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Negative positioning and shift
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In this section the forms assumed by lexical items expressing negative polarity, their placement within the clause, and the placement of other constituents in relation to the negative (NEG) and other clause adverbials in the middle field (MF) are discussed.

Some types of movement that are prevalent in Dutch are inhibited in Afrikaans for a number of reasons, for instance a stricter adherence in Afrikaans to the argument sequence agent > goal > theme, the obligatory juxtaposition of the subject when preceded by a verb in second (V2) or first (V1) position or a complementiser, and the absence of phonetically reduced or clitic pronouns in Afrikaans. On the other hand, the use of prepositional phrases (PPs) instead of noun phrases (NPs) allows greater flexibility of movement. The use of the preposition vir for to mark NPs referring to human entities as direct object (DO), e.g. Ek sien vir jou! I see for you I see you!, is notable in this respect.

Negative polarity is signalled by the negative particle nie not, a determiner geen no and merged adverbials such as temporal nooit never and locational nêrens nowhere, as well as pronouns such as niemand no one and niks nothing. Niks is also used as a quantifier.

Negative polarity in a clause or complex sentence is confirmed by placing a second nie at the very end of the clause or sentence, marking at the same time the scope of negation, e.g.

Example 1

Nelia het nie verhuis omdat sy wou nie.
Nelia have.AUX not move.PST.PTCP because.CNJ she want.to.AUX.MOD.PRT PTCL.NEG
Nelia didn't move because she wanted to.

Note that final nie is only a confirmation of negative polarity and by no means implies a cancellation or reversal of negation.

In its function of extending negative polarity to an entire clause or sentence, nie is a clause adverbial rather than a VP adverbial, but typically occupies the last position in a cluster of clause adverbials, as in (2a). Nie and geen are also employed as focus particles, limiting negative polarity to a single NP, as in (2b).

Example 2

a. Victor moet die honde miskien tog nie vandag park toe neem nie.
Victor must.AUX.MOD the dogs perhaps really not today park to.POSTP take.INF PTCL.NEG
Perhaps Victor shouldn't really take the dogs to the park today.
b. Victor moet nie die honde / geen honde park toe neem nie.
Victor must.AUX.MOD not the dogs / no dogs park to.POSTP take.INF PTCL.NEG
Victor shouldn't take the dogs / should take no dogs to the park today.

DOs may occur as NP or vir-PP before and after nie, but preferences before and after nie are determined by subcategories of the nominal. Thus in the case of a definite NP, such as die spreker the speaker in (3a), the variant without vir is preferred before nie. If the referent is a proper noun, such as Neels in (3b), vir is optional before nie, but obligatory after nie. In the case of a personal pronoun, such as hom him in (3c), vir is possible but not preferable before nie; vir is however highly preferable after nie. Vir is not used with a pronoun such as dit it (cf. example (3d)), as dit does not usually have personal reference.

Example 3

a. dat Nelia <(?vir) die spreker> nie <(vir) die spreker> kan hoor nie.
that.COMP Nelia <for the speaker> not <for the speaker> can.AUX.MOD hear.INF PTCL.NEG
that Nelia can't hear the speaker.
b. dat Nelia <(vir) Neels> nie <vir Neels> kan hoor nie.
that.COMP Nelia <for Neels> not <for Neels> can.AUX.MOD hear.INF PTCL.NEG
that Nelia can't hear Neels.
c. dat Nelia <(?vir) hom> nie <vir hom> kan hoor nie.
that.COMP Nelia <for him> not <for him> can.AUX.MOD hear.INF PTCL.NEG
that Nelia can't hear him.
d. dat Nelia <dit> nie <dit> kan hoor nie.
that.COMP Nelia <it> not <it> can.AUX.MOD hear.INF PTCL.NEG
that Nelia can't hear it.

Vir for (and other prepositions, such as aan to) are also commonly employed with indirect objects (IOs), but then without the semantic restrictions of DOs, and with the possibility of forming a compound such as daarvoor it+for to it for non-human goals. For a ditransitive verb such as voorsien to supply a preposition such as vir for or aan to is obligatory in all cases, unless the compound daarvoor is used. Note that the IO in (4a) has personal reference, and that in (4b) inanimate reference.

