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Secondary and deviant uses of the imperative for requesting in Italian

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Rossi, G. (2017). Secondary and deviant uses of the imperative for requesting in Italian. In M.-L. Sorjonen, L. Raevaara, & E. Couper-Kuhlen (Eds.), Imperative turns at talk: The design of directives in action (pp. 103-137). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0007-E62F-2
The use of the imperative for requesting has been mostly explained on the basis of estimations of social distance, relative power, and entitlement. More recent research, however, has identified other selection factors to do with the functional and sequential relation of the action requested to the trajectory of the ongoing interaction. In everyday activities among family and friends, the imperative is typically warranted by an earlier commitment of the requestee to a joint project or shared goal which the action requested contributes to. The chapter argues this to be the primary use of the imperative for requesting in Italian informal interaction, and distinguishes it from other uses of the imperative that do not conform to the predominant pattern. These other uses are of two kinds: (i) secondary, that is, less frequent and formally marked imperatives that still orient to social-interactional conditions supporting an expectation of compliance, and (ii) deviant, where the imperative is selected in deliberate violation of the social-interactional conditions that normally support it, attracting special attention and accomplishing more than just requesting. This study extends prior findings on the functional distribution of imperative requests and makes a point of relating and classifying distinct uses of a same form of action, offering new insights into more general aspects of language use such as markedness and normativity.