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Cohortative mood

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Cohortative mood

The hortative (person.

Behavior

Hortative modalities signal the speaker's encouragement or discouragement toward the addressee's bringing about the proposition of an utterance. For this reason hortative constructions can only be used in the first person plural (cohortative) and second person singular and plural (adhortative, exhortative, dehortative, and inhortative).

Etymology

The term hortative dates to 1576, from Late Latin hortatorius "encouraging, cheering," from hortatus, past participle of hortari "exhort, encourage," intensive of horiri "urge, incite, encourage".

Ambiguity

Hortative modality is often mistaken for other modalities due to semantic or lexical similarities. Hortative constructions also rarely have forms that are uniquely hortative. Let's (Let us) in its contracted form is an exception to this. However, even let's in its long form 'let us' as well as the colloquial semantic equal 'leave us' may be used as cohortatives as well as for other functions.

Consider:

  • Let's go!
    • (cohortative) - mutual encouragement to leave
  • Let us go!
    • (cohortative) - same idea as above in long form
  • Let us go!
    • (imperative) - A single speaker demanding that the addressee release the speaker and any companions
  • Let us retire to the den.
    • (cohortative) - mutual urging to change location
  • Leave us alone!
    • (imperative) - using phrasal verb 'to leave alone'

Ambiguity also arises from hortative use of modals normally utilized for expression of other modalities. Consider the modal '(have) got' which is most often used in an obligatory modality but which can also appear in hortative usage:

  • You've got to be at work by eight every day.
    • (obligatory) -- the proposition of the utterance is required
  • You've got to taste this curry! It's brilliant!
    • (exhortative) -- the proposition of the utterance is strongly encouraged

Further ambiguity often results from the structure of hortative formations which can sometimes have many words or appear as adverbially modified forms of other modalities:

  • You might not want to do that.
    • (dehortative) - the proposition of the utterance is politely discouraged

This construction consists of might (a modal of possibility) + not (the negative marker) + want (a volitive class II modal). Forms such as this are often misconstrued as other modalities further modified (in this case volition negated and modified for possibility).

Imperative-hortative systems

Many languages have imperative-hortative systems in which modalities dealing with commands and encouragement are grouped together. This is not the case in English and results in some disagreement among linguists.

Imperatives and hortatives both involve the expression of a wish of the speaker about a future state of affairs. In this respect they are like optatives, but in contrast to optatives, they convey an appeal to the addressee(s) to help make the future state of affairs true. If the person in control of the desired state of affairs is the speaker (or 'addresser'), the utterance is an imperative. In any other case, it is a hortative. Consider these examples:

  1. May he live a hundred years! (optative)
  2. Sing! (imperative)
  3. Let’s sing! (hortative)

(1) illustrates an optative. It expresses a wish or hope of the speaker, but there is no appeal to the addressee to make it true. (2) and (3) also express a wish of the speaker, but in each case, there is an appeal to the addressee to help make it true, with the desired future state of affairs specified as that of someone singing. Note that the person who is supposed to sing is/are the addressee(s) in (2) thus making it a command. In (3), however, the intended singer is the addressee(s) together with the speaker thus effecting the modality of mutual encouragement that the speaker and the addressee(s) perform the action.[1]

Inclusive Modalities

Adhortative

The adhortative is a hortative modality in English. The adhortative encourages or urges.

Behavior
  • Adhortative modality signals the speaker's encouragement toward the addressee's bringing about the proposition of an utterance.
  • Adhortative constructions can only be used in second person singular and plural utterances.
Etymology
From ad- “to, toward” + hortari “encourage, urge”.
Examples
  • You might want to go; it'll be fun.

Exhortative

The exhortative is a hortative modality in English. The exhortative avidly encourages or strongly urges.

Behavior
  • Exhortative modality signals the speaker's avid encouragement toward the addressee's bringing about the proposition of an utterance.
  • Exhortative constructions can only be used in second person singular and plural utterances.
Etymology
c.1382, from L. exhortationem, noun of action from exhortari, from ex- "thoroughly" + hortari "encourage, urge" (see horatory). Verb exhort is c.1400.
Examples
  • You really should try the caviar! It's divine!