Example 4

a. dat Neels <vir Nelia / vir haar> nie <vir Nelia/ vir haar> vervoer voorsien nie.
that.COMP Neels <for Nelia / for her> not <for Nelia / for her> transport provide.PRS PTCL.NEG
that Neels does not provide transport for Nelia / her.
b. dat Neels <vir die voertuig / daarvoor> nie <vir die voertuig / daarvoor> brandstof voorsien nie.
that.COMP Neels <for the vehicle / PN.for> not <for the vehicle / PN.for> fuel provide.PRS PTCL.NEG
that Neels doesn't provide fuel for the vehicle / it.

A PP is obligatory when an IO is inserted before the subject, e.g. example (5). Contrastive stress is required on the IO as insertions between the subject and a complementiser are unusual.

Example 5

dat <vir NELIA/ vir HAAR> Neels nie vervoer voorsien nie.
that.COMP for Nelia / for her Neels not transport provide.PRS PTCL.NEG
that Neels doesn't provide transport for Nelia / for her.

The positioning of other constituents varies according to syntactic category. Thus prepositional objects (POs) and temporal and locational adverbials may occur both before and after NEG, but complementives, as well as manner adverbs, only after NEG.

Example 6

dat die burgemeester die skip <*die Alabama / *oorhaastig> nie <die Alabama/oorhaastig> doop nie.
that.COMP the mayor the ship <the Alabama / hurriedly> not <the Alabama/ hurriedly> baptise.PRS PTCL.NEG
that the mayor doesn't baptise the ship "Alabama"/ hurriedly baptise the ship.
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[+]Introduction

In this section the movement (or variable placement) of constituents in the middle field (MF) of the clause will be discussed in relation to the position of the negative and other clause adverbials. At the outset it should be mentioned that certain factors causing or related to the movement, shift or scrambling of constituents in Dutch and other languages play no part or are completely lacking in Afrikaans, so that the present discussion will be centred on instances of variable placement rather than possible types of movement.

A few factors should be mentioned which inhibit movement in Afrikaans clauses. Firstly, the functional order of agent > goal > theme in nominal or NP arguments, as in example (7a), is strictly adhered to and only departed from in passives, where theme > goal is possible, as in (7b), beside the more usual goal > theme, as in (7c). In (7d) the order theme > agent > goal arises through topicalisation.

Example 7

a. Ek verneem dat [(AGENT) Jannie] [(GOAL) Janet] [(THEME) 'n uitnodiging] gestuur het.
I gather that.COMP Jannie Janet an invitation send.PST.PTCP have.AUX
I gather that Jannie sent Janet an invitation.
b. dat [(THEME) 'n boete vir snelheid] [(GOAL) Jannie] opgelê is.
that.COMP a fine for speeding Jannie impose.PST.PTCP be.AUX.PASS.PST
that a fine for speeding was imposed upon Jannie.
c. dat [(GOAL) Jannie] [(THEME) 'n boete vir snelheid] opgelê is.
that.COMP Jannie a fine for speeding impose.PST.PTCP be.AUX.PASS.PST
that a fine for speeding was imposed on Jannie.
d. [(THEME) 'n Mooi uitnodiging] het [(AGENT) Jannie] [(GOAL) Janet] darem gestuur.
a nice invitation have.AUX Jannie Janet all.the.same send.PST.PTCP
A nice invitation did Jannie send to Janet after all.

Another factor inhibiting movement is the fact that in Afrikaans the subject of a clause is rarely separated from the verb in first position (V1), as in example (8a), or second position (V2), as in (8b), or from a complementiser, as in (8c)(cf. Conradie 1998).

Example 8

a. *Sal miskien Jannie môre 'n uitnodiging stuur?
will.AUX.MOD perhaps Jannie tomorrow an invitation send.INF
To mean: Will Jannie perhaps send an invitation tomorrow?
b. *Môre sal waarskynlik Jannie 'n uitnodiging stuur.
tomorrow will.AUX.MOD probably Jannie an invitation send.INF
To mean: Jannie will probably send an invitation tomorrow.
c. *dat waarskynlik Jannie 'n uitnodiging sal stuur.
that.COMP probably Jannie an invitation will.AUX.MOD send.INF
To mean: that Jannie will probably send an invitation.

