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Ask a linguist - Message details

Subject: Jussive vs. Cohortative vs. Imperative
Dear Linguist,

I am looking for a formal definition (and examples
of use) of the jussive, cohortative and imperative moods.

The definitions that I have found are rather vague
and it is a bit hard to understand the difference
between these modes (esp. because the distinction
is not very clear in English).

Thanks a lot,

The lines among these often get blurred in many languages and the term 'imperative' is used much more commonly than the other two. In English we can indicate a semanitic difference in the following way:

Go home! Imperative

Live long and prosper! Imperative but with a touch of "jussiviity"?

The sense is not an order but rather a wish and is paraphrasable with "May you live long and prosper." using a modal verb 'may'.

In German: Lebe der Ko"nig. "Long live the King" is a "jussive" use, but it is carried with the subjunctive in both English and German, not a separate verb form.

Hortative: Japanese "Ikoo!" . "let's go, shall we go?". The Japanese imperative is Itte! Go. (These are not the polite forms so, Kids, dont try this at home!).

U of Cincinnati
Dept of Anthropology

Reply From: Joseph F Foster     click here to access email
Date: Aug-11-2005
Other Replies:
  1. Re: Jussive vs. Cohortative vs. Imperative   Geoffrey Sampson    (Aug-15-2005)
  2. Re: Jussive vs. Cohortative vs. Imperative   Charley Rowe    (Dec-07-2005)

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