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PP Complements

A noun may take a complement of the category adposition phrase (PP). A PP functions as a complement, when it completes the meaning of the noun phrase(Huddleston and Pullum 2002) (in other words – the PP complement can be regarded as part of the content of the NP). In example (1a) below, the noun gesprek discussion takes a complement introduced by the preposition oor about. In example (2a), the noun besluit decision takes a complement introduced by the preposition rondom around.

a. Meer as 350 gaste het kom luister na Snyman se gesprek oor sy boek.
More than 350 guests have.AUX come listen to Snyman PTCL.GEN discussion about his book
More than 350 guests came to listen to Snyman talking about his book.
b. Die jagter se goeie oordeel is nodig om die regte besluit rondom die mees geskikte kaliber vir die jagtog te maak.
the hunter PTCL.GEN good judgement be.PRS needed for.COMP the correct descision around the best suited caliber for the hunt PTCL.INF make.INF
The hunter's good judgement is needed to make the correct descision regarding the most appropriate caliber for the hunt

The PP complement may refer to an element of the event referred to by the noun. The PP follows the noun. In (2) below, the preposition oor about introduces an element of the talking event.

Hierdie toespraak is gelewer by die US Woordfees 2016 se gesprek oor meertaligheid.
this speech be.AUX.PASS.PST deliver.PASS at the US word.festival 2016 PTCL.GEN talk about multilingualism
This talk was delivered at the discussion on multilingualism at the US Woordfees 2016.

The preposition van of can be used for agents, themes and possessors, as in the example below:

Lekker om weer 'n foto van jou te sien.
nice for.COMP again a photo PTCL.GEN you.SG PTCL.INF see.INF
Nice to see a picture of you again.

Agents, themes and possessors can also be externally realised, that is, in front of the NP, in the genitive position where the possessive particle se 's show up. An example involving a possessor is given below:

Maar waar is die meisie se ouers?
but where be.PRS the girl PTCL.GEN parents
But where are the girl's parents?

The term 'possessor' is ambiguous. Semantically, it refers to the thematic role of possessor. Syntactically, it refers to a designated position external to the NP domain in which PPs are found. So, the complement of the preposition van of semantically a possessor, but not syntactically, in the sentence below:

Waar is die ouers van die meisie?
where be.PRS the parents PTCL.GEN the girl
Where is the parents of the girl?

In (5) above, die meisie the girl is syntactically the possessor, as well as semantically. Predicative PPs can be distinguished from complementive PPs. Predicative PPs can be found in copular constructions, as is illustrated below for the temporal PPvan gister of yesterday:

Die kos is nog van gister.
the food be.PRS still from yesterday
This food is still left from yesterday.

Even though it may occur in informal (usually spoken) language use, in Afrikaans, prepositional complements cannot be extracted from their PP.

?Die skilder wat ek 'n skildery van het.
that painter that.REL I a painting of have.PRS
The painter that I have a painting of
  • Huddleston, Rodney & Pullum, Geoffrey (eds.)2002The Cambridge grammar of the English languageCambridgeCambridge University Press
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