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Demonstrative pronouns

There are three demonstrative pronouns in Afrikaans. The proximal demonstrative pronoun is hierdie this/these (1a) and the distal demonstrative pronoun is daardie that/those (1b). The short form dié this/these/that/those (1c) is often unspecified for distance.

a. Volg net hierdie eenvoudige aanwysings om in te skakel.
follow just these simple directions for.COMP in PTCL.INF tune.INF
Just follow these simple directions to tune in.
b. Nou moet ons daardie nasie uitbou.
now must.AUX.MOD we that nation out.build
Now we should expand that nation.
VivA-KPO, adapted
c. Dié ontwikkelaars is gewoonlik munisipaliteite.
these developers be.PRS usually municipalities
These developers are usually municipalities.
[+]Attributive demonstrative pronouns

The demonstrative pronouns are often used attributively, as a determiner in a NP. In the literature, the demonstratives hierdie and dié are often lumped together as proximal demonstratives, with daardie being the distal demonstrative (De Stadler 1989:138). However, Kirsner (2014:45-46) makes a convincing argument that hierdie and dié should not be lumped together so easily. The hier here in hier+die does indicate proximity (as in 2a), and the daar there in daar+die indicates distance (as in 2b). The variant dié is, then, unspecified for distance (Kirsner 2014:48). In example (2c) it is used to specify a date that is clearly far removed, indicating that it does not necessarily refer to proximate entities. The reason why there is an impression that dié has a proximate connotation could be that speakers tend to talk about and refer to things that are close to them more often than things that are further away, so even though dié is not specified for distance, it would be used with reference to proximate entities more often than distant entities.

a. Suid-Afrika kan nie hierdie verlies aan kundigheid bekostig nie.
South-Africa can.AUX.MOD not this loss on expertise afford PTCL.NEG
South African cannot afford this loss of expertise.
b. Op daardie tydstip word die beraming as akkuraat aanvaar.
on that time.point be.AUX.PASS.PRS the estimation as accurate accept.PASS
At that point in time the estimate is accepted as accurate.
c. Op dié tydstip, 1862, was Gereformeerde kerk Rustenburg, die eerste in die kerkverband, sowat drie jaar oud.
on this time.point 1862 be.PRT Reformed church Rustenburg the first in the denomination about three years old
At that point in time, 1862, the Reformed church Rustenburg, the first in the denomination, was about three years old.

Apart from the standard forms in example (2), there are also more informal variants of the demonstratives. The variants of hierdie are typically just shortened spellings or spelling imitating pronunciation closely (3a-b), also present for daardie (3c). However, a more significantly shortened version of daardie is daai (3d), widely used in spoken language especially but also in more informal written language. Another informal variant is doerie (3e), analogical to daardie but with the first element doer being an informal locative adverb referring to a location that is particularly far away.

a. Jy moet hierie outjie drie keer kyk.
you.SG must.AUX.MOD this guy.DIM three times watch
You should watch this one three times.
b. Hierrie mense glo mos in spoke, jong.
these humans believe surely in ghosts young
These people believe in ghosts, you know.
c. Bring vir my darie langwerpige doos.
bring for me that oblong box
Bring me that oblong box.
d. Het u daai skietery gesien?
have.AUX you.HON that shooting see.PST
Did you see that shooting?
e. Doerie tyd was daar besluit ons gaan soggens vroeër inval.
that time be.AUX.PASS.PRT there decide.PASS we go mornings earlier in.fall
That time it was decided that we will fall in earlier in the morning.

The variant daai is occasionally used in compounds, such as daaikant that side. In (4) it is used alongside the compound diékant this side, illustrating that while dié is not necessarily specified for proximity, it is indeed sometimes used with the implication of proximity, especially when contrasted with daardie or daai.

Die meeu draai sy kop nou diékant toe, nou daaikant toe.
the gull turn his head now this.side to now that.side to
The seagull turns his head first to this side, then to that side.
[+]Independent demonstrative pronouns

There are two types of indepent use of demonstrative pronouns in Afrikaans. The one, uncontroversial use includes anaphoric reference to something that appears earlier in the sentence, with a specifying function, such as (5a-c).

a. Dis 'n goeie plek hierdie, meneer.
it.is a good place this mister
It's a good place here, sir.
b. Dit sou noord wees daardie.
it want.to.AUX.MOD.PRT north be.INF that
That would be north.
c. Lof soos dié is vir ons 'n groot eer.
praise like this be.PRS for us a great honour
Praise like this is a great honour for us.

The other independent use of demonstratives is with purely deictic reference, without a noun or NP – not functioning as a determiner or modifier in any way. While this use of dié (6a) is uncontroversial, it is discouraged with hierdie and daardie in some prescriptive sources (Carstens 2018). However, this usage still widely occurs in Afrikaans data (6b-c). In fact, the independent use of demonstratives is so well established that it is used similarly to nouns, for instance as plurals (6d-f).

a. Dié is nie terugwerkbeurse nie.
these be.PRS not back.work.bursaries PTCL.NEG
These are not bursaries that you have to work back.
VivA-KPO, adapted
b. Hierdie moet seker 'n groot skok vir jou wees.
this must probably a big shock for you.SG be.INF
This must.AUX.MOD be a big shock for you.
c. Wat is daardie, Koos?
what be.PRS that Koos
What is that, Koos?
d. Sy het gedreig sy gaan nie weer vir hom skoene gee as hy diés ook verloor nie.
she have.AUX threat.PST she go not again for him shoes give if he these also lose PTCL.NEG
She threatened that she will not give him shoes again if he loses these.
e. Hulle is groter as hierdies.
they be.PRS bigger PTCL.SIMT these
They are bigger than these.
f. Kan ek na daardies kyk, asseblief?
can.AUX.MOD I at those look please
Can I look at those, please?

The informal variants of the demonstratives are used in the independent senses as well, illustrated in (7).

a. Sanet, het jy hierie gelees?
Sanet have.AUX you.SG this read.PST
Sanet, did you read this?
b. Hieries met die plat wolblaar maak so 'n blouvaal blommetjie.
these with the flat wool.leaf make such a blue.pale flower.DIM
These with the flat wool leaf make a small pale blue flower.
VivA-KPO, adapted
c. Jirre bra, ek dink daai is 'n 2012 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350?
lord bro I think that be.PRS a 2012 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350
Lord bro, I think that's a 2012 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350?
d. Ek het mos nie van daais nie.
I have surely not of those PTCL.NEG
I don't have any of those.
e. Wie onthou nog die retro, ongeglasuurde, teracotta-kasserolle waarin veral hoenders met groot fanfare in die 1970's gaargemaak is, doeries wat jy eers 'n halfuur in water moes lê?
who remember still the retro unglazed teracotta-pots REL.in especially chickens with great fanfare in the 1970s cook.PASS be.AUX.PASS.PST those that.REL you.SG first a half.hour in water must.AUX.MOD.PRT lie
Who still remembers the retro, unglazed teracotta pots used to cook especially chickens in the 1970s, those that you had to put in water for half an hour first?
  • Carstens, W.A.M2018Norme vir Afrikaans: enkele riglyne by die gebruik van AfrikaansPretoria: Van Schaik
  • De Stadler, L.G1989Afrikaanse semantiek.Southern Boekuitgewers
  • Kirsner, R.S2014Qualitative-Quantitative Analyses of Dutch and Afrikaans grammar and lexicon.ReeksJohn Benjamins Publishing Company
  • Kirsner, R.S2014Qualitative-Quantitative Analyses of Dutch and Afrikaans grammar and lexicon.ReeksJohn Benjamins Publishing Company
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