The Routledge Companion to the Study of Religion
This book is a cross-linguistic investigation into the structure and interpretation of imperatives and related constructions. The framework used is the 'Principles and Parameters' approach to generative grammar. The central proposal of the book is that the syntax of imperatives across languages includes an imperative operator, which is a set of morphosyntactic features. This proposal is supported by various empirical and conceptual arguments, including a study of the syntactic evolution of imperatives in the history of English. Building upon this proposal, the book establishes that the apparently idiosyncratic syntactic properties of the imperatives in a given language, as well as the cross-linguistic variation in its syntax are consequences of the interaction between a particular language's morphosyntactic regularities and the universal formal properties of the imperative operator. The book establishes that the imperative operator has direct consequences for the interpretation of imperatives. It argues that the imperative operator encodes the directive illocutionary force as well as the irrealis modality. The book also shows that this theory of modeling the interpretation of imperatives is able to capture the close relation that exists among imperatives, subjunctives and infinitivals across many languages.
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