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Recognising verb clusters

The purpose of this section is to identify the verb complex in an Afrikaans clause and describe its interface with the rest of the clause. In dependent clauses rather than declarative, interrogative or imperative clauses, the entire complex is located towards the end of the clause, with the possible exception of prepositional phrases and a negative particle, e.g.

Example 1

Sy vra of daar nie gepraat sal moet word oor die probleem nie.
she ask if.COMP there not speak.PST.PTCP will.AUX.MOD must.AUX.MOD be.AUX.PASS.PRS about the problem PTCL.NEG
She asks whether the problem wouldn't have to be discussed.

As a preliminary to the description of a verb complex, it is necessary to distinguish between a verb and a non-verb. With few exceptions, all verbs can appear in the verb-second (V2) or verb-first (V1) positions of clauses. The exceptions include overtly marked infinitives and past participles, such as wees to be, to have and gesien seen, though the fact that collocations of more than one lexical verb can appear in V1/2 positions, as in (2), challenges the conventional one-word status of the verb.

Example 2

Môre begin leer hulle Grieks.
tomorrow begin.LINK learn.INF they Greek
Tomorrow they will begin to learn Greek.

The basic order of verbal constituents in the final cluster is assumed to be MODAL VERB(S) + LEXICAL VERB(S) + AUXILIARY VERB(S). As the infinitive particle te precedes the modal verbs as part of the om/deur … te for/by … tocomplementiser, it is a convenient point of reference for the border or interface between the verb complex and non-verbal clause constituents. Elements occurring before te and deriving from the verb complex may be regarded as preposedstr, e.g. the past participle gesien in (3):

Example 3

Om deur almal gesien te kon word, moes hulle betyds wees.
for.COMP by all see.PST.PTCP PTCL.INF can.AUX.MOD.PRT be.AUX.PASS.PRS must.AUX.MOD.PRT they on.time be.INF
In order to be seen by all, they had to be on time.

It is also important to determine the verbal status of past participles, as they may on the one hand be used in a purely verbal way, but may on the other hand have the qualificatory and aspectually terminative characteristics of adjectives. It is also important to note that in their formation, past participles are required to fit a prosodic template and that a collocation of a linking verb and a main verb which fits this template, may be preposed as a whole, e.g.

Example 4

Ek moes hard probeer om (ge)hoor praat te word.
I must.AUX.MOD.PRT hard try.INF for.COMP hear.LINK talk.INF PTCL.INF be.AUX.PASS.PRS
I had to try hard to be heard while speaking.

With certain semi-auxiliaries, a past participle can display verbal as well as adjectival characteristics, e.g.

Example 5

Hy kry nie geslaap nie, maar kry wel die werk gedoen.
he get.PRS not sleep.PST.PTCP PTCL.NEG but.CNJ get.PRS indeed the work done.ADJ
He doesn't get any sleep, but does get the work done.

Collocations of direct linking verbs with the main verb are not generally separated from the auxiliaries het to have and is to be, but are separated from word to become, e.g.

Example 6

a. Ons was bly om die werk te kon laat doen het.
we be.PRT pleased for.COMP the work PTCL.INF can.AUX.MOD.PRT let.LINK do.INF have.AUX
We were pleased to have been able to have the work done.
b. Sy beweer dat die muur reeds laat verf is.
she maintain that.COMP the wall already let.LINK paint.INF be.AUX.PASS.PST
She maintains that the wall has already been contracted to be painted.
c. Om laat maak te kon word, moes dit betaal word.
In order for it to be possible to have (it) made, it had to be paid for.

Some auxiliaries and semi-auxiliaries require the main verb only, rather than the entire lexical cluster, to be preposed:

Example 7

a. Om gespeel te bly word, moet die musiek goed wees.
for.COMP play.PST.PTCP PTCL.INF continue.INF be.AUX.PASS.INF must.AUX.MOD the music good be.INF
In order (for it) to be continued to be played, the music has to be good.
b. ?Om bly speel te word, moet die musiek goed wees.
for.COMP continue.LINK play.INF PTCL.INF be.AUX.PASS.INF must.AUX.MOD the music good be.INF
In order (for it) to be continued to be played, the music has to be good.

Before the hierarchical structure and ordering of verbs in the Afrikaans verbal complex can be discussed, it is first of all necessary to describe its general placement within and interface with the non-verbal section of the clause. This is followed by information about the Hierarchical order of verbs in verb clusters and the linear ordering of the verb cluster. As the Afrikaans verb cluster can be described from more than one angle, it is necessary to delineate briefly some of the points of departure relevant to the present description.

