Imperatives and Commands

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  • Edition: Reprint
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 9/29/2012
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
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This is the first cross-linguistic study of imperatives, and commands of other kinds, across the world's languages. It makes a significant and original contribution to the understanding of their morphological, syntactic, semantic, and pragmatic characteristics. The author discusses the role imperatives and commands play in human cognition and how they are deployed in different cultures, and in doing so offers fresh insights on patterns of human interaction and communication. Alexandra Aikhenvald examines the ways of framing commands, or command strategies, in languages that do not have special imperative forms. She analyses the grammatical and semantic properties of positive and negative imperatives and shows how these correlate with categories such as tense, information source, and politeness. She looks at the relation of command pragmatics to cultural practices, assessing, for example, the basis for Margaret Mead's assumption that the harsher the people the more frequently they use imperatives. Professor Aikhenvald covers a wide range of language families, including many relatively neglected examples from North America, Amazonia, and New Guinea. The book is accompanied by illustrations of some conventional command signs. Written and presented with the author's characteristic clarity, this book will be welcomed by linguists of all theoretical persuasions. It will appeal to social and cultural anthropologists and cognitive and behavioural scientists.

Author Biography

Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald is Professor and Research Leader (People and Societies of the Tropics) in the Cairns Institute, James Cook University, Australia. She has worked on descriptive and historical aspects of Berber languages and has published, in Russian, a grammar of Modern Hebrew (1990; second edition 2009). She is a major authority on languages of the Arawak family, from northern Amazonia, and has written grammars of Bare (1995, based on work with the last speaker who has since died) and Warekena (1998), plus A Grammar of Tariana, from northwest Amazonia (Cambridge University Press, 2003, paperback 2006), in addition to essays on various typological and areal features of South American languages.

Her grammar, The Manambu Language from East Sepik, Papua New Guinea, was published by OUP in 2008, paperback 2010. Other books include Classifiers: a Typology of Noun Categorization Devices (2000, paperback 2003), Language Contact in Amazonia (2002, paperback 2010) and Evidentiality (2004, paperback 2006), all published by OUP. She is co-editor with R. M. W. Dixon of the OUP series Explorations in Linguistic Typology, the fifth volume of which, The Semantics of Clause Linking, appeared in 2009. Her latest book, Languages of the Amazon, was published in 2012 by OUP.

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