaccusative verb]
Example 4

a. Die manne drink die bier op.
the men drink the beer up
The men finished all the beer.
[Resultative from transitive verb]
b. Die manne drink die bier.
the men drink the beer
The men drink the beer.
[Transitive verb]

It is also possible, however, to use as accusative object of the verb a noun phrase that would not normally be compatible with the transitive verb in resultative constructions, where the use within the resultative construction is nevertheless felicitous. Such a possibility is exemplified by (5), in contrast to example (4b). The impossibility of example (5b) provides evidence in support of the analysis that the object and complementive function as a single constituent of the clause. The resultative is a construction in its own right and not directly dependent on the non-resultative use of the same verb. The entire result state in which the object finds itself is the situation that comes about as a result of the activity denoted by the main verb.

Example 5

a. Die manne drink die kroeg leeg.
the men drink the bar empty
The guys drink the bar dry.
[Resultative from transitive verb]
b. *Die manne drink die kroeg.
the men drink the bar
The guys drink the bar.
[Infelicitous use of transitive verb]

Ditransitive and undative verbs do not allow conversion to resultatives in Afrikaans. More detail about each of syntactic type of resultative can be found in the linked subsections:

General shared properties of the resultative construction across the different types are presented in the remainder of this section. The discussion is based in part on ideas from Goldberg and Jackendoff (2004).

[+]Syntactic and semantic categories of resultative complementives

The complementives that are used in resultative constructions are mainly of two syntactic types, which are patterned with two semantic types at the same time (Goldberg and Jackendoff 2004). Adjective phrases are widely used, and encode a property that some object acquires as a result of the action of the verb. Alternatively, preposition phrases are used, and encode a spatial meaning, usually a direction or path of movement. The contrast is illustrated by example (6) and (7). It is in principle possible, if infrequent, for adjective phrases to encode spatial meanings, and somewhat less infrequent for preposition phrases to encode a property.

Example 6

a. Hy drink homself [dronk/dood].
He drinks himself drunk/to death
[Property AP]
b. He drink homself [in 'n koma in].
He drinks himself into a stupor.
[Property PP]
Example 7

a. Die rots val [in die pad].
The rock falls into the road.
[Spatial PP]
b. Hy spring [weg van die verkeer].
He jumps clear of the traffic.
[Spatial AP]
[+]The logical subject of the complementive

The complementive conveys one of two types of result states: a property or a spatial configuration, but this has to be predicated of one of the noun phrases in the clause. If the resultative clause only has a subject and no object, then the subject has to be the argument that acquires the property or comes to be in that space, as illustrated by (8a) and (8b) respectively.

Example 8

a. Die ketel kook droog.
The kettle boiled dry.
b. Die klip rol bergaf.
The stone rolls downhill.

If the clause has a direct object on the surface, that noun phrase will usually be the logical subject of the complementive. This option is illustrated by die bal the ball in example (9), which acquires the property of being broken into pieces in (9a), or finds itself in a new space in (9b), resulting from the action of kicking.

Example 9

a. Hy skop die bal stukkend.
He kicks the ball to pieces.
b. He skop die bal weg.
He kicks the ball away.

However, according to Goldberg and Jackendoff (2004:537), it is also possible that the subject is the one being located in the identified spatial configuration, as illustrated by (10), where not the object, but the subjects hulle they find themselves in the Cape as a result of the action of taking (driving on) the N1 highway.

Example 10

Hulle vat die N1 Kaap toe.
They take the N1 to the Cape.
  • Goldberg, Adele & Jackendoff, Ray2004The English resultative as a family of constructionsLanguage80532-568
  • Goldberg, Adele & Jackendoff, Ray2004The English resultative as a family of constructionsLanguage80532-568
  • Goldberg, Adele & Jackendoff, Ray2004The English resultative as a family of constructionsLanguage80532-568
This is a beta version.