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Academic Paper

Title: Towards a model of the syntax–discourse interface: a syntactic analysis of please
Author: Rebecca Woods
Linguistic Field: Discourse Analysis; Syntax
Subject Language: English
Abstract: This article examines the syntax and semantics of please. Using a mainstream generative syntactic framework, I propose that syntactically integrated please is a discourse marker that marks the clause in which it occurs as a request. Please may appear clause-initially or clause-medially as determined by a number of factors, including clause type, modality, negation and the application of ellipsis. There is also a homophonous marker please that occurs in clause-final position; clause-final please does not mark requests per se but ‘bonds’ a speaker and addressee, reinforcing their relationship as requester and requestee. This analysis of please provides support for syntactic approaches to speech act structure, particularly the claim that illocutionary force is part of narrow syntax rather than a solely pragmatic phenomenon. The article provides support for pursuing a model of the syntax–discourse interface in which interactions between discourse markers and clause-internal functional elements, such as mood and modality, form the interface between syntax and discourse.


This article appears IN English Language and Linguistics Vol. 25, Issue 1, which you can READ on Cambridge's site .

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