Suprahortative

The suprahortative is a hortative modality in English. The suprahortative is used for pleas of encouragement or absolute urging.

Behavior
  • Suprahortative modality signals the speaker's avid encouragement toward the addressee's bringing about the proposition of an utterance.
  • Suprahortative constructions can only be used in second person singular and plural utterances.
Etymology
From supra- "over, above, maximum" + hortari "encourage, urge" (see horatory).
Examples
  • Please say yes! You must take this job!

Dehortative

The dehortative is a hortative modality in English. The dehortative discourages or urges against.

Behavior
  • Dehortative modality signals the speaker's discouragement of the addressee's bringing about the proposition of an utterance.
  • Dehortative constructions can only be used in second person singular and plural utterances.
Etymology
From dehort (Modern English – archaic) to try to dissuade. c.1525, from L. dehortari, from de- “off, away” + hortari “encourage, urge”.
Examples
  • Maybe you might not want to drive in the rain.

Inhortative

The inhortative is a hortative modality in English. The inhortative avidly discourages or strongly urges against.

Behavior
  • Inhortative modality signals the speaker's avid discouragement or strong urging against the addressee's bringing about the proposition of an utterance.
  • Inhortative constructions can only be used in second person singular and plural utterances.
Etymology
From ME enhort c.1400 “strongly urge against”, from L. in- “opposite effect” + hortari “encourage, urge”.
Examples
  • No! You can't go!
    • In this case can't is being used as a morpheme implying a sense of great disappointment at the prospect of the proposition and thus inferring great urging against it. Can is normally a class I modal of ability and when written can't is still semantically positive (as all modals of the class are) with the contraction representing only shorthand for the two words with no semantic union between them.

Infrahortative

The infrahortative is a hortative modality in English. The infrahortative is used for pleas of discouragement or absolute urging against.

Behavior
  • Infrahortative modality signals the speaker's absolute discouragement toward the addressee's bringing about the proposition of an utterance.
  • Infrahortative constructions can only be used in second person singular and plural utterances.
Etymology
From infra- "below" + hortari "encourage, urge" (see horatory).
Examples
  • You can't do this! It'd be suicide.

Cohortative

The cohortative is a hortative modality in English. The cohortative is used for mutual encouragement or discouragement.

Behavior
  • Cohortative modality signals the speaker's encouragement or discouragement toward the addressee's bringing about the proposition of an utterance along with the speaker; in other words, it signals mutual encouragement for the speaker and the addressee(s).
  • Cohortative constructions can only be used in first person plural utterances.
Etymology
c.1850, from L.cohortatus, participle of cohortare from co- “together” + hortari “encourage, urge.
Examples
The cohortative is signified by its primary modal phrase [let's] and its longer form [let us] and the semantically identical colloquial [leave us]. Constructions with let+me (first person singular) are not hortative but rather permissive.
  • Let's eat!
  • Let's go for a walk after dinner.

Cohortative-hortative

  • Although the cohortative is itself a fairly neutral modality with regard to attitude, usually reflecting a mutual encouragement to partake in the proposition of the utterance with little more than tacit urging, it can be combined with the implied meanings of the other six hortative modalities.
  • This creates constructions which have dual hortative modalities but which remain overall cohortative. Observe:
    • Let's go in the cave.
      • (cohortative) - mutual encouragement with no added connotations
    • Let's not go in the cave.
      • (cohortative) - mutual discouragement with no added connotations
    • Come on, let's really go in the cave.
      • (cohortative-exhortative) - mutual encouragement with added intensity and urging
    • Please! Please, let's not go in the cave. I'm scared!
      • (cohortative-infrahortative) - mutual discouragement with added absolute urging; a plea against the proposition

References

  • Palmer, Robert L. Mood & Modality. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. 2001
  • Palmer, Robert L. Modality & The English Modals. Longman, London. 1979

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