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Imperative and related matters in everyday Estonian/[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII].

1. Introduction

Commands and other directive speech acts are commonly expressed by means of the imperative (verb form) and the command (sentence type). At the same time directivity, the wish to influence someone's behaviour by means of language is a communication function that is used in a number of ways and nuanced by using various means of expression. On the other hand, the use of the imperative goes beyond the framework of expressing commands. Similarly to the formal means of any natural language, the use of the imperative undergoes shifts by starting to express related meanings and functions and fossilizing into new units and constructions. The article deals with the use of the imperative and the jussive in Estonian everyday conversations and the expression of direct and reported directivity in spoken Estonian.

1.1. Grammatical means of expressing direct and indirect commands

Estonian has two moods for expressing commands (for a more detailed discussion see Erelt, Metslang 2004). The function of the imperative is to express direct commands. The paradigm of the Estonian imperative in the present, affirmative, and active is as follows: (sa) istu '(you) sit down', (ta) istu-gu '(he) should sit down', (me) istu-gem/istu-me 'let's sit down', (te) istu-ge '(you) sit down', (nad) istu-gu '(they) should sit down'. The original form of the 1st person plural (istu-gem 'let's sit', ooda-kem 'let's wait') is rarely used; instead the indicative is common (istu-me 'we sit', oota-me 'we wait'). The gu-/ku-marked form of the 3rd person remains the same in the singular and the plural; also, the periphrastic construction with the particle las (las ta istub 'let him sit', las nad ootavad 'let them wait') occurs in the same function. The gu-/ku-form serves at the same as the form of the entire jussive paradigm: ma/sa/ta/me/te/nad istugu 'I'm/you're/he's/ we're/you're/ they're told to sit'.The main functions of the jussive (for a more detailed discussion see Erelt 2002) are to express the indirect command, obligation, and concessivity. Third, one of the functions of the conditional is express the reported command, which is similar to the subjunctive in many languages (Palmer 2001 : 138--144; the form and functions of the Estonian conditional in everyday speech has been dealt with in Pajusalu, Pajusalu 2004).

Estonian reveals an increasing tendency not to distinguish between personal forms. Thus, forms like istu-ks 'would sit', oota-ks 'would wait' are rather common in all the forms and are also acceptable in the standard language. At the same time, the study by the Pajusalus shows that one cannot claim that the absence of a personal ending is always quickly compensated by the use of a pronoun or some explicit subject.

A typical command (1) contains an imperative form. A clause with the imperative form is in essence neutral; the intensity of the expressed command can be varied by intonational and lexical means. The particle palun 'please', e.g. Palun istu siia! 'please sit down over here' is a universal means of politeness. Other structures of the imperative clause includeclauses with the da-infinitive predicate (2), verbless clauses (3), and various formulas

(4). The latter usually express an intensive command. (1) Istu siia! 'sit over here' (2) Siia istuda! 'sit here' (3) Kiiresti siia! 'quickly (to) here' (4) Stopp! 'stop'

The previous treatments based on the standard language (EKG 175--177; Metslang 1981 : 109--112; 2004; Metslang 1985) also single out such secondary means of expressing imperativeness adding specific shades of meaning as the question (5, 6), modalized declarative sentence (7), and indicative clause (8).

(5) Kas sa saaksid siia istuda? 'could you sit over here' (6) Miks sa sohvale ei istu? 'why don't you sit on the sofa' (7) Sa peaksid nuud koju minema 'you should go home now' (8) Sa lahed kohe koju! 'you'll go home right away'

1.2. The Data

The analysis is based on the everyday conversation section of the Corpus of Spoken Estonian at the University of Tartu, which consists of transcribed extracts from 72 conversations, altogether 392 occurrences of commands and the imperative. Renate and Karl Pajusalu (2004) used the same minicorpus of everyday conversations for the study of the conditional. Table 1 shows the distribution between direct and indirect commands and the imperative and the other means. In addition to the commands, the data included 110 imperative forms in other functions. The following analysis is qualitative, and statistical data have been presented selectively.

