Interactive and Interpersonal Meanings of Grammatical Structures

A Cognitive Grammar Analysis of Selected Direct Directive Constructions in Polish

by Agata Kochańska (Author)
©2022 Monographs 288 Pages


The study offers an analysis of three grammatical constructions specifically employed in direct performance of directive speech acts in Polish. Constructions of this type have not yet been widely analyzed, as research pertaining to the relation between the grammatical structure of an utterance and its pragmatic effects has focused mainly on indirect speech acts. The study combines a discussion of a wide range of corpus examples with a detailed analysis of hand-picked examples situated in specific contexts. The aim is to show how the grammatical make-up of a construction functions with contextual factors to bring about a range of pragmatic effects pertaining to the speakers’ interaction and their interpersonal relation. The framework of the study is the theory of cognitive grammar.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Acknowledgements
  • List of abbreviations
  • List of Figures
  • Introduction
  • PART I Theoretical prerequisites
  • Chapter 1 Setting the ground: selected issues in the classical speech act theory
  • 1.0 Introduction
  • 1.1 Speech acts – Austin’s basic insights
  • 1.2 Searle’s approach to speech acts
  • 1.3 Selected controversies in speech act theory
  • 1.3.1 Illocutionary force and meaning – fundamentally different or basically alike?
  • 1.3.2 Understanding an utterance’s illocutionary force: decoding or inference?
  • 1.4 Summary and conclusions
  • Chapter 2 Approaches to the problem of the interactive and interpersonal value of utterances
  • 2.0 Introduction
  • 2.1 Selected approaches to linguistics politeness
  • 2.1.1 Brown and Levinson’s model (1987 [1978])
  • 2.1.2 Leech’s model (1983 and 2014)
  • 2.2 Selected approaches to linguistic impoliteness
  • 2.2.1 Culpeper’s model (1996)
  • 2.2.2 Bousfield’s model (2008)
  • 2.3 A discussion of the models of linguistic politeness and impoliteness under consideration
  • 2.4 Intersubjectivity
  • 2.5 Concluding remarks
  • Chapter 3 Cognitive approaches to issues in speech act theory
  • 3.0 Introduction
  • 3.1 Speech acts as conceptual categories
  • 3.2 Force dynamics in the understanding of directive speech acts
  • 3.3 The relation between an utterance’s illocutionary force and its grammatical structure – selected cognitive approaches
  • 3.3.1 The Obstacle Hypothesis (Gibbs 1986)
  • 3.3.2 Panther and Thornburg’s model of metonymic inferencing in indirect speech acts
  • 3.3.3 The role of propositional ICMs in indirect speech acts (Pérez Hernández and Ruiz de Mendoza 2002; Pérez Hernández 2013)
  • 3.3.4 The role of the hearer in the directive scenario (Chybowska 2005a and b)
  • 3.3.5 A construction-based approach to indirect speech acts (Stefanowitsch 2003)24
  • 3.3.6 Takahashi’s analysis of the meaning of the English imperative (2012)
  • 3.4 Concluding remarks
  • Chapter 4 The theoretical framework
  • 4.0 Introduction
  • 4.1 Cognitive grammar – the general theoretical landscape
  • 4.2 Cognitive grammar as a usage-based approach to language
  • 4.3 Cognitive grammar’s views on the nature of linguistic meaning
  • 4.3.1 Encyclopedic nature of meaning
  • 4.3.2 Conceptualist and imagistic nature of meaning
  • 4.4 Cognitive grammar and speech acts
  • 4.4.1 Meaning and illocutionary force
  • 4.4.2 Interactive frames
  • 4.4.3 Grounding
  • 4.4.4 The machinery at work
  • 4.5 Cognitive grammar and the relevance-theoretic pragmatic theorizing
  • 4.6 Concluding remarks
  • PART II Analysis
  • Chapter 5 The imperative constructions – a semantic and pragmatic characterization of their main components
  • 5.0 Introduction
  • 5.1 The imperative – basic grammatical facts
  • 5.2 Perfective and imperfective imperatives33
  • 5.2.1 Perfective and imperfective imperatives in context-situated spoken colloquial discourse
  • 5.2.2 A study of corpus examples34
  • 5.2.3 The proposed analysis36
  • 5.2.4 How the proposed analysis relates to alternative accounts37
  • 5.3 Distance maintenance and distance reduction in imperative constructions
  • 5.3.1 A note on distance-regulating structures in Polish
  • 5.3.2 A characterizaton of the notion of pragmatic distance
  • 5.3.3 A note on standard uses of distance-regulating structures in Polish
  • 5.3.4 Distance-regulating structures as a means of negotiating the speaker-hearer interpersonal distance
  • 5.4 Concluding remarks
  • Chapter 6 Directive infinitives
  • 6.0 Introduction
  • 6.1 The grammatical and conceptual make-up of the (Proszę1 sg. non-past indicat.) + Vinf. constructions
  • 6.2 An overview of typical uses of the directive infinitive constructions
  • 6.3 Concluding remarks
  • Chapter 7 An analysis of pragmatic effects of selected “special” variants of direct directive constructions: a construction’s grammatical make-up and context in collaboration
  • 7.0 Introduction
  • 7.1 The V2sg. imp. construction
  • 7.1.1 The V2 sg. imperf. imp. midat. (‘me’) construction
  • 7.1.2 The Panie Xvoc. ‘Mr X’, V2 sg. imperf. imp. construction
  • 7.2 The distance-maintaining imperative construction
  • 7.3 The directive infinitive construction
  • 7.4 Concluding remarks
  • Chapter 8 Conclusions
  • 8.0 Introduction
  • 8.1 Summary of the analysis
  • 8.2 Some general observations and conclusions
  • 8.3 Some venues for future research
  • 8.4 The final note
  • References
  • Index of Names
  • Series index


