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Finite declarative complement clauses: syntactic distribution
quickinfo

Finite declarative verb complement clauses in Afrikaans are used in a number of syntactic positions within a matrix clause (usually, but not necessarily, an independent clause). By far the most frequent use is the object complement clause, where the form of the complement clause displays the range of variation discussed in Finite declarative complement clauses: Construction forms, i.e. dat+[SXV], Ø+[SVX] and the non-standard variant dat+[SVX], as exemplified by (1), (2) and (3).

1
Die ontwikkelaar sê dat die eenhede aansienlik minder kos.
[(MC) die ontwikkelaar sê [(CC) [(COMP) dat] [(SUB) die eenhede] [(ADV) aansienlik minder] [(V2) kos]]]
the developer say.PRS that.COMP the units considerable less cost.PRS
The developer says that the units cost considerably less.
TK, adapted
2
Die ontwikkelaar sê die eenhede kos aansienlik minder.
[(MC) die ontwikkelaar sê [(CC) [(SUB) die eenhede] [(V2) kos] [(ADV) aansienlik minder]]]
the developer say.PRS the units cost.PRS considerable less
The developer says the units cost considerably less.
TK, adapted
3
Ek dink dat dit is vir my rêrig cool.
[(MC) ek dink [(CC) [(COMP) dat] [(SUB) dit] [(V2) is] [(PP) vir my] [(ADJ) rêrig cool]]]
I think.PRS that.COMP it be.PRS for me really cool
I think that to me it is really cool.
PCSA, adapted

The complement clause usually follows the verb of the matrix clause when it is used as object clause, but it is possible for the object clause to be used sentence-initially, as in (4). The matrix clause can also be used as an insert in the complement clause, usually immediately following the first constituent of the complement clause (e.g. subject or topicalised element), as exemplified in (5). If the complement clause itself consists of more than one clause, then the matrix clause is often inserted between the two clauses, as in (6).

4
Dit verander hulle ook op ander maniere, het ek die afgelope naweek besluit.
[(MC) [(CC) dit verander hulle ook op ander maniere] [(V2) het] [(SUB) ek] die afgelope naweek [(VF) besluit]]]
it change.PRS them also on other ways have.AUX I the past weekend decide.PST
It also changes them in other ways I decided during the past weekend.
TK
5
Plooie, glo sy, pas slegs by mans.
[(CC) plooie [(MC) glo sy] pas slegs by mans]
wrinkles believe.prs she suit.prs only to men
Wrinkles, she believes, only suit men.
TK, adapted
6
Daar was 'n dokument, onthou Walters, wat alles opgesom het.
[(CC) daar was 'n dokument [(MC) onthou Walters] wat alles opgesom het]
there be.PRT a document recall.prs Walters which everything up.sum.PST have.AUX
There was a document, Walters recalls, which summed up everything.
TK

The three positional variants of the declarative complement clause used in the syntactic role of object within the main clause are represented visually in Figure 1. The syntactic structure of the complement clause itself is not represented, but generalised to the variables XY.

Figure 1. Positional variants: Declarative complement claused used as object of matrix clause

Figure 1
[click image to enlarge]

When used as subject clause, the complement clause either occurs in sentence-initial position, as in (7), or, more frequently, the initial position of the matrix clause is occupied by the expletive or anticipatory pronoundit it with the complement clause following the verb and the syntactic constituent that functions as subject complement phrase, as in (8) and (9).

7
Dat iemand van Jeffreys se agtergrond nou aan die stuur van daardie koerant staan, moet iets sê oor die mate waartoe ons samelewing aan die verander is.
[(MC) [(CC) Dat iemand van Jeffreys se agtergrond nou aan die stuur van daardie koerant staan] [(V2) moet] iets [(VF) sê] oor die mate waartoe ons samelewing aan die verander is]
that.COMP somebody from Jeffreys PTCL.GEN background now at the helm of that newspaper stand.PRS must.AUX.MOD something say.INF over the measure which.to our society on the change be.PRS
That somebody with Jeffreys's background is now in control of that paper must say something about the degree to which our society is changing.
TK, adapted
8
Dit is geskiedenis dat wisselstroom wel hierdie oorloggie gewen het.
[MC dit is geskiedenis [(CC) dat wisselstroom wel hierdie oorloggie gewen het]]
it be.PRS history that.COMP alternating.current indeed this war.DIM win.PST have.AUX
It is history that alternating current won this little battle.
TK
9
Dit is ironies dat die Regering in die vroeë 1920's geweier het om tariewe op staal te hef.
[(MC) dit is ironies [(CC) dat die Regering in die vroeë 1920's geweier het om tariewe op staal te hef]]
it be.PRS ironic that.COMP the government in the early 1920s refuse.PST have.AUX for.COMP rates on steel PTCL.INF levy.INF
It is ironic that in the early 1920s the government refused to levy rates on steel.
TK, adapted

The two major variants of the declarative subject complement clause are represented visually in Figure 2. The verb wees to be varies between present tense, past tense, or various combinations with auxiliary verbs, although the form with the present tense is am/is/are is by far the most frequent variant. The predicate (or complementive) is abbreviated to PRED and COMPLM respectively.

