Specialization and finiteness (a)symmetry in imperative negation:with a comparison to standard negation

Van Olmen, Daniel (2023) Specialization and finiteness (a)symmetry in imperative negation:with a comparison to standard negation. Linguistic Typology. ISSN 1430-0532

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This article focuses primarily on the claim in previous research that finiteness asymmetry occurs less often in imperative negation, due to its illocutionary dynamicity, than in standard negation, due to its stativity. Its secondary aim is to identify the languages suitable to test this hypothesis, with specialized imperatives as well as negative imperatives. The findings of this identification process in a balanced 200-language sample confirm the imperative and its negative counterpart as near-universal sentence types while simultaneously providing evidence for specialization asymmetry and thus for a certain mutual independence between the two. The results about finiteness asymmetry challenge the earlier claim: not only is finiteness asymmetry equally frequent in the two domains of negation; an explicit expression of illocutionary dynamicity can even give rise to it in imperative negation. In general, imperative negation’s finiteness asymmetry is found to be relatively unrelated to standard negation’s and not to be attributable to one single principle. The article shows that a variety of processes, such as grammaticalization and insubordination, are at work. They are argued to be motivated by the diachronic instability of negative imperatives, itself likely due to competing factors like politeness and negative reinforcement.

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Journal Article
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Linguistic Typology
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11 Jul 2023 13:45
Last Modified:
21 Sep 2023 03:27