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Title: An approach to the syntax and semantics of the imperative in English
Authors: Egbe, Daniel Isimhenmhen
Issue Date: 1985
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: This study provides a categorial analysis of the syntax and the semantics of the imperative in English, using two related grammatical models of Generalized Phrase Structure Grammar and Montague Semantics. With regard to syntax, aspects of Generalized Phrase Structure Grammar are extended to the construction. The analysis shows that possible imperative subject noun phrases, except where they are pronouns, contain post-modifiers. A noun phrase which lacks this characteristic does not therefore occur as a subject in it. The examination of the verb phrases reveals that they constitute a unique category, as demonstrated by the nature of the constituents themselves, and the syntactic behaviour the elements that occur in them. The various imperative sentence structures and their major components are captured by a set of Phrase Structure rules. The analysis sheds light on many aspects of the syntactic nature of the construction. The semantic analysis of the construction, through an extension of Montague Semantics, identifies the kinds of semantic types that its major constituent categories are. It is observed that although the imperative subject noun phrases and the verb phrases are susceptible to a surface compositional analysis, the S-structures are not. The analysis shows that this is due to the nature of its subject-predicate relationship, and so identifies a significant aspect of the grammar of the imperative that has not been given adequate attention. For example, it is this aspect that excludes certain elements from occurring in the sentence, and also separates it from other sentences in certain respects. A special model-theoretic analysis provided for sections of the construction gives new insights into the semantic pragmatic conditions surrounding it, especially with regard to the specification of the intended agent-of-action. Apart from identifying aspects of the "fulfilment conditions" of the imperative, the semantic analysis examines the issue of its "propositional content" and specifies the problems that need to be resolved in this regard. The present approach provides new ideas on the semantic organization of the imperative, and so makes it easier to understand.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics

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