Figure 2. Positional variants: Declarative complement clause used as subject of matrix clause

Figure 2
[click image to enlarge]

Complement clauses can be used as complementive clauses with copular verbs, where the subject of the main clause is typically an abstract noun phrase in combination with the most frequent copular verb wees to be, as in (10) or subject dit it in combination with another copular verb, e.g. blyk to seem/appear, as in (11).

10
Die huidige regering se standpunt is dat die individu moet besluit oor sy deelname.
[(MC) [(SUB) die huidige regering se standpunt] [(V2) is] [(COMPLM) dat die individu moet besluit oor sy deelname]]
the present government PTCL.GEN viewpoint be.PRS that.COMP the individual must.AUX.MOD decide.INF over his participation
The present government's view is that the individual must decide about his own participation.
TK, adapted
11
Dit blyk dat veral seuns onder 13 aan eetstoornisse kan ly.
[(MC) [(SUB) dit] [(Vprs) blyk] [(COMPLM) dat veral seuns onder 13 aan eetstoornisse kan ly]]
it appear.PRS that.COMP especially boys under 13 from eating.disorders can.AUX.MOD suffer.INF
It appears that especially boys under 13 can suffer from eating disorders.
TK

The two major variants of the declarative predicate complement clause are represented visually in Figure 3. As is the case with subject clauses, the verb wees to be varies between present tense, past tense, or various combinations with auxiliary verbs.

Figure 3. Positional variants: Declarative complement clause used as predicate of matrix clause

Figure 3
[click image to enlarge]

Apart from these various types of verb complements, finite declarative complement clauses also function as complements to prepositions, adjectives and nouns, as illustrated by (12), (13) and (14), respectively.

12
En toe, sonder dat haar oë die beweging kan volg, spring die werfbobbejaan tot bo-op die houtkas.
En toe [(PP) [(PREP) sonder] [(CC) dat haar oë die beweging kan volg]], [MC [(V2) spring] [(SUB) die werfbobbejaan] [(ADV) tot bo-op die houtkas]]
and then without that.COMP her eyes the movement can.AUX.MOD follow.INF jump.PRS the yard.baboon to above-on the wood.cupboard
And then, without her eyes being able to follow the movement, the tame baboon jumped on top of the wooden cupboard.
TK, adapted
13
En ons is baie bly dat jy nog steeds bereid is om as redaksielid aan te bly.
en ons is [(AP) baie bly [(CC) dat jy nog steeds bereid is om as redaksielid aan te bly]]
and we be.PRS very happy that.COMP you more still willing be.PRS for.COMP as editorial.member on PTCL.INF stay.INF
And we are very happy that you are still willing to stay on the editorial staff.
TK
14
...die feit dat jy van hulle afwyk, doen aan hulle algemene geldigheid geen afbreuk nie.
[(NP) die feit [(CC) dat jy van hulle afwyk]] doen aan hulle algemene geldigheid geen afbreuk nie
the fact that.COMP you from them deviate.PRS do.PRS to their general validity no down.break PTCL.NEG
... the fact that you deviate from them does not detract from their general validity.
TK
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[+]Overall frequency

Finite declarative complement clauses occur with an overall frequency of slightly more than 13,000 per million words in the Taalkommissiekorpus. Of these, the vast majority (around 10,000 per million words) are object complement clauses, where the complement clause is syntactically embedded as object of the verb of the matrix clause. The other verb complement clauses are embedded as subject or predicate to the verb of the matrix clause, and each of these represents about 1,000 cases of finite declarative complement clauses per million words.

Declarative complement clauses that are embedded in noun phrases account for a further 1,000 cases per million words, while complement clauses embedded in preposition phrases or adjective phrases together account for the remaining 1,000 cases per million words in almost equal measure. Figure 4 represents these findings graphically, and also indicates that the variant of the complement clause without an overt subordinator is a very frequent option in object complement clauses, but quite rare in other syntactic environments, where the form with the overt complementiser dat that is by far the dominant form. For details of the calculations on which this summary is based, see Extra.

Figure 4: Estimate of frequency per million words of complement clauses in different syntactic positions in the Taalkommissiekorpus
[click image to enlarge]

extra
Calculations behind Figure 4

The values in Figure 4 were derived from the following calculations. From the version of the Taalkommissiekorpus we used, we excluded study guides, since they represent a disproportionally large subset, and worked with the remainder for the main analysis. In this selection, which consists of 32,430,320 words, the word dat that occurred 217,470 times. We selected a random sample of 5,000 instances and classified them in full in terms of the categories of analysis. During this and other analyses (especially Van Rooy and Kruger 2016), we also identified instances where declarative complement clauses without the overt complementiser were used. We then devised search strategies to estimate the occurrence of these complement clauses and added them to the estimations based on the sample of dat that. We extracted samples from the Taalkommissiekorpus with search strings that could catch all instances of declarative complement clauses, with and without complementisers, and used those percentages to adjust the values obtained from the sample of 5,000 instances classified manually in full.

[+]Object complement clauses

Syntactic variation in the object complement clause relates to a number of dimensions. There is, in the first place, word order variation between the matrix clause and the complement clause, with the matrix clause sometimes following the complement clause or the matrix clause used as an insert in the complement clause. Secondly, if quite infrequently, a dummy object dit it may be used, with the object complement clause itself found at the end of the clause. Object complement clauses can also combine with a number of passive constructions.