Since the entire verb complex may be collocated clause-finally in dependent clauses, i.e. with no verbs in the verb-second position, the final cluster is taken as a descriptive point of departure. With the verbs in this position, there is a clear border or interface between the verbal and non-verbal elements which constitute the clause. The constraints on moving elements out of the verbal cluster or moving them to a position before the border, will be of special interest in this regard.

It is first of all necessary to distinguish between a verb and a non-verb. Virtually all verbs may occur in verb-second position (V2) in declaratives and WH-interrogatives, or verb-first position (V1) in the case of Yes/No interrogatives or positive imperatives. The set of verbs excluded from V1/2 for formal reasons comprises the bare infinitives to have and wees to be, verbs marked as past participles by means of the prefix ge-, such as gedoen do.PST.PTCP, and separable verbs such as uitsaai out.send (lit. sow) to broadcast in their unseparated form. All of these are nevertheless verbs. From a syntactic point of view, V1/2 is often occupied in Afrikaans by a collocation of lexical verbs, e.g. a linking verb plus main verbin that order, as in (8a), in contrast to stranding the main verb clause-finally, as in (8b). It is a moot point whether or not such acomplex initial cluster is an instance of univerbation, i.e. two verbs merged into one lexical item.

Example 8

a. Sy kollega help saai die program uit.
his colleague help.LINK send.INF the programme out
His colleague helps to broadcast the programme.
b. Sy kollega help die program uitsaai.
his colleague help.LINK the prograame out.send.INF
His colleague helps to broadcast the programme.

The verbs occurring in V1/2 do, however, only constitute part of the full verb complex of a declarative or interrogative clause, while the entire set of verbs which constitute the verb complex is usually collocated in final position (barring prepositional phrases and a negative particle) in dependent clauses. The clause-final ordering will therefore be taken as the basis of description of the verb complex. The clause-final order in an Afrikaans verb complex will be assumed to be MODAL VERB(S) + LEXICAL VERB(S) + AUXILIARY VERB(S). The interface between the verbal and non-verbal section of the clauses is therefore situated before the modal verbs, and as this is also the position of the infinitival particle te to as part of the coordinator set om … te (for) to or deur … te by as in (9), te may be regarded as a border indicator between the non-verbal and verbal sections of the clause, cf.

Example 9

om die program uitgesaai te kan kry
for.COMP the programme out.send.PST.PTCP PTCL.INF can.AUX.MOD get.INF
in order to be able to get the programme broadcasted

Past participles, and even clusters of lexical verbs, may move to a position before the final cluster, as in (9). As the function of past participles may range from purely verbal to terminative or qualificatory, in which case they are indistinguishable from adjectivies, we need to take a closer look at the function and formation of past particples.

Past participle formation may be viewed as a prosodically driven process according to which the prefix ge- is obligatorily affixed to a verbal base if it does not comprise a sequence of two syllables with increasing stress. Ge- is therefore obligatorily affixed in gespéél played and geántwòòrd answered, while being optional in contrast to instances such as (ge)pròbéér tried and (ge)vèránder changed, where the syllable with main stress is preceded by a syllable of weaker stress. In Afrikaans, past participle formation the optionality of ge- also extends to a collocation of linking verb plus main verb, in that order, such as (ge-)bly spéél het kept on playing. Ge- is therefore optional for the first verb and excluded for the second. However, when only the main verb is selected as a past participle, as in gespeel (te) bly word (be) played continuously, the prosodic constraint only applies to the main verb, so that ge- is obligatory with the main verb speel and omitted in the case of bly. Compounds consisting of a verbal particle and verb stem, such as uitsaai uit 'out' + saai 'send' broadcast, lit. sow out, with uitgesaai as part participle, would seem to contradict the prosodic constraint as the first syllable, uit, has higher stress than saai, so that *ge-uitsaai would be expected as past participle. Here ge- is, however, inserted before the verbal part of the compound. This implies that from a morphological point of view, the past participle is gesaai, with the non-verbal particle uit remaining preposed to the verb cluster. If the meaning of the compound is to be 'broadcast', which cannot be inferred from a combination of the meanings of particle and stem, the verb and its past participle have to be identified as a unit. The implication is therefore that the morphological and semantic past participle overlap but are not formally identical. For example, in (10a) the verbal particle toe closed in toesluit to close by locking is separated from the verb stem through clause-final stranding, and in (10b) through being preposed as non-verb.

Example 10

a. Sy sluit die deure toe.
she lock.PRS the doors closed.ADJ
She locks the doors.
b. Dit was wys om die deure toe te gesluit het.
it was wise for.COMP the doors closed.ADJ PTCL.INF lock.PST.PTCP have.AUX
It was wise to have locked the doors.

