A research paper by Associate Professor Ezra Keshet and coauthor David J. Medeiros (PhD 2013) of California State University, Northridge, was recently published online in the journal Natural Language & Linguistic Theory.

The paper, titled “Imperatives under Coordination,” investigates the difference in meaning when an imperative sentence (one that gives a command) is joined with a declarative statement. The paper presents new empirical evidence of directive force in all conjoined imperatives.


Imperatives under Coordination

Imperatives in conjoined sentences have presented a puzzle for theories which associate directive force with all imperatives. For example, in a conjunction like Ignore your homework and you’ll fail the class, the first, imperative conjunct may describe an undesirable action, which is incompatible with normal imperative directive force. Despite this apparent counterexample, this paper presents new empirical evidence of directive force in all conjoined imperatives. Even cases with undesirable imperative actions still direct the addressee to perform a related action (such as not ignoring their homework). Under this new analysis, directive force sometimes applies to the entire Imperative-and-Declarative conjunction, rather than narrowly to the first, imperative clause. Robust diagnostics are deployed to delineate the precise class of conditional Imperative-and-Declarative conjunctions, distinguishing such cases from those whose first clauses do not actually include an imperative. Additional diagnostics separate conjunctions whose imperative force applies narrowly to the first conjunct from those where it applies to the entire conjunction. Finally, the analysis of this construction motivates a simplified theory of imperatives more generally.