[PLing] Talk by Magdalena Kaufmann (U Conn) on "Imperative perspectives" in Philang Reading Group on Wednesday, 17 June, 1:15pm

Dirk Kindermann dirk.kindermann at univie.ac.at
Fri Jun 12 08:26:17 CEST 2020

Dear all,

You are cordially invited to join the talk by Magdalena Kaufmann (University of Connecticut) in the Philang Reading Group on Wednesday, 17 June 2020, from 1:15 to 2:45pm. Magda’s talk is entitled “Imperative perspectives”–see details below.

The meeting will be held on Zoom. If you're interested in attending, please write to dirk.kindermann at univie.ac.at <mailto:dirk.kindermann at univie.ac.at> for Zoom access details.

Best regards,

Magdalena Kaufmann
University of Connecticut

"Imperative perspectives"

Natural languages tend to mark a sentential form type whose canonical use is ordering or requesting, the imperative. Being developed mostly against the foil of truth-evaluable, descriptive language, formal semantic theories struggle to determine the conventional meaning of these clauses as well as the grammatical marking (e.g. verbal mood) characteristic of them. It is an open question in current theorizing if the semantic interpretation of imperative marking should, in any way, reflect the (role of the) speaker. In this talk, I look at main clause imperatives and embedded occurrences as part of a larger paradigm of directive clauses, and I argue that grammaticality restrictions on various operations involving the formal markers of imperative clauses (embedding, interrogative formation) can be explained only if imperative clauses are sensitive to the perspective of a source of evaluation. In the basic case, the source of evaluation is set to the utterance speaker, but it shifts according to mechanisms familiar from other perspective sensitive content (e.g. taste predicates, epistemic modals). To explain the grammatical impact on this perspective of evaluation, I argue that imperative clauses encode the gap between knowledge (residing with the individual contextually presented as having knowledge about the optimal course of events) and ability to act (residing with the referent of the imperative subject). I explain how this is encoded in an independently motivated theory of imperatives which interprets them as modalized propositions with additional presuppositional meaning and I show how this theory predicts the grammaticality restrictions observed. (A more linguistically focused version of the material can be found here:https://journals.linguisticsociety.org/proceedings/index.php/SALT/article/view/29.636 <https://journals.linguisticsociety.org/proceedings/index.php/SALT/article/view/29.636> ). 

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