Publication details [#61065]

Mulder, Gijs, Helen de Hoop, Jetske Klatter-Folmer and Tijn Schmitz. 2016. Imperatives and politeness in Dutch. Linguistics in the Netherlands 33 : 41–53.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Language as a subject
Place, Publisher
John Benjamins


Imperatives are usually thought of as direct and therefore impolite. However, imperatives such as Have some coffee, Enjoy your holiday, or Sleep well are not considered impolite. The reason seems to be that these imperatives refer to actions that are beneficial to the hearer only. This paper makes a distinction between two types of imperatives, those referring to actions that are beneficial to the speaker and those that are beneficial to the hearer. It has conducted an experiment in order to examine the relation between the two types of imperatives and how they are perceived by speakers of Dutch. The results show that there is indeed a significant difference in interpretation between the two types of imperatives in Dutch. In addition, it has tested the effects of adding a politeness marker alsjeblieft ‘please’ or discourse particles to the imperatives.