Die grammatikalisering van aspek in Afrikaans : 'n semantiese studie van perifrastiese progressiewe konstruksies
Breed, Catharina Adriana
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Temporal constructions in Afrikaans are ambiguous with respect to aspectual meaning. The past tense construction with het ge-, for instance, can be interpreted as progressive, perfective or anterior. In the same vein, the unmarked present tense construction can be interpreted as a construction with a progressive or a perfective meaning. This aspectual ambiguity of the Afrikaans verbal system has a significant effect on the way in which Afrikaans grammar is described or understood. The observation by native speakers, linguists, literary specialists and writers that the temporal constructions in Afrikaans are vague or ambiguous with regard to aspectual meaning has led to certain views about the expression of tense in the language. In Afrikaans literature, for example, there is a tradition to write prose primarily in the present tense, because of the perception that the past tense is not adequate to convey particular semantic nuances. Furthermore, certain speakers of Afrikaans and linguists believe that Afrikaans grammar has been simplified and just does not have aspect. However, Afrikaans possesses alternative strategies to specify aspectual meaning. The five prototypical ways of expressing aspectual meaning in Afrikaans are i) lexical constructions (such as adverbs and conjunctions); ii) constructions with affixes, iii) reduplication constructions; iv) passive constructions; and v) periphrastic constructions. Aspectual meaning in Afrikaans is an almost entirely unexplored research field. In my opinion, the literature on the expressions of aspectual meaning in Afrikaans contains two shortcomings. First, Afrikaans aspect needs to be described theoretically. Second, more research is needed concerning the specific ways in which aspectual meaning is expressed in Afrikaans. The scope of this entire research field is too large for a single study. For that reason, the present study aims to reveal the way in which periphrastic constructions are used to convey progressive meaning. As far as temporal meaning is concerned, it is possible to make a distinction between tempus meaning, which stands for deictic temporal meanings (i.e. past, present and future tense), and aspectual meaning, which stands for non-deictic temporal meanings such as duration, point of view and the internal structure of the situation. One can also distinguish between lexical and grammatical aspect. Lexical aspect has to do with the conceptual properties of a situation or, in other words, with the question whether it is static or dynamic, telic or atelic and durative. There are five situation types: states, activities, achievements, accomplishments and semelfactives. Grammatical aspect concerns the point of view from which the situation is perceived. One can make a distinction between perfective and imperfective grammatical aspect. The latter can be subdivided into imperfectives conveying habitual meaning and imperfectives conveying progressive meaning. Grammaticalisation theory is useful and a relevant tool to provide answers to the afore-mentioned research questions. First, it offers insight into the manner in which the ambiguous tempus constructions of Afrikaans came into being. Second, it can be used to show how the alternative aspectual constructions have developed and how they are currently employed in the language. For the purpose of this study, grammaticalisation is regarded as language change in which a construction loses its lexical meaning and comes to express grammatical meaning. Grammatical constructions can be used in more contexts than their lexical counterparts, as grammaticalised uses have been generalized contextually. Grammatical constructions lose the morphosyntactic properties typical of their lexical counterparts and assume grammatical properties. Grammaticalisation is a typological phenomenon and the lexical origin of a grammatical construction is often the same in different languages. Grammaticalizing constructions exhibit an increase in frequency. Afrikaans and Dutch are closely related languages and possess cognate periphrastic progressive constructions, viz. i) the aan het- / aan die- ii) VPOS te / VPOS en-; en iii) bezig- / besig- progressive constructions. To examine the use of periphrastic progressive constructions in Afrikaans from a grammaticalisation perspective, I compare the results of a study of these constructions in an Afrikaans corpus to those of previous studies of the periphrastic progressive constructions in Dutch. The respective constructions are compared on the basis of four criteria, viz. i) frequency; ii) verb collocations; iii) transitivity; and iv) combinatorial possibilities with other aspectual periphrastic constructions. The lexical origins of the various constructions are also considered. The comparison of the constructions on the basis of the afore-mentioned criteria makes it possible to demonstrate how the periphrastic progressive constructions in Afrikaans came into being and how they have developed into grammatical constructions conveying aspectual meaning and in which way the different Afrikaans periphrastic constructions express progressive meaning.
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