Subordinate’s Imperatives in Faculty Meetings: Pragmalinguistic Affordances in Tagalog and Local Academic Conditions

Main Article Content

Leonardo O. Munalim
Cecilia F. Genuino


Subordinate’s imperatives are generally known to be a sort of a deviant speech act, especially when employed for a person in authority to do something. This paper explores two major dimensions that underpin the possible forbearance of the subordinate’s imperatives. Firstly, it is shown that the Tagalog basic imperative has pragmalinguistic properties that may be followed or broken based on some socio-pragmalinguistic affordances. Secondly, a number of contextual factors such as power, distance, and ranking, including the Filipino cultural and academic orientation of pakikisama or smooth interpersonal relationships are described. The study employed Conversation Analysis and socio-pragmatic analytic approach. The imperatives came from five meetings from three departments in a private university in Manila, Philippines. The meetings lasted for 5 hours and 50 minutes. Results show Tagalog Basic Imperative has pragmalinguistic properties that may be followed or broken based on the following likelihood: the awkwardness, indirectness and insincerity of mitigated imperatives; and the level of urgency for the hearer to do something. The giver’s socio-pragmatic conditions also hasten the production of imperatives. These results draw into the conclusion that local conditions are negotiated in during turns at talk. Within the sphere of a faculty meeting, subordinate’s imperatives are socio-pragmalinguistically legitimate, acceptable and non-deviant. Subordinate’s imperatives play an indispensable pragmatic role in the realization of the purpose of the meeting. Although the analyses are parochially based on Tagalog, implications of these microscopic findings bear out cross-linguistic, universal and cross-cultural relevance.

Article Details

Research articles


Andres, T.D. (1981). Understanding Filipino values: A management approach. Quezon City, Philippines: New Day Publishers.

Arminen, I. (2000). On the context sensitivity of institutional interaction. Discourse and Society,11(4), 435-458.

Asuka, Y. (2018). The role of questions in managing affect and emotional involvement in Japanese conversation. Journal of Universal Language, 19(2), 1-26.

Bavelas, J.B, Coates, L., & Johnson, T. (2002). Listener responses as a collaborate process: The role of gaze. Journal of Communication, 52, 566-580.

Benwell, B., & Stokoe, E. (2006). Discourse and identity. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Biber, D. (1995). Dimensions of register variation: A cross-linguistic comparison. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Brown, P. (2010). Questions and their responses in Tzeltal. Journal of Pragmatics, 42, 2627-2648.

Brown, P., & Levinson, S. (1987). Politeness: Some universals in language use. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Bushnell, C. (2012). Talking the talk: The interactional construction of community and identity at conversation analytic data sessions in Japan. Humanities Studies, 35, 583-605.

Chen, S., Geluykens, R., & Choi, C.J. (2006). The importance of language in global teams: A linguistic perspective. Management International Review, 46(6), 679-695.

Clayman, S.E., & Maynard, D.W. (1994). Ethnomethodology and conversation analysis. In ten Have, P., & G. Psathas (Eds.), Situated Order: Studies in the Social Organization of Talk and Embodied Activities (pp. 1-30). Washington, DC: University Press of America.

Clifton, J. (2006). Conversation analytical approach to business communication: Case of leadership. Journal of Business Communication, 43, 202-219.

Culpeper, J. (2011). Impoliteness: Using language to case offence. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Gardner, R. (2004). Conversation analysis. In Davies, A., & Elder, C. (Eds.), The handbook of applied linguistics (pp.262-284). Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.

Gibson, D.R. (2003). Participation shifts: Order and differentiation in group conversation. Social Forces, 81(4), 1335-1381.

Gumperz, J.J. (1982). Discourse strategies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Heritage, J., & Clayman, S. (2010). Talk in action: Interactions, identities, and institutions. Chichester, England: Wiley-Blackwell.

Iversen, C. (2013). Making questions and answers work: Negotiating participation in interview interaction. Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis. Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Social Sciences 88. 91. Uppsala.

Jefferson, G. (2004). Glossary of transcript symbols with an introduction. In G. H. Lerner (Ed). Conversation Analysis: Studies from the First Generation. (pp: 13-31). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Kasper, G. (1997). Linguistic etiquette. In F. Coulmas (Ed.), The handbook of sociolinguistics, (pp. 374-385). Oxford, UK: Blackwell.

Kress, G. (2001). Critical sociolinguistics. In R. Mesthrie (Ed.). Concise encyclopedia of sociolinguistics (pp. 542-545). Amsterdam: Elsevier.

