Degrees of modality

Salkie, Raphael (2009) Degrees of modality In: Salkie, Raphael, Busuttil, Pierre and van der Auwera, Johan, eds. Modality in English: Theory and Description. Topics in English Linguistics, 58 . Mouton de Gruyter, Berlin, Germany, pp. 79-103. ISBN 9783110196344

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Abstract

This paper sets out a new account of modality as a typological category, and applies it to English. Previous studies have argued for a prototype approach to modality, but have not constructed such an account consistently. Section 2 sets out the need for a prototype analysis, and section 3 offers a set of criteria which define the core of the category of modality. We examine several English modal auxiliaries with respect to the criteria, concluding that some of them frequently fail to meet the criteria and are therefore not core members of the category – in other words, they have a low degree of modality. Section 4 locates modality within a wider framework. In section 5 we revisit two problems in the analysis of English modals, arguing that the proposed framework sheds new light on them. Section 6 criticises the alternative analysis put forward by the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language (Huddleston and Pullum 2002). We conclude that the framework needs to be tested on other languages, but that it appears to be useful for English.

Item Type:Chapter in book
Uncontrolled Keywords:Modals; modality; English grammar; prototypes
Subjects:Q000 Languages and Literature - Linguistics and related subjects > Q100 Linguistics
Faculties:Faculty of Arts > School of Humanities
Faculty of Arts
ID Code:8632
Deposited By:Raphael Salkie
Deposited On:03 Jun 2011 10:50
Last Modified:04 Oct 2013 14:23

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