Volume 39, Issue 3
  • ISSN 0378-4177
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9978
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Indicative sentences in Dogon have a subject of S/A type identifiable by convergent criteria. However, Dogon imperatives diverge from English in lacking full-fledged referential subjects. Specifically, covert imperative actors (“subjects”) cannot bind transpersonal reflexive pronominals the way indicative subjects do. Instead, Dogon imperative verbs morphologically index addressee number. Dogon hortatives have both overt first-person plural subjects and imperative-like second-person addressees. We must therefore tease apart (referential) subjecthood and addresseehood. Crosslinguistic comparisons (Basque allocutives, Russian transpersonal reflexives) bring out similarities and differences. A cultural focus on immediate observation as opposed to projected result, also observed in action verb semantics, may be behind the Dogon difference.


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