2. Functions of the imperative (jussive)

Table 2 below presents the frequencies of the main occurrences of the imperative in the analysed material.

2.1. Direct command

Direct command is the function of half of all the occurrences of the imperative and the jussive.

Among the personal forms the 2nd person plural is predominant; all the other personal forms are much less frequent. The 2nd person singular is used to address the recipient (9); calls to act together in the we-form are less common (10). The corpus did not reveal any instances of the use of the polite plural form of 'you'; the second person plural stands for more than one recipient (11). In most cases the content of the command concerns something that is happening in the same place and at the same time (9, 11).

(9) V: a n n a=see nuga siia 'give this knife here' E: taga kapis (1.2) 'back in the cupboard'

(10) L: kuleMarili, (0.5) tule Tallinna ja lahme Mardi juurde sauna (.) 'listen, Marili, come to Tallinn and let's go to Mart for a sauna'

M: praagu=va ((naer)) 'just now or (laughter)'

L: omme 'tomorrow'

M: hehemine uksi, mina ei lahe 'eh eh, I won't go there alone'

(11) H: votke moni jututeema ules siis 'take up some topic of conversation then'

K: noh (0.5) mina=i=tea (1.0) 'well, I don't know'

The me-ending form is the only imperative form of the 1st person plural in everyday conversations. However, there are some ambiguous cases of imperative and indicative interpretations (12): the semantic field of the meform includes the command, suggestion, and planning statement; uncertainty that blurs directivity is also likely to be a background factor of the functional shift of the indicative form (see Erelt, Metslang 2004).

(12) Ke: kas me seda tolkimistood 'shall we take this translation job' Kr: votame ikka. (.) votame ikka jargmine kord teemegi seda 'Sure, let's take it for sure, next time we'll be doing just this'

The affirmative form predominates in terms of p olarity; the possibilities to use prohibition (13) are limited, which is characteristic of the pragmatic use of negative expressions (see Sang 1983 : 16-19). Also, the affirmative construction with the verb hakkama 'start, begin' carries a prohibitive meaning (14).

(13) E: tapselt ilus ja tark prostit[uut] 'precisely a beautiful and clever prostitute'

(-): [oi] jumal (.) 'oh, God'

E: nagu nad on koik (.) 'like they all are'

O: aeih 'oh'

R: hehe 'ah ah'

E: ja siis 'and then'

V: kule ara raagi= nuud, palun no jata noh=s, jata jargi, no toesti, no sa raagid taitsa rumalusi ajad praegu suust valja 'listen don't speak now, please stop it'

E: no minule ei meeldind (1.2) 'well, I didn't like it'

(14) S: 'kellele 'kurat seda vaja laheb (.) 'who the heck will need it'

J: eikellelegi (1.1) ei 'kellegile (.) 'noone, no noone'

S: mjah 'I see'

M: 'jaa [hakkame] nuud 'vaidlema [hehe ] ((lobusalt (2.1)) 'let's now start to argue' (merrily)

J: [sin] [jaa hehe] jah ei 'kellegile (.) sin on jah [see {-} ka] 'yes, noone. Here is yes this also'

S: ['kellegile voi 'kellelegi] ((torisedes)) 'someome' (grumbling)

Thus, it is rather characteristic of everyday conversations that a command is expressed in the most direct way by means of the imperative without any softening linguistic means (with the exception of intonation). The particle palun 'please' (13) that softens the command occurred only twice in the entire material. The command is intensified by repeating the imperative verb form (15).

(15) M: hehe [mine uksi, mina ei lahe] 'uh uh, go alone, I won't come'

L: [ah (.) mhmh] ei 'uh, yeah, no'

T: mineMarili, mine= mine (.) 'go Marili, go go'

M: eilahe, (0.5) ei lahe 'no, I won't go, won't go'

2.2. Reported command

Although the expression of evidentiality is characteristic of Estonian grammar, in everyday conversations one does not change direct speech into indirect speech. The jussive is not used instead the imperative, deictic orientation remains unchanged, and personal forms and pronouns remain the same, too. Spoken language prefers to refer to reported speech by means of reporting clauses or other lexico-syntactic means (16). Similarly to a direct command (12), also in the case of an indirect command it often remains unclear whether the we-form refers to a command or a planning statement (17).

