Chapter

Shifts Between Types of Modality in Traditional Terms

Heiko Narrog

in Modality, Subjectivity, and Semantic Change

Published in print June 2012 | ISBN: 9780199694372
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191742279 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199694372.003.0006
Shifts Between Types of Modality in Traditional Terms

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In this chapter, the directionality of change with respect to three traditional notions of modality is examined. First, change between possibility and necessity is analyzed. While change from possibility to necessity is more common than vice‐versa, no fixed directionality can be found, as demonstrated with examples from Germanic languages. Second, contrary to previous assumptions, change between participant‐internal and participant‐external modality is also bi‐directional. The third section of this chapter offers an analysis of the question why change from deontic to epistemic modality is by far not as common as once thought. Contrasting the development of modality in Japanese, a language currently without significant modal polyfunctionality comparable to that in English and German, this chapter suggests that the lack of shifts from deontic to epistemic modality in this language is due to conditions of the modal system in Japanese, and to socio‐cultural rather than semantic or pragmatic factors.

Keywords: possibility; necessity; participant‐internal modality; participant‐external modality; deontic modality; epistemic modality

Chapter.  31862 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Semantics

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