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Excessive degree te too

The te too-construction relates a certain high degree of a property of an argument to a proposition that will become false if that certain degree is reached. Consider the following:

Hulle is te bang om te praat.
they be.PRS too frightened for.COMP PTCL.INF speak.INF
They are too frightened to speak.

The truth of the sentence as a whole entails that the action described in the infinitival clause did not take place. Thus, the sentence describes a state of affairs that is only false if a certain high degree of fear (the high degree limit) of a person does not obtain. The proposition expressed by the infinitival clause is false for all degrees equal to or higher than the high degree limit, and the proposition is true for all degrees lower than the high degree limit. The sentence as a whole entails that the person’s fear exceeds the high degree limit by a certain degree quantity. This degree quantity can be specified by a quantified measure phrase, as in the following three examples:

Hy was 'n bietjie (te) bang.
he be.PRT a little (too) frightened
He was a little too frightened.
Hy was heeltemal te bang.
he be.PRT totally too afraid
He was far too frightened.
Die kamera was net-net te laat om die oomblik vas te lê.
the camera be.PRT just-just too late for.COMP the moment down PTCL.INF tie.INF
The camera was only just too late to capture the moment.

With infinitival clause – complete

The adjective which combines with the excessive degree 'te'-construction can be followed by a complete infinitival clause, namely without any object gap, as in this sentence:

Ek is te uitasem om enigiets te sê.
I be.PRS too out.of.breath for.COMP anything PTCL.INF say.INF
I am too out of breath to say anything.

The high degree limit of the adjective in this construction is that degree at which, or above which, the proposition described in the non-finite clause becomes false, whereas in the so so-construction the proposition becomes true at or above the high degree limit. In the example below, the argument of which the adjective is predicated is identical to the subject of the infinitival clause:

Ek is te benoud om die lig aan te skakel.
I be.PRS too anxious for.COMP the light on PTCL.INF switch.INF
I am too anxious to switch on the light.

The infinitival clause can be replaced with a PP built on the postposition -voor for, whereas this is not possible with so so:

Sy is te bang daarvoor.
she be.PRS too afraid there.for
She is too afraid for that.

With infinitival clause – with complementiser and object gap

The adjective is followed by an infinitival clause with an object gap. This means that the argument of which the adjective is predicated can also be co-referential with a gap in the infinitival clause that occurs in the position of direct object or prepositional complement. An example of a sentence in which the gap occurs in the position of a direct object:

Sy swaar Duitse aksent was te moeilik om te verstaan.
his heavy German accent be.PRT too difficult for.COMP PTCL.INF understand.INF
His heavy German accent was too difficult to understand.

An example of where the gap occurs in the position of a postpositional complement:

Skat jou bekwaamheid te min om mee te spog, en jou karakter te hoog om mee te speel .
assess your ability too little for.COMP with PTCL.INF boast.INF, and your character too high for.COMP with to play
Assess your ability as too little to boast with, and your character as too high to play with.

The degree phrase as a whole may be preposed:

Te klein om skade aan te rig, is hy beslis nie.
too small for.COMP damage about PTCL.INF bring.INF, be.PRS he certainly not
He is certainly not too small to bring about damage.

With finite clause – evaluator argument

The te too construction can license a human argument designating the person who determines the high degree limit by way of subjective evaluation. We will refer to this argument as the evaluator, who tends to be a first person (but may also be a second or third person), and is marked by a PP containing the preposition vir for. To examples of this construction follow:

Jy is te slim vir my.
you be.PRS too clever for me
You are too clever for me.
Dit is normaalweg te duur vir kommersiële skaaptelers.
it be.PRS normally too expensive for commercial sheep.breeders
This is normally too expensive for commercial sheep-breeders.

The evaluator argument may also be preposed through topicalisation, as in:

Vir haar is hy te aantreklik.
for her be.PRS he too attractive
For her, he is too handsome.

An evaluator argument is also compatible with an infinitival clause containing an object gap. In that case, the evaluator is co-referential with the subject of the infinitival and the adjective’s person argument is co-referential with the object gap:

Sy was, wat hom betref, te waardig om te berispe of om mee te spot.
she be.PRT, that.REL him concerns, too dignified for.COMP PTCL.INF reprimand.INF or for.COMP with PTCL.INF joke.INF
She was, as far he is concerned, too dignified to reprimand or to make fun of.

With finite clause – measure phrase

The degree phrase can be modified by means of a quantified measure phrase, which indicates how much the degree exceeds the high degree limit.

Hy is drie jaar te oud.
he be.PRS three year too old
He is three years too old.

An interrogative quantifies may substitute the degree phrase, as in

Hoeveel jaar is hy te oud?
how.many year be.PRS he too old
How many years is he too old?

The measure phrase may contain determiners of approximation, such as veels much, ver far, glad altogether, heeltemal completely and 'n bietjie a little:

Hy is veels te oud vir my.
he be.PRS much too old for me
He is much too old for me.
Hy is ver te oud vir my.
he be.PRS far too old for me
He is far too old for me.
Hierdie saal is glad te klein vir die funksie.
this hall be.PRS altogether too smaal for the function
This hall is altogether too small for the function.
Ek was nie heeltemal eerlik nie.
I be.PRT not completely honest PTCL.NEG
I was not completely honest.
Die stoel is 'n bietjie te hoog vir haar.
The chair be.PRS a little too high for her.
The chair is a bit too high for her.
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