[+]Word order variation between matrix clause and complement clause

The most conventional and frequent word order is for the object clause to occur in the position of the direct object of the verb of the matrix clause, as exemplified by (1), (2) and (3). This word order is attested in 95% of all the examples of object complement clauses analysed in the Taalkommissiekorpus, and 88% of the examples in the Ponelis Corpus of Spoken Afrikaans. The syntactic pattern is [SUB V CLAUSE(OBJ)]. As pointed out in the section on construction forms of the finite declarative complement clause, the form of the complement clause in this position displays variability, both in regard to the presence or absence of the complementiser dat that and the word order following the complementiser, when present.

The remaining examples of the object complement clause (5% in the written and 12% in the spoken data) do not follow the matrix clause. One variant has the word order [CLAUSE(OBJ)-V2-SUB-X-VF], where the object clause occurs in sentence-initial position, with the matrix clause following it in 3.5% of the examples in the written corpus and 5% of the spoken corpus. In these cases, the matrix clause displays subject-verb inversion, with the first verb immediately following the object clause, then the subject, and thereafter the remainder of the main clause and all remaining verbs in final position, illustrated in (15), (16) and (17).

15
Van die veld af was hy darem nooit 'n aggressiewe ou nie, voeg hy vinnig by.
[(CC) Van die veld af was hy darem nooit 'n aggressiewe ou nie] [(V2) voeg] [(SUB) hy] [(ADV) vinnig] [(VF) by]
From the field off be.PRT he though never a aggressive guy PTCL.NEG add.PRS he quickly at.PREP.PTCL
Off the field though he never was an agressive guy, he adds quickly.
TK
16
Hy is arrogant, ongeskik en ongeduldig, sê die Amerikaanse pers.
[(CC) Hy is arrogant, ongeskik en ongeduldig], [(V2) sê] [(SUB) die Amerikaanse pers]
he be.PRS arrogant ill.mannered and impatient say.PRS the American press
He is arrogant, ill-mannered and impatient, says the American press.
TK
17
Hy moet die padwerker se naam kry, het hy in sy motor gedink.
[(CC) Hy moet die padwerker se naam kry], [(V2) het] [(SUB) hy] [(ADV) in sy motor] [(VF) gedink]
he must.AUX.MOD the road.worker PTCL.GEN name get.INF have.AUX he in his car think.PST
He must get the roadworker's name, he thought in his car.
TK

An exception to this general pattern occurs in the expression jy weet you know, as in (18), where in many instances inversion does not take place, but the matrix clause retains the order [SUB V]. This expression does not occur in a sample of 500 instances of the base form weet know in the Taalkommissiekorpus, but occurs 57 times in the Ponelis Corpus of Spoken Afrikaans, and only twice with the standard word order weet jy, [V SUB].

18
Dit was 'n probleem, jy weet.
[(CC) Dit was 'n probleem], [(SUB) jy] [(V2) weet]
it be.PRT a problem you know.PRS
It was a problem, you know.
PCSA

In the spoken corpus without exception, and in more than 90% of these cases in the written corpus, the object clause occurs without the complementiser dat that as illustrated by (4), as well as in (18), from the spoken corpus.

A very small number of examples are attested in the written corpus where sentence-initial complement clauses are used with an overt complementiser followed by dependent word order, as illustrated by (19).

19
Dat Hein voor die ongeluk ook maar 'n aweregse streep gehad het, verswyg Alida omdat sy Cora nie wil seermaak nie.
[(CC) [(COMP) dat] Hein voor die ongeluk ook maar 'n aweregse streep gehad het], [(V2) verswyg] [(SUB) Alida] [(ADV) omdat sy Cora nie wil seermaak nie]
that.COMP Hein before the accident also but a upside.down line have.PST have.AUX withhold.PRS Alida because she Cora not will.AUX.MOD hurt.PST PTCL.NEG
That Hein was a bit strange even before the accident, Alida keeps quiet about, because she doesn't want to hurt Cora.
TK

Sentence-initial object complement clauses occur more frequently in spoken language, with the mental verbs weet to know and dink to think as verbs in the main clause. These main clauses are used in an interpersonal function, and can be regarded as an adverbial from a functional perspective, rather than a matrix clause. When sentence-initial object clauses occur in written language, they are almost exclusively reserved for news reportage and fiction. The matrix-clause verb is usually a communication verb, mainly the high-frequency verb to say as in (16), but other communication verbs also occur. These either incorporate manner of saying in their meanings, such as waarsku to warn, bieg to confess or to skerts joke, or they provide information about the textual relations between different propositions, such as meedeel to tell or byvoeg to add in (15).

The other syntactic pattern where the matrix clause does not occupy the initial position is where the matrix clause functions as a parenthetical insert in the complement clause. A number of different parenthetical positions are selected, with the three most frequent ones being after a topicalised element, as in (20); after the subject of the complement clause, as in (21); or between two clauses, where the complement clause itself is a complex sentence consisting of more than one clause, as in (22).

