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Embedded imperatives

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Abstract

Embedded imperatives are found in Old Scandinavian, but not in any of its modern descendants, i.e. Danish, Faroese, Icelandic, Norwegian or Swedish. This paper aims to uncover the structural prerequisites for embedded imperatives to be possible in a language. Assuming a feature-driven version of the minimalist program, it is shown that embedded imperatives are possible under the specific structural requirement that the non-finite verb is in a position lower than the object, i.e. in a kind of partial OV-structure that I will call pseudo-OV, differing from ordinary OV in having the tensed verb before the object, both in main and embedded clauses. A number of predictions follow which are indeed fulfilled, such as the obligatory presence of the second person subject, the position of the imperative verb in front of the object, and the fact that the kinds of objects found in embedded imperatives are the ones that also turn up in clauses with pseudo-OV in Old Scandinavian.

References

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