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Adverbial use of APs

APs as modifiers of various syntactic categories

Many adverbial modifiers cannot be clearly assigned to a syntactic category. However, adjective phrases (APs) can be used as adverbial modifiers of a number of other categories.

  1. APs can modify verb phrases (VPs) and clauses:
    Hy hardloop vinnig huis toe.
    he run fast house to
    He is running home fast.
  2. APs can modify APs:
    verbasend goed
    amazing good
    amazingly good
  3. APs can modify adpositional phrases (PPs):
    diep onder die grond
    deep under the ground
  4. APs can modify noun phrases (NPs):
    Sipho is 'n ware held.
    Sipho be.PRS a true hero
    Sipho is truly a hero

Each of these categories can be sub-categorised into types of adverbial modifications, and it will be shown how the various adverbial functions can be fulfilled by adjectives and adverbs (as a widely encompassing syntactic category).


Some distinctive characteristics of adverbs

Most adverbs are not marked by special morphology, although some may be, such as certain adverbs of manner. Many adverbs clearly derive from adjectives, but, then again, many others seem nominal rather than adjectival. While adjectives display certain distinctive morphological characteristics, such as the potential to form degrees of comparison, adverbs are not so easily identifiable, and display few morphological characteristics that are not shared by adjectives. Functionally, both categories share the ability to modify VPs, thus forming adverbial phrases, but certain adverbs do display some distinctive features, such as:

  • Adverbialising suffixes:

    Various suffixes can be categorised as adverbialisers, such as -tjies, -ies, -weg, -mate, -langs, -gewys. Examples of each follow:

    Ons moes maar net mooi·tjies gaan tou staan.
    we must.AUX.MOD.PRT only beautiful·ADVZ go rope stand
    We simply had to go and stand in the line.
    Dit het sagg·ies begin reën.
    it have.AUX soft·ADVZ start rain
    It started to rain softly.
    Sy het bot·weg geweier.
    she have.AUX blunt.way·ADVZ refused
    She bluntly refused.
    Hy het hom uiter·mate vererg.
    he have.AUX himself exceeding.measure·ADVZ
    He got extremely angry
    Alles word net bo·langs aangeraak.
    everything be.AUX.PASS.PRS just above·along·ADVZ on.touch.PASS
    Everything is only touched on superficially.
    Die mense het drups·gewys opgedaag.
    the people have.AUX drop·way·ADVZ arrived
    The people arrived in dribs and drabs.
  • Reduplication:

    Reduplication of adjectives, adverbs, verbs and nouns often serve to modify verb phrases:

    Hy hou my so skelm-skelm dop.
    he keep me so sly-sly watch
    He is slyly watching me.
    Kom luister gou-gou hier!
    come listen quick-quick here
    Come and listen here quickly!
    Sy het die 400 meter lag-lag gewen.
    she have.AUX the 400 meter laugh-laugh won
    She easily won the 400 meters.
    Reën het kol-kol oor die binneland voorgekom.
    rain have.AUX patch-patch over the interior occurred
    Rain occurred in patches across the interior.

Modification of VP and clauses

APs can modify VPs and clauses. Clause adverbs modify the clause as a whole, whereas VP adverbs just modify the VP. Some adverbs are ambiguous between being a VP adverb and being a clause adverb, such as frequency adverbs. The following sentence contains a clause adverb and a VP-adverb:

Vreemd genoeg lewer Gustav nooit kommentaar nie.
strangely enough offers Gustav never comment PTCL.NEG
Strangely enough, Gustav never offers any comments.

The first adverb modifies the clause as a whole (vreemd genoeg can be paraphrased as it is strange that), whereas the second adverb (nooit never) modifies only the VP, the act of commenting.

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