I am greatly indebted to Professor Elżbieta Górska, Professor Elżbieta Tabakowska, and Prof. Ronald Langacker for the fact that I could be their student – I consider this as a great privilege.

My thanks go also to Professor Ewa Wałaszewska, who was kind enough to offer me her time and expertise to comment on earlier versions of parts of this work.

I would like to thank Jędruś, Zosia, and Piotrek for bearing with me and for being there for me.

Needless to say, all the shortcomings of this work are entirely my own.

Agata Kochańska

Warsaw, November 2021

List of abbreviations




– dative




– imperative

imp. particle

– imperative particle


– imperfective aspect


– indicative mood


– infinitive


– National Corpus of Polish


– nominative


non-past tense


– past tense


– perfective aspect


– plural


– PWN Corpus of Polish






– vocative

1 sg.

1st person singular

2 sg.

– 2nd person singular

3 sg.

– 3rd person singular

1 pl.

– 1st person plural

2 pl

.– 2nd person plural

3 pl.

3rd person plural


When a native speaker of Polish needs to perform a directive speech act, she1 has at her disposal quite a number of grammatical constructions2 that may be conventionally employed for that purpose. In addition to a variety of constructions which may be used as indirect directive speech acts, a speaker of Polish may also select from a range of constructions which seem to be specifically designed for use in directive utterances. Some of the constructions in question are exemplified in (1) – (3) below:

(1) a.  Piotreknom./voc., nakryj2 sg. perf. imp. do (lit. to) stołu!3

‘Piotrek, set the table, [please]’

b.  Piotreknom./voc., nakrywaj2 sg. imperf. imp. do (lit. to) stołu!

‘Piotrek, [do] set the table, [please]’

c.Piotreknom./voc., nakrywaj2 sg. imperf. imp. midat. (lit. me) do (lit. to) stołu, ale już (lit. but now)!

‘Piotrek, set the table, now!’

d. Siadaj2 sg. imperf. imp. pannom. (lit. Mr./Sir/gentleman)!

‘[Mister], you sit down!’

b. Pannom. (lit. Mr./Sir/gentleman) otworzy3 sg. non-past indicat. okno!

X‘[Mister], could you open the window?’


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2022 (January)
speech acts linguistic (im)politeness clausal grounding pragmatic distance (im)perfective imperative directive infinitive
Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2022. 288 pp., 13 fig. b/w, 2 tables.

Biographical notes

Agata Kochańska (Author)

Agata Kochańska is Assistant Professor at the Institute of English Studies, University of Warsaw. Her current research interests focus on meanings of grammatical structures. She is an author of a number of articles on the semantics of, among others, the verbal aspect, distance-regulating structures, and directive constructions in Polish.


Title: Interactive and Interpersonal Meanings of Grammatical Structures