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Modification of PPs

Two examples of adposition phrases which are modified appear below – one in which a noun phrase (NP) modifies an adposition phrase (PP), and the second in which an adverb modifies an PP:

['n goeie vier meter] agter hulle aan
a good four meter behind them on
at least four meters behind them
[naby] aan die kerk
close to the church

Four types of modifiers are distinguished, namely:

  • NPs as PP modifiers
  • Adjectives as PP modifiers
  • Adverbs as PP modifiers
  • Adpositions as PP modifiers

[+]NPs as PP modifiers

Modifiers which are NPs can be found in front of adposition phrases.

a. [drie dae] ná my bevalling
three days after my giving.birth
Three days after my giving birth
b. ['n paar honderd meter] agter ons
a couple hundred meter behind us
a couple of hundreds of meters behind us

Modifiers which are NPs can also be found in front of postpositional phrases.

a. ['n goeie vyf meter] tussen hulle
a good five meter between them
at least five meters between them
b. ['n hele ent] in die tuin in
a whole distance the garden in
quite some distance into the garden

Modifiers which are NPs can also be found in front of adposition phrases that do not contain a complement, or in other words, in front of intransitive adposition phrases.

Toe hy orentkom, is die oortreder hom ['n hele ent] voor.
when he upright.come go.PST the offender him a whole distance before
When he came to his feet, the offender was quite a distance before him.

The modifying NP may be built around an exact measure noun such as meter or sekonde second, as in this example:

a. twee kilo bo sy normale gewig
two kilo above his normal weight
two kilos more than his normal weight

The modifying noun may also be built around an inexact measure noun preceded by the indefinite article such as 'n entjie a short distance or 'n bietjie a little bit.

a. 'n entjie anderkant die afdraaipad
a short.distance beyond the turnoff.road
a short distance past the turnoff road
b. Sy is 'n bietjie langer as hy.
she be.PRS a little taller PTCL.SIMT him
She is a little taller than him.
[+]Adjectives as modifiers

Modifiers such as diep deep, ver far and lank long are characteristically used as amplifiers, that is, they emphasise the high degree of the distance between two points or intervals. Some example are given below.

die spits dak wat ver bo die vrugteboorde uitsteek
the steep roof that.REL far above the fruit.orchards out.juts
the steep roof which juts out high above the orchards
beide hande diep in die sakke van sy reënjas
both hands deep in the pockets of his raincoat
both hands (buried) deep in the pockets of his raincoat

The following examples make it clear that the adjectival modifier may be expanded by putting it in the equative degree. The equative adjective phrase is bracketed in each case:

Julle is nou nog [net so ver] as twee jaar gelede.
you be.PRS now still [just PTCL.SIMT far] PTCL.SIMT two years ago
You are now still just as far as two years ago.
Ons is [ewe diep] in die gemors.
we be.PRS equally deep in the mess
We are equally deep in the mess.

The adjectival modifier may also appear in the comparative degree:

Hoe verder in die somer, hoe langer die dae.
how further in the summer how longer the days
The further in summer, the longer the days.
[+]Adverbs as modifiers

Adverbs as modifiers come in four kinds, namely i) quantificational modifiers, ii) low degree modifiers, iii) exact modifiers, and iv) orientational modifiers.

Quantificational modifier

Quantificational discourse modifiers include presies, reg precisely, right, al all, or weer again, all of which refer to the discourse context. Some examples are given below.

Jesus het reg voor die skatkis gaan sit.
Jesus have.AUX right before the treasure.chest go sit
Jesus sat down right in front of the temple treasury.
al langs die wit muur van die gebou
all along the white wall of the building
all along the white wall of the building

Low degree modifiers

Second, there are modifiers such as naby close, midde in in the middle of and te midde van among, amidst which are particular to PPs, more specifically to temporal or spatial PPs. They denote a relatively low degree of distance between two points. Examples are given below.

a. [naby] aan die kerk
close to the church
b. Hulle is midde in 'n groot gemors.
they be.PRS mid in a big mess
They are in the middle of a big mess.
c. te midde van al sy werk
to midst of all his work
amidst all his work

Exact modifiers

The third type includes relatively precise interval modifiers like halfpad halfway and ten volle fully, completely, as exemplified below.

a. 'n oondbak wat halfpad met water gevul is
an oven.dish that.REL halfway with water fill.PASS be.AUX.PASS.PST
an oven dish filled halfway with water
b. Ek vertrou ten volle op hom.
I trust at fully on him
I trust him completely.

Orientation: left and right

The fourth type refers more specifically to spatial orientation such as links left and regs right.

a. links van die gruispad na Perdeberg
left of the gravel.road to Perdeberg
left of the dirt road to Perdeberg
b. Dit lê regs onder die diafragma.
it lies right under the diaphragm
It is situated on the right below the diaphragm.
[+]Adpositions as modifiers

Bare adpositions may be used to modify spatial PPs. They include modifiers derived from prepositions, such as agter to the back, and voor in the front. Adpositional modifiers combine with other prepositions to specify their spatial meaning.

a. agter in die yskas
behind in the fridge
in the back part of the fridge
b. onder in die sak
below in the bag
in the bottom part of the bag
c. regs onder op die bladsy
right below on the page
in the bottom part of the page on the right

Temporal PPs tend to be modified by adjectives, as in the following examples:

a. vroeg in die herfs
early in the autumn
early in autumn
b. laat in die lente
late in the spring
late in spring
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