20
Maar onvergeetlik, dink ek, is seer sekerlik in die eerste plek, die skoolhoof.
[(COMPLM) Maar onvergeetlik] [(CLAUSE) [(V2) dink] [(SUB) ek]] [(V2) is] [(ADV) seer sekerlik in die eerste plek] [(SUB) die skoolhoof]
but unforgettable think.PRS I be.PRS most certainly in the first place the school.principal
But unforgettable, I think, is most certainly in the first instance the school principal.
PCSA
21
Plooie, glo sy, pas slegs by mans.
[(SUB) plooie] [(CLAUSE) glo sy] [(V2) pas] slegs by mans]
wrinkles believe.PRS she suit.PRS only to men
Wrinkles, she believes, only suit men.
TK, adapted
22
Daar was 'n dokument, onthou Walters, wat alles opgesom het.
daar was 'n dokument [(CLAUSE) onthou Walters] [(RC) wat alles opgesom het]
there be.PRT a document recall.PRS Walters which everything up.sum.PST have.AUX
There was a document, Walters recalls, which summed up everything.
TK

This variant is not very common in writing, and accounts for only about 1.5% of all finite declarative object complement clause constructions. In speech, however, it is more frequent and accounts for about 7% of all object complement clause constructions. The register distribution and the most common verbs used in the construction are very similar to the sentence-initial object clauses. The matrix clause, when used as such a parenthetical insert, displays subject-verb inversion, as exemplified by (20), (21) and (22), except when the subject is the second person singular and the main verb is weet to know, when the word order is typically subject-verb, as illustrated by (23) and (24).

23
Foto’s veral, u weet het ons baie nodig.
Foto’s veral [(CLAUSE) [(SUB) u] [(V2) weet]] het ons baie nodig
photos especially you know.PRS have.PRS we very needed
Photos in particular, you know, we really need.
PCSA
24
Dan verkoop ons dit maar so onder die mense, jy weet, om vuur te maak.
dan verkoop ons dit maar so onder die mense [(CLAUSE) [(SUB) jy] [(V2) weet]] om vuur te maak
then sell.PRS we it but so under the people you know.PRS for.COMP fire PTCL.INF make.INF
Then we sell it among the people, you know, to make fire.
PCSA

The word order of the complement clause is not affected by the presence of the interpolated matrix clause. Thus, in a sense, the matrix clause appears to be optional and can be omitted without affecting the flow of discourse, which clearly aligns the parenthetical use of the main clause with the interpersonal function that is also attributed to the object clause without the complementiser, discussed in Finite declarative complement clauses: construction forms.

[+]Anticipatory dit it in object clauses

The object complement clause sometimes, especially in writing, occurs in the sentence-final position with an anticipatory anaphoric pronoun dit it in the syntactic position that would be occupied by a direct object noun phrase (Ponelis 1979:449), as illustrated by (25).

25
Ons het dit beklemtoon dat klubbestuurders en voorsitters vir die dissipline van hul toeskouers verantwoordelik is.
[(MC) Ons het [(OBJ) dit] beklemtoon [(CC) dat klubbestuurders en voorsitters vir die dissipline van hul toeskouers verantwoordelik is]]
we have.AUX it emphasise.PST that.COMP club.managers and chairpersons for the discipline of their spectators responsible be.PRS
We emphasised that club managers and chairpersons are responsible for the discipline of their spectators.
TK

This is a very clear sign of subordination of the complement clause to the matrix clause, but occurs quite infrequently with a small set of matrix-clause verbs. The anticipatory pronoun is used more frequently for subject complement clauses. Ponelis (1979:449) points out that anticipatory dit it only occurs with complement clauses whose factivity is presupposed. With a small number of verbs, its use is obligatory (verwelkom to welcome, betreur to regret/deplore, goedkeur to approve, waardeer to appreciate), as in (26) and (27), although in our judgement, the omission of dit it is not entirely unacceptable, as in (26a') and (27a’). If dit it is used, the complement clause is obligatorily introduced by the complementiser dat that, and the complementiserless form is grammatically unacceptable, as shown in (26a’’) and (27a’’).

26
a. Agri Wes-Kaap betreur dit dat juis seisoenwerkers en hul naasbestaandes nou diep geraak word.
Agri Western-Cape regret.PRS it that.COMP precisely season.workers and their next.of.kin now deep touch.PASS be.AUX.PASS.PRS
Agri Western Cape regrets it that seasonal workers and their dependants are now profoundly affected.
[(MC) Agri Wes-Kaap betreur [(OBJ) dit] [(CC) [(COMP) dat] juis seisoenwerkers en hul naasbestaandes nou diep geraak word]]
TK
a.' ?Agri Wes-Kaap betreur dat juis seisoenwerkers en hul naasbestaandes nou diep geraak word.
Agri Western Cape regrets that the seasonal workers and their dependants are now profoundly affected.
[(MC) Agri Wes-Kaap betreur [(CC) [(COMP) dat] juis seisoenwerkers en hul naasbestaandes nou diep geraak word]]
a.'' *Agri Wes-Kaap betreur dit juis seisoenwerkers en hul naasbestaandes word nou diep geraak.
Agri Western Cape regrets it the seasonal workers and their dependants are now profoundly affected.
[(MC) Agri Wes-Kaap betreur [(OBJ) dit] [(CC) juis seisoenwerkers en hul naasbestaandes word nou diep geraak ]]
27
a. Sy party verwelkom dit dat salarisse verhoog gaan word.
his party welcome.PRS it that.COMP salaries increase.PASS go.LINK be.AUX.PASS.PRS
His party welcomes it that salaries are going to be increased.
[(MC) Sy party verwelkom [(OBJ) dit] [(CC) [(COMP) dat] salarisse verhoog gaan word]]
TK
a.' ?Sy party verwelkom dat salarisse verhoog gaan word.
His party welcomes that salaries are going to be increased.
[(MC) Sy party verwelkom [(CC) [(COMP) dat] salarisse verhoog gaan word]]
a.'' *Sy party verwelkom dit salarisse gaan verhoog word.
His party welcomes it salaries are going to be increased.
[(MC) Sy party verwelkom [(OBJ) dit] [(CC) salarisse gaan verhoog word]]