The distinction between verb and non-verb is also relevant in the case of past participles. The past participles of aspectually terminative verbs may function as adjectives when their terminativity is activated and they refer to a state or quality rather than an action. Thus, gemaak made in (11a), which refers to an action in the past, is durative and not exchangeable with an adjective, while gemaak in (11b) refers to a fixed state of affairs, is terminative and is exchangeable with an adjective.

Example 11

a. omdat die koffie netnou al gemaak/*klaar is.
since.CNJ the coffee a.while.ago already make.PST.PTCP/ready.ADJ be.AUX.PASS.PST
since the coffee has been made a while ago
b. omdat die koffie nou gemaak/klaar is.
since.CNJ the coffee now made.ADJ/ready.ADJ is
since the coffee is ready now

With a semi-auxiliary such as kry to get, the past participle gemaak in (12a) is terminative and therefore in reality an adjective, while geslaap slept in (12b) refers to the process of sleeping but may also have a terminative interpretation, so that it is not unequivocally adjectival.

Example 12

a. Om die koffie gemaak te kry, was maklik.
for.COMP the coffee made.ADJ PTCL.INF get.INF was easy.ADJ
To get the coffee made, was easy
b. Om onder die geraas geslaap te kry, was 'n kuns.
for.COMP under the noise sleep.PST.PTCP PTCL.INF get.INF was an art
To have managed to get some sleep with the noise going on was a challenge.
[+]Passive constructions with linking verbs

Just as in the case of single verbs, the passivisation of verb clusters consisting of a linking verb and main verb involves the forming of a past participle.

As no distinction is made between a past and passive participle, the term past participle will be used here for both.

Note, first of all, that there are clauses with passive characteristics which do not employ past participles, e.g. (13ai) as against (13a). When past tense or passive auxiliaries are added, as in (13b), the linking verb and main verb form a prosodical group, so that the affixation of ge- is optional.

Example 13

a. Hy laat Jan die skrifte nasien.
he let.LINK Jan the papers mark.INF
He lets Jan mark the papers.
a.' Hy laat die skrifte deur Jan nasien.
he let.LINK the papers by Jan mark.INF
He has the papers marked by Jan.
b. Ek weet dat hy die skrifte (ge-)laat nasien het.
I know that.COMP he the papers let.LINK mark.INF have.AUX
I know that he had the papers marked.
b.' Ek weet dat die skrifte deur hom (ge-)laat nasien word.
I know that.COMP the papers by him let.LINK mark.INF be.AUX.PASS.PRS
I know that he is having the papers marked.
b.'' Ek weet dat die skrifte deur hom (ge-)laat nasien is.
I know that.COMP the papers by him let.LINK mark.INF be.AUX.PASS.PST
I know that he had the papers marked.

The following examples also illustrate the forming of word to become- and is to be-passives with sequences of direct linking verb plus main verb:

Example 14

a. koeke wat net so laat staan en weggegooi word
cakes that.REL just so let.LINK stand.INF and away.throw.PST.PTCP be.AUX.PASS.PRS
cakes that are just abondoned and thrown away
b. gemsbokfilet wat eers 'n week lank in 'n spesiale marinade laat lê is
gemsbok.fillet that.REL first a week long in a special marinade let.LINK lie.INF be.AUX.PASS.PST
gemsbok fillet which was first left to soak in a special marinade for a week
c. ennie kerkraad word gelaat roep
and.the church.council be.AUX.PASS.PRS let.LINK call.in.INF
and the church council is summoned
d. meganismes waardeur opwaartse watervervoer in bome voorheen probeer verklaar is
mechanisms REL.through upward water.transport in trees previously try.LINK explain.INF be.AUX.PASS.PST
mechanisms by means of which the upward transport of water in trees were previously tried to be explained
TK, adapted
e. Wat moet ten alle koste probeer voorkom word …?
what must.AUX.MOD at all costs try.LINK prevent.INF be.AUX.PASS.INF
What should one try to prevent at all costs?
f. dat hy [voertuig] net aanhou vervaardig word
that.COMP he [vehicle] simply continue.LINK produce.INF be.AUX.PASS.PRS
that it simply continues to be produced
g. Maar Juda sal ophou bewoon word en Jerusalem vir altyd.
but.CNJ Juda will.AUX.MOD stop.LINK inhabit.INF be.AUX.PASS.INF and Jerusalem for ever
But Juda will stop being inhabited and Jerusalem for ever
h. maar dan moet daar opgehou diskrimineer word teen die Afrikaner
but.CNJ then must.AUX.MOD there stop.PST.PTCP discriminate.INF be.AUX.PASS.INF against the Afrikaner
but then (they) should stop discriminating against the Afrikaner
i. Wanneer weer in Mei 2008 begin onderhandel word
when.CNJ again in May 2008 begin.LINK negotiate.INF be.AUX.PASS.PRS
When negotiations will begin again in May 2008
j. dat die pas reeds voor dit begin maak is as Bain's Pass bekend gestaan het
that.COMP the pass already before it begin.LINK construct.INF be.AUX.PASS.PST as Bain's Pass known.ADJ .stand.PST.PTCP have.AUX
that the pass, even before it was begun to be constructed, was known as Bain's Pass
k. Sy wil nie alleen wees wanneer sy kom haal word nie.
she want.to.AUX.MOD not alone be.INF when.CNJ she come.LINK fetch.INF be.AUX.PASS.PRS PTCL.NEG
She doesn't want to be alone when she is fetched.

