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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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What Dyirbal uses instead of commands

What Dyirbal uses instead of commands

Chapter:
(p.127) 6 What Dyirbal uses instead of commands
Source:
Commands
Author(s):

R. M. W. Dixon

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198803225.003.0006

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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