(16) T: ma olen (.) selles kursuse listis, kus pidevalt keegi laterdab jalle sel teemal ja voetakse vastu (.) jalle piparkoogipidu ja vuintergeims tuleb ja tulge jalle=ja 'I'm belong in the list of this course, where someone keeps blabbering again about this theme and it is accepted that there will be a gingerbread party and winter games and come again and'

(17) R: tuleb'jargmine 'voim [eksole, (.) leiab=et] 'there will be a new power, ain't it, and it will find that'

E: [(---) tehakse (---)] 'it's done'

R: 'pooled politseinikud tuleb 'koondada (0.8) 'half of the police officers have to

be declared redundant'

E: mhmh 'I see'

R: siis eksole see 'koondamine tahendab 'kogu struktuuri ringi 'ehitamist. (0.5) siis tuleb 'uks eksole 'see oli 'vale. (0.5) nud votame uuesti 'tagasi (0.8) 'then isn't it so that cutting back means rebuilding the whole system then comes one isn't it so that was wrong now let's take back again'

The jussive has been used once with regard to the first person singular (18); the second reported message (19) provides two possibilities for interpretation: the jussive or the 3rd person imperative.

(18) L: ((vihase haalega)) kuula siis (.) '(angrily), listen then'

M: kuulaku= ma=jah. (3.0) mis=sa utlesid=a (.) 'I should listen yes what did you say'

L: khhkurt oled=va (.) 'uh are deaf or what'

(19) B: oo see ((lindi defekt)) oo pangu obune ette (.) ja=ja lahme sel paeval linna, tadi polnd linnas elus elus kaind 'uh (faulty tape) the horse should be hitch ed and on that day we ride to town, aunt had never before been to town in her life'

2.3. In the other uses of the imperative the directive function is absent or in the background.

In addition to expressing the command, the imperative is also used for expressing statements with necessive modality (20).

(20) kell on puol viis, Sillamaelt elistavad, (.) uks ust ei saa lahti. (1.0) kolm miest on valves, ei saa ust lahti see arilik see mis need lukud on. soidame Sillamaele. (1.0) snepper ei tuota. (1.5) keera torutangidega see sudamik jalle lahti=ja=sis=vota=tead (3.5) no ukselukkude peale ma=ei=tea palju nuud seda raha on laind seal 'it's half past four, there's a call from Sillamae, the door won't open, three men are on duty, this usual on, what kind of locks are they, we drive to Sillamae, the cylinder lock won't work, you have to open this core again with the pipe wrench and then you'll take you know I don't know how much this money has been spent on locks'

Modality and conditionality are combined in the construction with the meaning 'if A, then B'. The precondition is expressed by means the imperative, which can be interpreted as permission: you can do A but the result is B. The result may not be expressed.

(21) B: linnas on niukene asi=et kui on neid kuskil rohkem siis tilguta enna kuskile palderjani nattuke maha (.) ja on terve=see marsa sial kuus ja aelevad saal ja juua tais saal (.) kassid (.) jah 'in town there is such a thing that if there are more of then drop some valerian on the ground and the whole pack is there together and they're wallowing and drunk there, cats yes'

The combination of two communicative functions can be seen in the positive answers to suggestions or intentions (22), which are at the same time statements and commands, and combinations of commands and questions (23), which at the same time recommend to do something and ask for the recipient's agreement.

(22) V: no kas=sa=i soogi=voi (.) 'well how come that you don't eat' R: ma motlen, (0.5) praegu ei soo (2.5) 'I don't think that I'm going to eat now' V: ara soo jah 'don't eat, yes'

(23) K: 'Mart elistas 'Mart called'

G: mis 'tuu 'what (does) he (want)'

K: 'sauna tahab 'he wants (to come to) the sauna'

G: 'tule ka=va 'will he come, too'

Ka: mhemhe '(no idea)'

2.4. Uses with shifted meanings and fixed forms (formulas, particles)

2.4.1 . The imperative forms of some verbs have given rise to formulas--fossilized constructions with a set lexico-grammatical composition and a shifted meaning. The purpose of constructions where the imperative form vaata 'look' is an extended subordinate clause (24) or has a partitive noun phrase (25) is to draw attention to what the subordinate clause or noun denotes. Beside the informal you form also other personal forms are used.

