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Reciprocal pronouns

A reciprocal is a type of pronoun that must find an antecedent within a local domain, which is generally the clause. The semantic effect of a reciprocal is that each individual making up the antecedent is involved in an event which involves the other individuals as well. In addition, the individuals making up the antecedent are not reflexively involved in the event. Consider the following example:

Kom ons help mekaar soos bure.
come we help each.other like neighbours
Let us help each other like neighbours.

Those included in the ons we are necessarily also included in the mekaar each other / one another. The form mekaar is the default choice for Afrikaans speakers, with a few others that occur infrequently in language use.

[+]The reciprocal pronoun mekaar

The most frequently used reciprocal pronoun in Afrikaans is mekaar. It is used in three syntactic constructions. The first is as the syntactic object, as illustrated in (2a-b). The second is as part of a PP (in 2c-d), and also as part of a genitive construction (in 2e-f).

a. Ons het mekaar nodig.
we have each.other need
We need each other.
b. Die twee vul mekaar dus aan.
the two supplement each.other then PREP.PTCL
The two supplement one another.
c. Hulle praat met mekaar, en hy vra haar opinie oor sake.
they talk with each.other and he ask her opinion about matters
They talk to each other, and he asks her opinion on matters.
d. Produsente kan van mekaar leer.
producers can.AUX.MOD from each.other learn
Producers can learn from one another.
e. Laat ons mekaar se hande vat, en saam oplossings vind.
let us each.other PTCL.GEN hands take and together solutions find
Let us take one another's hands, and find solutions together.
VivA-KPO, adapted
f. Julle toon jul toewyding aan mekaar se welsyn.
you.PL show your.PL dedication to each.other PTCL.GEN wellbeing
You show your dedication to each other's wellbeing.
VivA-KPO, adapted
[+]Other reciprocal pronouns

According to De Stadler (1989:413) and Ponelis (1993:195), there are two further reciprocal pronouns: the phrases die een die ander one another (see 3a) and elk die ander each other (see 3b).

a. Julle mag die een die ander nie bedrieg nie.
you.PL may.AUX.MOD the one the other not deceive PTCL.NEG
You may not deceive one another.
b. Die aardse son en die Son van geregtigheid moet hulle beligting saam laat smelt, en elk die ander openbaar.
the earthly sun and the Sun of righteousness must.AUX.MOD their lighting together let melt and each the other reveal
The earthly sun and the Sun of righteousness should let their light melt together, revealing each other.

Two further forms are rarely used, as they are fairly archaic forms inherited from Dutch (Kirsten 2016:202). The first form is elkaar (see 4a-c) and the other is elkander (see 4d-f).

a. Langsaam verstaan ons elkaar.
slowly understand we each.other
Slowly we understand each other.
b. Met 'n vierkant sny die diagonale mekaar in die middel en staan hulle loodreg teenoor elkaar.
with a square cut the diagonals each.other in the middle and stand they perpendicular against each.other
With a square, the diagonals cut each other in the middle and are perpendicular to one another.
c. Waardeer en eer elkaar se gawes.
appreciate and honour each.other PTCL.GEN gifts
Appreciate and honour each other's gifts.
d. Die karakters slaan elkander met vuiste, sambokke, jukskeie, kieries en ysters.
the characters hit one.another with fists whips yokes canes and irons
The characters his each other with fists, whips, yokes, canes and irons.
e. Ons vat mekaar mos nie aan nie, ons voel nie eens aan elkander nie.
we take each.other surely not on PTCL.NEG we feel not even on one.another PTCL.NEG
But we do not take each other on, we do not even touch one another.
VivA-KPO, adapted
f. En kritiek op elkander se werk?
and criticism on one.another PTCL.NEG work
And criticism on one another's work?
[+]Compounds with mekaar each.other

There are several adverbs and adjectives that form with a preposition and mekaar each.other added at the end. Several are exemplified in (5). Adjectival use is illustrated in (5d, 5f-h), and the others are adverbial.

a. Die enjins moet in werkende toestand wees en vir vyf minute aanmekaar loop.
the engines must.AUX.MOD in working condition be.INF and for five minutes ongoing run
The engines should be in working condition and be able to run five minutes consecutively.
VivA-KPO, adapted
b. Ek hoor aanmekaar van die uitwerking van MIV en vigs op sake-ondernemings.
I hear constantly about the effect of HIV and aids on business-ventures
I hear about the effect of HIV and aids on businesses all the time.
VivA-KPO, adapted
c. Maar dis jul plig as my seuns en dogters om jul sake agtermekaar te kry en aktiewe burgers te word.
but it.is your.PL duty as my sons and daughters for.COMP your.PL matters behind.each.other PTCL.INF get.INF and active citizens PTCL.INF become.INF
But it is your duty as my sons and daughters to get your matters in order and become active citizens.
d. Met die afklimslag sien ek die plek is nogal agtermekaar.
with the off.climb.case see I the place be.PRS rather behind.each.other
While dismounting I see that the place is well put together.
e. Plant plante bymekaar volgens hulle waterbehoeftes.
plant plants together according their water.needs
Plant plants together according to their water needs.
VivA-KPO, adapted
f. Ek is nog deurmekaar.
I be.PRS still confused
I am still confused.
VivA-KPO, adapted
g. Hoekom is al die diere deurmekaar?
why be.PRS all the animals mixed
Why are all the animals mixed together?
VivA-KPO, adapted
h. Maar ek was reeds deurmekaar met Angel.
but I be.PRT already involved with Angel
But I was already involved with Angel.
i. Linkerbeen oor regterbeen gekruis, hande inmekaar gevou.
left.leg over right.leg crossed hands in.each.other folded
Left leg crossed over right leg, hands folded together.
j. Hy bewe en sy tande klap opmekaar.
he shiver and his teeth clatter on.each.other
He is shivering and his teeth clattering.
k. Klip vou sy hande vroom teenmekaar en slaan sy groot oë hemelwaarts.
Klip fold his hands piously against.each.other and aim his big eyes heaven.ways
Klip folds his hands together piously and looks up at the heaven.
l. Abram word bevorder en die Rademans verhuis na Stanger, en die gesin breek uitmekaar.
Abram be.AUX.PASS.PRS promote.PASS and the Rademans move to Stanger and the family break out.each.other
Abram is promoted and the Rademans move to Stanger, and the family is breaking up.

Some of these terms have a more concrete and a more abstract meaning. For instance, aanmekaar can refer to consecutively as in (5a) but also to all the time as in (5b). The term deurmekaar can refer to confused (5f), mixed (5g) as well as involved (5h).

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