Deferred imperatives across Indo-Aryan

  • Neil Banerjee Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Gurmeet Kaur Georg-August-Universität Göttingen


Exploring the morphosyntax of deferred imperatives in three Indo-Aryan/IA languages: Hindi- Urdu, Punjabi and Bangla, this paper makes two claims. First, Bangla allows negation only in deferred imperatives but not immediate imperatives, and hence seems to pattern with ‘surrogate negative imperative’ languages. Crucially however, there is no alignment between morphological uniqueness of the directive’s verbal form and its negative (in)effability in the language. Secondly, since the morphology based true-surrogate divide is not instructive in determining the status of imperatives in IA, we employ two syntactic-semantic diagnostics: (a) performativity and (b) addressee-restriction on the subject, to claim that deferred commands in all IA languages are real imperatives on par with immediate imperatives. The paper also notes variation in the distribution of negated deferred imperatives, subject to factors like immediacy and plannability.