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The NP as adverbial

Adverbials are usually formed by adverbs, preposition phrases and adverbial clauses, but the noun phrase has a restricted use to function as adverbial as well. NPs can be used as temporal adverbials in particular, to express specific points in time or specific durations. Syntactically, there are two types of NPs used: NPs that identify a unique period or point in time, or noun phrases that combine a common noun with an appropriate modifier to pinpoint the period or point in time.

Specific temporal expressions the identify a period or point in time uniquely include the name of a particular day or period, e.g. proper nouns like Maandag Monday, Kersdag Christmas Day, or Maart March, or NPs headed by common nouns that denote conventionalised temporal units, like the names of seasons (lente spring, somer summer) or timespans like week week, jaar year, naweek weekend, or langnaweek long weekend.

Noun phrases that convey a point in time or a timespan through modification of a general temporal noun are expressions like die volgende oggend the following morning, die afgelope jaar the previous year or aanstaande week next week.

Temporal NPs are used in the typical adverbial positions that adverbs and PPs can also occupy, such as the clause-initial position or in the middle field (as long as they do not precede the subject). While not absolutely excluded from the post-verbal field, temporal adverbials are very infrequent after the main verb in the verb-final position. The position of temporal adverbial NPs is illustrated by the examples in (1).

Example 1

a. Die afgelope somer was daar ook enkele plase wat reën gekry het.
[(CI) die afgelope somer] [(V2) was] [(MF) daar ook enkele plase wat reën gekry het]
the past summer be.PST there also some farms that.REL rain get.PST have.AUX
The past summer there were also a few farms that did get rain.
b. Elke naweek en elke vakansiedag sal daar ten minste twee tandartse aan diens wees.
[(CI) elke naweek en elke vakansiedag] [(V2) sal] [(MF) daar ten minste twee tandartse aan diens] [(VF) wees]
every weekend and every holiday.day will.AUX there at.the least two dentists on duty
Every weekend and every public holiday there will.AUX.MOD be at least two dentists on duty.
c. Toe het hulle vier jaar daar gebly.
[(CI) toe] [(V2) het] [(MF) hulle vier jaar daar] [(VF) gebly]
then have.AUX they four years there stay.PST
Then they stayed there for four years.
d. Beplan u volgende jaar 'n soortgelyke projek?
[(V1) beplan] [(MF) u volgende jaar 'n soortgelyke projek]
plan you next year a similar project
Do you plan a similar project for next year?
e. En so het ons elke dag skool gebank.
[(CI) en so] [(V2) het] [(MF) ons elke dag skool] [(VF) gebank]
and PTCL.REL have.AUX we every day school bunk.PST
And so we bunked school every day.
[+]Definite NPs

Definite NPs with an appropriate head noun can be used to identify a specific point in time or a timespan, which can be used as temporal adverbial. For timespans, a modifier such as hele whole/entire indicating the extent of the time span is typical, whereas for points in time, relational modifiers like volgende next and vorige previous are common. The options are illustrated by the examples in (2).

Example 2

a. Die naweek sien ek hoe vuil die wêreld om ons raak.
the weekend see I how dirty around us become
This weekend I saw how dirty the world around us became.
[Point in time]
b. Mense het verlede naweek van oral na die damwal kom kyk.
people have.AUX last weekend from over.all to the dam.wall come.LINK look
People came from all over last weekend to have a look at the dam wall.
[Point in time]
c. Ek het die hele naweek net in 'n hoekie van die sel bly sit.
I have.AUX the whole weekend just in a corner.DIM of the cell stay.LINK sit
I just sat in a corner of the cell for the whole weekend.
[+]Indefinite NPs

Indefinite NPs are used to identify the timespan mainly, and can either use units of time such as uur hour or dag day, or else informal ways of chunking time, like oomblik moment. The indefinite NPs expressing timespan are usually interchangeable with a preposition phrase headed by vir for with the NP as PP-complement, or else an AP headed by lank long, where the NP is a premodifier of the head AP. Ponelis(1979:341) is of the view that NPs denoting timespan can be analysed as reduced variants of the AP with lank.

Example 3

a. Laat die beslag nou ten minste 'n uur staan.
let.LINK the batter now at.the least an hour stand.INF
Let the batter stand for at least an hour.
a.' Laat die beslag nou ten minste 'n uur lank staan.
let.LINK the batter now at.the least an hour long stand.INF
b. Hy bly 'n oomblik stil.
he stay.PRS a moment quiet
He stays quiet for a moment.
b.' Hy bly vir 'n oomblik stil.
he stay.PRS for a moment quiet
He remains quiet for a moment.
[+]Quantified noun phrases

Similar to definite and indefinite NPs with temporal meaning, a quantifier expression can be combined with a head noun that refers to conventional unit for measurement of duration, which is quantified by premodifier. Quantified NPs can be used for intervals, such as drie uur three hours, vyf jaar five years, or drie weke three weeks, but also for the expression of frequency, such as drie aande three evenings, or elke tweede maand every second month. Quantified noun phrases have similar distributions to definite and indefinite NPs when used as temporal adverbials, as shown in example (4).

Example 4

a. Agt jaar het dit so tussen hulle gegaan.
eight years have.AUX it PTCL.REL between them go.PST
For eight years, it went like this between them.
b. Elke tweede aand eet hulle braaivleis saam met die sersante en luitenante.
every second evening eat they barbeque.meat together with the seargeants and luitenants
Every second night they eat barbeque with the seargeants and luitenants.
TK, adjusted
c. Hulle is al twee jaar getroud.
they be.PRS already two years married
They have already been married for two years.
d. Ons het omtrent elke tweede aand seks.
we have about every second evening sex
We have sex approximately every second night.
[+]Names of days, months, and seasons

The names of days (Maandag Monday, Dinsdag Tuesday), months (Januarie January, Februarie February), or seasons (lente spring, somer summer), as well as names denoting unique days (typically public holidays or religious festivals) like Kersdag Christmas Day, Nasionale Braaidag National Braai Day, or Hemelvaart Day of Ascension can be used to denote a point in time (days in particular), or a timespan. These names can be modified or quantified in noun phrases to make the reference more precise, e.g. die hele somer the whole summer, (die) volgende Maandag (the) next Monday, begin November beginning of November. Their syntactic distribution is similar to all the other NPs that function as temporal adverbials.

Example 5

a. Die afgelope Maandag het hy die skool se nommer by iemand gekry.
the past Monday have.AUX he the school PTCL.GEN number from someone get.PST
The past Monday he got the number for the school from somebody.
TK, adjusted
b. Maandag het 'n klomp klankinsetsels op RSG se oggend-nuusbulletin ook "baaaaie baaaaie ver" geklink.
Monday have.AUX a bunch sound.inserts on RSG PTCL.GEN morning-news.bulletin also very.EMP very.EMP far sound.PST
(On) Monday, a number of sound inserts on the morning news bulletin of RSG sounded very, very distant.
c. Die Pukke het die afgelope Maandag in Potchefstroom sy oomblikke gehad.
the Pukke have.AUX the past Monday in Potchefstroom his moments have.PST
The Pukke had their moments in Potchefstroom this past Monday.
d. Die ander seun het Caville glo al Maandag gewaarsku.
the other boy have.AUX Caville apparently already Monday warn.PST
The other boy apparently warned Caville on Monday already.
  • Ponelis, F.A1979Afrikaanse sintaksis.Van Schaik
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