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Intransitive resultative

Resultatives can be formed on the basis of intransitive verbs, by the addition of an argument and a complementive. To convert an intransitive verb into a resultative verb presupposes that the action of the verb is of such a nature that it can lead to the result state, i.e. that the added object can acquire the property or spatial configuration that is expressed by the complementive. Typically, adjectival complementives encode properties that the object acquires, and prepositional complementives encode new spatial configurations for the object. Example (1) and (2) illustrate felicitous and infelicitous resultatives with intransitive verbs. The primed examples show that converting these verbs into regular transitives is ungrammatical, and also show that the real-world restriction of whether or not the action of the verb can lead to the desired result constrains the use of intransitive verbs in the resultative construction.

a. Mamma sing die baba aan die slaap.
Mother sings the baby to sleep.
[Felicitous intransitive resultative]
a.' *Mamma sing die baba.
Mother sings the baby.
[Ungrammatical transitive]
a.'' ?Mamma sing die baba vuil.
Mommy sings the baby dirty.
[Infelicitous intransitive resultative]
b. Mamma speel die baba vuil.
Mother plays the baby dirty.
[Felicitous intransitive resultative]
b.' *Mamma speel die baba.
Mother plays the baby.
[Ungrammatical transitive]
b.'' ?Mamma speel die baba aan die slaap.
Mommy plays the baby to sleep.
[Infelicitous intransitive resultative]

In example (1a), the mother's singing results in the baby sleeping, which is an end state that can conceivably be brought about by singing, e.g. a lullaby. However, the regular transitive use of the verb sing to sing with object die baba the baby does not make sense, as a baby is not made by the act of singing. Nor is it conceivable to make the baby dirty by singing. That would be possible with a verb like speel to play, as illustrated in (1b), but playing with the baby is in turn unlikely to result in the baby sleeping. Example (1b') is grammatical in the context of acting, where the mother plays the part of a baba in a play (or make-believe), but not where the mother plays with the baby, which is the relevant sense in example (1b).

a. Hy lag sy bolip weg.
He laughs his upper lip away.
[Felicitous intransitive resultative]
a.' *Hy lag sy bolip.
He laughs his upper lip.
[Ungrammatical transitive]
a.'' ?Hy lag sy hare weg.
He laughs his hair away.
[Infelicitous intransitive resultative]
b. Jy stoei jou pad oop.
You wrestle your way open.
[Felicitous intransitive resultative]
b.' *Jy stoei die pad.
You wrestle the road.
[Ungrammatical transitive]
b.'' ?Jy stoei die pad af.
You wrestle the way down.
[Infelicitous intransitive resultative]

Example (2a) is more metaphorical in reading, while example (2b) partly draws on the Afrikaans equivalent of the way-construction, but with the addition of a complementive. Without the complementives, the examples in (2a) and (2b) would be ungrammatical as transitive clauses.

[+]Resultatives with reflexive objects

A strategy that is frequently encountered when intransitive verbs are used in the resultative construction, is for the object to be co-referential with the subject. This may be encoded by means of a reflexive pronoun like homself himself and haarself herself, but also by a regular personal pronoun used anaphorically. Example (3) shows a number of intransitive resultatives with a reflexive pronoun, while example (4) shows cases where an anaphoric personal pronoun is used.

a. Barrie se kat wurm homself deur 'n halfoop venster.
Barry PTCL.GEN cat worm.PRS himself though a half.open window
Barry's cat wormed itself through a half open window.
b. Die tuisspan het homself uit die moeilikheid gekolf.
the home.team have.AUX himself out.of the trouble bat.PST
The home team batted itself out of trouble.
c. Hilda jok haarself in 'n lelike ding in.
Hilda lie.PRS herself in an ugly thing in
Hilda lies herself into a really ugly situation.
a. Ek het my boeglam geskrik.
I have.AUX me dead.beat frighten.PST
I had a really bad fright.
b. Sy vriend sou hom slap gelag het.
his friend will.AUX.MOD.PRT him lax laugh.PST have.AUX
His friend would have died laughing.

In a number of cases, resultative constructions of a partially conventionalised or idiomatic kind show variation between the reflexive and personal pronoun use, as illustrated by the pairs in (5), although both forms are interpreted as coreferential with the subject of the clause.

a. Drikus het homself oor 'n mik geskrik.
Drikus have.AUX himself over an aim frighten.PST
Drikus was frightened out of his wits.
a.' Sal jy jou nie weer oor 'n mik skrik nie?
shall.AUX.MOD.PRS you.SUB you.OBJ not again over an aim frighten.INF PTCL.NEG
Will you not get frightened out of your wits again?
b. ...jy werk jouself verniet op...
you.SUB work.PRS yourself for.nothing up
Your anger is in vain.
C. Botha: Roodepoort Record
b.' Jy werk jou verniet op.
you.SUB work you.OBJ for.nothing up
Your anger is in vain.
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[+]Idiomatic uses

Afrikaans has a number of idiomatic expressions using the constructional pattern of intransitive resultatives. Often, the meaning in these cases is more a meaning of amplification than a meaning that encodes a result state. The construction serves as a way of intensifying the meaning, with intensive forms of adjectives or idiomatic expressions that encode intensified meanings used very frequently as the complementive. In a number of cases, the constructions are productively extended with expressions that range from informal and slang terms to impolite, rude and even swear words. Both the verbs and the complementives are frequently recycled to other expressions, while in most cases these expressions have direct objects that are coreferential with the subject, or else employ a possessive determiner that is coreferential with the subject. The direct object can either be in the simple object form, as in the list below, but some can alternatively be replaced by a reflexive form.

  • lag jou pap laugh one weak to die from laughter
  • lag jou gat af laugh one.GEN ass off to be rolling on the floor laughing
  • skrik jou boeglam be.frightened oneself very.petrified to be scared petrifried
  • skrik jou melk weg be.frightened one.GEN milk away to catch a terrible fright
  • skrik jou gat af be.frightened one.GEN ass off to be terribly frightened
  • skrik jou pis bitter be frightened one.GEN piss bitter to be terribly frightened
  • praat jou ore van jou kop af talk someone.GEN ears from someone.GEN head off to talk someone's head off
  • praat jou 'n gat in die kop talk one a hole in the head to talk someone into a foolish thing
  • werk jou oor 'n mik work oneself over an aim to work oneself into the ground
  • werk jou boeglam work oneself very.tired to work oneself into a state of exhaustion
  • werk jou morsdood work oneself stone.dead to work oneself to death
  • werk jou gat af work one.GEN ass off to work one's ass off
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