Hortative

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In Linguistics, Hortative modalities (/ˈhɔːrtətɪv/; abbreviated HORT) are verbal expressions used by the speaker to encourage or discourage doing something. Different hortatives can be used to express greater or lesser intensity, or the speaker's attitude, for or against it.

Behavior[edit]

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 be used only in the first-person plural (cohortative) and second-person singular and plural (adhortative, exhortative, dehortative, and inhortative).

Etymology[edit]

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[edit]

Hortative modalities share semantic and lexical similarities without other modalities, which can lead to confusion between them. Also, Hortative constructions rarely have forms that are uniquely their own. The English expression Let's (a contraction of let us) is one such construction. However, let us as well as its synonym, leave us are used for other functions:

  • Andy says "The movie starts in an hour. Let us go[1]." to his sister Barbara. Andy is telling Barbara that they should leave now if they want to make it to the movie on time.(cohortative – mutual encouragement)
  • Barbara says "We finished our chores. Let us go." to her parent, Chris. Barbara is demanding that Chris allow them to go to the movies because they have no more chores to do. (imperative)

The modal '(have) got' is used to express obligations, but also hortative:

  • Chris says, "Donna is out sick today. You've got to be there." to their employee, Ethan. Chris is telling Ethan that because his co-worker is sick, he has to come to work. (obligatory – being there is required)
  • Ethan says, "It's gonna be the biggest party of the year. You've got to be there." to his friend Frankie. Ethan is telling Frankie that she should go to the party because it will be the biggest of the year. (exhortative – being there is strongly encouraged)

Further ambiguity often results when hortative formations sometimes have many words or appear as adverbially modified forms of other modalities:

  • Frankie says "Recently, some cars have been broken into. You might not want to park there." to their friend Greg. Frankie is cautioning Greg against parking where some cars have recently been broken into. (dehortative – parking there 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[edit]

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[who?].

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 addressee(s), 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.[2]

Inclusive modalities[edit]

Adhortative[edit]

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 be used only 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[edit]

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 be used only in second person singular and plural utterances.
Etymology
c. 1382, from L. exhortationem, noun of action from exhortari, from ex- "thoroughly"[citation needed] + hortari "encourage, urge" (see horatory). Verb exhort is c. 1400.
Examples
  • You really should try the caviar! It's divine!

Suprahortative[edit]

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 be used only 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[edit]

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 be used only 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[edit]

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 be used only 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[edit]

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 be used only 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[edit]

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

Behaviour
  • 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 be used only 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[edit]

  • 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. Examples:
    • 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[edit]

  1. ^ Commonly contracted as "let's go".
  2. ^ Johan van der Auwera, Nina Dobrushina, and Valentin Goussev, "Imperative-Hortative Structures," in Haspelmath, Martin (2005). The world atlas of language structures. Oxford UP. p. 294. ISBN 978-0-19-925591-7. 

Sources[edit]

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