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Uses of the definite article

The definite article has a variety of meanings, the most important of which is that the subsequent noun is identifiable. However, in Afrikaans the definite article also has a few other uses. Four further identifiable uses of the definite article are distinguished here, namely to be used with i) names of certain regions or landscapes, ii) nouns that are used as names, iii) adjectives of insult and iv) certain acronyms.


Four further uses for the definite article in Afrikaans can be distinguished.

a) with names of certain regions or landscapes
In Afrikaans, some place names, especially place names indicating regions or landscapes, bear the definite article, for example die Kaap the Cape, die Boland the Boland and die Hoëveld the Highveld (Ponelis 1979:117; Odendal 1974). Die Laeveld the Lowveld in the example below illustrates this use.

In Desember 2012 het ons na die Laeveld verhuis en is baie gelukkig hier!
in December 2012 have.AUX we to the Lowveld move and be.PRS very happy here
In December 2012 we moved to the Lowveld and are very happy here!

b) with nouns used as names
In Afrikaans, most nouns that are used as names, also bear definite article, such as die son, the sun, die aarde Earth and die ewenaar the equator(Ponelis 1979:117). The example below illustrates this use with the die aarde the earth and die son the sun.

Later het sommige geleerdes geglo die aarde wentel om die son.
later have.AUX some experts believe.PST the earth orbit around the sun
Some experts later believed that the earth orbits around the sun.

c) with attribute adjectives of insult
Attribute adjectives of insult must be preceded by the definite article die the or the demonstrative pronouns hierdie this of daardie that(Ponelis 1979:1177). Two examples are given below to illustrate this use of the definite article.

Die vervlakste Dewald. Hy wil die indruk skep dat daar nog iets tussen hulle is.
the damned Dewald he want.to.AUX.MOD the impression create that.COMP there still something between them be.PRS
That damn Dewald. He wants to create the impression that there is something still between them.
Hy is reg vir daardie agterbakse Engelse drol wat voorgegee het hy is McKenna se vriend.
he be.PRS ready for that underhanded English turd that.REL pretend.PST have.AUX he be.PRS McKenna PTCL.GEN friend
He is ready for that underhanded English turd who pretended he was McKenna's friend.

It seems as though use can also be applied when using adjectives of compliment as well:

Die pragtige Annareth Bolton gee ekstra glans aan die hoofgereg en wyn wat op Blaauwklippen geniet is.
the beautiful Annareth Bolton give extra glamour to the main.course and wine that.REL on Blaauwklippen enjoy be.AUX.PASS.PST
The beautiful Annareth Bolton gives extra glamor to the main course and wine enjoyed at Blaauwklippen.
so het ons, onder andere, hierdie jaar die kleurryke Johan Bakkes ontmoet
so have.AUX we among others this year the colourful Johan Bakkes meet
this is how we met the colorful Johan Bakkes this year, among others
The definite article is usually required along with acronyms that (yet) cannot be abstracted as a noun (Botha 1991). Consider the two acronyms in the sentence examples below. In the first sentence, the WBO (the World Boxing Organization) does not have a proprietary name status and a definite article is used with the acronym, while ABSA (Associated Banks of South Africa) is a recognizable name for all South Africans and used as a proper name.
Klaas lyk nie na die man wat die WBO Afrika kapoktitel van The Rock kan wegneem nie.
Klaas look not like the man that.REL the WBO Africa rooster.title of The Rock can.AUX.MOD away.take PTCL.NEG
Klaas does not look like the man who can take the WBO Africa title away from The Rock.
Hulle is verheug dat Absa weereens die sentrum vir BWI ondersteun.
they be.PRS happy that.COMP Absa again the center for BWI support
They are happy that Absa are again supporting the BWI center.
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