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Intransitive and pseudo-passives
quickinfo

The regular passive is available to transitive verbs, of which the active object - blommeflowers, as in (1a) - is promoted to the subject of the passive, while the subject of the active is optionally rendered as a prepositional adjunct with deurby as preposition, as in (1b).

Example 1

a. Die vriende bring blomme.
the friends bring flowers
The friends are bringing flowers.
b. Blomme word (deur die vriende) gebring.
flowers become.AUX.PASS.PRS by the friends PST.PTCP-bring
Flowers are being brought by the friends.

Passives can also be selected with intransitive verbs, but then they require either the fronting of some other element, typically an adverbial, or else the dummy adverb daarthere. Intransitive constructions are identified as passives through verbal clusters consisting of a past participle and a passive auxiliary such as word in (1b) and (2). The adverb daar may be appended to introduce new information or fill a syntactic gap, as in (2b).

Example 2

a. Op die strand word baie gesels.
on the beach become.AUX.PASS.PRS a.lot talk.PST.PTCP
On the beach, a lot of talking takes place.
b. Daar word baie gesels op die strand.
there become.AUX.PASS.PRS a.lot talk.PST.PTCP on the beach
There is a lot of talking on the beach.

Intransitive passives require both human agency and intensional or voluntary action to be acceptable, as can be seen by comparing (3a) to (3b).

Example 3

a. Daar word heeldag gesing in die tuin.
there become.AUX.PASS.PRS all-day PST.PTCP-sing in the garden
Singing is taking place in the garden all day long.
b. ? Daar word heeldag getjirp in die tuin.
there become.AUX.PASS.PRS all-day PST.PTCP-chirp in the garden
Chirping is taking place in the garden all day long.

If grammatical and semantic relations between the main verb and sentential subjects or objects are employed as criteria, it is possible to determine whether a given construction is similar in function to a regular passive, or should be categorised as a pseudo-passive or not a passive at all. On this basis (4) is very similar to a passive, (5) may be described as a pseudo-passive and (6), in spite of its past participle, is no passive at all.

Example 4

Die werk moet nou gedoen kom.
the job must now PST.PTCP-do come
The job must get done now.
Example 5

Die polisie wil vandag die probleem opgelos hê.
the police want.to today the problem solve.PST.PTCP have.INF
The police want to have the problem solved today.
Example 6

Die stakers kom aangehardloop.
the strikers come on-PST.PTCP-run
The strikers come running.
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[+] Intransitive passives

The regular passive (see section 3.2.1.1) may be viewed as a configuration of grammatical characteristics, such as having a non-agentive subject which corresponds to the object of an active construction, having a verbal cluster consisting of the past participle of a transitive main verb and a passive auxiliary and - optionally - expressing agentivity through an adjunct introduced by the preposition deurby. In this section an array of constructions are discussed which differ from the regular passive in one or more respects.

While the regular passive is available to transitive verbs, constructions consisting of past participles of intransitive main verbs and passive auxiliaries such as wordbecome.PRS or isbe.PERF as auxiliary, as in (7), may also be regarded as fully-fledged passives. This also applies to constructions with prepositional object verbs, as in (8). The adverbial particle daarthere is employed to introduce new information or simply as a syntactic "filler", as in (9). Intransitive passive constructions introduced by daar are also known as impersonal constructions, cf. Ponelis (1979:408)

Example 7

Buite word hard geskree.
outside become.AUX.PASS.PRS loud.ADV PST.PTCP-shout
There is loud shouting outside.
Example 8

Aan die deur word hard geklop.
on the door become.AUX.PASS.PRS loud.ADV PST.PTCP-knock
There is loud knocking on the door.

Although "minimal" passives such as (7) and (8) are fully acceptable, they are more frequently complemented by daar, as in (9).

Example 9

Daar word hard aan die deur geklop.
there become.AUX.PASS.PRS loud.ADV on the door PST.PTCP-knock
There is loud knocking on the door.

Daar may retain its introductory function in spite of being replaced by another constituent through topicalisation, as in (10), (11) and (12). (Cf. Ponelis (1979:408).)

Example 10

Uit die bloute word daar op hulle geskiet.
from the blue become.AUX.PASS.PRS there on them PST.PTCP-shoot
They are being shot at unexpectedly.
Example 11

Vandag word daar oor die lewe getob.
TK
today become.AUX.PASS.PRS there about the life PST.PTCP-brood
Today they are brooding about life.

In certain complex sentences with subjective or objective complements, such as the infinitival clauses in (12), sentence anaphoric ditit seems to be a competitor of introductory daarthere. This is attributed by Ponelis (1979:453) to English influence. However, the semantic convergence of (12a) and (12b) may simply be the result of passivisation. In (12b) the infinitival subordinate clause om Robert uit te jaag is in an objective or patient relationship with the matrix verb verwagexpect. But although anaphoric dit in (12a) has become the sentential subject through passivisation, it - and the infinitival clause it refers to - remains in a patient relationship with the matrix verb.