It does seem as if even for verbs that Ponelis (1979) regards as requiring the dummy object dit it, a small number of cases are observed in the Taalkommissiekorpus where the dummy object is indeed absent, as shown by (28), from the same text as (26).

28
Agri Wes-Kaap betreur dat die feite so verdraai is in 'n poging om die landboubedryf en produsente te diskrediteer.
[(MC) Agri Wes-Kaap betreur [(CC) [(COMP) dat] die feite so verdraai is in 'n poging om die landboubedryf en produsente te diskrediteer]]
Agri Western-Cape regret.PRS that.COMP the facts so twist.PASS be.AUX.PASS in an attempt for.COMP the agriculture.industry and producers PTCL.INF discredit.INF
Agri Western Cape regrets that the facts have been twisted like this in an attempt to discredit the agricultural industry and producers.
TK

There is another group of verbs where the use of anticipatory dit it is optional (besef to realise, betwis to contest, duld to tolerate, erken to admit, insien to realise, meld to mention, noem to name/mention, stel to state), as in (29). When the anticipatory dit it is present, the complementiser dat that is consistently used, as in (29a), but otherwise, the complement clause varies between the forms dat+[SXV] and Ø+[SVX], as in (29b) and (29c).

29
a. Skaars kan hy dit besef dat Claudine in die hande van manne is wat slegs daarop uit is om die naam van Aristo uit te wis.
[(MC) skaars kan hy [(OBJ) dit] besef [(CC) [(COMP) dat] Claudine in die hande van manne is wat slegs daarop uit is om die naam van Aristo uit te wis]]
barely can.AUX.MOD he it realise.INF that.COMP Claudine in the hands of men be.PRS that only it.on out be.PRS for.COMP the name of Aristo out PTCL.INF wipe.INF
He can barely comprehend that Claudine has fallen into the hands of men who are intent on wiping out the name of Aristo.
TK
b. Solank jy besef dat Malan verreweg nie die laaste woord gespreek het nie.
[(MC) solank jy besef [(CC) [(COMP) dat] Malan verreweg nie die laaste woord gespreek het nie]]
as.long you realise.PRS that.COMP Malan far.way not the last word speak.PST have.AUX PTCL.NEG
As long as you realise that Malan hasn't spoken the last word by far.
TK
c. Ek het nie besef dis al so laat nie.
[(MC) Ek het nie besef [(CC) dis al so laat nie]]
I have.AUX not realise.PST it=be.PRS already so late PTCL.NEG
I didn't realise it's this late already.
TK

The anticipatory dit it can also be replaced by an appropriate noun phrase that typically contains an abstract noun referring to the wording or thought, as in (30) and (31).

30
Agri Wes-Kaap betreur die berig dat juis seisoenwerkers en hul naasbestaandes nou diep geraak word.
Agri Wes-Kaap betreur [(OBJ) die berig [(CC) [(COMP) dat] juis seisoenwerkers en hul naasbestaandes nou diep geraak word]]
Agri Western-Cape regret.PRS the report that.COMP precisely season.workers and their next.of.kin now deep touch.PASS be.AUX.PASS.PRS
Agri Western Cape regrets the report that it is the seasonal workers and their dependants who are now profoundly affected.
31
Sy party verwelkom die nuus dat salarisse verhoog gaan word.
Sy party verwelkom [(OBJ) die nuus [(CC) [(COMP) dat] salarisse verhoog gaan word]]
his party welcome.PRS the news that.COMP salaries increase.PASS go.LINK be.AUX.PASS.PRS
His party welcomes the news that salaries are going to be increased.

In such cases, the complement clause becomes a noun complement clause and is no longer a verb object clause. This raises an interesting question about the proper analysis of the cases where dit it is present. If it is a substitute for a full noun phrase, used anaphorically, it cannot be regarded simply as a dummy pronoun. It appears to be a case of a gradient phenomenon, from maximally explicit, with an object noun phrase that takes a complement clause as in (30); to a pronoun that is perhaps implicitly anaphoric, as in (26a); to the complete absence of a pronoun, as in (29b) and (29c). This development corresponds to the historical development of complement clauses in Germanic languages, as analysed by Heine and Kuteva (2007) and Givón (2009).

extra
Origin of complement clauses in Germanic languages

Van Rooy and Kruger (2015) review previous work on how complement clauses developed in the Germanic languages. According to Givón (2009:62), all embedded clauses originated with two independent clauses, one of which then underwent grammaticalisation to become a dependent clause that is subordinated to the other clause. As far as complement clauses are concerned, Heine and Kuteva (2007:241-242) and Givón (2009:73,95-96) argue that two independent adjacent clauses developed into the construction, where the first clause had a pronominal object form that eventually developed into a marker of subordination, and the second clause then followed as if it was the object of the first clause, as in (32).

