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Aspectual constructions

Two durative constructions are involved here: (i) the progressive construction aan die loop wees be walking and related inchoative and resultative variants and (ii) the progressive construction besig wees om te verander be in the process of changing. Both constructions have been thoroughly grammaticalised, and are employed inter alia to describe ongoing activity in the background of an event:

a. Jan was aan die lees toe die krag skielik afgaan.
Jan was on the read.NMLZ when.CNJ the power suddenly off.go.PRS
Jan was reading when the power suddenly went out.
b. Jan was besig om te lees toe die krag skielik afgaan.
Jan was busy for.COMP PTCL.INF read.INF when.CNJ the power suddenly off.go.INF
Jan was reading when the power suddenly went out.
[+]The progressive and inchoative aan die + NOM construction

The progressive construction (or durative construction, cf. Ponelis (1979:224), consists of the copula wees be plus a complement consisting of a prepositional phrase headed by the preposition aan on, at and a noun phrase with the definite article die as determiner, a nominalised verb (e.g. natgooi water, or a noun expressing movement (as in aan die gang going on) as head noun and, optionally, an internal object (e.g. indefinite plante plants), as in:

Sy is aan die plante natgooi.
she is on the plants wet.pour.NMLZ
She is watering plants.

In this case is expresses present tense, therefore the duration of the event runs parallel to what the speaker perceives as "the present". If was was, were is used, the event temporarily parallels a designated period in the past:

Sy was aan die plante natgooi toe die bom bars.
she was on the plants wet.pour.NMLZ when.CNJ the bomb explode.PRS
She was watering plants when the bomb exploded.

Adverbial particles and bare objects (i.e. without definite/indefinite marking) may be internal or external to the prepositional phrase (as in (4a) and (4b)); objects marked as definite or indefinite (4c), or extended objects (4d), are external to the prepositional phrase:

a. Sy is die plante <*uit> aan die <uit>plant.
she is the plants <out> on the <out>plant.NMLZ
She is transplanting the plants.
b. Sy is <blomme> aan die <blomme> plant.
she is <flowers> on the <flowers> plant.NMLZ
She is in the process of planting the flowers.
c. Sy is <'n gousblom> aan die <*'n gousblom> plant.
she is <a daisy> on the <a daisy> plant.NMLZ
She is busy planting a daisy.
d. Sy is plante wat sy pas gekoop het, aan die plant.
she is plants that.REL she just buy.PST.PTCP have.AUX on the plant.NMLZ
She is planting plants which she has just bought.

A variant which formally resembles a Dutch construction and has the neutral Dutch article 'tthe and an optional infinitival -e ending, is sometimes employed in more formal style (Geleyn and Colleman 2014:61) or perhaps as an intended archaïsm (Breed 2012:117), e.g.:

Sy is nou die plante aan 't natgooie.
she is now the plants on the wet.pour.NMLZ
She is watering the plants now.

Apart from the 'be copula', intransitive bly stay, remain and transitive het have and hou keep are also used in progressive (or durative) function, while intransitive raak become or gaan go and transitive kry get, maak make and sit put are used in inchoative (or ingressive) function (cf. Van Schoor (1983:175). Progressive aspect is expressed in the following:

a. Die voerband blyaan die beweeg.
the conveyor.belt remain on the move.NMLZ
The conveyor belt keeps moving.
b. Julle het dit nou aan die beweeg; hou dit tog aan die beweeg.
you.2PL have.PRS it now on the move.NMLZ; keep.IMP it then on the move.NMLZ
You've got it moving now; do keep it moving.

In the following inchoative aspect is expressed:

a. Die leeus gaan aan die brul en ineens raak die skare aan die beweeg.
the lions go on the roar.NMLZ and suddenly become the crowd on the move.NMLZ
The lions begin to roar and suddenly the crowd starts moving.
b. Kry nou asseblief die kar aan die loop.
get.IMP now please the car on the run.NMLZ
Please get the car running now.
c. Die aria maak my sommer aan die huil.
the aria make me almost on the cry.NMLZ
The aria makes me almost start to cry.
d. Jou voorstel het my aan die dink gesit.
your suggestion have.AUX me on the think.NMLZ put.PST.PTCP
Your suggestion got me thinking.

Note that the deflection of the infinitive in Afrikaans and the loss of nominal gender render Dutch aan het kletsenon the chatter.NMLZ (aan't klets(e) in archaic Afrikaans) and aan de klets on the chatter.PR indistinguishable in Afrikaans, as only aan die klets, with klets as nominalised verb, is possible.

For a terminativekry construction, cf. Constructions with aspectual characteristics.

[+]The progressive construction besig wees om te + V

Progressive aspect is frequently expressed by the construction besig wees om te be busy plus full infinitive (cf. Ponelis (1979:258) ), as in:

Die eksaminatore is besig om die skrifte na te sien.
the examiners be.PRS busy for.COMP the papers after PTCL.INF see.INF
The examiners are busy marking the papers.

Progressive aspect is also expressed by besig wees met be busy with / involved in plus nominalisation, as in:

Hulle is nou besig met nasien.
they be.PRS now busy with after.see.NMLZ
They are now busy marking.

The met construction only occurs at a ratio of 1:99 in comparison with the full infinitive construction ( (Geleyn and Colleman 2014:66). In contrast to Dutch bezig zijn om te + lexical verb and English to be busy verb-ing, Afrikaans besig wees om te has developed into a marker of progressivity as such (cf. Geleyn and Colleman (2014:70),"een loutere markeerder van progressiwiteit"semantically as vague as expressing 'something is going on' rather than lively activity, combining frequently with non-activity verbs or non-volitional agents, cf.

In die huidige resessie is baie mense besig om te verarm.
in the present recession be.PRS many people busy for.COMP PTCL.INF empoverish.INF
In the present recession many are in the process of being empoverished.

In Afrikaans, unlike in Dutch, passivisation is possible (cf. Breed and Brisard 2015:20)):

Die boek is besig om deur hom gelees te word.
the book is busy for.COMP by him read.PST.PTCP PTCL.INF be.AUX.PASS.PRS
The book is being read by him.

In Afrikaans the besig wees be busy plus full infinitive construction (besig wees om te V) is the most frequent of the progressive constructions, surpassing even the aan die V wees be on the V and postural types in frequency ( Breed and Brisard (2015:11)). The Afrikaans besig wees om te + V construction has developed into a fully auxiliated periphrasis with the function of expressing progressive aspect, according to Breed and Van Huyssteen (2014:722)..

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