The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

LF Reading Group 2/28 - Milena Sisovics (MIT)

Speaker: Milena Sisovics
Title:  Embedded imperatives and voluntatives in Mongolian  
Date and time: Wednesday February 28, 1-2pm
Location: 32-D461

Imperatives have long been considered immune to embedding, though recent research has found numerous counterexamples across languages. I introduce novel data showing that Mongolian likewise allows for genuine embedding of (hearer-directed) imperative as well as a speaker-directed non-assertive speech acts (“voluntative”). I propose a uniform analysis of voluntatives and imperatives (collapsed under the term “jussives”) as necessity modals. Moreover, I address the interesting question as to the analysis of jussive subjects: Subjects of embedded jussives are interpreted relative to the reported context in that they denote the reported speaker (in voluntatives) or hearer (in imperatives), rather than the actual discourse participants. I demonstrate how an analysis of imperative and voluntative clauses as PRO clauses can derive this fact, and provide arguments why such an analysis is preferable over an alternative, indexical shift analysis of embedded jussive subjects.