i
She know that, he did it > She know that he did it.
(Givón 2009:73)

The verb in the first clause must have been transitive, to allow for the second clause to become integrated into the first clause analogously to an object (Givón 2009:73, 141). The now embedded clause lost some of the grammatical features that encoded its finiteness (Givón 2009:74), e.g. becoming an infinitive and even losing an overt subject, as exemplified by (33), to correspond to its subordinate status.

ii
I want it, to do it > I want to do it.
(Givón 2009:73)
[+]Passive and pseudo-passive constructions

Complement clauses are used together with four different types of constructions in which the verb of the matrix clause is in the passive form:

  • the pseudo-passive with an existential daar there as subject,
  • a passive with empty subject dit it that resembles the subject clause use of the complement clause,
  • a passive with an addressee as syntactic subject alongside the object complement clause,
  • a subjectless matrix clause with an initial adverbial.

According to Ponelis (1979:452), object complement clauses did not have a true passive form in Afrikaans, but rather a pseudo-passive which is formed with the existential daar there, as shown in (34).

32
Daar is vir Dalton gesê dat hy in hegtenis geneem word.
[(EXPL) daar] is vir Dalton gesê [(CC) [(COMP) dat] hy in hegtenis geneem word]
there be.AUX.PASS.PST to Dalton say.PASS that.COMP he in custody take.PASS be.AUX.PASS.PRS
Dalton was told that he is being taken into custody.
TK, adapted

Ponelis (1979: 453) notes, however, that a true passive with an anticipatory dit it is in the process of establishing in Afrikaans, which he ascribes to the influence of English, as illustrated by (35).

33
Dit moet genoem word dat daar tot op hede twyfel bestaan het of kloning werklik deur middel van 'n gedifferensieerde liggaamsel bewerk is.
[(EXPL) dit] moet genoem word [(CC) [(COMP) dat] daar tot op hede twyfel bestaan het of kloning werklik deur middel van 'n gedifferensieerde liggaamsel bewerk is]
it must.AUX.MOD mention.PASS be.AUX.PASS.PRS that.COMP there until at present doubt exist.PST have.AUX if cloning really through means of a differentiated body.cell effect.PASS be.AUX.PASS.PST
It must be mentioned that until recently there has been doubt as to whether cloning has really been achieved by means of a differentiated somatic cell.
TK

It emerges from an analysis of the Taalkommissiekorpus that the pseudo-passive with daar there is the more frequent variant, outnumbering the passive with dit it by 4:1. However, the expansion of the true passive construction can also be seen in the presence of an admittedly very small number of attestations in the corpus where passivisation takes place to the extent that the complement clause functions as the syntactic subject of the passive verb, as in (36).

34
Dat die voorkoms van korrupsie en wetteloosheid in die land hoog is, kan eweneens nie ontken word nie.
[(SUB) [(CC) [(COMP) dat] die voorkoms van korrupsie en wetteloosheid in die land hoog is]] kan eweneens nie ontken word nie
that.COMP the occurrence of corruption and lawlessness in the country high be.PRS can.AUX.MOD likewise not deny.PASS be.AUX.PASS.PRS PTCL.NEG
That the incidence of corruption and lawlessness in the country is high can likewise not be denied.
TK

Analysis of the data also reveals two more passive constructions, not recorded by Ponelis (1979), where no dummy subject is used, but the matrix verb occurs in the passive form and the complement clause is clearly associated with it. These are a matrix clause with a subject that has the semantic role of addressee relative to the verb, and a matrix clause with an initial adverbial, in both cases then with the complement clause presented as object clause to the verb.

In constructions with communication verbs, the addressee of the verb can be selected as syntactic subject in a passive construction. This has no effect on the object complement clause, which remains in post-verbal position, as in (37a). To show the relations between the verb arguments (sayer, addressee and verbiage in the terminology of Halliday and Matthiessen (2014:302-308)) and their mapping to syntactic positions, this example is rewritten as an active clause in (37a').

35
a. Boere is beskuldig dat hulle te veel vir hul grond vra.
farmers be.AUX.PASS.PST accuse.PASS that.COMP they too much for their land charge.PRS
Farmers have been accused that they charge too much for their land.
[(ADDRESSEE) Boere] is beskuldig [(VERBIAGE) dat hulle te veel vir hul grond vra]
TK, adapted
a.' IEMAND het boere beskuldig dat hulle te veel vir hul grond vra.
SOMEBODY accused farmers that they charge too much for their land.
[(SAYER) IEMAND] het [(ADDRESSEE) boere] beskuldig [(VERBIAGE) dat hulle te veel vir hul grond vra]

Since Afrikaans is a V2-language, it allows the omission of a dummy subject in cases where there is a clause-initial adverbial in the matrix clause. In (38), the clause-initial position is filled by a prepositional phrase which conveys the manner adverbial, while a locative adverb occupies the initial position in (39).

