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Typology meets usage: the case of the prohibitive infinitive in Dutch

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

Published
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>12/2010
<mark>Journal</mark>Folia Linguistica
Issue number2
Volume44
Number of pages37
Pages (from-to)471-507
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

The article examines the striking correlation of the directive infinitive with negation in Dutch. This correlation is interpreted in the light of recent findings on the form of the prohibitive in the languages of the world and is explained in terms of the negative-first principle and politeness. The validity of the two explanations is further investigated from a cross-linguistic perspective. The preference for preverbal negation is shown to be even stronger in prohibitive than in declarative sentences. The difference in politeness between positive imperative and prohibitive speech acts is argued to be reflected in a wide range of languages. On the whole, the article illustrates the fruitful, two-way interaction between the study of language usage and typology.