(24) K: vaadake kus mul visati praegu jootraha allatulemise eest (.) 'look how much tip I earned for coming down' R: vauu? hehepeaks kogu aeg kaima 'wow, you'd have to go all the time'

(25) M: jaa 'jaa. mingi 'akne ei ole ultse [mingi] 'eksistentsiaalne ['probleem] 'yes, yes, some sort of acne is not at all an existential problem'

K: [jaa jaa] [vaata vaata] neid 'modelle, 'need on ju (.) 'suisa 'puhta naoga 'yes, yes look, look at these models, actually they have totally clean faces'

The main purposes of the fossilized imperative expressions in everyday conversations are to respond with a surprise or rejection to the interlocutor's statements (negative forms of utterance verbs: ara jutusta 'don't talk', ara lobise 'don't chatter', ara tee nalja 'stop joking'; constructions with the verb utlema 'say' (utle nuud 'say now') and minema 'go' (mine nuud, mine 'come on' together with a locative expression); looda sa 'lit. hope you', jumal hoidku 'God forbid', las olla 'let it be', etc.).

2.4.2. Particlized / particlizing imperative forms (see Hennoste 2000; Keevallik 2003) are highly common in everyday conversations. Most of them have developed from the affirmative 2nd person forms of cognition verbs: vaata/vata/vat 'look', kuule/kule 'listen'(10), vahi 'look', kae 'look', motle 'think', kujuta ette 'imagine'and some other verbs such as anna 'give' and oota/ota/oot/ot 'wait', vabandage 'excuse'.

(26) B: ja=ja ronis lauda katuselle (.) ja karjus sealmeheed meheed ((kitse imiteerides)) sis=on (.) kaib uhelt poolt teisel=poole [ja ] 'and and climbed on the cowshed roof and shouted there men men (imitating a goat)'

A: [ oot aga] katus on ju viilkatus, kus ta seal kaia sai siis 'wait but the roof is a gable roof, where was it possible for him to walk then'

B: uleval selle katuse ee viilu peal uleval kaib (.) 'up he walks on the gable

2.5. Concluding remarks concerning the imperative

A comparison of the frequencies of some formal and content-related characteristics of various occurrences of the imperative in the corpus (Table 2) reveals different proportions of the 2nd person singular. Although in conversations usually explicit directivity is addressed mainly at the interlocutor, a quarter of the occurrences concern the other persons. The reported command is unrelated to the conversational situation, and the proportion of the other persons is much greater there. However, lexicalization and grammaticalization into formulas and particles involves mostly the affirmative forms of the 2nd person singular. The proportion of prohibition is ca 10 per cent and small in all the groups; the number of direct prohibitions, however, is slightly more than the average.

Does the imperative prefer some situation type in the usage? The material confirms that the most important restriction is agentivity of the action. Ordinary language does not know such imperatives of verbs with passive content as voida! 'win', which has been imported into advertising language. Stative sentences such as 27 are rare as imperatives, and even in such instances the subject cannot be regarded fully passive.

(27) M: et tahab nagu aga ei julge=va 'that seems to want but doesn't dare' L: mhh ole vait 'shut up' (lit. 'be silent')

All three dynamic situation types (atelic and durative--activity, telic and durative--accomplishment, telic and momentaneous--achievement, see Vendler 1967) are represented to various degrees. All three are represented rather evenly as direct commands and secondary uses of the imperative, for example, activity (22), accomplishment (20), and achievement (11). Commands to carry out something are reported most of all: accomplishment (16) and achievement (17). However, most of all cognition verbs and other imperfective activity verbs undergo lexicalization andgrammaticalization(kuule 'listen',vaata 'look',oota 'wait',motle 'think', etc.)

