• Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Afrikaans
Show full table of contents
Emphatic constructions

A number of constructions in Afrikaans with some emphatic or non-propositional meaning are not specifically integrated with the clause, but occur in the left or right edges of clauses, mostly as interjections, which are outside the regular syntactic patterns. These constructions include pragmatic markers and left and right dislocation. Their position outside the regular clause structure implies that they do not affect the word order of the clause-initial or verb-final and post-verbal fields. They are therefore not integrated into the structure, but attached loosely. These constructions are nevertheless important features of especially spoken language interaction, without which speakers of Afrikaans will find the managing of interpersonal relations in Afrikaans stiffled.

A number of cleft constructions are also attested in Afrikaans, and serve emphatic purposes, mainly by highlighting a particular theme. These constructions are syntactically more regular than left and right dislocation and pragmatic markers. Cleft constructions are attested in both written and spoken Afrikaans, and serve interpersonal functions at the same time as they serve an emphatic function in the textual domain.

Pragmatic markers manage the interaction between speakers and listeners in spoken-language conversation, and include features like response forms, that is affirmation and negation (in example (1a)), ways of addressing the speaker to catch their attention and other ways of managing the interaction between speaker and hearer (in example (1b)), or exchanging stance towards the propositions, including the use of exclamations or swearing (in example (1c)).

Example 1

a. S1: Was jy altyd blind gewees? S2: Nee, ek is met normale gesig gebore en toe ek 'n jaar en 'n half oud was, het ek masels gekry met komplikasies.
S1: Have you always been blind? S2: No, I was born with normal eyesight and when I was one and a half years old, I contracted measels with complications.
[Response form]
b. Maar nou wil ek jou vra, Anton, ek weet jy is bekend daarvoor dat jy ander blindes help, omdat jy self die ding so deurgewerk het.
But now I want to ask you, Anton, I know that you are well-known to help other blind people, because you yourself had to make peace with this thing.
[Form of address]
c. Goeie bliksem, jy het my actually verstaan en terug geantwoord!
Good grief, you actually understood me and replied!

Left and right dislocation extract an element from the clause, and positions it before the beginning (left dislocation) or after the end (right dislocation) of the clause, as exemplified by (2). In the case of left dislocation in particular, it often happens that a pro-form is used in the clause from which the dislocated element has been extracted, as marker of its syntactic role and to ensure regular word order for the clause. This is possible, but less widespread, with right dislocation too.

Example 2

a. Dominees E.G. Malherbe, ons het hom altyd die paap genoem.
Reverend E.G. Malherbe, we always called him the pope.
[Left dislocation]
b. Ons het dit nooit teen hom gehou nie, want ons het besef die man het gaan kla, die onderwyser.
We never held it against him, because we realised the man went to complain, the teacher.
[Right dislocation]

Cleft constructions also extract an element from the clause, but instead of only dislocating it to the left or right of the clause, it presents the extracted element in a presentational clause, and formulates the remainder of the proposition as a subordinate clause, integrated with the presentational clause. Afrikaans has two main cleft constructions, the dit-cleft and the wh-cleft, which are illustrated in example (3).

Example 3

a. Dit is daai liedjie wat hulle so baie op Radio Pretoria speel.
It is that song that they play on Radio Pretoria so often.
b. Hoe mens dit kan regkry, weet nugter.
How one can manage this, nobody knows.

The emphatic and interactive constructions of Afrikaans are presented in more detail in the following sections:

    This is a beta version.