A third factor responsible for a specific type of ordering in Dutch, viz. the clustering of clitics at the beginning of the MF as in French, plays no part in Afrikaans as phonologically reduced pronouns, such as Dutch me, je, ze, we, 'm, 'r , are not found.

On the other hand, freedom of movement is greatly enhanced when a PP constituent is used instead of an NP. A notable example is the marking of direct objects (DOs) referring to humans in particular, by means of the preposition vir for (cf. Ponelis (1979:203), Molnárfi (1997)). This enables a DO to precede the subject, for instance through topicalisation, as in example (9a), and at the beginning of the MF, as in (9b), be it with the assistence of contrastive stress.

Example 9

a. [(DO) Vir Janet] sien Jannie nie gou weer nie.
for Janet see Jannie not soon again PTCL.NEG
Jannie isn't seeing Janet soon again.
b. dat [(DO) vir JANET] Jannie nie gou weer sien nie.
that.COMP for Janet Jannie not soon again see.PRS PTCL.NEG
that Jannie isn't seeing Janet soon again.
[+]Lexical items expressing negation

The lexical item generally used to express negative polarity at clausal level is nie not (contrasting with wel indeed) and g'n [xn] from geen, the latter a more colloquial usage. Negative particles merged with temporal and locative adverbials are nooit never (contrasting with ooit ever) and nêrens nowhere (contrasting with êrens/ iewers somewhere). Negative pronouns are niks nothing, not anything, not at all (contrasting with iets something) and niemand/ geeneen no one (contrasting with iemand someone, somebody). Geen no is a determiner contrasting with the indefinite article 'n a, an. (Afrikaans negation is extensively discussed by Ponelis (1979:367-390) and Van Schoor (1983:337-343), while Huddlestone (2010) analyses negative indefinites in particular.)

[+]Scope of negation

The scope of nie not extends to the end of an NP as focus particle, as in example (10a), to the end of a clause, as in (10b), or even to the end of a complex sentence, as in (10c). The final nie does not invert or cancel negation, but either indicates the termination of negative scope at the end of a clause, as in (10b), or sentence, as in (10c), or confirms the use of negation earlier on in the clause or sentence, as in (10a). In (10d) there is only one not as the first placement of not coincides with the end of the clause.

Example 10

a. Geen virus sal ooit hierdeur dring nie.
no virus will.AUX.MOD ever PN.through penetrate.INF PTCL.NEG
No virus will ever penetrate this.
b. Nellie het nie opgehou studeer nie, want sy wou die hoogste kwalifikasie behaal.
Nellie have.AUX not stop.LINK study.INF PTCL.NEG for.CNJ she want.to.AUX.MOD.PRT the highest qualification obtain.INF
Nellie didn't stop studying for she wanted to obtain the highest qualification.
c. Neels het nie opgehou studeer omdat hy moes nie.
Neels have.AUX not stop.LINK study.INF because.CNJ he must.AUX.MOD.PRT PTCL.NEG
Neels didn't stop studying because he had to.
d. Neels hallusineer nie.
Neels hallusinate.PRS not
Neels isn't hallusinating.
[+]Nie as clause adverbial

The common negative adverb nie not, as used in example (11a), is functionally a clause adverbial rather than a VP adverbial , as indicated by the test in (11b) which singles out clause adverbials.

Example 11

a. Neels bestuur nie vanaand sy motor nie.
Neels drive not this.evening his car PTCL.NEG
Neels isn't driving his car this evening.
b. Dit is nie so dat Neels vanaand sy motor bestuur nie.
it is not so that.COMP Neels this.evening his car drive.PRS PTCL.NEG
It isn't so that Neels is driving his car this evening.

