Chapter published in:Imperative Turns at Talk: The design of directives in action
Edited by Marja-Leena Sorjonen, Liisa Raevaara and Elizabeth Couper-Kuhlen
[Studies in Language and Social Interaction 30] 2017
► pp. 139–173
Three imperative action formats in Danish talk-in-interaction
The case of imperative + modal particles bare and lige
In Danish talk-in-interaction, imperative verbs often occur together with modal particles. This paper investigates three such combinations of imperatives and modal particles. We argue that the combinations are best understood as separate social action formats performing different actions in specific interactional contexts, rather than as modifications or modalizations of an imperative. The modal particles (bare and lige) investigated are the ones that occur most frequently with imperatives in our data. Both might on some occasions be translated into ‘just’ in English, but they are not synonymous in Danish. The investigated actions formats are: (1) imperative+lige, which is used to perform a request for an action that is portrayed as being part of a common project, (2) imperative+bare, which is used to grant permission, and (3) bare+imperative, which is used to advise the recipient to carry out a specific action as a solution to a problem. The action formats are designed to show consideration of the recipient’s benefits of the proposed actions in specific ways, and they make differential claims of entitlement, deontic authority, and moral accountability. As a more general point, we propose that an approach to grammatical formats that begins with the actual use of combinations of words and structures in interactional contexts, is more revealing than starting with a default understanding of the interactional function of a grammatical structure (for instance, that the imperative has a “commanding” function) and then see combinations with other words and structures as modifications of this default function.
Keywords: conversation analysis, Danish, imperative, modal particles, social action formats, requesting, granting permission, advising
Published online: 18 August 2017
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