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Unaccusative resultative

Unaccusative verbs by definition take a subject that is not the agent or force effecting the activity of the verb. For atelic verbs, typically activities or semelfactives, it is possible in some cases to add a result state, which converts the unbounded process that happens to the subject into a bounded process that gives rise to the result state encoded by the complementive. This is illustrated by the examples in (1). Unaccusative verbs that denote an achievement, like sterf to die, ontplof to explore, or aankom to arrive, already imply in their instrinsic meaning a result state, and are therefore not able to be converted into resultatives through the addition of a complementive.

Example 1

a. Iets in haar val stukkend.
Something in her falls apart.
[Resultative unaccusative]
a.' Hy val met sy rug teen die muur agter hom.
He falls with his back against the wall behind him.
[Regular unaccusative]
b. Die gat groei toe namate dit gelaat word om te genees.
The wound closes up as long as it is left to heal.
VivA-KPO, adjusted
[Resultative unaccusative]
b.' Sulke kalwers groei gewoonlik swak.
Such kalves usually grow poorly.
[Regular unaccusative]
[+]Unaccusative resultatives take the syntactic subject as its logical subject

Unaccusative resultatives are different from intransitive resultatives, in that they do not require the addition of a second argument, a syntactic object of the verb, to function as logical subject of the complementive. This contrast is illustrated by the examples in (2). In (2a), the subject 'n vierde bul a fourth bull is the one who bleeds. Whether this is just bleeding as in the primed example, or whether the bleeding ends in a result state dood dead, there is no additional argument that is added to the unaccusative resultative. By contrast, in (2b), the regular use of the intransitive verb skree to shout in the primed example can be expanded through adverbials, but does not have a second argument, whereas the resultative use requires the addition of an argument, hul stem their voice, which is the logical subject of the result state hees hoarse.

Example 2

a. 'n Vierde bul het dood gebloei.
A fourth bull bled to death.
VivA-KPO, adjusted
[Resultative unaccusative]
a.' 'n Vierde bul het gebloei.
A fourth bull was bleeding.
[Regular unaccusative use]
b. Die mense het hul stem hees geskree.
The people shouted their voice hoarse.
VivA-KPO, adjusted
[Resultative intransitive]
b.' Die mense het geskree van blydskap oor die verkiesingsuitslag.
The people shouted from joy over the election result.
[Regular intransitive use]
[+]Unaccusative resultatives can take an additional object argument as their logical subject

In Afrikaans, unlike in Dutch (Broekhuis et al. 2015:267), unaccusative verbs may take an additional argument, and that argument then functions as logical subject of the complementive. This possibility is illustrated by the examples in (3). Note that these examples are ungrammatical if they are used as regular transitives without the complementive, as shown by the primed variants in (3).

Example 3

a. Die bome en bosse het die uitsig op die rivier amper toegegroei.
the trees and bushes have.AUX the view at the river almost closed.grow.PST
The trees and bush almost covered the view onto the river.
a.' *Die bome en bosse het amper die uitsig op die rivier gegroei.
the trees and bushes have.AUX almost the view on the river grow.PST
The trees and bush almost grew the view on the river.
b. Die man het homself bewusteloos geval.
the man have.AUX himself unconscious fall.PST
The man fell and became unconscious.
b.' *Die man het homself geval.
the man have.AUX himself fall.PST
The man fell himself.

As far as their conversion into resultatives is concerned, Afrikaans unaccusatives show behaviour similar to intransitives alongside their uniquely unaccusative behaviour. The constraints are mainly semantic in nature: if a particular event, whether agentive or non-agentive, can result in a particular endstate, for the subject or for an additional object, then conversion into the resultative is possible. Given the nature of many unaccusative verbs, being non-agentive, the possibility of purposeful design and intention is limited, hence in general, there are fewer unaccusative verbs that are compatible with the resultative. The constraint is not grammatical, but semantic: is the scenario in which the event encoded by the verb gives rise the the effect encoded by the complementive possible in the real world?

  • Broekhuis, Hans, Corver, Norbert & Vos, Riet2015Syntax of Dutch. Verbs and verb phrasesComprehensive grammar resourcesAmsterdam University Press
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