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Characteristics of the X <i>ie</i> imperative expression: three criteria for the classification of imperatives

Abstract The purpose of this paper is to reveal the characteristics of the X ie imperative expression (abbreviated to X ie) with reference to other related expressions, such as conditional imperatives and past imperatives, in Japanese and other languages. Three criteria are proposed for a description of imperatives in terms of the realization of the propositional content: (i) possibility of realization, (ii) attitude toward realization, and (iii) preparedness for realization. X ie is an imperative of a reproof, characterized by the unique combination of (i) possible, (ii) negative, and (iii) unprepared. This paper further focuses on a discourse-pragmatic relation of the expression with its preceding and following utterances, a topic not fully discussed in the literature. The analysis in this paper shows that X ie is a marked imperative form of a verb of speech that expresses the speaker’s instantaneous reaction to newly obtained information, i.e., the addressee’s violation of the maxim of quality. This characterization suggests that the Japanese language is sufficiently sensitive to the violation to lexicalize it and that X ie can be considered in terms of mirativity. Finally, this paper systematically compares X ie and non-directive imperatives from other languages.

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