36
Deur middel van 'n variansie-analise en die bepaling van die effekgrootte van die verskille (d-waarde) is gevind dat daar nie 'n statisties betekenisvolle verskil tussen die belewing van frustrasie van onderwysers in bevoordeelde en benadeelde skole bestaan nie.
[(ADV) Deur middel van 'n variansie-analise en die bepaling van die effekgrootte van die verskille (d-waarde)] [(V2) is] [(VF) gevind] [(CC) [(COMP) dat] daar nie 'n statisties betekenisvolle verskil tussen die belewing van frustrasie van onderwysers in bevoordeelde en benadeelde skole bestaan nie]
by means of a variance-analysis and the determination of the effect.size of the differences (d-value) be.PASS.AUX.PST find.PASS that.COMP there not a statistically significant difference between the experience of frustration of teachers in advantaged and disadvantaged schools exist.PRS PTCL.NEG
By means of an analysis of variance and the determination of the effect size of the differences (d-value), it has been found that there isn't a statistically significant difference between the experience of frustration of teachers in advantaged and disadvantaged schools.
TK
37
Hier kan duidelik gesien word dat in die geskiedenis van die Groot Gariep die narratiewe kode van geskiedskrywing oorskry word deur die afwesigheid van ...
[(ADV) Hier] [(V2) kan] [(ADV) duidelik] [(VF) gesien word] [(CC) [(COMP) dat] in die geskiedenis van die Groot Gariep die narratiewe kode van geskiedskrywing oorskry word deur die afwesigheid van ... ]
here can.AUX.MOD clearly see.PASS be.AUX.PASS.PRS that.COMP in the history of the Groot Gariep the narrative code of history.writing exceed.PASS be.AUX.PASS.PRS by the absence of
Here it can clearly be seen that in the history of the Groot Gariep, the narrative code of history writing is transgressed by the absence of...
TK

It is possible and grammatical to rephrase either of these examples with a dummy subject, either daar there or dit it, as illustrated by (40) from the Taalkommissiekorpus, which is syntactically similar to (38), except for the overt dummy subject.

38
In ander gevalle is daar gespesifiseer dat hulle self mog kies by watter een van die erfgename hulle na die dood van hul eienaar wou bly.
[(ADV) In ander gevalle] [(V2) is] [(EXPL) daar] [(VF) gespesifiseer] [(CC) [(COMP) dat] hulle self mog kies by watter een van die erfgename hulle na die dood van hul eienaar wou bly]
in other cases be.AUX.PASS.PST there specify.PASS that.COMP they selves may.AUX.MOD.PRT choose.INF at which one of the heirs they after the death of their owner want.to.AUX.MOD.PRT stay.INF
In other cases, it has been specified tha they might choose with which one of the heirs they wanted to stay after the death of their owner.
TK

However, in the data sample analysed, dummy subjects with initial adverbials are extremely rare, so (40) is a clear marginal variant in the data, compared to the type illustrated by (38) and (39), which is almost as frequent as the pseudo-passives with existential daar there and considerably more frequent than any of the other passive types. The conditioning variables of the syntactic variation have not yet, to our knowledge, been researched.

[+]Subject complement clauses

Subject complement clauses are found only with copular verbs, where the subject is not an agent that is an active force in the state of affairs represented by the verb. There are two main variants of the finite declarative complement clause used as subject clause in Afrikaans: with the complement clause in initial position, or an extraposition construction with the subject clause in sentence-final position (Ponelis 1979:450-452). The more frequent variant (more than 90% of the sample analysed in the Taalkommissiekorpus) is the extraposition form that has a dummy (or expletive) pronoun dit it in the subject position (clause-initially), followed by a verb, the verb complement, and then the subject complement clause after that, as illustrated by (41) and (42).

39
Dit is duidelik dat tekspraktisyns 'n deurleefde kennis van taal, kultuur, norme- en waardepatrone moet hê.
[(EXPL) dit] [(V2) is] [(COMPLM) duidelik] [(CC) [(COMP) dat] tekspraktisyns 'n deurleefde kennis van taal, kultuur, norme- en waardepatrone moet hê]
it be.PRS clear that.COMP text.practitioners a thorough knowledge of language culture norm and value.patters must.AUX.MOD have.INF
It is clear that text practitioners must have a thorough knowledge of language, culture, norms and value patterns.
TK, adapted
40
Dit is noodsaaklik dat sodanige ondersoek wetenskaplik gefundeer moet wees.
[(EXLP) dit] [(V2) is] [(COMPLM) noodsaaklik] [(CC) [(COMP) dat] sodanige ondersoek wetenskaplik gefundeer moet wees]
it be.PRS necessary that.COMP such investigation scientifically grounded must.AUX.MOD be.INF
It is necessary that such an investigation must be scientifically grounded.
TK, adapted

The matrix-verb complement is most frequently a one-word adjective, of which duidelik clear is by far the most frequent variant in the Taalkommissiekorpus (approximately 20% of all extraposition subject clauses have a verb phrase with duidelik as its predicate). Other relatively well-attested adjectives (in order of decreasing frequency) are moontlik possible, noodsaaklik essential, nodig necessary, waarskynlik probable/likely, onwaarskynlik improbable/unlikely, opvallend noticeable, and bekend known. Only two patterns with a noun-phrase predicate are sufficiently well attested to be worth mentioning, viz. dit is van ADJ belang dat it is of ADJ importance that, and dit is 'n uitgemaakte saak dat it is common cause that, exemplified by (43) and (44).

