Borderland Semantics of the Imperative. (The case of the Belarusian language in comparison to English)
- Číslo 2 
PublisherUniverzita Karlova, Filozofická fakulta
SourceStudie z aplikované lingvistiky - Studies in Applied Linguistics, 2018, 9, 2, 24-36
command, directive strategies, imperative form and semantics, non-canonical imperatives
This paper is dedicated to the study of the imperative and other directive strategies in Belarusian. The experiment was designed to find out how native speakers evaluate various directive strategies and how their syntactic structures are connected with the imperative meaning. Respondents participating in the study rated five sentence-stimuli on a scale from 1 to 5 as the most commanding and least polite (rating 1) to the least commanding and the most polite (rating 5). The sentences present five different directive strategies: the performative verb zahadvac ‘to order’; the optative verb xacec ‘to want’; the infinitive of the notional verb; the imperative form of the notional verb; the notional verb in the future tense form. The experiment showed that the imperative form proper received the lowest mark on the scale compared to other directive strategies, testifying to the fact that native speakers perceive other forms as more commanding. The nonfinite form, the future tense as well as sentences with a performative verb explicitly expressing imperative meaning are among the most popular strategies named by the respondents. The military discourse and the discourse of orders and commands which presupposes a strict hierarchal structure, employs the infinitive in Belarusian, while in English the imperative is used in such cases and thus is perceived by the speaker as a very strong directive strategy.