The subjective use of postural verbs in Afrikaans (II): A corpus analysis of CPV en in Zefrikaans

  • Adri Breed School of Languages, Potchefstroom Campus, North-West University
Keywords: cardinal postural verb, CPV, grammaticalisation, postural, progressive, modal use, subjective, Zefrikaans


A general linguistic use of progressive aspect is to express some kind of subjective meaning. In other words, this aspectual construction is applied to postulate the speaker’s attitude towards or emotional involvement with a particular situation. Although this practice occurs in all three Afrikaans progressive constructions, it is clear that the postural progressive in Afrikaans in particular became specialised with respect to subjective expression. The CPV [1] en construction is even used in contexts where its meaning cannot be interpreted as progressive  (for example, stative or anterior situation types), and furthermore this construction collocates significantly strongly with negative communication verbs (verbs like skinder (''gossip''), kla (''complain'') and pla (''bother''). The subjective use of progressive constructions in Afrikaans has not received much attention to date. In two complementary articles (this article and The subjective use of postural verb in Afrikaans (I): evolution from progressive to modal) the development and use of the CPV en as subjective or interpretative construction, are investigated. The purpose of this second article is to conduct a corpus investigation in a corpus that is appropriate for optimally examining the subjective use of the CPV en construction potential, namely a recent Afrikaans corpus characterised by non-standard, informal, spoken or conversational language. The Corpus 1.0 (2015), as a corpus of “Zefrikaans” is examined for this purpose. Whereas the first article focused on the development of the postular construction to express subjective or modal meaning, the purpose of this article is to investigate the use of the subjective CPV en. From a grammaticalisation perspective, it is indicated that the different frequency relations are a first strong indication that CPV en has been further grammaticalised in Zefrikaans than in Standard Afrikaans, and that the modal and subjective use of the construction is therefore probably also applied more productively in Zefrikaans. Secondly, a collexeme analysis is done of the main verbs that collocate with CPV en and it is found that the Zefrikaans construction, similar to the manner in which it is used in Standard Afrikaans, collocates significantly strongly with seven verb categories, namely with verbs i) social interaction; ii) creative activity; iii) perception; iv) cognitive activity; v) biology; vi) inactivity; and vii) negative communication. In the Zefrikaans collocation list, however, there are many words with a strong modal or interpretive undertone, that are non-standard or informal, or can even be regarded as vulgar, crude and inappropriate. The results of the corpus investigation confirmed that the CPV en construction mainly occurs in non-standard, informal, spoken or "conversational" Afrikaans.[1]     The term CPV refers to cardinal postural verbs "which (commonly) profiles the Agent as assuming one of the [three] cardinal postures when carrying out the activity" (Lemmens 2005:1). In this article the four postural verbs sit 'sit', staan 'stand', lê 'lie' and loop 'walk' are regarded as CPVs. In most typological literature on postural verbs, loop ('walk') is not regarded as a postural verb, as it rather is a dynamic activity verb. However, as indicated by Breed (2012), loop in Afrikaans has the same semantic features, lexical form and grammatical function as the grammaticalised CPV en progressive, and in this article it is therefore considered and discussed entirely as a cardinal postural construction.


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How to Cite
Breed, A. (2017). The subjective use of postural verbs in Afrikaans (II): A corpus analysis of CPV en in Zefrikaans. Stellenbosch Papers in Linguistics Plus, 52, 23-43.