|Institution(en)||University of Connecticut|
|Ort||Online (see below)|
|Link to SPAGAD Lecture Series|
Comment: Daniel Harris, Hunter College, City University of New York
Much of the formal semantic and pragmatic literature that attempts to explain how sentential form types come to be associated with specific functional potentials has focused on the major clause types of declaratives, interrogatives, and imperatives, to a lesser extent also exclamatives and optatives. The emerging consensus is that all clause types achieve their characteristic functions based on conventional and compositionally encoded meanings. Yet, especially for imperatives clauses, it is very much debated what their actual semantic make-up might be, with opinions differing both along big divides (whether to locate the dynamics in the semantics or in the pragmatics) as well as the assumptions about what if any modal notions might play a role. In this talk, I propose to take a closer look at minor clause types that are also associated with directive meanings. Languages are known to also employ a variety of subjunctives, infinitivals, participles, complementizer marked clauses as stand-alone main clauses, etc., and while these largely align in command-like uses with each other and with canonical imperatives, the different directives often part company in non-canonical cases like wishes, invitations, practical questions, or as expression of moral opinions—cases where core ingredients of directivity can be lacking (for instance speaker authority or preference, or presumed control over the course of events for the addressee). I argue that the emerging differences in interpretation and functional potential provide novel insights into plausible parameters of directive meanings, the compositional make-up of directive clauses, as well as general desiderata for how to conceive of the form-function interface.
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