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Postural constructions

Four verbs, sit sit, staan stand, lie and loop walk, which express bodily posture or movement in their literal sense, are also employed to express durative (or progressive) aspect, sometimes without the literal sense being activated. In the following examples the use of the postural verbs aids the expression of durative aspect.

a. Sy sit en speel op haar nuwe klavier.
she sit.LINK PTCL.LINK play.INF on her new piano
She sits playing on her new piano.
b. Hy staan die blomme en natgooi.
he stand.LINK the flowers PTCL.LINK water.INF
He stands watering the flowers.
c. Hulle lê en gesels onder die bome.
they lie.LINK PTCL.LINK talk.INF under the trees
They are conversing while lying down under the trees.
d. Loop en dink jy aan die goeie ou dae?
walk.LINK PTCL.LINK think.INF you.2SG on the good old days
Are you thinking about the good old days while taking a walk?
[+]Postural verbs

A restricted set of verbs expressing basic bodily postures and movement, namely sit sit, staan stand, lie and loop walk, may be conjoined by en and to a main verb. While this construction of postural verb + en + main verb mainly depicts the bodily attitude or movement assumed while the main action takes place, it is also employed to emphasise the durative (or progressive) nature of the action (e.g (2a), (2b) and (2c)). In (2c) the continuity inherent in the sit construction is further emphasised by the addition of the verb bly remain, stay, keep on – itself a durative verb.

a. Met sy oë styf toegeknyp lê en luister hy na die wind.
with his eyes tightly close.pinch.PST.PTCP lie.LINK PTCL.LINK listen.INF he to the wind
With his eyes tightly closed he lies listening to the wind.
L.Krüger: Wederkoms, 2009, 44
b. Die kolonel staan langs die projektor sy onderlip en byt.
the colonel stand.LINK next.to the projector his lower.lip PTCL.LINK bite.INF
The colonel stands next to the projector, biting his lower lip.
H.Kalmer: Vlieger, 2012, 61
c. Nadat sy Hanna 'n ruk lank woordeloos bly sit en dophou het ....
after.CNJ she Hanna a while long without.words remain.LINK sit.LINK PTCL.LINK watch.INF have.AUX
After she had been sitting watching Hanna for a while without speaking ...
A.P.Brink: 2002, 62

Van Schoor (1983:173) points out that staan stand may even be employed when a different posture would have been called for, as in (3a). Example (3b) also testifies to this fact, while the addition of ophou stop underlines the durative nature of the staan construction. Examples (3a) and (3b) suggest that the staan construction has pejorative overtones. Both the durative aspect and pejorative nature of the staan construction is illustrated graphically by the repetition of staan in (3c).

a. Moenie 'n mens staan en wakker snork nie.
must.not.AUX.MOD.IMP a person stand.LINK PTCL.LINK awake snore.INF PTCL.NEG
Don't wake a person up by snoring.
b. "Jy moet ophou staan en skinder!"
you.2SG must.AUX.MOD stop.LINK stand.LINK PTCL.LINK gossip.INF
"You must stop gossiping!"
P. Stamatélos: Portier, 2009, 110
c. Ek staan al die hele oggend hierso staan en vrekbrand in die son.
I stand.PRS already the whole morning here stand.LINK PTCL.LINK dead.burn.INF in the sun
I have been standing here all morning burning to death in the sun.
A. Small: Kanna, 1965, 42

Though en and and the postural and main verb conjoined to it often form an uninterrupted string, intrusions are possible both before and after en. The placement of material afteren is restricted to adverbials and objects unmarked for definiteness; unmarked objects as well as those marked for definiteness, may occur beforeen.

a. Sy gaan die gaste staan <*binne> en <binne> laat.
she go.AUX.MOD the guests stand.LINK <in> PTCL.LINK <in> let.INF
She is going to admit the guests while standing.
b. Hulle staan <stories> en <stories> vertel.
they stand.LINK <stories> PTCL.LINK <stories> tell.INF
They are busy telling stories.
c. Hy staan <die storie> en <*die storie> vertel.
he stand.LINK <the story> PTCL.LINK <the story> tell.INF
He is busy telling a story.
[+]Perfect tense

In the perfect tense, the verb + en + verb construction may be regarded as a phrasal past participle (cf. Inflection), with optional ge- prefix and no ge- before the main verb:

Ons het die aartappels (ge-) staan en skil.
we have.AUX the potatoes stand.LINK PTCL.LINK peel.INF
We stood peeling the potatoes.
[+]Semantic development

Breed and Brisard (2015:7-9) distinguish three phases in the semantic development of the Afrikaans postural verbs sit, staan and to the stage where durative aspect is expressed. In present-day Afrikaans (and Dutch) the postural construction in most cases still expresses actions undertaken in a body posture which would be appropriate in view of the original postural meaning, e.g.

Wim het die hele lesing deur sit en slaap.
Wim have.AUX the whole lecture through.POSTP sit.LINK PTCL.LINK sleep.INF
Wim sat sleeping right through the lecture.
Breed & Brisard 2015, 9

In example (7) the process of waiting, rather than a 'standing posture', is emphasised:

Die gras is droog en die son brand neer en die beeste staan en wag.
the grass is dry and the sun burn down and the cattle stand.LINK PTCL.LINK wait.INF
The grass is dry and the sun is scorching and the cattle stand waiting.
Breed & Brisard 2015, 8

In a second phase of development situations are expressed which do not require a specific posture, e.g.

Kan so 'n vlam vir weke daar in die veld staan en brand?
can.AUX.MOD such a flame for weeks there in the veld stand.LINK PTCL.LINK burn.INF
Can such a flame keep burning in the veld for weeks?
Breed & Brisard 2015, 8

In the last phase the posture expressed by staan has become completely irrelevant and the utterance has assumed an emotive overtone of dissatisfaction. The subjective use of the postural verbs is analysed in two articles by(Breed 2017a) and(Breed 2017b).

Wil jy nou jou bed op 'n ander plek staan en koop?
want.to.AUX.MOD you.2SG now your bed on an other place stand.LINK PTCL.LINK buy.INF
Why would you want to buy your bed elsewhere?
Advertisement, RSG

Afrikaans differs from Dutch in allowing passivisation(Breed and Brisard 2015:21), e.g.

Hier word gesit en stry oor 'n ossewa.
here be.AUX.PASS.PRS sit.LINK PTCL.LINK argue.INF over an ox.wagon
People are argueing here about an ox wagon.
[+]Afrikaans vs Dutch

The frequency of aspectual usage of the postural verbs sit, staan and declines in the order sit > staan > , with sit having a significantly higher frequency in durative constructions than the other two verbs. Afrikaans sit is also used more frequently than Dutch zitten(Breed and Brisard 2015:15-16) in aspectual function.

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