Imperative has traditionally been treated as a grammatical feature characteristic of first pair parts in adjacency pairs, expressing orders, requests, challenges, and demands. These actions make relevant compliance as the next action. In a number of languages, however, among them in Estonian, imperative is also used in second pair parts. It occurs as a response to a proposal that is expressed in first person but implies collaboration on behalf of the recipient. As a rule, the verb from the first pair part of the adjacency pair (proposal) is repeated in the complying imperative response. The sequence proposal in 1st person – compliance in 2nd person imperative constitutes a grammatical configuration that results form the particular interactional goals of the speakers. Without taking into consideration the specifics of social actions and their sequencing the configuration is impossible to characterize, as the syntax of the proposals varies.
As an alternative to the generic response with particle jaa/jah, a verb repeat is a more independent action that enhances the social and deontic force of the answer. By complying with a verb, the speaker makes a stronger commitment to the proposed activity.
Verb repeats, albeit not in the imperative, are also possible as responses to proposals in other persons in Estonian. In addition, they occur as responses to yes/no questions. The latter pattern has been described as a typological feature in world’s languages. It seems that the possibility of imperative responses co-occurs with verb repeat responses to questions. In varieties of Estonian that have been in close contact with languages that do not reuse verbs in the same way, such as Swedish, verbs are instead replaced with ’do’ in the second pair part.
The study is based on spoken language corpora.
2009. Vol. 54, 94-106 p.
pragmatics, interactional linguistics, Estonian grammar, echo-answer, language typology, interactional sequence, adjacency pair, second pair part, response