The Hulle and Goed Constructions in Afrikaans

  • Gerhard B. van Huyssteen
Part of the Studies in Morphology book series (SUMO, volume 4)


Over the past more than 100 years, Afrikaans associative plural constructions – especially constructions with hulle (‘they’) and goed (‘things/stuff; good’) as right-hand components – have been studied from both diachronic and synchronic perspectives, but with the main interest in their origins, and what they could tell us about the genesis of Afrikaans. One school of thought claims that they both have Germanic roots, while the other school maintains that both are creole constructions. No definitive conclusions have been reached. Moreover, there is no consensus on whether these constructions should be regarded as noun phrases, compounds, or derived words. The most recent synchronic description of the hulle construction was published in 1969, and the last synchronic description of the goed construction in 1989. In the absence of corpus data, unsubstantiated claims about these constructions abound in the literature. This article presents a synchronic, corpus-based, constructionist description of these two Afrikaans constructions. They are characterised as hybrid constructions on a scale between compounds and derivations, while some remarks on their productivity are made. Based on detailed analyses of their right- and left-hand components, the article concludes with a categorisation network of the schemas and subschemas of these constructions.


Afrikaans Associative plural Cognitive grammar Construction morphology Compounding 



I would like to acknowledge the many insightful conversations I had with Christo van Rensburg, who is a truly inspiring source of knowledge about Afrikaans, its genesis, and varieties. My gratitude also goes to Geert Booij and Ton van der Wouden for their comments; to Bertus van Rooy and Suléne Pilon for insightful conversations; to Jana Luther who did many searches in her corpora for me; and to Benito Trollip who diligently helped with the semantic annotations. All fallacies, however, remain mine.

This work is based on research supported by the National Research Foundation (NRF). Any opinion, finding and conclusion or recommendation expressed in this material is that of the author, and the NRF does not accept any liability in this regard.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Text Technology (CTexT)North-West UniversityPotchefstroomSouth Africa

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