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The NP as predicate

The noun phrase can be used as complementive or copular predicate of the copular construction and the transitive stative construction, where it encodes an attribute or a defining quality of an argument in the clause, the subject of the copular construction or the direct object of the transitive stative construction. These two uses of the noun phrase are illustrated in example (1) and (2). Noun phrases are not typically used as complementives with resultative constructions, where adjective phrases or preposition phrases are more typically used.

a. Namibië is 'n vreeslik rotsagtige plek.
Namibia be.PRS a very rocky place
Namibia is a very rocky place.
b. Die vrug is die grootte van 'n hoendereier.
the fruit be.PRS the size of a chicken.egg
The fruit is the size of a chicken egg.
a. Ek vind hom 'n aangename persoon.
I find him a pleasant person
I find him a pleasant person.
b. Hy vind haar die betroubaarste tolk aan die Kaap.
he find her the reliable.SUPL interpreter on the Cape
He finds her the most reliable interpreter in the Cape.
SM Beukes: Vertaling in Suid-Afrika, 1993
[+]Indefinite NP

An indefinite NP is widely used as complementive in the copular and stative transitive construction. It encodes an attribute that is ascribed to another NP. The other NP is the subject of the copular construction, and the direct object of the stative resultative construction. The stative resultative represents two propositions in one clause: there is a particular attribute that is acribed to another NP, similar to the copular construction, but then there is also a syntactic subject of the clause who perceives the relationship between the attribute and its carrier. In the case of the indefinite complementive of the copular construction, the NP very often refers to a profession, as shown by example (3a) and (3b), but it can also ascribe some other general characterisation of the syntactic subject, as illustrated by (3c).

a. Haar man is 'n vlieënier daar in Dunnottar.
her husband be.PRS a pilot there in Dunnottar
Her husband is a pilot there in Dunnottar.
b. My vrou is 'n verpleegster.
my wife be.PRS a nurse
My wife is a nurse.
c. Die kêrel is 'n oujongkêrel.
the guy be.PRS a bachelor
The guy is a bachelor.

In the case of the stative transitive construction, the complementive NP typically denotes a general characterisation of the object of the clause, which has to be open to interpretation and therefore somewhat subjective, otherwise the process of perceiving such a relationship by the subject of the clause would be vacuous. There is often a degree of subjective evaluation implied by the construction, in which case even ostensibly neutral formulations are often interpreted as if they imply some kind of judgement, as illustrated by (4a), which cannot be taken to simply ascribe the male gender to the object, but rather the judgement that he is an exceptional exemplar of maleness.

a. Sy vind hom 'n man.
she find him a man
She finds him a man.
b. Ek ag hom 'n vlugrisiko.
I regard him a flight.risk
I regard him as a flight risk.
[+]Definite NP

A definite NP predicate in a copular construction usually serves to identify or define the subject of the clause, rather than ascribe an attribute to the subject. While losing the defining function, the inversion of subject and predicate is typically possible because of the identity that is implied between the two nominal constituents of the copular clause. These options are illustrated by the examples in (5).

a. Calvinia is die hoofstad van die Noordweste.
Calvinia be.PRS the capital.city of the North.West
Calvinia is the capital of the North West
a.' Die hoofstad van die Noordweste is Calvinia.
the capital.city of the north.west be.PRS Calvinia
The capital of the North West is Calvinia.
b. Beskrywende meetkunde is die kwaaiste vak op varsity.
descriptive geometry be.PRS the angry.SUPL subject on varsity
Descriptive geometry is the hardest subject at varisty.
PCSA, adjusted
b.' Die kwaaiste vak op varsity is beskrywende meetkunde.
the angry.SUPL subject on varsity be.PRS descriptive geometry
The hardest subject at varsity is descriptive geometry.

In the stative transitive construction, definite NP complementives with verbs like noem to call also allow for a form of classification to be achieved, which may be subjective as is typical with the stative transitive, as in (6a), but may be intended as a declarative speech act, as in (6b) and (6c).

a. Didi noem hom “die held van die skool” en hy noem haar Taxi-girl.
Didi call him the hero of the school and he call her taxi-girl
Didi calls him "the hero of the school"and he calls her Taxi-girl.
S. Scheeres: Glam-Divas 1: Thalia, 2011
b. Die Skrif noem Hom die Alfa en die Omega.
the scripture call Him the alpha and the omega
The Scripture calls Him the Alpha and the Omega.
B. Nolte: Waarheen nou?, 2010
c. Hulle noem hom die huilboom.
they call him the cry.tree
They call it the weeping wattle.
A. Geers: Vlerke vir Jakomien, 2011

There is no possibility of inversion between object and complementive in the stative transitive construction corresponding to the inversion of definite predicates with the subject in the copular construction.

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