Verb Second and Illocutionary Force

  • Stephen Wechsler
Part of the Studies in Natural Language and Linguistic Theory book series (SNLT, volume 25)


Among the most important syntactic feaures of a clause are the illocutionary force indicators, those features which indicate whether the proposition expressed by a clause is to be taken as the content of a question, assertion, or some other illocutionary act (Searle 1969, 30ff). In this paper we analyze the verb second (V2) constraint in Germanic, with an emphasis on Swedish, as a manifestation of the Germanic illocutionary force indicators. First we review the syntax of V2 (Section 1.1) and then the semantic constraints on V2 clauses (Sections 1.2, 1.3), leading to an account of the ‘trigger’ for verb movement in Germanic in terms of a theory of illocutionary force indicators (Section 2). In Section 2.2 we give independent evidence for our account from a constraint on extraction. A consequence of the present account is that certain features of cross-linguistic variation are best explained by parameterizing the phrase structure rules and holding the illocutionary rules constant.


Phrase Structure Embed Clause Main Clause Subordinate Clause Semantic Constraint 
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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1991

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  • Stephen Wechsler

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