De imperatief in de verleden tijd | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
Volume 18, Issue 3
  • ISSN: 1384-5845
  • E-ISSN: 2352-1171


This article deals with the cross-linguistically rare phenomenon of past tense imperatives and, more precisely, with the past perfect imperative in Dutch. With this construction, the speaker typically conveys the undesirability of a state of affairs that cannot be changed anymore and reprimands the addressee. The article examines the two functional accounts that have been proposed in the literature. Proeme (1984) provides a definition of the imperative that is so broad that no a priori restrictions of verb types, aspect and tense can be assumed. It is argued that his starting point is debatable from a usage-based perspective and that his account cannot explain the construction’s standard interpretation, the dubious acceptability of other interpretations and its scarcity in the world’s languages. Duinhoven (1995) regards the past perfect imperative as the outcome of the interaction of the counterfactual conditional inversion construction and the (conditional) imperative construction. His fairly idiosyncratic account is evaluated positively in the light of construction grammar and the typological literature on directive strategies and insubordination. The assumed processes of analogy and conventionalization are argued to be at odds with the construction’s infrequency in corpora, though.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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