3. Other devices for expressing commands

The imperative form is absent from a large part of direct commands in the material. In the case of imperative commands usually the content generally corresponds to the form both by explicit directivity, person as affirmation or negation, and the softening and intensification of the command is rare. On the other hand, use of other means of expression diversifies the possibilities to nuance the command, creative use of linguistic devices, oppositions of the content and form, and variation of the pragmatic aspect of the command. Table 3 below presents the statistical data about non-imperative direct commands.

3.1. Verbless commands

Of the clause structures (see 1.1) only the verbless sentence was represented in everyday conversations with example 28. However, because the verb is absent, the agent of the sentence remains vague; the recipient can be identified with the help of the context or remain vague.

(28) Ka: 'm u l l e 'k a v o i d ((tais suuga)) ((keegi ei ulata)) 'some butter to me,too' (with one's mouth full) (noone passes it)

3.2. Use of other devices for the expression of commands

There are also other sentence types that may express a command if they are related to the content of the command and its conditions of use (see Metslang 1981 : 109--112; Metslang 1985).

3.2.1. Modalized declarative sentence. The meaning of a command includes deontic modality. Because of the shared modal part the command and the modalized statement can fulfil each other's function, see above 2.3. A declarative sentence, however, provides ample softening possibilities. In addition to absence of directivity, a direct reference to the agent, that is the recipient, can be avoided in a number of ways: generic statements (29, 31), experiential clauses without an agent subject (29), absence of reference to the person in the conditional (30), and in many other verb forms. That is how directivity to the recipient is masked. A sentence informs only that it would be necessary, desirable, or good if the denoted action takes place. The implied agent is usually the listener, sometimes also the listener together with the speaker; the interpretations of we and you may remain indistinguishable. Also the we-form or interpretation (31) can be used as a politeness device, seemingly uniting the speaker with the listener (see Erelt 1990 : 36). In both modalized and non-modalized (see below) statements the command is often softened by means of the conditional, too (see Pajusalu, Pajusalu 2004).

(29) Kr: selles mottes et=e kui seda tundi on nii vahe sis sa peadtoesti (tootama) kovasti kodus (.) ise (0.5) 'in the sense that if there are so few classes of this subject, than you'll have to work really hard at home'

M: va-andust (.) 'excuse (me)'

Ke: mhmh (0.5) 'uh'

Kr: selle- selleparast (noh) tuleb neid harjutusi ka teha ja nii (.) voibolla tunduvad igavana vahest aga (0.5) 'for this reason (well) one has to do those exercises too and so, perhaps they seem ancient perhaps but'

(30) R: ei=jole. (1.5) kule Tutu kuna sa sinna (.) Larmide poole lahad? (0.8) 'no, listen Tutu because you'll go to those Larms' place'

V: ma=i=tea (.) 'I don't know'

R: miks (1.8) 'why'

E: mida tegema (.) 'do what'

R: nh see pilt mis ma seal tegin , see peaks ara viima (1.2) 'the picture that I took there, one should take it away'

E: mhnamaletava ise ka enda nagu (1.2) 'they remember themselves, too, their own faces'

(31) A: vaevalt elab ara 'one can hardly make both ends meet'

B: noh loomulikult kui siuksed hinnad on. (1.8) 'well, naturally if the prices are what they are'

A: nii=et sin ega me ei saa enam nuriseda midagi=sin, (0.5) varsti on 'so that here actually we can't g rumble here anymore'

B: miks ei saa 'why can't we'

A: elu normaalnekurat (.) 'life (is) normal damn (it)'

B: saab kull nuriseda (2.5) 'one can grumble'

A: nojah (0.5) tuleb toole hakata, siis pole vaja nuriseda (3.0) 'well one has to get down to work, then you won't have to grumble'

B: mis see nud oli vihje=va (2.0) 'what was it now, was it a hint or'

A: otsene (1.0) hehe 'direct'

3.2.2. Non-modalized statements. The corpus material shows that the description of the future action of the speaker or the speaker and the listener in the indicative or the conditional is another possibility to soften the demand. Such a sentence would discuss and plan things rather than issue a command. In the case of the conditional it is again possible to avoid the reference to the person (33). Of the lexical means the particle eks, which asks for the listener's consent, softens directivity (32).

