Mark A. Mandel Mark_Mandel at DRAGONSYS.COM
Fri Jan 26 17:05:25 UTC 2001

Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU> writes:

At 10:36 AM -0500 1/25/01, Herb Stahlke wrote:
>I think I'd probably say "d'ya wanna go" instead of "shall we
>leave", unless I was being posh.
Well, there is the danger, as Deborah Tannen has pointed out, that
the recipient of "d'ya wanna go?" (whatever intonation is used) may
feel s/he is literally being asked whether or not s/he wants to go,
when the speaker intends it as a suggestion (or vice versa), while
"Shall we go" clearly indicates that the speaker would like to go if
the addressee is willing to.  Still, the former (or even the more
reduced form, "Wanna go?") is probably more likely than "Shall we
go?".  But my point is that the "shall" in this case is less
stylistically marked than in the simple future uses.

Agreed. I call this form the (first person plural) imperative
interrogative, and that's not just a joke, even though the notion of
"imperative interrogative" is funny because it seems contradictory. The
speaker is asking for/about the concurrence of the addressee(s) in
declaring an imperative from the group to the group.

IMHO, this curious, rather anomalous form reflects the use of "shall" as
performative in giving an order, or in establishing a law:

     He shall/*will be taken to the gallows, there to be hanged by the neck
     until dead.

     Any dog found on public property without leash or collar shall/*will
     deemed a stray and shall/*will be captured and taken to the Town
     by the Animal Control Officer.

-- Mark A. Mandel

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