Nie is however positioned closest to the lexical domain of all clause adverbials, as in examples (12a) and (12b):

Example 12

a. Neels sal hopelik tog nie sy motor ná 'n drankie bestuur nie.
Neels will.AUX.MOD hopefully really not his car after a drink.DIM drive.INF PTCL.NEG
Hopefully Neels will really not drive his car after a drink.
b. Dit is hopelik tog nie so dat Neels sy motor ná 'n drankie sal bestuur nie.
it is hopefully really not so that.COMP Neels his car after a drink will.AUX.MOD drive.INF PTCL.NEG
Hopefully, it is really not so that Neels will drive his car after a drink.
[+]Constituent ordering relative to clause adverbials and NEG

In a subordinate clause containing a subject, clause adverbial, not and a transitive verb, the three positions that can be filled by a direct object (DO) are (i) that between the subject and the clause adverbials (as discourse-old information), (ii) the position between a clause adverbial such as dalk perhaps and not (which may refer to either old or new information) and (iii) the position after not (as discourse-new information). The following examples will indicate how these slots may be filled by an NP or vir -PP having a lexical head with human reference, such as die voetganger the pedestrian, as in example (13a), and its pronominal counterpart, as in (13ai), and an NP or vir -PP with an inanimate head such as die slaggat the pothole, as in (13b), and its pronominal counterpart, as in (13bi). Observe that on the one hand vir is optional and perhaps less preferred for the DO with human reference, as in (13a), but on the other hand vir is obligatory for a personal pronoun after NEG, as in (13ai). This usage of DO vir extends to "higher" animates such as pets and all personal names, but is excluded for all inanimate objects, as in (13b).

Example 13

a. dat Neels <(?vir) die voetganger> dalk <(?vir) die voetganger> nie <(?vir) die voetganger> gesien het nie
that.COMP Neels <for the pedestrian> perhaps <for the pedestrian> not <for the pedestrian> see.PST.PTCP have.AUX PTCL.NEG
that Neels perhaps didn't see the pedestrian.
a.' dat Neels <(vir) hom> dalk <(?vir) hom> nie <vir hom/*hom> gesien het nie .
that.COMP Neels <for him> perhaps <for him> not <for him him> see.PST.PTCP have.AUX PTCL.NEG
that Neels perhaps didn't see him.
b. dat Neels <(*vir) die slaggat> dalk <(*vir) die slaggat> nie <(*vir) die slaggat> gesien het nie.
that.COMP Neels <for the pothole> perhaps <for the pothole> not <for the pothole> see.PST.PTCP have.AUX PTCL.NEG
that Neels perhaps didn't see the pothole.
b.' dat Neels <(*vir) dit> dalk <(*vir) dit> nie <(*vir) dit> gesien het nie.
that.COMP Neels <for it> perhaps <for it> not <for it> see.PST.PTCP have.AUX PTCL.NEG
that Neels perhaps didn't see it.

Indirect objects (IOs) may be NPs, or PPs with vir and other prepositions. Note that indirect object PPs with these prepositions (including vir) are not constrained by the factor of humanness, and that IO vir has a variant voor when following its antecedent, as in the compound daarvoor for it, and when stranded in constructions such as die een wat jy dit voor gegee het the one you gave it to. Instead of the compound daarvoor the marked PP vir dit to it is also used. While the IO has human reference in examples (14a) and (14ai), it refers to a plant in (14b) and reference with daarvoor to it is possible (cf. example (14bi)).

Example 14

a. dat Nina <(vir) die meisie> dalk <(vir) die meisie> nie <(vir) die meisie> iets te ete gegee het nie.
that.COMP Nina <for the girl> perhaps <for the girl> not <for the girl> something PTCL.INF eat.INF give.PST.PTCP have.AUX PTCL.NEG
that Nina perhaps didn't give the girl something to eat.
a.' dat Nina <(vir) haar> dalk <vir haar> nie <vir haar> iets te ete gegee het nie.
that.COMP Nina <for her> perhaps <for her> not <for her> something PTCL.INF eat.INF give.PST.PTCP have.AUX PTCL.NEG
that Nina perhaps didn't give her something to eat.
b. dat Nina <(vir) die plant> dalk <(vir) die plant> nie <(vir) die plant> water gegee het nie.
that.COMP Nina <for the plant> perhaps <for the plant> not <for the plant> water give.PST.PTCP have.AUX PTCL.NEG
that Nina perhaps didn't water the plant.
b.' dat Nina <dit/daarvoor/(vir) hom> dalk <dit/daarvoor/vir hom> nie <dit/daarvoor/vir hom> water gegee het nie.
that.COMP Nina <it/PN.for/for him> perhaps <it/PN.for/for him> not <it/PN.for/for him> water give.PST.PTCP have.AUX PTCL.NEG
that Nina perhaps didn't water it.