(32) L: ise sa parast kirjutad need sonad ulesse eks (.) 'afterwards you'll write down these words,won't you' S: mhemheokei 'uh uh OK'

(33) Eli: votaks siis esimeseks selle laulu va 'perhaps we we'll take this songas the first one or' Kat: jah. (...) laul. (...) 'yes, the song'

At the same time, an indicative sentence can present a command in a harsher manner if there is a lexical reference to categoricalness or quickness of action (8,34) etc.

(34) U: sina void kull siin praegu naerda ja teha nalja o-omaarust=aga ((naerdakse)) (0.8) 'you may have a laugh and have your fun here, but' (someone is laughing)

U: a=homme oled giid nigu tead viis kopikat, voi senti meil on nuud sendid jah 'but tomorrow you'll be a guide like five kopecks or cents, we have cents now yes'

Kr: he he 'ah ah'

3.2.3. Performative clause. The speaker expresses his/her volition, wish, hope, opinion, etc., which shows that the recipient of the command is expected to implement it. The corpus did not reveal any explicitly directive performative verbs (kaskima 'order', noudma 'demand'), and the wishes were often masked as descriptions of the anticipated situation (35).

(35) M: m a t a h a n s e d a (k u u l a t a)= palun 'I want (to listen to) it, please'

L: palun 'please'

In example 36 the performative clause is added to other softening devices: weakening modalization, use of the conditional, and ambiguity of the personal form.

(36) K: ei no tuhja sest ma loodan et kalapulki voiks teha (.) 'actually it doesn't matter because I think we could prepare fish fingers'

P: kalapulki jah (.) 'yes, fish fingers'

3.2.4. Interrogative sentences are of two kinds: a yes/no question expresses a proposal, and a wh-question expresses prohibition. A yes / no question presents a command concerning the action of the recipient. Usually it is a purely informative and neutral suggestion, where the question form adds anticipation of a response with an option (37). It seems that accumulation of softening devices, as in the classic example Kas te ei voiks mulle soola ulatada? 'could you pass me the salt'(modalization, conditional, opposite polarity) is not common in everyday conversations. The only example of a direct command (38) and an example of a report below (46) are actually not serious.

(37) A: oota=aga Eve kassatantsidmeilekasiisniimodi.flamenkot=va 'wait, but Eve will you dance to us like this, too, flamenco or'

(38) M: Meelis Pinn (.) koigepealt kui=me alustame intervjuud kas=te voiksite oelda oma pin koodi 'Meelis Pinn: first of all when we begin the interview, could you tell me your PIN number'

J: noose=on salastatud ausalt=oeldes (.) 'well, frankly speaking, it's classified' Wh-question. One asks about the reason or some circumstance of the recipient's action in order to show the unfoundedness or inappropriateness of the action, which results in prohibition (see Metslang 1981 : 111). The recipient's action is regarded as unreasonable; thus, one is not dealing with a politeness device. Prohibition is often intensified with the particle siis 'then'. A prohibitive construction with a broad meaning has developed on the basis of the question word mis 'what' (see R. Pajusalu, forthcoming).

(39) E: varsti on kohvi ka naha vahele joodud (1.0) 'soon we have drunk up also the coffee'

R: mis=te joote=sis nii palju 'why do you drink then so much'

E: lrrr ((luristab)) ahh (0.3) mis=sa muud teed (0.5) '(slurping) ah, what else can you do'

3.2.5. An answer to a question or discussion concerning the necessity of the action or action itself (cf. 2.3) includes a recommendation for action, being a combination of a statement and command.

