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Imperative sentences usually occur in speech acts such as orders, requests, and pleas. However, they are also used to give advice, and to grant permission, and are sometimes found in advertisements, good wishes and conditional constructions. Yet, the relationship between the form of imperatives, and the wide range of speech acts in which they occur, remains unclear, as do the ways in which semantic theory should handle imperatives. This book is the first to look systematically at both the data and the theory. The first part discusses data from a large set of languages, including many outside the Indo-European family, and analyses in detail the range of uses to which imperatives are put, paying particular attention to controversial cases. This provides the empirical background for the second part, where the authors offer an accessible, comprehensive and in-depth discussion of the major theoretical accounts of imperative semantics and pragmatics.
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Product details

  • Electronic book text
  • Cambridge University Press (Virtual Publishing)
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • 2 b/w illus.
  • 1139950134
  • 9781139950138

Table of contents

Part I. The Data: 1. What is the imperative mood?; 2. Imperative mood and directive force; 3. Imperatives with conditional meanings; Part II. The Theories; Introduction to Part II: from data to theory; 4. The imperative is directive force; 5. Declarative-like semantics for imperatives; 6. The imperative as a distinct semantic type; An opinionated conclusion; Appendix A. Possible worlds and semantics; Appendix B. Modality in possible-word semantics; Appendix C. Stalnaker's common-ground model of assertion; Glossary.
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Review quote

'This study, of the meanings and functions of imperatives, is unusual for its lucid and up-to-date analysis of complex data, typological variation and hypotheses from various perspectives. Read it and you will be a better linguist.' Johan van der Auwera, University of Antwerp 'This is a terrific book. It looks at imperatives from a variety of insightful perspectives (social, grammatical and philosophical) and brings to bear evidence of many kinds, including evidence from a host of languages. Jary and Kissine's volume will, from now on, be the departure point for anyone studying the imperative mood.' Robert J. Stainton, University of Western Ontario 'An impressively compendious distillation of work on the imperative, which is both original and accessible. The book is rich in (cross-linguistic) data, sound argument and insightful analysis. If you are interested in the semantics/pragmatics of linguistic mood and illocutionary force, read this book!' Robyn Carston, University College London and CSMN, Oslo
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About Mark Jary

Mark Jary is Reader in English Language and Linguistics at the University of Roehampton. He has written widely on semantics, pragmatics and philosophy of language and is the author of Assertion (2010). Mikhail Kissine is Assistant Professor of Linguistics at the Universite Libre de Bruxelles. He has written widely on semantics, pragmatics and philosophy of language and is the author of From Utterances to Speech Acts (Cambridge University Press, 2013).
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