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Auteur: Kuanming TENG

Negative Imperatives in Taiwanese Southern Min

Abstract/Résumé: This present study aims to investigate the formation of negative imperatives in Taiwanese Southern Min. The imperative sentence is a type of sentence that expresses a request or a command or that offers advice or instructions, and an imperative sentence typically begins with the base form of a verb, as in 'Go now!' Unlike positive imperative sentences, negative imperatives show particular constraints in that negative elements cannot be immediately followed by bare verbs as negation lacks the illocutionary force of imperatives and only operates on the propositional content of a sentence (Frege, 1970). Except for the fusional negative word, such as mai3, used exclusively in negative imperatives, negative words and the bare verb have to be mediated by modals, as in m7 *(thang1) khui1-mng5 伓通開門 not can open door ‘Don’t open the door’ where the deontic modal 'thang1' is obligatory. This is parallel to negative imperatives in English where the auxiliary do is mandatory, as in ‘Don’t open the door’. There are two types of negative imperatives: one is non-fusional and the other is fusional. Regarding to non-fusional type, modals such as thang1通, eng7用, ai3愛, sai2使, tit4得, and ho2好 can co-occur with the preceding negative m7伓 to form negative imperatives. And the preverbal compound modals of be7袂 featuring deontic use did not appear until modern times. Each of them comprises the verb sai2 使 or eng7用 sandwiched by the circumfix be7---(tit4) 袂---(得) where 得 is optional in allegro speech. On the other hand, fusional types of negative imperatives fall into two subtypes depending on whether the source of the fusion is recoverable. The first fusional type consists of fusional forms such as bian2免 and mok4莫 for which we cannot figure out the source of their non-fusional elements. The second fusional type is words which can factorize as a sequence of a common negative element m7伓 and a modal verb, such as mai3勿 (m7伓+ai3愛/sai2使), bang3 莽/邙 (m7伓+thang1通), and mo2 孬 (m7伓+ho2好). All of the fusional negative words are used exclusively in imperatives and carry an illocutionary force of prohibition. As to the difference between non-fusional and fusional negative words, fusional types are always used in negative imperatives, and for some fusional negative words, mai3勿 in particular, modality always scopes over negation. When m7-ai3 伓愛 has undergone contraction and emerges as a fusional word mai3勿, a semantic change has also taken place turning a weak marker of prohibitive mood to a strong one, viz., from the sense of ‘not want to’ to ‘must not’. Thus, it’s suggested that the phonological operation of fusion seems to be the formal measure to signal movement of a modal to a position higher than the negative element in the hierarchy of functional categories.