(40) T: kule kas=see uksekaunistus tuleb ka ara votta=va (.) 'listen, do we have to remove this door decoration as well or'

A: mhmh (.) 'uh-uh'

3.2.6. Some constructions with the directive function. The data included two fixed structures: 1) kui-clause (see Matihaldi 1979)--a clause resembling a conditional clause that expresses a suggestion (41), which may have developed from a question that expresses a suggestion as Kuidas oleks, kui paneks sellesamaga? 'what if we put it with the same';2) existential sentences with a verbal noun with the proposition SIIN ON/TOIMUB/KAIB VMINE 'here is going on a Ving'. The verbal noun denotes the action of the recipient of the command; prohibition is inferred from the mis-question (42) or the declarative sentence denying existence. The form of the sentence makes the prohibition more categorical while the absence of reference to the agent has a softening effect.

(41) (people are exploring the spread that could be put on the toast)

JN: juustu onsisse riivitud 'some grated cheese has been added'

IN: mhmh (2.0) 'uh uh'

UP: midagi head 'something good'

UP: a=ku paneks sellesamaga (2.0) 'what if we used the same one'

(42) K: mis=e mis musitamine siin kaib paise paeva ajal 'what kind of kissingis goingon here in broad daylight'

3.2.7 . In addition, directivity can be inferred from highly different utterances that comment on the action of the recipient or its absence. In that case the propositional content of the command has been concealed in addition to directivity and the reference to the agent--the result is usually a cautious suggestion.

(43) S: ei see on lihtsalt kaheksateistkumnenda sajandi moisaharra 'no, he's just an eighteenth-century lord of the manor'

K: hehe (.) 'uh uh'

L: me polegi ammu mingisugust umberriietumist teind 'actually we haven't changed any clothes for ages'

S: oudne [jama] 'too bad'

L: [vata] viimati oli siis kui (.) 'look the last time was when'

S: peaks tegema 'should do (it)'

3.2.8. A command projected into the past. The imperative has no grammatical form that could refer to the past. Nevertheless, it is possible to express the so-called imaginary imperative (Ahmanova 1966 : 249; see also Metslang, Muic zniece, Pajusalu 1999 : 132, 147) by means of the past reference of declarative and interrogative sentences--recommendations for imaginary action in the past.

(44) R: miks = sa (.) miks = sa teed ei ostnud laost. Aagel on otsas 'why didn't you buy tea from the storehouse. It has run out at Haage'

V: saal ei ole (.) 'you can't find it there'

One typical case is expressions of reproach and regret (Pajusalu, Pajusalu 2004), where the predicate reveals deontic modality and is in the perfect conditional. In example (45) also the use of the modal verb voima 'may; can' softens directivity.

(45) V: mina=i julgend osta [teda] 'I didn't dare to buy it'

E: [tii] tii vett jah .= 'tea water yes'

R: oleks voind osta. (.) seekristmastee on ka paris ea=aga ta=on selline 'you might have bought (it), this Christmas tea is also rather good, but it is such a'

V: nood ei olnd, nood olid mingi muu=h 'they weren't, they were something different'

3.3. Expression of a reported command

Similarly to the imperative, in everyday conversations in non-imperative commands direct speech is not converted into indirect speech (46). In the data most of the above-mentioned secondary devices were used to express reported commands.

(46) J: ahah, (0.5) mina utlesin talle kohe ara, et kui minulekallale tuli, (0.5) kule kas sa oleksid nii kena ja kas sa ei esineks nagu meie kooli eest, ma utsin=et ei toesti, mina ei esine 'uh uh, I told him right away when he attacked me, listen, would you be so kind and would you perform as if on behalf of our school, I said that really, I'm not going to perform'

3.4. Concluding remarks about the non-imperative command

The material on everyday conversations reveals a diversity of devices for the expression of commands and their combinations. In most cases the secondary expression devices serve to soften the command by concealing or blurring directivity, projection to the recipient, softening deontic modality by using the conditional and a verb with a weaker modal meaning, etc. Some devices for expressing prohibition, however, are used for intensification (wh-question and deverbal construction). Usually the speaker is the actual recipient of the command. However, he or she does not predominate among the recipients as prominently as in the case of imperative commands. The recipient may, in fact, remain to a certain degree vague. In terms of different modes of expression the verb semantics did not reveal any tendencies. All three classes of dynamic situations according to Vendler were evenly represented through different occurrences. The results of the analysis of everyday language partly overlapped with the ways of expressing and nuancing commands in the standard language. On the other hand, one cannot find here some devices that seek extreme politeness, and, third, there are such combinations of functions that have not been observed so far in previous studies.

