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Marking and Imperatives

From:Ed Heil <edheil@...>
Date:Wednesday, October 13, 1999, 2:27
I don't have an answer for your question, but I do have a
clarification of it....

The most common usages of a verb tend to be the least marked.  For
indicative verbs, this is usually third singular and/or plural.
(English is weird in marking *only* this person/number combination.)

For imperatives, the most common usage is second singular and/or
plural, and this is highly unmarked -- note that in English, we can
even drop the otherwise obligatory pronoun when we use a (second
person) imperative!  "Look out!" = "(you) look out!"

Note that Latin and some other languages have third person
imperatives, but they are more morphologically marked than the second;
and in English we have to use a periphrastic construction, "Let it

Note also that at least in English, there is one verb whose most
common and morphologically unmarked usage is in the *first* person --
it allows us to drop the pronoun in the first person just as for
imperatives we drop the pronoun in the second person.  That verb is
"to thank" -- "Thank you!" - "(I) thank you!"

There are probably exceptions but that's the tendency,
cross-linguistically: common/"canonical" usages will be unmarked

Ed doesn't know everything, but he hasn't figured that out yet.
Please break it to him gently.    

Patrick Dunn wrote:

> I never asked my question! (Blame it on Northrup Frye's Anatomy of > Criticism -- my brain is boiled in its own juices) My question was, are > there any natlangs that *do* mark their imperatives as much as or more > than their other moods? >