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CommandsA Cross-Linguistic Typology$
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Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald and R. M. W. Dixon

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198803225

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198803225.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 23 October 2021

What Dyirbal uses instead of commands

What Dyirbal uses instead of commands

(p.127) 6 What Dyirbal uses instead of commands

R. M. W. Dixon

Oxford University Press

Dyirbal has verbal inflections which have been referred to as ‘positive imperative’ and ‘negative imperative’. However, their meanings and functions extend far beyond these traditional labels. Their subjects can be first or second person singular and plural, and they can occur in questions. The ‘positive imperative’ refers to the potentiality of something, which usually does, but may not, eventuate. It corresponds to a number of modal meanings (should, can, must, and will). The negative imperative is used to suggest caution, warning about what it is inadvisable to do. It is shown how the ‘potentiality’ and ‘caution’ verbal inflections relate to the social ambiance in which they are used.

Keywords:   Dyirbal, Australian languages, caution, potentiality

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