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Three types of referential partitive nouns

Concrete, referential partitive nouns consist of the following subclasses: container nouns such as pakkie packet, part nouns such as stukkie morsel and collective nouns such as trop herd.


Three types of referential partitive nouns can be distinguished, namely i) container nouns, ii) part nouns and iii) collective nouns:

i. Container nouns as referential partitive nouns:

Container nouns refer to objects which integrate other objects, referred to by the content noun, into a large whole. An example of a partitive construction with a container noun (pakkie packet) is given below:

'n Pakkie gloeistokkies is meer veelsydig as wat jy dink.
a packet glow.sticks be.PRS more versatile than that.REL you.SG think
A pack of glow sticks is more versatile than you think.

The first example below shows that the container noun (such as pakkie packet) may be modified by attributive adjectives (such as groot big). Container nouns allow the content noun to be realised in an Adpositional Phrase (PP) introduced by the preposition met with:

a. Die kinders het Saterdag elkeen 'n groot pakkie smarties gekry.
the children have.AUX Saturday each a big packet smarties get.PST
On Saturday, the kids each got a big packet of Smarties.
b. Die kinders het elkeen 'n pakkie met krale en ander mooi maak goed gekry.
the children have.AUX each a packet with beads and other beautiful make stuff get.PST
The children each got a packet with beads and other stuff that can be used for dress-up.

Container nouns also allow the content noun to be preceded by the functional element vol full, that is related to the homophonous adjective (for ease of reference, the functional element vol full will be referred to as an adjective):

Ant Hansie het 'n sak vol presentjies saamgestuur en blikke vol koekies.
aunt Hansie have.AUX a bag full gifts.DIM with.send.PST and tins full biscuits
Ant Hansie sent along a bag full of presents and tins full of biscuits.

Container nouns allow the noun of descriptive content to be preceded by the combination of adjective and preposition vol met full with and vol van full of:

a. Of iemand wie se huis eintlik te klein is vir al die boekrakke vol met boeke.
or someone who.REL PTCL.GEN house really too small be.PRS for all the book.cases full with books
Or someone whose house is in fact too small for al the bookcases filled with books.
b. Nouliks het Hy die woord gesê, of die kruike is al vol van die heerlikste geurige wyn!
barely have.AUX he the word say.PST or the jars be.PRS already full PTCL.PTV the delicious.SUPL fragrant wine
He barely said the word, or the jars were already full of the most delicious fragrant wine!

There are many examples in which the container noun must be joined to the content noun by means of an overt element like vol full or met with, and in which a bare partitive construction is excluded. An example is the minimal pair below:

a. 'n rugsak vol padkos
a backpack full road.food
a backpack full of snacks for the road
b. *'n rugsak padkos
a backpack road.food
a backpack with snacks for the road
c. *'n boks gate
a box holes
a box of holes

ii. Part nouns as referential partitive nouns:

Part nouns divide substances, referred to by the content noun, into smaller wholes. Four examples of referential partitive constructions with part nouns are given below:

a. 'n blok sjokolade
a block chocolate
a block of chocolate
b. 'n stukkie sjokoloade
a piece.DIM chocolate
a piece of chocolate
c. 'n stuk sjokolade
a lump chocolate
a lump of chocolate
d. 'n krummeltjie sjokolade
a crumb.DIM chocolate
a crumb of chocolate

Part nouns cannot enter the partitive construction with met with in the reading that the part fully consists of whatever is the denotation of the substance noun.

*'n stuk met sjokolade
a bar with chocolate
a bar of chocolate

A phrase such as the example above is only grammatical if it means that the bar consists of a substance that is different from chocolate, though having chocolate as supplementary substance. The same holds in case the part noun is joined to the substance noun by the adjective vol full, as in the example below:

*'n blok vol sjokolade
a bar full chocolate
a bar full of chocolate

This phrase is ungrammatical in the reading that the bar fully consists of chocolate. It is only grammatical if the bar consists of a substance that is different from chocolate while having chocolate as a second substance, but it is distributed over or within the first substance. Therefore, the following example is grammatical, on the reading that the bar consists of some substance (which is likely to be chocolate) which is filled with something else, namely nuts:

'n blok met neute
a bar with nuts
a bar filled with nuts
The same holds in case the part noun is joined to the substance noun by the phrase vol met full with:
'n blok vol met neute
a bar full with nuts
a bar filled with nuts

iii. Collective nouns as referential partitive nouns:

Collective nouns like container nouns organise individual elements in a larger whole. Collective nouns, unlike container nouns, do not require an object for integration into a larger whole. This integration in a larger whole is the result of a natural process.

Prototypical collective nouns are the noun versameling collection and the noun groep group:

a. 'n Versameling cocktail rokkies is in samewerking met die mode-huis Leo Validus ontwerp en gemaak.
a collection cocktail dresses.DIM be.AUX.PASS.PST in collaboration with the fashion-house Leo Validus design and make.PASS
A collection of cocktail dresses was designed and made in collaboration with the fashion house Leo Validus.
b. Kaapse Son het onlangs met 'n anonieme groep polisielede gepraat.
Cape Sun have.AUX recently with a anonymous group police.members talk.PST
Cape Son recently spoke to an anonymous group of police officers.

These two nouns can be joined by van of:

a. Maar dit bly vir my 'n versameling van boeke en nie iets wat ek kan aanbid nie.
but it remain for me a collection PTCL.PTV books and not something that.REL I can.AUX.MOD worship PTCL.NEG
But for me it is still just a collection of books and not something that I can worship.
b. 'n Groep van die polisie het hulle diversiteit verklaar.
a group PTCL.PTV the police have.AUX their diversity declare
A group from the police declared their diversity.

Many collective nouns refer to specific living beings, such as the noun swerm swarm, that can refer to a group of flying insects or birds, or trop herd that can only refer to a group of animals walking on land.

a. 'n Swerm bye kan egter dodelik wees!
a swarm bees can.AUX.MOD however deadly be.INF
However, a swarm of bees can be deadly!
b. 'n Swerm aasvoëls in die bome het verraai dat daar 'n vangs was.
a swarm vultures in the trees have.AUX betray that.COMP there a catch be.PRT
A colony of vultures in the trees gave away a recent kill.
c. Ons het langs die pad by 'n trop koeie gestop.
we have.AUX next the road by a herd cattle stop.PST
We stopped along the way next to a herd of cattle.

Such nouns are not attested with a linking preposition in case the construction is unexpanded:

?'n swerm van bye
a swarm PTCL.PTV bees
a swarm of bees
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