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Cognitive Linguistics

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Modality, mood, and change of modal meanings: A new perspective

Heiko Narrog

Citation Information: Cognitive Linguistics. Volume 16, Issue 4, Pages 677–731, ISSN (Online) 1613-3641, ISSN (Print) 0936-5907, DOI: 10.1515/cogl.2005.16.4.677, December 2005

Publication History

Published Online:
2005-12-02

Abstract

This paper has two goals. The first is to develop a cross-linguistically valid model of modality and mood that captures the most important dimensions along which modal expressions vary. I posit a model with two such dimensions, one of volitivity, and one of event-orientation vs. speaker-orientation, mood being placed at the speaker-oriented end relative to modality proper. The second goal is to provide a new perspective on semantic change of modal expressions on the basis of the proposed model. I argue that unidirectional change along the event-oriented / speaker-oriented dimension is the one overarching tendency of semantic change in modals. This stands in contrast to the widespread perception that change from deontic to epistemic is the dominant tendency. The directionality suggested in this new model is also more comprehensive than previously proposed tendencies of change, such as ‘‘from agent-oriented to epistemic’’, ‘‘from agent-oriented to speaker-oriented’’, and ‘‘from participant-internal to participant-external’’, as it better accounts for various kinds of change that have been previously neglected, including change from epistemic to deontic.

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