Example 12

a. Dit word van haar verwag om Robert uit te jaag.
TK
it become.AUX.PASS.PRS of her expect.PST.PTCP COMP Robert out to chase
It is expected of her to send Robert packing.
b. Daar word van haar verwag om Robert uit te jaag.
there become.AUX.PASS.PRS of her expect.PST.PTCP COMP Robert out to chase
It is expected of her to send Robert packing.

The extraction of a noun phrase, such as my motormy car from a prepositional object, as in (13), or die rivierthe riverfrom a prepositional adjunct, as in (14), is also quite common in Afrikaans.

Example 13

My motor is vandag aan gewerk.
my car be.AUX.PASS.PERF today on PST.PTCP-work
My car was worked on today.
Example 14

Die rivier word dikwels in geswem.
the river become.AUX.PASS.PRS often in PST.PTCP-swim
People often swim in the river.

Intransitive passives differ from transitive passives in that their acceptability diminishes when, as in (15), human agency or, as in (16), intensional or voluntary action, is not expressed or implied. According to Ponelis (1979:408-409) impersonal constructions are restricted to intransitive verbs which are able to take personal subjects and express an action, activity or deed.

Example 15

? Buite word daar hard geblaf.
outside become.AUX.PASS.PRS there loud.ADV PST.PTCP-bark
There is loud barking outside.
Example 16

? In die huis langsaan word daar hard gesnork.
in the house next.door become.AUX.PASS.PRS loud.ADV PST.PTCP-snore
There is loud snoring in the house next door.
[+] Pseudo-passives

As pointed out earlier (see section 3.2.1.1), the regular passive has a number of typical characteristics. One criterion is employed here to distinguish between passives, pseudo-passives and non-passives, namely whether the sentential subject assumes the role of patient in relation to the main verb (which is typically but not necessarily a past participle) (Type 1). If the patient in relation to the main verb coincides with the object rather than the subject of the sentence, the construction will be considered a pseudo-passive (Type 2), and if the agent in relation to the main verb coincides with the grammatical subject of the sentence (as in active sentences), the construction will not be considered a passive at all (Type 3). See Table 1.


Table 1: Passivisation
Type 1 Passive: Subject = patient in relation to main verb
Type 2 Pseudo-passive: Object = patient in relation to main verb
Type 3 No passive: Subject = agent in relation to main verb

In (17) the sentential subject (die probleemthe problem) has a patient role in relation to the main verb oplossolve, as would be the case in the regular passive. The construction with komcome rather than the passive auxiliary wordbecome, expresses perfective rather than inchoative or durative aspect.

Example 17

Perfective passive - type 1
Die probleem moet dadelik opgelos kom.
the problem must immediately solve-PST.PTCP come
The problem must get solved immediately.

This construction is exemplified by the following:

Example 18

haar stem skor van wat nie gesê kom nie
C. Maas, Koljander, 2013:18
her voice hoarse from what NEG PST.PTCP-say get NEG
her voice hoarse from what cannot get said
Example 19

die nuwe boek wat geskryf moet kom
A. Botes, Swart op wit, 2013:9
the new book that PST.PTCP-write must come
the new book that must get written

In (20) die probleem, which is now the object of the sentence, has a patient role in relation to the main verb oplos. With the infinitive , as in (21) to (23), agentivity is partly ascribed to the sentential subject, as in active constructions, although external agentivity cannot be excluded.

Example 20

Pseudo-passive (with past participle) - type 2
Ons sal die probleem binnekort opgelos hê.
we will the problem soon solve.PST.PTCP have.INF
We will have the problem solved soon.
Example 21

Jy wil jou brood aan albei kante gebotter hê.
TK
you.SG want your bread on both sides PST.PTCP-butter have.INF
You want your bread buttered on both sides.
Example 22

die moontlike vrae ... wat Joubert beantwoord wil
TK
the possible questions which Joubert answer.PST.PTCP want.to have.INF
the questions Joubert might want to have answered

With houkeep in (23) agentivity is restricted to die olifantethe elephants, which is not the object of the main verb, while with kryget in (24) agentivity is expressed by a deur adjunct, as in passives. (Kry constructions are described extensively by Molnárfi (1995) and Molnárfi (1997).

Example 23

En die olifante wat hom soms ure in 'n boom opgejaag hou
D. Matthee, Toorbos, 2003:34
and the elephants which him sometimes hours in a tree up-PST.PTCP-chase keep
and the elephants chasing him which sometimes confine him to a tree for hours
Example 24

die soort voorwaarde wat ons relatief maklik deur 'n hof opsy geskuif kan kry
TK
the kind.of condition which we relative.ADV easily by a court aside PST-PTCP-move can get
the kind of condition which can have a court set aside relatively easily

In (25), the implied agent of the main verb adverteeradvertise is non-identical with the sentential subject hyhe.