Personal pronouns, and those serving as reflexive pronouns, such as my, jou, u, hom, haar, ons, julle, hulle, are not positioned after not unless preceded by vir, cf. example (15a), but all reflexive pronouns ending in -self -self may be positioned before or after the clause adverbials and NEG, as in (15b). Note that (vir) hom (for) him in (15a) may but need not be coreferential with the subject.

Example 15

a. dat Neels <(vir) hom> dalk nie <vir hom / *hom> beseer het nie.
that.COMP Neels <for him> perhaps not <for him / him> hurt.PST.PTCP have.AUX PTCL.NEG
that Neels perhaps didn't hurt him/himself.
b. dat Neels <homself> dalk nie <homself> beseer het nie.
that.COMP Neels <himself> perhaps not <himself> hurt.PST.PTCP have.AUX PTCL.NEG
that Neels perhaps didn't hurt himself.

Observe that in the previous examples no constituent intervened between the complementiser and the subject, so that the subject NP was always the first constituent in the MF. That no other NP can precede the subject NP in this position, as in example (16a), is a rule of Afrikaans that does not usually allow exceptions. There is, however, a greater likelihood of a crossover if the constituent is a PP with contrastive accentuation, as the IO in (16b) and the PO in (16c).

Example 16

a. *dat hom Nina beslis nie sal mis nie.
that.COMP him Nina definitely not will.AUX.MOD miss.INF PTCL.NEG
To mean: that Nina definitely won't miss him.
b. dat vir HOM Nina beslis nie probleme sal gee nie.
that.COMP for him Nina definitely not problems will.AUX.MOD give.INF PTCL.NEG
that Nina will definitely not give him (any) problems.
c. dat na HOM Nina beslis nie sal verlang nie.
that.COMP to him Nina definitely not will.AUX.MOD long.INF PTCL.NEG
that Nina will defintely not long for him.

Not all constituent types occurring after not as new information may be positioned before the clause adverbials and not as discourse-old information. Thus movement to the left is possible for a prepositional object (PO), as in example (17a), a temporal adverbial, as in (17b), and a locational adverbial, as in (17c), but excluded for a complementive, as in (17d), and a manner adverb, as in (17e).

Example 17

a. dat Anna <na popmusiek> beslis nie <na popmusiek> luister nie.
that.COMP Anna <to pop.music> definitely not <to pop.music> listen.PRS PTCL.NEG
that Anna will defintely not listen to pop music.
b. dat Anna <vanaand> beslis nie <vanaand> pasta maak nie.
that.COMP Anna <tonight> definitely not <tonight> pasta make.PRS PTCL.NEG
that Anna is definitely not making pasta this evening.
c. dat Anna <tuis> beslis nie <tuis> vonkelwyn drink nie.
that.COMP Anna <at.home> definitely not <at.home> sparkling.wine drink.PRS PTCL.NEG
that Anna definitely doesn't drink sparkling wine at home.
d. dat Anna die hekkie <*geel> beslis nie <geel> verf nie.
that.COMP Anna the gate.DIM <yellow> definitely not <yellow> paint.PRS PTCL.NEG
that Anna is definitely not painting the gate yellow.
e. dat Anna <*stadig> beslis nie <stadig> ry nie.
that.COMP Anna <slowly> definitely not <slowly> drive.PRS PTCL.NEG
that Anna definitely doesn't drive slowly.
[+]Preposed nie and ambiguity

In Afrikaans there is a preference for positioning the not before any other constituent in MF, even at the risk of ambiguity. Thus while in example (18a) die rooi motor the red car is singled out (as discourse-old information) by its placement beforenie, it is no longer singled out (as discourse-new information) when placed afternie, as the new information could be die rooi motor the red car as in (18b), the action of bestuur to drive as in (18c), or in fact the entire clause, depending on the conversational context.