41
Dit is van die opperste belang dat Suid-Afrika uit 'n musikale winterslaap ontwaak.
[(EXLP) dit] [(V2) is] [(COMPLM) van die opperste belang] [(CC) [(COMP) dat] Suid-Afrika uit 'n musikale winterslaap ontwaak]
it be.PRS of the utmost importance that.COMP South-Africa out a musical winter.sleep awake.PRS
It is of the utmost importance that South Africa awakes from its musical hiberation.
TK, adapted
42
Dit is geen uitgemaakte saak dat Zuma president gaan word nie.
[(EXLP) dit] [(V2) is] [(COMPLM) geen uitgemaakte saak] [(CC) [(COMP) dat] Zuma president gaan word nie].
it be.PRS no out.made case that.COMP Zuma president go.LINK become.INF PTCL.NEG
It is no done deal that Zuma will become president.
TK, adapted

The form of the complement clause is usually dat+[SXV]. The variant Ø+[SVX] is attested, but in low frequency, and almost exclusively with the most frequent lexical pattern [dit is duidelik + CC] it is clear + CC, as illustrated in (45), but exceedingly rarely with other adjectives.

43
Dit is duidelik die kwessie van nasionale simbole is 'n belangrike een.
[(EXPL) dit] [(V2) is] [(COMPLM) duidelik] [(CC) die kwessie van nasionale simbole is 'n belangrike een]
it be.PRS clear the issue of national symbols be.PRS a important one
It is clear that the issue of national symbols is an important one.
TK

The second variant of the subject complement clause, which occurs much less frequently (accounting for less than 10% in the sample of the Taalkommissiekorpus), is the more formal variant that has the subject clause itself in initial position, followed by the verb and the complementive. This is illustrated by (46).

44
Dat skinder 'n onmiskenbare sosiale rol in die Suid-Afrikaanse samelewing speel, is gewis.
[(SUB) [(CC) [(COMP) dat] skinder 'n onmiskenbare sosiale rol in die Suid-Afrikaanse samelewing speel]] [(V2) is] [(COMPLM) gewis]
COMP gossip a unmistakable social role in the South-African society play.PRS be.PRS certain
That gossiping plays an unmistakable social role in South African society is certain.
TK

Subject clauses are rare in spoken Afrikaans, but when they do occur, the extraposition construction is the one that is usually selected, as exemplified by (47).

45
...dit is belangrik dat ons die bedryf basies op die produksievlak gesond hou.
...[(EXPL) dit] [(V2) is] [(COMPLM) belangrik] [(CC) [(COMP) dat] ons die bedryf basies op die produksievlak gesond hou]
it be.PRS important that.COMP we the industry basically on the production.level healthy keep.PRS
...it is important that we keep the industry basically healthy at production level.
PCSA
[+]Complementive use of complement clause

The declarative complement clause can function as complementive to a copular verb in two major construction forms, which serve two different functions (Ponelis 1979:453-454). In both cases, the complement clause variant with overt complementiser, dat+[SXV], is by far the most frequent variant, with the variant Ø+[SVX] rare.

By far the most frequent complementive use is where the subject is an abstract noun, such as gevolg consequence, probleem problem, rede reason, verskil difference, or waarheid truth, followed by the copular verb wees be, and then the complementive clause. The complementive clause functions to spell out the content of the abstract noun, which itself often characterises the piece of information in the complement clause as some move in an argument or a more general piece of verbiage.

The verb wees to be is usually in the present tense form is am/is/are, as in (48), although the past tense form was was/were is also possible, as in (49).

46
Die probleem is dat mense Suid-Afrikaanse rolprente met Hollywood-flieks vergelyk.
[(SUB) Die probleem] [(V2) is] [(COMPLM) [(CC) [(COMP) dat] mense Suid-Afrikaanse rolprente met Hollywood-flieks vergelyk]]
the problem be.PRS that.COMP people South-African films with Hollowood-films compare.PRS
The problem is that people compare South African films with Hollywood movies.
TK, adapted
47
Die rede was dat ek my geheue moes terugplaas na die vyftigerjare toe ek maar self tien jaar oud was.
[(SUB) Die rede] [(V2) was] [(COMPLM) [(CC) [(COMP) dat] ek my geheue moes terugplaas na die vyftigerjare toe ek maar self tien jaar oud was]]
the reason be.PRT that.COMP I my memory must.AUX.MOD.PST back.place.INF to the fifties.years when I but self ten year old be.PRT
The reason was that I had to transpose my memory to the fifties when I myself was only ten years old.
TK

A small number of extended uses are observed in the data where the copular verb bly to remain is used instead of wees to be, as in (50).

48
Feit bly dat Australië nou met sy verlede worstel soos nog nooit vantevore nie.
[(SUB) feit] [(V2) bly] [(COMPLM) [(CC) [(COMP) dat] Australië nou met sy verlede worstel soos nog nooit vantevore nie]]
fact remain.PRS that.COMP Australia now with its past struggle.PRS like even never before PTCL.NEG
Fact is that Australia struggles with its past now more than ever.
TK

The other major type of predicate clause construction has an empty subject dit it, followed by the copular verb blyk to seem/emerge and the predicate clause, as in (51). The construction functions to assert the factivity of the proposition in the complement clause. If any epistemic hedging is required, then a verb other than blyk is used, but then the complement clause is interrogative rather than assertive, as explained in the section on the constructions forms of the interrogative complement clause.