The Imperative Paradigm of Korowai, a language of West Papua

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The imperative paradigm of Korowai, a Papuan language of West Papua, is the richest independent verb paradigm of Korowai: it makes more tense, aspect, mood, person and number distinctions than all other verb paradigms. This formal richness is matched by functional richness: imperatives are used in a typologically striking range of contexts, for example in bridging constructions (tail-head linkage), in the domain of inner states (through quotative framing of emotion, thoughts and intentions) and in both addressee-inclusive and addressee-exclusive contexts (in the case of first person plural imperatives). Although the imperative paradigm may express the widest range of TAM distinctions of all verb forms, the only obligatory distinctions are for those for person and number, with its own set of person and number suffixes. Diachronically, the Korowai imperative paradigm developed from a basic injunctive zero paradigm of proto Greater Awyu that has reflexes in all branches and languages of the Greater Awyu family, but with different ranges of grammatical meanings, all in a broad domain of unactualised events, covering both non-directive (irrealis) and directive meanings (imperative, hortative, desiderative, jussive) .
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCommands: a cross-linguistic typology
Subtitle of host publicationExplorations in Linguistic Typology
EditorsAlexandra Aikhenvald, R.M.W Dixon
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford, UK: Oxford University Press
Number of pages15
ISBN (Print)9780198803225
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Publication series

NameOxford Linguistics
PublisherOxford University Press


  • linguistic typology
  • imperatives
  • Korowai


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