In some cases only the main verb undergoes participle formation, e.g. (15a), where ge- cannot be affixed to bly. In general, participle formation is restricted to the main verb with bly to continue, probeer to try,laat to let and begin to begin as linking verbs and word to become as auxiliary. as in (15a) to (15d):

Example 15

a. Dis soos 'n wond waarvan die rowe bly afgekrap  word.
it=is like a wound REL.of the scabs continue.LINK off.scratch.PST.PTCP be.AUX.PASS.PRS
It's like a wound of which the scabs are being scratched off continually.
b. Die meisies in rooi het opgemerk probeer word.
the girls in red have.AUX notice.PST.PTCP try.LINK be.AUX.PASS.INF
The girls in red tried to be noticed.
c. Die gebou moes herbou laat word.
the building must.AUX.MOD.PRT rebuild.PST.PTCP let.LINK be.AUX.PASS.INF
The building had to be rebuilt.
d. Hy is as held beskou begin word.
he be.AUX.PASS.PST as hero look.upon.PST.PTCP begin.LINK be.AUX.PASS.INF
He was beginning to be looked upon as a hero.

In (16a) and (16b) ge- is optional as the prosodical requirement for past participle formation is met by the linking verb plus main verb cluster. However, in (16ai) and (16bi) only the main verb becomes a past participle, since it precedes the linking verb and does not form a prosodical unit with it. The prefix ge- is obligatorily affixed in (16ai) as goedpraat to gloss over (with weakening stress contour) on its own does not meet the prosodical requirement, while bereik to achieve in (16bi) meets the requirement due to the unstressed prefix be-.

Example 16

a. In sulke gevalle moet sover as moontlik probeer voorkom word dat...
in such cases must.AUX.MOD as.far as possible try.LINK prevent.INF be.AUX.PASS.INF that.COMP
In such cases one should try as far as possible to prevent that ...
a.' Dit was 'n flater … wat nou goedgepraat probeer word
it was a blunder which.REL now good.talk.PST.PTCP try.INF. be.AUX.PASS.PRS
It was a blunder which (they) are trying to gloss over now.
b. waarmee die … doelstellings … probeer bereik word
REL.with the aims try.LINK attain.INF be.AUX.PASS.PRS
through which it is tried to attain the aims
b.' Presies wat met hierdie betekenis gedoen word of bereik probeer word.
precisely what.REL with this meaning do.PST.PTCP be.AUX.PASS.PRS or achieve.PST.PTCP try.LINK be.AUX.PASS.PRS
Precisely what one does with this meaning or tries to do with it.

Appending ge- to indirect linking verbs is also optional, cf.

Example 17

a. wat ek lankal vooraf sit en uitdink het.
that.REL I long.ago previously sit.LINK and out.think.INF have.AUX
what I had been contemplating for some time previously.
b. die tier wat deur einste homself lewend gestaan en hou is
the tiger that.REL by the.very himself alive stand.PST.PTCP and keep.INF be.AUX.PASS.PST
the tiger that was kept alive by him himself

The verb skyn to seem follows the syntax of Afrikaans modals such as behoort te ought to and hoef nie te need not rather than a linking verb. Only the main verb is governed by an auxiliary, and as a past participle it precedes the particle te to. In both (18a) and (18b) the main verb precedes te and meets the prosodical requirement for past participles.

