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Project

The grammar of imperatives and the imperatives of grammar.

Imperatives like Go away! or Don't touch that! are the linguistic expressions that humans use to get other humans to do, or not do, certain things (like going away or not touching something). Although imperatives are very prominent in child-directed speech, research to date has not systematically probed their significance for language acquisition. This project will address this gap in the literature, by conducting an empirically based investigation into the research hypothesis that the grammar of imperatives is pivotal in fixing core aspects of a language's grammatical character.  We will explore this hypothesis via three case studies, each focused on the interaction between a particular type of imperative on the one hand, and a core aspect of the grammatical system on the other. In addition, each case study will be comparative in nature, focusing on different varieties of Dutch and Afrikaans.   At the center of this project is a PhD-track that explores the abovementioned hypothesis in three work packages. The first focuses on negative imperatives and examines to what extent these constructions shed light on the expression of negation in the different varieties. Work Package 2 focuses on positive imperatives and the syntax of so-called `light verbs' like come and go, and Work Package 3 examines the use of modal particles like just in both positive and negative imperatives. This is a four-year project, half of which (Y1 and Y3) will be carried out at KU Leuven and the other half (Y2 and Y4) at Stellenbosch University. 
 

Date:1 Oct 2020 →  Today
Keywords:imperatives, syntax, Dutch, African, acquisition
Disciplines:Dutch language, Dialectology, Grammar, Morphology, Syntax