Don't Negate Imperatives! Imperatives and the Semantics of Negative Markers

  • Hedde Zeijlstra


Languages cross-linguistically differ with respect to whether they accept or ban True Negative Imperatives (TNIs). In this paper I show that this ban follows from three generally accepted assumptions: (i) the fact that the operator that encodes the illocutionary force of an imperative universally takes scope from C°; (ii) the fact that this operator may not be operated on by a negative operator and (iii) the Head Movement Constraint (an instance of Relativized Minimality). In my paper I argue that languages differ too with respect to both the syntactic status (head/phrasal) and the semantic value (negative/non-negative) of their negative markers. Given these difference across languages and the analysis of TNIs based on the three above mentioned assumptions, two typological generalisations can be predicted: (i) every language with an overt negative marker X° that is semantically negative bans TNIs; and (ii) every language that bans TNIs exhibits an overt negative marker X°. I demonstrate in my paper that both typological predictions are born out.
How to Cite
Zeijlstra, H. (2019). Don’t Negate Imperatives! Imperatives and the Semantics of Negative Markers. Proceedings of Sinn Und Bedeutung, 10(2), 421-436.