Ledesma, C.P., Ochave, J.A., Punzalan, T., & Magallanes, C. (1981). The character traits and values of selected Filipino children as described and prescribed by their teachers. In Disciplines and the man: Development of a Filipino ideology. Manila City, Philippines: Philippine of Education Society of the Philippines.

Leech, G. N. (1983). Principles of pragmatics. London: Longman.

Lerner, G.H. (2003). Selecting next speaker: The context-sensitive operation of a context-free organization. Language in Society, 32(2), 177-201.

Liddicoat, A. (2011). An introduction to conversation analysis (2nd ed.). London, UK: Continuum.

Machin, D., & Mayr, A. (2012). How to do critical discourse analysis: A multimodal introduction. LA: Sage.

Mey, J.L. (2001). Pragmatics and sociolinguistics. In R. Mesthrie (Ed.). Concise encyclopedia of sociolinguistics (pp. 50-58). Amsterdam: Elsevier.

Munalim, L.O. (2017. Mental processes in teachers’ reflection papers: A transitivity analysis in Systemic Functional Linguistics. 3L – Language, Linguistics, and Literature: The Southeast Asian Journal of English Language Studies, 23(2), 154-166.

Munalim, L.O., & Gonong, G.O. (2019). Stances in student-teachers’ spoken reflection: A linguistic analysis to enhance a reflection model. Iranian Journal of Language Teaching Research, 7(1), 119-139.

Munalim, L.O., & Lintao, R.B. (2016). Metadiscourse in book prefaces of Filipino and English authors: A contrastive rhetoric study. i-manager's Journal on English Language Teaching, 6(1), 36-50.

Otanes, F.T., & Schachter, P. (1972). Tagalog reference grammar. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Pennock-Speck, B., & Fuster-Márquez, M. (2014). Imperatives in voice-overs in British TV commercials: ‘Get this, buy that, taste the other’. Discourse & Communication. 1-16.

Psathas, G., Anderson, T. (1990). The 'practices' of transcription in conversation analysis. Semiotica, 78, 75-99.

Raymond, G. (2003). Grammar and social organization: Yes/no interrogatives and the structure of responding. American Sociological Review, 68(6), 939-967.

Sacks, H., Schegloff, E.A., & Jefferson, G. (1974). A simplest systematics for the organization of turn-taking for conversation. Language, 50, 696-735.

Schegloff, E.A. (1987). Between macro and micro: Contexts and other connections. In J. Alexander, B. Giesen, R. Munch, & N. Smelzer (Eds.), The micro-macro link (pp. 207–234). Berkeley: University of California Press.

Schegloff, E.A. (2010). Commentary on Stivers and Rossano: "Mobilizing response". Research on Language & Social Interaction, 43(1), 38-48.

Schegloff, E.A. (2000). Overlapping talk and the organization of turn-taking for conversation. Language in Society, 29, 1-63.

Schegloff, E.A. (2009). One perspective on conversation analysis: Comparative perspectives. In Sidnell, J. (Ed.), Conversation Analysis: Comparative Perspectives (pp. 357-406). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Schiffrin, D. (2009). Interactional sociolinguistics. In S.L. McKay & N. H. Hornberge, Sociolinguistics and language teaching, (pp. 307-328). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Schiffrin, D. (2000). Approaches to discourse. Oxford, UK: Blackwell.

Tanaka, H. (2000). Turn-taking in Japanese conversation: A study in grammar and interaction. Amsterdam, Netherlands: John Benjamins Publishing.

ten Have, P. (2007). Doing conversation analysis. Boston. Sage.

Turunen, J. (2015). Semiotics of politics. Dialogicality of parliamentary talk. Skrifter utgivna av Statsvetenskapliga föreningen i Uppsala 191. Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis. A dissertation from Uppsala University.

Vickers, M.H. (2014). Towards reducing the harm: Workplace bullying as workplace corruption—A critical review. Employment Response Rights Journal, 26, 95-113.

Vine, B. (2009). Directives at work: Exploring the contextual complexity of workplace directives. Journal of Pragmatics, 41, 1395-1405.

Walters, F.S. (2007). A conversation-analytic hermeneutic rating protocol to assess L2 oral pragmatic competence. Language Testing, 24(2), 155-183.

Wooffitt, R. (2005). Conversation analysis & discourse analysis: A comparative and critical introduction. London: Sage Publications.