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Imperatives are modal

Publication: Bucharest Working Papers in Linguistics, XIV (2)
Publisher:Universitatea din București
Abstract:It has been noted repeatedly in the literature (Huntley 1982, Huntley 1984, Davies 1986, Wilson and Sperber 1988, Ninan 2005, Han 1998, etc.) that imperatives have a modal dimension, given that they present a proposition as a possible and desirable state of affairs. However, the opinion that imperatives are modal is not shared by all researchers. For example, Portner (2007) claims that imperatives are not modal, in spite of the fact that they share a range of interpretations with modals. In this article I argue that imperatives are in fact modal and that the differences that Portner (2007) identifies are relevant for distinguishing not only between priority modals and imperatives, but between two larger classes of verbal forms, that include priority modals and imperatives, respectively. Crucially, the larger class of verbal forms that includes imperatives and that contrasts with priority modals are undisputedly modal. Thus, differing from priority modals does not necessarily imply lack of modality, but simply a different type of modality.
Key words:modal base, imperatives, actuality entailments, temporal anchoring, true deontics/epistemics

Citations to this publication: 2

References in this publication: 0

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