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Syntax and semantics of modal predicates in indo-european


Viti, Carlotta (2018). Syntax and semantics of modal predicates in indo-european. Transactions of the Philological Society, 116(2):257-281.

Abstract

This paper discusses the syntactic variation of modal predicates between structures with a nominative primary argument and those with an oblique primary argument. In the literature, this variation is related to a change from deontic to epistemic meanings, whereby epistemicity seems to be more commonly expressed by highly grammaticalized impersonal constructions. After having shown the weakness of this relationship, I suggest a new explanation for the variation of modal predicates on the basis of diverse ancient Indo‐European languages, such as Vedic, Ancient Greek and Latin, as well as of some of their modern descendants, especially Hindi, Modern Greek, and standard and colloquial Italian. I argue that modal predicates with an oblique primary argument are favoured for functions of necessity, while modal predicates with a nominative primary argument preferably express functions of possibility. This reflects the different meanings of the lexical sources of these predicates, that is, capacity or power for predicates of possibility, and lack or obligation for predicates of necessity, which also imply different degrees of agentivity and control.

Abstract

This paper discusses the syntactic variation of modal predicates between structures with a nominative primary argument and those with an oblique primary argument. In the literature, this variation is related to a change from deontic to epistemic meanings, whereby epistemicity seems to be more commonly expressed by highly grammaticalized impersonal constructions. After having shown the weakness of this relationship, I suggest a new explanation for the variation of modal predicates on the basis of diverse ancient Indo‐European languages, such as Vedic, Ancient Greek and Latin, as well as of some of their modern descendants, especially Hindi, Modern Greek, and standard and colloquial Italian. I argue that modal predicates with an oblique primary argument are favoured for functions of necessity, while modal predicates with a nominative primary argument preferably express functions of possibility. This reflects the different meanings of the lexical sources of these predicates, that is, capacity or power for predicates of possibility, and lack or obligation for predicates of necessity, which also imply different degrees of agentivity and control.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Department of Greek and Latin Philology
Dewey Decimal Classification:470 Latin & Italic languages
480 Classical & modern Greek languages
Uncontrolled Keywords:Linguistics and Language, Language and Linguistics
Language:English
Date:2018
Deposited On:18 Dec 2017 14:54
Last Modified:19 Aug 2018 11:59
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:0079-1636
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-968X.12116

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