In German, Dutch, and other languages, the imperative is distinct from the infinitive:
- Dutch would be doe mee! (singular), doet mee! (plural or formal, dated).
- German would be mach mit (singular) or macht mit! (plural or formal, less dated than Dutch form).
(literal meaning in English do along, better translation join me/us!)
Yet in both languages, the infinitive can also be used to give an order, functionally similar to the imperative, but different in form and tone. Dutch would be meedoen!, German would be mitmachen!. Other examples are opruimen! / aufräumen! (tidy / clean up!), wegwezen! (get out!), werken! / arbeiten! (work!), or ga stemmen! (go and vote!). The actual imperative form may sound quaint: ruim op!, wees weg!, werk!, or stem! (but werk ze! or stem op mij! sounds quite normal). A friend would say kom mee! (come along!), but if someone says meekomen! or mitkommen! they sound more like an unfriendly police officer or soldier.
What is the context of using the infinitive form to give an order, making it functionally similar to the imperative form? Are there other languages (that have a separate imperative form) that share this characteristic? Is using the infinitive to give orders more recent than using the imperative?