2007 | 3 | -1 | 37-60
Article title

On the Pragmatics of Hortatory Subjunctive in Italian Business Letter Discourse

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This paper is a pragmatic account of the use of the Italian hortatory subjunctive in business letter discourse. According to traditional descriptions of the Italian subjunctive mood which mostly focus on the use of this mood in dependent clauses, the hortatory subjunctive is one of the few remaining examples of subjunctive use in independent clauses. In business letter discourse it is used in independent clauses, always as a formulaic modal expression with the modal verb of volition volere (will). In this paper it is argued that (i) the rare examples of its use seem to confirm that in the Italian language the hortatory subjunctive survives only in very formal (and formulaic) types of writing, business letter discourse being a case in point; and that (ii) in this type of genre the dynamic modality expressed by the subjunctive mood is used only in specific moves within the text for negative politeness reasons. The findings also suggest the need to take a "discourse-approach" to politeness, i.e. to rethink and analyze politeness as a holistic phenomenon which is the result of a number of acts intricately wound together in the text, both at the micro and macro level.
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  • University of Perugia
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