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System and Variation in the Dutch Modals

Jan Nuyts, Wim Caers and Henri-Joseph Goelen


Dutch is traditionally considered to have six modal auxiliaries: kunnen ‘can’, mogen ‘may’, moeten ‘must’, hoeven ‘need’, zullen ‘shall’, and willen ‘will’ (e.g. Duinhoven 1997). However, a diachronic look at these verbs shows that they do not behave as a coherent group: the first four show an increasing tendency to converge, but the latter two do not participate in the evolutions. This brief paper offers a summary survey of the most important facts.

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