Towards a minimalist analysis of imperatives in Afrikaans : a first survey of the empirical and theoretical terrain

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Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University
ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The primary aim of this study is to provide a syntactic analysis of imperative constructions in Afrikaans, something which has not been done before. Imperatives are typically used to command the hearer to do something, or to give the hearer reason to complete some or other action. Imperative constructions are generally under-researched, and so this study contributes to the existing knowledge about imperatives, as well as to knowledge about the structure of Afrikaans. In order to address the aim of the study, a broad description of Afrikaans grammar is given, as well as the general features of imperative constructions in other West Germanic languages. In terms of the general characteristics of imperatives, the constituent order of imperatives often differs from that of other sentence types, imperatives usually use the base form of the verb, the subject of the imperative is usually left out, imperative verbs are required to refer to a controlled action, there is a restriction on tense, and most languages have dedicated prohibitive markers. The thesis provides a description of the features of Afrikaans imperatives, comparing them with imperatives in Dutch and English, as well as a syntactic account of the structure of imperatives in Afrikaans. This analysis is situated within Minimalism, and makes use of the Light Performative Hypothesis (LPH), as proposed by Alcázar & Saltarelli, (2014). According to the LPH, imperatives are characterised by a prescriptive light verb (v), and an [IMP] feature which is assigned to the sentence when the imperative verb moves to C. With regards to negative imperatives, the LPH claims that a [PROH] feature is assigned to a sentence when the Neg-element or the Neg-element combined with the prescriptive v, moves to C. In Afrikaans, as in English and Dutch, the imperative subject is rarely phonetically realised. It is, however, possible for a subject to be overt in Afrikaans imperatives, and the subject can occur before or after the verb. In Afrikaans imperatives, the bare stem of the verb is used, and the same form is used whether addressing one person or a group. Afrikaans imperatives often indicate distance in space, by differentiating between doing something close to the speaker or away from the speaker. Unlike in Dutch, Afrikaans imperatives do not allow for past tense reference, and only imperatives with future reference are acceptable. Afrikaans has a special marker moenie (“must not”) that is used instead of the first sentential negator nie (“not”) in negative imperative constructions. The LPH was used to analyse and make sense of canonical imperatives and negative imperatives / prohibitives in Afrikaans.
AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die hoofoogmerk van hierdie studie is om ‘n sintaktiese analise van imperatiewe konstruksies in Afrikaans voor te stel, iets wat nog nie vantevore gedoen is nie. Imperatiewe word tipies gebruik om ‘n opdrag aan die hoorder te gee om iets te doen, of om vir die hoorder ‘n rede te gee om een of ander aksie te voltooi. Imperatiewe konstruksies is onder-nagevors, en dus sal hierdie studie by dra tot die bestaande kennis van imperatiewe, asook tot kennis oor die struktuur van Afrikaans. Ten einde die doel van die studie aan te spreek, word ‘n beskrywing van Afrikaanse grammatika gegee, asook die algemene eienskappe van imperatiewe konstruksies in ander Wes-Germaanse tale. Met betrekking tot die algemene kenmerke van imperatiewe, verskil die woordorde van imperatiewe gewoontlik van ander sinstipes, imperatiewe gebruik meestal die basis vorm van die werkwoord, die onderwerp van die imperatief word meestal uitgelaat, imperatiewe werkwoorde moet na ‘n kontroleerbare aksie verwys, daar is ‘n beperking op die tyd van die imperatief, en meeste tale het toegewyde merkers vir negatiewe imperatiewe. Die tesis verskaf ‘n beskrywing van die eienskappe van Afrikaanse imperatiewe, en vergelyk hierdie eienskappe met dié in Nederlands en Engels, asook ‘n sintaktiese verklaring van die struktuur van imperatiewe vorme in Afrikaans. Hierdie analise was gedoen binne die teoretiese raamwerk van Minimalisme, en maak gebruik van die “Light Performative Hypothesis” (LPH), soos uiteengesit deur Alcázar & Saltarelli (2014). Volgens die LPH word imperatiewe gekarakteriseer deur ‘n preskriptiewe ligte werkwoord (v), en ‘n [IMP] eienskap wat toegeken word aan die sin wanneer die imperatiewe werkwoord na C toe skuif. Met betrekking tot negatiewe imperatiewe beweer die LPH dat ‘n [PROH] eienskap toegeken word aan die sin wanneer die Neg-element of die Neg-element gekombineer met die preskriptiewe v, na C toe skuif. In Afrikaans, soos in Engels en Nederlands, word die onderwerp selde foneties gerealiseer. Dit is tog moontlik vir ‘n onderwerp in Afrikaanse imperatiewe om gerealiseer te word, en die onderwerp kan voor or na die werkwoord voorkom. In Afrikaanse imperatiewe word die stam van die werkwoord gebruik en dieselfde vorm word gebruik wanneer daar met een persoon of ‘n groep mense gepraat word. Afrikaanse imperatiewe dui gereeld afstand aan, deur ‘n onderskeiding te tref tussen om iets na aan die spreker te doen of iets weg van die spreker te doen. Anders as in Nederlands, laat Afrikaanse imperatiewe nie verledetydsverwysing toe nie, en slegs imperatiewe met ‘n verwysing na toekomstige tyd is aanvaarbaar. Afrikaans het ‘n spesiale merker moenie wat gebruik word in plaas van die eerste negatiewe element nie in negatiewe imperatiewe konstruksies. Die LPH was gebruik om kanoniese imperatiewe asook negatiewe imperatiewe in Afrikaans te analiseer en om sin te maak van die struktuur.
Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2019.
Afrikaans language -- Imperative, Afrikaans language -- Syntax, Imperative constructions, Grammar, Comparative and general -- Imperative, UCTD