Example 18

a. Neels het die rooi motor nie bestuur nie (maar wel die bloue).
Neels have.AUX the red car not drive.PST.PTCP PTCL.NEG but.CNJ indeed the blue.one
The red car was not driven by Neels, but the blue one was.
b. Neels het nie die ROOI motor bestuur nie (maar wel die bloue).
Neels have.AUX not the red car drive.PST.PTCP PTCL.NEG but.CNJ indeed the blue.one
Neels didn't drive the red car, but the blue one.
c. Neels het nie die rooi motor BESTUUR nie (maar wel daaraan gewerk).
Neels have.AUX not the red car drive.PST.PTCP PTCL.NEG but.CNJ indeed PN.on work.PST.PTCP
Neels didn't drive the red car, but repaired it.

A similar instance of overriding a narrow focus as a result of the preference for a seemingly simpler structure, is (19a) instead of (19b). (Note that in Afrikaans almal all is an autonomous pronoun which can be used as a nominal argument.) Though (19a) could be interpreted as 'No one was satisfied with this decision', the construction is commonly used in the meaning 'Not all were satisfied with the decision'.

Example 19

a. Almal was nie tevrede oor dié besluit nie.
all be.PST not satified over this decision PTCL.NEG
To mean: Not all were satisfied with this decision.
Beeld (By), 2020/2/29
b. Nie almal was tevrede oor dié besluit nie.
not all be.PST satisfied over this decision PTCL.NEG
Not all were satisfied with this decision
[+]Niks

Niks nothing, not … anything, not at all is used in a number of syntactic categories, for example as a substantive, indefinite pronoun and adverbial quantifier. In the following, somewhat colloquial, instance, it can be described as a quantifier preceding the adjective lekker good, pleasant.

Example 20

Kos wat niks lekker smaak nie.
food that.REL not.at.all pleasant taste.PRS PTCL.NEG
Food that doesn't taste good at all.
WAT

If used as a substantive in a PO, as in (21a), the PO can be employed to signal discourse-old information before as clause adverbial, as in (21b). (Cf. the test in (21bi).) Note that in this case no final nie is required. In contrast, in (21c), where it has a quantificational rather than a substantival function, it cannot serve as presupposition and does require a final nie.

Example 21

a. dat hy <met sy bonus> hopelik <met sy bonus> tevrede is.
that.COMP he <with his bonus> hopefully <with his bonus> satisfied is
that he is hopefully satisfied with his bonus.
b. dat hy <?met niks> dalk <met niks> tevrede is nie.
that.COMP he <with nothing> perhaps <with nothing> satisfied is PTCL.NEG
that he is perhaps not satisfied with anything.
b. dat hy <met niks> dalk <met niks> tevrede is.
that.COMP he <with nothing> perhaps <with nothing> satified is
that he is perhaps satisfied with having nothing.
b.' Dit is met niks dat hy dalk tevrede is.
it is with nothing that.COMP he perhaps satisfied is
It is with nothing that he is perhaps satisfied.
References:
  • Conradie, C.J1998Zal dit weekeinde de Victoria Amazonica bloeien?: enkele syntactische verschillen tussen het Nederlands en het Afrikaans.
  • Huddlestone, K2010Negative indefinites in Afrikaans.Thesis
  • Molnárfi, L1997Proposisie of kasusmarkeerder?: oor die status van 'vir' in Afrikaans.Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe3789-106,
  • Ponelis, F.A1979Afrikaanse sintaksis.Van Schaik
  • Ponelis, F.A1979Afrikaanse sintaksis.Van Schaik
  • Van Schoor, J.L1983Die grammatika van standaard-Afrikaans.Lex Patria
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