4. Conclusion

The imperative is the main device for the expression of commands in everyday conversation. Such a command is neutral and is usually not softened or strengthened. A command can be nuanced by means of other clause types. The most common type is the modalized statement that provides many possibilities for variously graded suggestions, recommendations, etc. by means of different modal verbs, moods, variation of persons, etc. Here one can find the most explicit use of linguistic vagueness, which is revealed also in other ways of expressing commands: the linguistic form does not show explicitly whether the utterance is directive, descriptive, or interrogative, whether the listener and the speaker are together or the speaker is alone, whether the agent is general or vague. Such things can be specified by communicative competence. The selection of devices in everyday conversations is somewhat different from those in the standard language, for example, the particle palun 'please' was extremely rare. An affirmative command is mostly nuanced by means of softening; in the case of prohibition one can also find some strengthening devices (wh-question and deverbal constructions). Particlization is the most common secondary use of the imperative. In spoken language the expression of a reported command does not generally differ from that of a direct command; the jussive or the quotative are not used.


EKG--M. Erelt, R. Kasik, H. Metslang, H. Rajandi, K. Ross, H. Saari, K. Tael, S. Vare, Eesti keele grammatika II. Suntaks. Lisa: kiri, Tallinn 1993.


Erelt, M. 1990, Koneleja ja kuulaja kaudse valjendamise voimalusi eesti keeles.--KK, 35--39.

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Erelt, M., Metslang, H. 2004, Grammar and Pragmatics: Changes in the Paradigm of the Estonian Imperative.--LU, 161--178.

Hennoste, T. 2000, Sissejuhatus suulisesse eesti keelde IV. Suulise kone erisonavara 3. Partiklid.--Akadeemia, 1773--1806.

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Metslang, H., Mui c zniece, L., Pajusalu, K. 1999, Past Participle Finitization in Estonian and Latvian.--Estonian: Typological Studies III, Tartu (Tartu Ulikooli eesti keele oppetooli toimetised 11), 128--157.

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HELLE METSLANG (Helsinki--Tallinn)
Table 1
Commands in the corpus of everyday conversations

Directness/ Imperative
indirectness (jussive) Other
of a command occurrences occurrences Total

Direct command 136 48.2% 108 38.3% 244
Reported command 25 8.9% 13 4.6% 38
Total 161 57.1% 121 42.9% 282

Table 2
Occurrences, forms, and situation types of the imperative (jussive)
in the analysed material

 Total Person Polarity
Usage No. of
type occurrences 2Sg other affirmative negative

Directive 136 99 37 118 18

Directive 25 11 14 23 2

Non-directive 26 22 4 25 1

Formulas, 84 81 3 80 4

Total 271 213 58 246 25

 Situation type
type state activity accomplishment achievement

Directive 3 49 45 35

Directive 0 5 14 10

Non-directive 0 11 9 6

Formulas, 1 79 2 2

Total 4 144 70 53

Table 3
Non-imperative utterances in the corpus that express direct commands

 Recipient of the command

Type Occurrences 2Sg 1Pl 2Sg/1Pl person

Verbless 4 1 3

Modalized 42 21 7 6 3

Declarative 19 8 10 1

Performative 9 4 1 3 2

Question 15 10 3 1 1

Other 19 11 1 1 1

Total 108 55 22 12 10

 of the
Type Unspecified unspecified Prohibition

Verbless 4 0

Modalized 5 23 4

Declarative 0 2

Performative 7 1

Question 1 7

Other 4 4 4

Total 9 39 18
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Author:Metslang, Helle
Publication:Linguistica Uralica
Date:Dec 1, 2004
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