Asserted proposition: this film is boring
Modalised proposition: this film may/could/must be boring
Semantic properties of modals:
1.1 scope ambiguity (results from interaction with another operator, such as negation)
We could not have any exam
(i) It would be possible for us not to have an exam
POSS [~have exam]
(ii) It would not be / was not possible for us to have an exam ~ POSS [have exam]
1.2 deontic vs. epistemic readings
She must be good, to get into HKU
(i) it is required that she be good (in order to enter HKU) (deontic)
(ii) it is evident that she is good (since she is at HKU) (epistemic)
Types of Modality: deontic epistemic
Possibility: You may leave now He may be insane
Necessity: You must leave now He must be insane
possibility can, may
ho2ji5…, …dak1 ho2lang4
jat1ding6 jiu3 jat1ding6 (hai6), sat6
obligation should, ought
jing1goi1 jing1goi1 (hai6)
NEC p ‘p must be the case’
POSS p ‘p may be the case’
2.2 Logical relation of possibility and necessity
NEC p <=> ~ POSS [~p] he must come <=> it's not possible that he won't come
Keoi5 jat1ding6 jiu3 lai4 <=> Keoi5 m4 ho2ji5 m4 lai4 ‘He must come’
POSS p <=> ~ NEC p he may come <=> it's not necessary that he come
Keoi5 ho2lang4 lai4 ‘He may come’ <--> Keoi5 mei6 bit1 lai4 ‘He may not come’
2.3 Modality and possible worlds
The Queen may visit HKU
‘There is a possible world such that the Queen visits HKU’
The Queen should visit HKU
‘There is a desirable possible world such that the Queen visits HKU’
I should work faster (i) according to the rules
(objective: I'm supposed to)
(ii) according to my own judgment (subjective: I think so)
We must go and renew these books (objective `must': obligation
imposed from outside)
We must go and see this film (subjective `must': obligation imposed by self)
you may leave = (i) You are allowed to leave by law (objective
(ii) I hereby give you permission to leave (subjective deontic possibility)
3.2 Degrees of possibility/necessity
may > might I may come (c. 50%
probability) vs. I might come (<50%)
can > could
must > should
3.3 Non-logical forms of possibility
ability (can she swim?)
volition (will you help me?)
“a term for the ways in which a speaker qualifies a statement by referring to the source of the information.” (Saeed 1997:133)
Possible sources of information:
(1`) Zhe ge Hanzi bu
dui ba. (Cheung 1994:166)
this CL character not correct PRT
“This Chinese character is wrong, I guess.” (source = speculation)
4.2 Evidentiality and modality: systematic polysemy
Hearsay evidential usage of the French conditional:
(2) Il aurait
choisi la mort.
he have-COND chosen the death
"He is said to have chosen death." (source = hearsay, legend etc)
Speculative usage of French future:
(3) Il aura fait son choix..
he have-FUT made his choice
"He has probably made his choice."
German: auxiliary sollen
(4) Ich soll ihn anrufen.
“I’m supposed (obliged) to call him.”
(5) Ich soll ihn angerufen haben. “I’m supposed (alleged) to have called him.” (evidential)
French: conditional “tense”
(6) Ce serait le meilleur film de l’année
it be-COND the best film of the year
(i) It would be the best film of the year (if it were made: conditional)
(ii) It is supposed to be the best film of the year (evidential)
“evidentials are neutral as far as a commitment to the truth on the part of the speaker is concerned.” (de Haan 1998:2)
4.3 Cantonese evidential particles
(7) A: Keoi5 zou6 mat1je5 m4 lai4 ge2?
'Why didn't he come?'
B: M4 syu1fuk6 a1maa3 (self-evident)
'He was sick, of course.'
M4 syu1fuk6 gwaa3 (speculative)
'He was sick, I guess.'
M4 syu1fuk6 wo5
'He was sick, apparently.'
4.4 Evidentiality and mirativity
“[The category mirative] marks both statements based on inference and statements based on direct experience for which the speaker had no psychological preparation, and in some languages hearsay data as well. What these apparently disparate data sources have in common... is that the proposition is one which is new to the speaker, not yet integrated into his overall picture of the world.” (DeLancey 1997: 36)
Turkish: “inferential perfect” verb form in -mIs indicating inference, hearsay or surprise:
(8) Kenmal gel-mIs
“Kemal has come (presumably/apparently/surprisingly).”
Mapudunun (Chile: Aikhenvald 2004): same suffix for reported (REP) and mirative
'She arrived, they say' (evidential interpretation)
(10) Fey ti chi domo kalko-rke
that ART woman witch-MIR
'This woman turns out to be a witch (surprisingly)' (mirative interpretation)
(11) Go leoizai hou leng wo
that girl very beautiful PRT
'That girl is said to be very beautiful' or
'That girl is really beautiful!' ?
Aikenvald, Alexandra. 2004. Evidentiality. Oxford University
Chafe, Wallace and Johanna Nichols (eds). 1986. Evidentiality: The Linguistic Coding of Epistemology. Norwood, New Jersey: Ablex.
Cheung, Samuel Hung Nin. 1994. A Practical Chinese Grammar. Hong Kong: CUHK Press.
De Haan, Ferdinand. 1998. Evidentiality and epistemic modality. Ms., University of New Mexico. Http://www.unm.edu/~fdehaan/evidepi.html
DeLancey, Scott. 1997. ‘Mirativity: the grammatical marking of unexpected information.’ Linguistic Typology 1-1, 33-52.