Example 18

a. waarvan godsdiens … nie as 'n faktor in onderwysstelsels erken skyn te word nie
REL.of religion not as a factor in education.systems acknowledge.PST.PTCP seem PTCL.INT be.AUX.PASS.INF PTCL.NEG
of which religion does not seem to be acknowledged as a factor in education systems
b. Die verset teen die Steunfonds skyn beliggaam te gewees het in die breiklub
the opposition against the support.fund seem embody.PST.PTCP PTCL.INF be.PST.PTCP have.AUX in the knit.club
The opposition against the Support Fund seems to have beeen embodied in the knitting club.
[+]Movement across the verb / non-verb interface

An auxiliary may be described as a verb governing a past participle that is still used in the same verbal sense as the verbal base. However, when a past participle is used in its terminative aspect to refer to a quality or state of affairs, its function has changed to that of a departicipial adjective, i.e. the predicate of a copula. Some verbs may function either as auxiliary or as copula. The word word to become, used in the forming of passives, is a typical auxiliary. When a passive is formed, the past participle is preposed, as in om gesien te word to be seen. The word wees to be, and, outside of the om … te for.COMP to context, is be.PRS, may also function as auxiliaries, cf. om gesien te wees deur die mense to be seen by people and gister gesien is was/were seen yesterday. The word Kry to get and to have may both be copulas, cf. om iets gedoen/klaar te kry/hê to get/have something done/finished. Past participles (cf. (19a)) as well as departicipial adjectives (cf. (19b)) are preposed in this way. The only exception is the auxiliary to have (cf. (19c )), which does not allow preposing.

Example 19

a. om gedoen te word
to be done
b. om iets gedoen/klaar te kry/hê, etc.
for.COMP something done.ADJ/finished.ADJ PTCL.INF get.INF/have.INF
to get/have something done/finished
c. om iets te gedoen het
for.COMP something PTCL.INF do.PST.PTCP have.AUX
to have done something
[+]Movement with direct linking verbs

Direct linking verbs are verbs such as causative laat to let, perceptual sien to see, hoor to hear and voel to feel, inchoative begin to begin and probeer to try, durative aanhou to keep on and bly to keep on, terminative ophou to stop, and kom to come, which expresses movement towards the speaker. There are two possibilities: the collocation of linking and main verb with the auxiliaries het, as in (20a), and is, as in (20b), functions as a unit and is not preposed, or only the main verb is preposed, as in (20c).

Example 20

a. om iets te hoor lawaai het
for.COMP something PTCL.INF hear.LINK make.a.noise.INF have.AUX
to have heard something making a noise
b. dat woonstelle begin oprig is
that.COMP flats begin.LINK erect.INF be.AUX.PASS.PST
that flats were begun to be erected
c. om gesing te probeer/bly/laat word
to try to be sung / to keep being sung / to let sing
[+]Movement with indirect linking verbs

In Afrikaans, indirect linking verbs are restricted to the small set of sit to sit, to lie, staan to stand and loop to walk, with en and as binding particle and often permeated by non-verbal elements, e.g.

Example 21

In die deur staan ons en 'n laaste geselsie inkry.
in the door stand.LINK we and a last chat.DIM in.get.INF
We stand in the doorway taking the opportunity to have a last chat.
R. Warrington: Oktober, 2012, 104, adapted

With auxiliaries, the following are possible:

Example 22

a. Om so te kon gestaan en gesels het, was lekker.
for.COMP so PTCL.INF can.AUX.MOD.PRT stand.LINK and chat.INF have.AUX was nice
It was nice to have been able to chat like that.
b. Dit is bekend dat daar vroeër gelê en eet is.
it is known that.COMP there earlier lie.LINK and eat.INF be.AUX.PASS.PST
It is known that people dined lying down in days gone by.
c. Om <beskinder> te staan en <beskinder>word, was nie my doel nie.
for.COMP <slander.PST.PTCP> PTCL.INF stand.LINK and <slander.PST.PTCP > be.AUX.PASS.INF was not my purpose PTCL.NEG
To be slandered like that all the time, was not what I had in mind.

Note that if the past participle beskinder slandered is moved to a position before the infinitival particle te, the binding particle en remains stranded after the linking verb.

Collocations with indirect linking verbs are either preposed, when word is auxiliary, as in (23a), or remain in the complex with het as auxiliary, as in (23b).

Example 23

a. Ek gaan nie soontoe om gestaan en beledig te word nie.
I go.PRS not to.there for.COMP stand.LINK and insult.INF PTCL.INF be.AUX.PASS.INF PTCL.NEG
I don't go there to be insulted all the time.
b. Dit was net 'n ekskuus om my te gestaan en beledig het.
it was only an excuse for.COMP me PTCL.INF stand.LINK and insult.INF have.AUX
It was only an excuse to keep on insulting me.

In sum, the position of the interface between the non-verbal and verbal parts of a dependent clause depends on the categorisation of a preposed past participle in particular, viz. whether it has an adjectival or purely verbal role.

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