Winner takes too many: Evaluativity and (in)variability in the Afrikaans equative and excessive constructions

Vortragende(r) Berghoff, Robyn
Institution(en) Stellenbosch University
Workshop/Tagung Semantikzirkel
Datum 10.07.2019
Uhrzeit 15:30 Uhr
Ort 4th floor, room 403


Afrikaans has two degree modifiers both translatable as ‘much’, ‘many’, or ‘a lot’, namely veel and baie. The latter is vastly more frequent than the former in most degree modification contexts. However, the default excessive and equative constructions in Afrikaans, like their Dutch ancestral counterparts, still use veel, thus te veel ‘too much’ and ewe veel ‘as much’, not te baie and ewe baie. In this presentation, I propose that veel has remained dominant in these constructions because te baie and ewe baie retain a marked meaning. This marked meaning is argued to be one of evaluativity, where baie in the excessive and equative makes reference to a high degree, whereas veel does not. I present judgment data that support this interpretation, but also indicate the occurrence of a markedness shift, where te/ewe baie for some speakers may serve as neutral substitutes for te/ewe veel. The implications of this shift for the broader landscape of Afrikaans degree modification are considered.