Example 25

en hy wil dit net nie geadverteer sien nie
C. Paul-Hughes, Leila, 2005:25
and he want.to it only NEG PST.PTCP-advertise see NEG
and he only doesn't want to see it advertised

In the examples with kryget, komcome, lie and staanstand from (26) to (31), the sentential subject always has an agentive role in relation to the main verb. Since this a typical characteristic of active constructions, these examples cannot be considered to be passives.

Example 26

Type 3: no passive
Ons sal die probleem binnekort opgelos kry.
we will the problem soon solve-PST.PTCP get
We will get the problem solved soon.
Example 27

soos hy probeer het om gesluk te kry
M. van Niekerk & A. van Zyl, Memorandum, 2006:71
as he try.PST.PTCP have.AUX.PERF COMP PST.PTCP-swallow to get
as he tried to succeed in swallowing
Example 28

mistige weer ... wat van die see af aangesif kom
TK
foggy weather that from the sea off sift-PST.PTCP come
foggy weather that comes sifting from the sea
Example 29

En Kupido ... kom by die skerm uitgebuk
A.P. Brink, Bidsprinkaan, 2005:67
And Kupido come at the shelter out-PST.PTCP-stoop
And Kupido came stooping out of the shelter
Example 30

twee litte van 'n vinger lê aangerol teen die witgeverfde vloerlys.
D. Meyer, Kobra, 2013:7
two joints of a finger lie on-PST.PTCP-roll against the white-PST.PTCP-paint skirting
two finger joints had rolled against the white-washed skirting
Example 31

.
In sy slaaphut staan Baas met sy kop teen sy klererak geleun
P. Pieterse, Manaka, 2005:128
in his sleeping.hut stand Baas with his head against his clothes.rack PST.PTCP-lean
Baas stood in his sleeping hut with his head leaned against his clothes rack.

In constructions with causativelaatlet, as in (32) and (33), the object of the sentence may also have a patient role in relation to the main verb, just as in the case of (17) above. Although the main verb is not a past participle, agentivity may be expressed by a deur adjunct, as in (32).

Example 32

Pseudo-passive (without past participle) - type 2
Ons sal die probleem deur haar laat oplos.
we will the problem by her let solve
We will let the problem be solved by her.
Example 33

Mattie gaan hier moet laat stofsuig.
E.Venter, Wolf, wolf, 2013:37
Mattie go here must let vacuum
Mattie is going to have to let (someone) vacuum here.

In (34a), the sentential subject, geen vervoerno transport, has a patient role in relation to an infinitival complement, here headed by the verb vindfind, and according to the criterion adopted before, this construction should also be classified as a passive. In comparison to a regular passive, such as (34b), it is, however, a semantically and syntactically specialised construction, which includes the modal sense of 'capability'. The same parallel with 'capability' passives can be seen in (35) and (36).

Example 34

Te passive - type 1
a. Geen vervoer was daar te vinde nie.
no transport be.PRT there to find.INF NEG
No transport was to be found there.
b. Geen vervoer kon daar gevind word nie.
no transport can.PRT there PST.PTCP-vind become.AUX.PASS NEG
No transport could be found there.
Example 35

a. geniet wat daar te geniete is
J. le Roux, Wolfskof, 2004:84
enjoy what there to enjoy.INF be.COP.PRS
enjoy what there is to enjoy
b. geniet wat daar geniet kan word
enjoy what there enjoy.PST.PTCP can become.AUX.PASS.PRS
enjoy whatever can be enjoyed
Example 36

a. aangesien dit kunsvorme is wat op hul eie te beoefen is
TK
as it art.forms be.COP.PRS that on their own to practise.INF be.COP.PRS
because these are art forms that can be practised on their own
b. aangesien dit kunsvorme is wat op hul eie beoefen kan word
as this art.forms be.COP.PRS that on their own practise.PST.PTCP can become.AUX.PASS
because these are art forms that can be practised on their own
References:
  • Molnárfi, L1995Wie kry wat in 'iets gedoen kry'?: oor die resultatiewe kry+Part II-konstruksies in die huidige Afrikaans.Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe35109-127
  • Molnárfi, L1997'He gets the problem solved': oor die funksionele grammatikalisasie van 'get' en 'kry' in Engels en Afrikaans.South African Journal of Linguistics1518-26
  • Ponelis, F.A1979Afrikaanse sintaksis.Van Schaik
  • Ponelis, F.A1979Afrikaanse sintaksis.Van Schaik
  • Ponelis, F.A1979Afrikaanse sintaksis.Van Schaik
  • Ponelis, F.A1979Afrikaanse sintaksis.Van Schaik
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