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New Work on Speech Acts$
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Daniel Fogal, Daniel W. Harris, and Matt Moss

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198738831

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198738831.001.0001

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Commitment to Priorities

Commitment to Priorities

(p.296) 11 Commitment to Priorities
New Work on Speech Acts

Paul Portner

Oxford University Press

Imperative sentences can be used to perform a range of speech acts, some of which are intuitively “stronger” than others. We can distinguish several different pragmatic features related to judgments of imperative strength, including speaker authority and whether or not the imperative allows an inference to a strong or weak modal declarative. Building on the observation that such features are sometimes tied to the utterance’s intonation, this paper argues for an extension to imperatives of Gunlogson’s (2001) theory of rising and falling intonation in declaratives. Within the framework of dynamic pragmatics, this analysis states that the initial discourse effect of imperatives can vary depending on whether it concerns the speaker’s discourse commitments, the addressee’s commitments, r the interlocutors’ mutual commitments.

Keywords:   imperatives, intonation, modality, permission, dynamic pragmatics

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